by SARA MARSHALL // Editor-in-Chief
The “Concealed Carry of Handguns on Campus” policy, construction updates on the Lubbock Center and an update on the Texas State Legislative Session were among topics discussed during the February meeting of the South Plains College Board of Regents.
Cathy Mitchell, vice president for student affairs, presented a draft of a new Concealed Carry of Handguns on Campus policy for the Board to consider. Beginning on Aug. 1, SPC and other community colleges around the state will allow for the concealed carry of handguns on their campuses. But this statute also brings new challenges for the college to face.
“There’s not a whole lot of leeway on what the law says that we can or can’t do,” Mitchell said.
The “Concealed Carry of Handguns on Campus” policy was created by a task force, led by Dr. Robin Satterwhite, president of SPC. According to the new policy, it “establishes guidelines and procedures for the implementation of the state statute authorizing the concealed carry of handguns on the premises of SPC.” The Concealed Carry of Handguns on Campus policy lays out guidelines which all SPC faculty, staff and students must follow accordingly.
The policy states that one cannot have a concealed handgun without the proper license or secure storage for when it is not being carried, such as in a locked gun safe. Exclusionary zones will be designated where concealed handguns will be prohibited, such as the Natatorium, UIL events and buildings where the contest will be held. Other possible areas may include the Board of Regents meetings and locations where judicial and conduct hearings are being held.
“We have a very good team who’ve worked on this [policy],” Dr. Satterwhite said. “They have been very deliberate in going out and sharing and having public forums with all the faculty, staff and students who want to learn about this and sharing comments. So we’ve tried to make this an open and collaborative process as possible.”
Dr. Satterwhite asked all Board members to review the proposed policy and offer any recommendations. Dr. Satterwhite will present the final policy to the Board at its March meeting to be voted upon.
Dr. Satterwhite also discussed updates to the current construction work at the Lubbock Center. The architects have stayed on time and on budget for the construction process. They have completed all the taping, bedding and mudding on the structure of the building, and the painting has begun.
“We’re really trying to be very diligent on spending as little as we possibly can on that, knowing that at the end we might have some surprises,” Dr. Satterwhite said. “Those surprises are going to get less and less as we progress on.”
Because the building is no longer in the major construction mode, Dr. Satterwhite said he hopes to begin doing tours of the Lubbock Center very soon.
Updating the Board on the current legislation session, Dr. Satterwhite provided an overview of impending changes. According to Dr. Satterwhite, the college’s base year contact hours have declined by -3.6, which could mean a decrease in funding of $687,409 for the 2018- 2019 school year.
Possible increases in out-of-district tuition and housing costs are being discussed to supplement the loss in funding. Dr. Satterwhite will present a report to the Regents at the March meeting with regard to funding cuts and possible alternatives.
“In our case, we lost Frenship in our dual credit, and that made a significant change for us from last biennium to this biennium,” Dr. Satterwhite explained. “Although our enrollment has been pretty good this year, but our contact hours are down.”
In anticipation of state-wide budget cuts, the Texas Governor’s Office issued a hiring freeze to all state agencies, including community colleges. There are currently 10 positions that have been placed on hold until SPC administrators can determine the need basis of the positions. Some of these positions are a necessity to the daily operations of SPC, but some will stay on hold until the administration can scrutinize each position individually.
The administration also is analyzing all academic and operational areas to evaluate whether they are more of a cost to the college, or more of a revenue center.
“There are some areas, for example, English, that it does not matter if it costs you or not, you have to have it,” Dr. Satterwhite said. “There are some other programs we want to look at that we don’t necessarily have to have, that are costing us money. In other words, we’re losing money by offering them. And we may need to evaluate them.”