Monday, February 28, 2011

Don't Weaponize My Classroom

Cut and pasted below is the text of an e-mail I sent to Dr. Antonio Cepeda, Dean of Faculties at Texas A&M

Dr. Cepeda,

Pursuant to Dr. Moreiras' e-mail below, please consider my comments with respect to the pending legislation which would allow concealed handguns to be carried on campus:

I am a graduate student in the Department of Hispanic Studies. As part of my graduate assistantship I also teach Spanish classes to undergraduate students. As both a teacher and student, then, I am directly and personally impacted by the pending legislation to direct universities to allow concealed handguns on campus. I strongly oppose the proposed legislation.

Before returning to A&M in 2007 I served for twenty years as an active duty Marine Corps officer. I retired as a Lieutenant Colonel in 2005. My career as an infantry officer included service in combat and multiple overseas assignments where I carried a handgun as part of my duties. I completed several weapons training programs during my service in the Marine Corps, including the High Risk Personnel Course in Quantico, Virginia, a course specifically oriented toward applying deadly force with a handgun. I qualified as a pistol expert (the highest qualification level) every year I was required to re-qualify except one. I provide all this information to support the proposition that I am not anti-handgun, per se.

I am, however, strongly anti-handgun-on-campus for two principal reasons: the insufficiency of the licensing program and the relatively high probability of a of a negligent discharge (if the legislation were passed) versus the low probability of a homicidal gunman on a shooting rampage.

First, the ten-day concealed handgun licensing course, per the Texas Concealed Handgun Laws for 2009-2010, only allows for ten to fifteen total hours of instruction on a total of four subjects; one of which includes laws relating to weapons and the use of deadly force. (source

- This is a woefully insufficient amount of time to work through all the possible scenarios for when deadly force may or may not be legally appropriate on a college campus.

Secondly, the likelihood of a shooting rampage in the classroom seems very low since there have been only two shooting situations on a University campus in our nation's history where the loss of life could have possibly been reduced by the presence of a bystander armed with a handgun. The much more likely scenario in the classroom would be a negligent discharge. As the linked video of a DEA agent negligently shooting himself during a school demonstration shows,

( even a presumably highly trained professional can accidentally fire a weapon that he or she assumes to be unloaded.

I ask that my classroom not be weaponized. I cannot think of any single element which would more profoundly and completely damage the collegiality of the classroom environment. We need to continue to be diligent in identifying emotionally disturbed people in the classroom, getting them the help they need, and when necessary, removing them from the campus. I firmly believe that the proposed legislation to allow concealed handguns on campus is not only unnecessary, but would, in fact, do great harm to the university.


Mark McGraw

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Horns and Hoochie Mamas

Last night (Jan 31st) my podnah Garry Gibson gave us his Aggie basketball tix so my dad and I could go see the beatdown that the hated Horns put on our beloved Aggies. My dad even drove over from Louisiana to see his grandson play an eighth – grade basketball game in the afternoon and then see the Aggies at night. At least Jackson’s team won and he got to play long enough to throw in a nice little teardrop runner near the end of the game.

The Aggie Game. It wasn’t too long ago that basketball at A&M was a sham of a joke of a travesty and almost nobody came to the games. Now you’d have to say we’re pretty dang good. We’ve grown a strong basketball program that has gone pretty deep in the NCAA tournament each of the last several years. It didn’t feel like it last night, though. We went out and laid an egg on ESPN’s “Big Monday” with over 13,000 fans in the stands. We (ranked 16th in the nation before the game) got beaten like a rented mule by the hated Horns (ranked #3 and probably better than that) by 20 points and it wasn’t even that close.

The Dancers. Being a full-on dude with the dude-like gift of being able to appreciate feminine beauty, I pretty much like the Aggie Dance Team (also known as the Hoochie Mama Dancers at my house). It’s obvious that they put a lot of time and effort into –ahem- performing and, since I’m quite sure Baylor coach Scott Drew is still telling recruits with a straight face and Baptist love in his heart that A&M is still an all-male, all-military school, it’s good that we have beautiful girls wearing maroon lycra on the endlines of the basketball court to counter that old myth. If I had a daughter, though, I’d be more than a little uncomfortable with the idea of having her on the dance team. Paying for dance lessons since she’s five years old comes down to that? Some of the dance moves they do would make your grandma swallow her snuff. Local strippers have been e-mailing the administration asking that they tone it down. Is there a move or a grind or a thrust they won’t do?

The Students. There was a great host of white-clad Agro-American students on hand last night. They did the yells on cue and sang loud and sawed varsity’s horns off like always. The mobile cameras go around during time outs and get close ups of the students and I was glad to see that they (we?) still have fun even when the team’s getting their brains beat out. The most entertaining thing at the game since the fat shirtless guy behind the basket graduated or failed out may be the occasional male student who does a pretty credible job of dancing in the aisle of the student section in synch with the Hoochie Mamas during time outs.

The Horns fans. There were a few fans there from the other school – one big goofy one sat a couple of rows from us. Because he didn’t look like a country clubber, I highly doubt that he graduated or even attended the school which shall not be named. I think he’s probably an air-conditioner repairman from Calvert who became a bandwagon jumper Horn fan when his ex-fiance married an Aggie. So abounding with joy was he at the proceedings of the basketball game that he was practically soiling is 42 x 34 Lee jeans. I thought it was encouraging that of all of the possibly 40 Aggie fans that he tried to bait into some confrontation, no one said anything to him. They won. They can celebrate. And they can even be jerks about it (as I’m sure a lot of us are when we win over there).