Thousands of University of Texas students marked the first day of classes under "campus carry" with a protest Wednesday: They openly carried as many as 4,500 donated sex toys.
“We want these dildos on backpacks as long as there are concealed handguns in backpacks,” Ana López, a UT sophomore and one of the protest organizers, told the Texas Tribune.
Campus carry went into effect at the first of the month -- the law for the first time allows people with concealed-carry permits to take their weapons to class and most other places on public university campuses in Texas.
The Tribune reports that the donated sex toys were distributed Tuesday night at a rate of almost 200 per minute. And organizer López urged her compadres to carry their weapons of protest proudly.
“We want to make sure that students don’t just go home and take these [sex toys] as a joke,” she said.
“This isn’t just a local issue. Gun violence is a public health issue that affects everybody. It resonated with a lot of people, and since certain groups had the props we needed, they generously decided to reach out and help.”
UT students and faculty have been vocal in opposing guns on campus. Architecture school Dean Fritz Steiner resigned in February, saying he “didn’t believe in” campus carry, and a federal judge denied the request of three professors who sued to block implementation of the law.
UT’s obscenity policy states that “no person or organization will distribute or display on the campus any writing or visual image, or engage in any public performance, that is obscene ... as defined in Texas Penal Code, Section 43.21 or successor provisions.” But the sex-toy distribution was "protected political speech," university spokesman J.B. Bird told the Tribune in an email.
“UT Austin students are free to express themselves peacefully on all issues,” he said. “The planned protests around campus carry appear to be examples of protected political speech. We ask that the conversations around this issue remain civil. We encourage students of all opinions to be a part of this and other discussions of public policy.”