University governance taking stance on campus carry; Multicultural Student Government plans new request
University of Kansas administration continues working on weapons policy updates with the assumption that beginning July 1, 2017, the university must allow legally carried concealed guns on its campus — as current law dictates. The latest step forward was Wednesday, when a Kansas Board of Regents recommended KU’s proposed weapons policy for approval by the full board, along with similar proposed policies from the other five state universities.
However, there are still individuals and groups pulling for state legislators to change the law so KU would not need that policy after all. At least tentatively, add KU’s University Senate to that list.
This week the University Senate Executive Committee agreed on the following statement, which the full University Senate is scheduled to consider Dec. 1. Based on previous observations of university governance talks on guns, I would be surprised if the full Senate does not overwhelmingly approve taking this stance.
The University Senate of the University of Kansas is composed of the elected representatives of staff, students and faculty at the University and is charged with acting in behalf of the staff, students, and faculty.
Eighty-two percent of the KU staff, students, and faculty who participated in the January 2016 Docking Institute survey expressed opposition to allowing concealed weapons on campus.
Moreover, current research indicates that the net effect of campus carry on the safety of college students, faculty, and staff is likely to be more death, more nonfatal gunshot wounds, and more threats with a firearm that are traumatizing to victims.
Therefore, the University Senate wishes to express its opposition, in the strongest possible terms, to allowing concealed weapons on the University of Kansas campus.
On behalf of our constituencies, we urge the Kansas State Legislature (1.) to respect local control by continuing the exemption to the Personal and Family Protection Act and (2.) to allow our campus communities to choose whether or not weapons are allowed on our KU campuses.
Is that realistic? I’ll leave speculation to others about what our state legislators may or may not do. Meanwhile, I can confidently say KU will keep working on its policy and I will keep writing updates as they’re warranted.
• Multicultural Student Government wants seats on University Senate, not a committee: Also on Dec. 1, the University Senate will probably receive a new proposal from Multicultural Student Government. Leaders of the new student organization attended the full University Senate meeting earlier this month and asked the body to establish a committee exploring how to implement MSG as a separate governing body within University Senate (currently composed of representatives from KU’s Faculty, Staff and Student senates). That request was tabled.
MSG board president Trinity Carpenter, a senior from Richmond, and five other group members were at this week’s University Senate Executive Committee meeting. They said they wanted to scrap the committee request and go straight to a request for actual seats on University Senate — specifically, a number equal to Student Senate.
“What we want is University Senate representation at this point, and equal representation that Student Senate already has,” Carpenter said. She said her goal is to change policy to create bicameral student governance instead of operating within the existing Student Senate. “If we felt that Student Senate was meeting our needs there would be no need for this.”
Student Senate currently has 13 seats in University Senate. Rather than double the number of students — and shifting the balance of power in University Senate — some University Senate Executive Committee Members said they’d be more open to allowing existing student seats to be allocated differently. We will see exactly what MSG suggests next month.
— I’m the Journal-World’s KU and higher ed reporter. See all the newspaper’s KU coverage here. Reach me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, by phone at 832-7187, on Twitter @saramarieshep or via Facebook at Facebook.com/SaraShepherdNews.
Have questions about concealed weapons coming to the Kansas University campus? There’s an informational meeting planned next week that seeks to explain.
The University Senate is planning a Weapons on Campus Information Session from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday in 120 Budig Hall (they say they've secured some overflow seating in case the crowd is too big for the auditorium). Here’s the invitation to KU faculty, staff and students from University Senate President Michael Williams, associate professor of journalism:
You are invited to join with other members of the KU community to share information about the coming changes in policies affecting the legalities of weapons on our campus.
Members of the University Senate Weapons on Campus Committee will present the latest draft of changes to the Kansas Board of Regents weapons policy. We will also explain specifics of the July 1, 2017 expiration of the exemption to the Kansas Family Protection Act which currently prohibits guns inside university buildings.
Williams emphasized at Tuesday’s Faculty Senate Executive Committee meeting that next week's event is envisioned to be informational rather than town hall forum-style.
“We will ... keep it focused,” he said, “purposely calling it an information session.”
There will be an email address set up to take questions during the event. The session also will be streamed live online. (I do not have the direct link for the feed yet, but I am guessing one will be shared later on the University Governance website, governance.ku.edu.)
