AUSTIN, TEXAS — Before University of Texas President, Gregory L. Fenves announced the adoption of a new policy allowing the carrying of a concealed handgun on campus on February 17th, GunFreeUT sponsored an event on the Austin Campus of the University of Texas on February 3, inviting “each graduate student to blow up a balloon as a visible “vote” for or against implementation of Campus Carry (SB11) at UT.”
The idea was this: If the student was opposed to campus carry, they would blow up a red balloon. If they were nuetral, a yellow. And if they supported campus carry they would blow up a green balloon.
The results, at first glance, seemed absolutely compelling. With a red, yellow, green ratio of 14:1:1, it would appear that University of Texas students are overwhelmingly opposed to campus carry.
Though the coverage of this event was limited, publications that did cover it had either a clear agenda or lazy writers who simply regurgitated the results without question.
I, on the other hand, am neither lazy, nor am I content to accept any quoted stats without doing some research of my own.
Not to bore anyone with math, but in order for 11,000 students to blow up balloons during a 2.5 hour event, it would mean that balloons were inflated and tied off at a rate of 73 per minute or 1.2 per second. And since it was only grad student who were invited to take part and there are only 11,331 grad students at UT, I found it hard to believe that over 97% of UT’s grad students showed up during this 2.5 hour window to blow up a balloon.
Also, when you consider the following photo taken after the event of the filled balloons staged in bags in preparation to be presented to UT’s Graduate Student Assembly, it became clear that the event was not nearly as well attended as some would have us believe:
So, what about the 14:1:1 ratio? What’s the deal? Without assuming that GunFreeUT simply cooked the numbers, how did the results become so overwhelmingly skewed in favor of the opposition?
It turns out, that it was planned that way right from the beginning. Or at least the methods used to promote it left no other logical outcome.
With the exception of a small listing on the Events page on UT’s website, all other information regarding the event was disseminated among their own website and social media groups that naturally opposed the measure.
It’s no different than if I were to promote an event through the pro-carry social media groups to which I belong; the only logical turnout would be mostly of those who would support campus carry by an overwhelming margin.
Though it’s clearly a bit “shady,” it’s not all bad news. It’s actually pretty good news for those who supported concealed and campus carry measures.
When you consider the likelihood that most or all of the green balloons represented people who just stumbled upon the event by chance, I’m actually encouraged – and you should be, too – that there were as many green balloons blown up in support of the campus carry measure as there were.