On Thursday, Texas Tech University released open records showing a previous dispute between a Tech alumnus and the school’s administration concerning the phrase ‘Guns up.’ The administration did make an accommodation after the complaint.
In another previous dispute, Tech defended ‘Guns Up’ unapologetically.
How the Issue Came Up
On September 1, EverythingLubbock.com made an open records request to Texas Tech University “for the last five years in which any person raises concerns about, or challenges the appropriateness of, or expresses a desire to change or eliminate the phrase ‘Guns Up.’”
The open records request was a response to a controversy at the University of Iowa that made national news. The U of I faced criticism that its mascot, Herky the Hawk, looks too mean.
The purpose of the request was to see if a local college tradition faced similar opposition.
The answer was yes, and in 2013 it appeared to cause President M. Duane Nellis, Ph.D., to change his signature line in his weekly email update to alumni.
The Dispute With a Tech Alum
In August of 2013, Michael Grant, Ph.D., wrote a complaint to Nellis concerning the phrase “Guns Up.” Grant is both a Texas Tech alumnus and he recently retired as the Vice Provost and Associate Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate Education, University of Colorado – Boulder.
Grant’s complaint was in response to the first such weekly email on August 2, 2013 which included the signature line “Go Texas Tech, and Guns Up!”
Grant wrote, “I find it quite embarrassing to admit that I earned two degrees from an institution that employs the offensive sloan [sic] ‘Guns Up’.”
“I will never contribute while that pattern remains,” Grant wrote. “The romantic ‘Wild West’ context of gun violence continues to cause great harm to a great number of individuals, especially children (Guns Up, kids!).”
In response, Nellis wrote back to Grant with a reassurance that Guns Up is not a call to violence against children or anyone else.
Then in the September 5, 2013 weekly email, the tag line was changed to “Wreck ‘Em!”
Grant wrote Nellis again, saying, “While still couched in the language of violence, I’m delighted to see the tagline signature ‘Guns Up’ not present.”
Schovanec Defended Guns Up
Back in January of 2013, then-Interim President Lawrence Schovanec, Ph.D. (who became Texas Tech President in 2016) responded to a complaint from a high school principal in Garrison, North Dakota.
“We should be cautious in connecting imagery, symbols and gestures at a sporting event to deeper societal issues,” Schovanec wrote.
“The ‘guns up’ gesture to which you refer is in no way a glorification of hand guns or indicative of a culture of gun advocacy,” Schovanec added.
Two more complaints were emailed to Texas Tech during the December 28, 2012 bowl game between Texas Tech and the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Based on the public records from Texas Tech, it does not appear that written responses were sent.
Texas Tech University officials opted not to address the topic.
Watch the accompanying video to hear Grant’s comments on his allegations.