University Governance is seeking opinions about weapons on campus through a survey being sent out this week to all KU employees (employees at other Kansas Regents universities will also get the survey). The online survey for employees will be open through the month of December. KU and other Regents students took a similar survey last month.
I’ve written a fair amount about this issue and will undoubtedly write more. (I expect to be at Tuesday’s info session as well as the Kansas Board of Regents meeting later this month, when a statewide policy should be on the agenda.) If you’re not up to speed about what’s going on at the state and KU level, here are four stories that should help:
How do Kansas state university students really feel about concealed guns coming to campus? And what do they think about various policy scenarios that might be put in place to deal with that impending reality? A new survey — which students at Kansas University and other state schools should have in their email inboxes today — seeks answers.
At least at KU, I’ve overwhelmingly heard students and employees flat-out ridicule the law and say they hate the whole idea. But that’s just conversational. Most academics would probably agree with us journalists, the more hard data the better, so I’m pretty interested to see what this survey will reveal.
Members of the Students Advisory Committee to the Kansas Board of Regents (KU Student Body President Jessie Pringle is chairwoman) have been talking about doing the survey since their retreat in August and worked with the Docking Institute of Public Affairs at Fort Hays State University to create and execute it. Students have until Nov. 25 to take the survey, and results are expected to be out in December, according to a KU Student Senate news release.
“It’s important that students have a space to say something about their feelings of safety and security on campus whether that means carrying or prohibiting,” Pringle said, in the release. “Leaving out student voices does not create sound policy.”
In case you missed my previous articles on the issue, here’s a CliffsNotes version of why guns are coming to campus: Under Kansas law, anyone who is legally allowed to carry a concealed weapon will be able to do so on college campuses as of July 1, 2017. If universities want to prohibit weapons inside any building, that building must be equipped with “adequate security measures” such as metal detectors or guards. Concealed weapons are already allowed on public property, but universities have an exemption that runs out in 2017. The Regents have drafted updates to their statewide weapons policy that they hope to vote on in mid-December. Then individual universities are supposed to develop more detailed implementation policies for their respective campuses.
“From the survey, SAC hopes to gain an aggregate and university specific opinions regarding guns on campus,” the KU Student Senate statement said. “SAC plans to bring the results to university administrations and the Kansas Board of Regents to ensure that the voices of students are heard.”
Here's some of what the survey wants to find out from students (questions paraphrased):
• Do you think concealed guns be prohibited or allowed in campus buildings, at sporting events or in outdoor areas? Do you feel the same way for employees, students and visitors?
• How strongly do you support or oppose gun storage lockers in various areas of campus? Does your opinion differ for handguns v. hunting rifles?
• How high a fee would you be willing to pay for your university to install these adequate security measures in buildings?
• In your opinion, how would allowing concealed carry on campus affect campus crime levels?
• How would allowing concealed carry on your campus affect your decision to attend this university?
Perhaps you recall that KU's Student Senate was considering a bill that would announce its opposition to any legislation allowing concealed carry on campus.
Well, that bill passed last night, pretty easily. The margin was 46-8 with three students abstaining, per the minutes from the Senate's meeting Wednesday night.
Also according to the minutes, a couple of students spoke against the bill. (That is, they spoke against being against concealed carry, just to make sure you've got that straight.)
According to the bill, the Student Senate will notify Gov. Sam Brownback as well as a litany of state legislators about its opposition to on-campus concealed carry.
I am against being against the practice of sending your KU news tips to me. So send them to email@example.com.
We told you earlier this month that KU's student government was set to oppose any effort to allow for concealed carry on Kansas college campuses, and a bill in the works would do that in a formal way.
Among the bills KU's Student Senate will be considering over the next couple weeks will be a resolution that would formally oppose concealed carry on university campuses. The bill says concealed carry would threaten the safety of students, staff and others at KU and that university administration and local law enforcement agencies should be making the call on what's allowed.
A bill that would have allowed for concealed carry of handguns on Kansas college campuses passed a state House committee last year, but the bill that ultimately passed the house exempted university buildings (it concerned public buildings in general). That bill never made it out of the Senate.
A similar bill has been filed for this year's session, and it also allows for higher-educational officials to make their own decisions when it comes to their campuses. But in December, Kansas Board of Regents chairman Tim Emert said he was expecting another fight on the issue this year. The Regents also oppose on-campus concealed carry.
We'll see what happens. In the meantime, do please continue to send your KU news tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.