UT Austin Issues Statement About Planned Mass Shooting Performance
After news that a pro-gun rights group planned a mock mass shooting on campus to protest the university's gun policies, UT Austin has issued a statement on the planned event.
The Open Carry Walk and Crisis Performance Event is planned to take place this Saturday by Come and Take It Texas and DontComply.com, protesting "Gun-Free" zones saying they kill people. Matthew Short, spokesperson for the groups, said,
We're doing this to demonstrate that gun-free zones kill people.
These mass shootings are getting out of control. There are a lot of politicians who are trying to use them to restrict people's rights.
The groups' planned protest includes performers covered in fake blood as victims, and shooters using cardboard firearms with simulated gunfire sounds projected over loudspeakers. In response to the planned protest, UT Austin spokesperson J.B. Bird issued a statement, noting that the university is not public property and outside groups do not have permission to demonstrate on campus,
The university is aware of media reports about an outside group’s intention to stage a group performance of a mass shooting on the UT Austin campus this weekend. Our Board of Regents' rules designate our campus as a space reserved for the business, research and educational purposes of UT Austin. Within the university community, the campus is a place for the vigorous exchange of diverse viewpoints, which is an essential part of the educational experience. The property or buildings owned or controlled by UT Austin are not, however, open to outside groups for assembly, speech, or other activities, including theatrical performances, as are the public streets, sidewalks, and parks. Only the university itself, faculty, staff and student groups may engage in such activities on campus. This applies equally to an outside protest group, an outside theater troupe, or any outside group wishing to use the facilities or grounds of the university.
Many groups seek to use the university’s facilities each year and they are all treated equally and are turned away. For example, we have not allowed the Westboro Baptist Church to protest on campus and have not allowed labor groups to protest on campus. We have told outside sporting groups that they may not use our sporting facilities.
When outside individuals come on campus and violate our rules regarding use of our grounds and facilities, they are asked to leave. If they do not, it becomes a criminal trespass matter. We suggest that any outside organizations planning such events on campus relocate them to other space where they would be allowed.
Our Dean of Students Office is attempting to contact the leaders of this group to make sure they are aware of our Board of Regents’ rules and procedures.