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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Guns in Texas College Classrooms: A Shot in the Arm for Online Education?

Will Kevlar Save in Texas?
Blogger’s preface: Two years ago, my friend Osgood,* a dynamic professor of accounting, left my campus in Amherst to head up an accounting department at a large private university in Texas. Lately, I’ve been thinking about him in light of forthcoming legislation in the Lone Star State that will give college students and their professors the right to pack heat—including concealed handguns—on the state’s 38 public university and college campuses. Although the law targets public higher education, my friend’s campus and other private universities will no doubt be in the crosshairs of change in the “Don’t Mess With” state—change that aspires to make gun possession a protective right for (almost) all.

That’s especially poignant for my friend because introductory accounting regularly ranks high among courses that fail the most students. Credit two factors: the course’s level of difficulty and its status as a gateway for majors outside accounting. If you plan, for example, to get a business degree in marketing or human resources, soldiering on through intro accounting is a rite of passage. (After all, it is the language of business; isn't it? ! Ask your CPA. See the top ten list below for Temple University.) Passing intro accounting, then, is analogous to, but less formidable than, passing organic chemistry if, say, you plan to become an orthodontist or a proctologist.

Source: Pittsburgh
 Gird Thy Loins. The bottom line, then, for my friend and his intro accounting staff is—Protect yourself at all times from students who may harbor resentment and,of course, guns. If you’re on the dais in a lecture hall, you’re the alpha target in the house. If 20% of the 200 students in your class are failing, and just 25% of them (i.e., ten) are armed and dispersed among the audience, their own accounting problem becomes your logistical problem. First, Wig & Pen recommends that you seek intimacy with Kevlar. Like the professor depicted above, wear a suit that declares—“I'm a bipedal fortress.” Avoid nambi pambi Kevlar executive vests: Don’t conceal your protective cred like a hidden asset in an accounting footnote. (Explore the latest in protective wear here.)

Second, value good marksmanship when hiring teaching assistants. Remember, they are your first, best line of defense. Position them tactically and if possible, assign failing students to a pie-wedge-shaped sector that widens toward the front of the hall. Just imagine, the hapless, ill-intentioned student in the second row doing a depreciation problem. Before he can say “straight line,” he’s fit for amortization himself, felled by friendly fire.

And finally, if like Wig & Pen you’ve never fired a gun beyond Boy Scout camp, consider this strategic prospect: Online education is becoming as expansive as all of Texas!

*I’ve changed his name to protect what’s left of our friendship.


Elizabeth Pols said...

Thanks for this bit of brilliance -- Jon Stewart, eat your heart out!
Humor (and kevlar, of course!) may be our best defense against the current lunacy. keep it coming.

Anonymous said...

Louis, Don't sell us short here in western PA.
Although we lack the "open carry" provisions of our more southern friends, folks here are well schooled in deer hunting. And, on the distaff side, there's a fair share of pistol packing mamas as well!!

Ray said...


Osgood here. :-)

Very nice of you to be concerned for me. Actually I've been concerned for all of us as well. The good news thus far is that it appears that private schools like ours will be allowed to exempt ourselves from the law. I've got my fingers crossed.

I'm afraid this proposed law's national news coverage hasn't done much to help Texas' image outside Texas. There is actually some healthy debate and opposition to this line of thinking, and there remains a pretty good chance that the bill will not pass. There are a lot of really thoughtful and level-headed people here --- more than are evident from the periodic bursts of apparent insanity that make national news.
In any event, I appreciate the excellent advice, should my students begin packing heat come fall.
Great post, Lou. Hope to see you in MA this summer.

Wig & Pen said...


As usual your thoughts and kind words are on the mark.


Lou (i.e., W&P)