Posts tagged with Kansas Legislature

Should KU be required to actively advertise that it’s a concealed carry campus? University Senate execs discuss

I should start by saying that this suggestion, brought forward by some University Senate Executive Committee members, failed to gain endorsement by the full committee. But it did elicit debate during Tuesday’s committee meeting and is on the agenda to be discussed by full University Senate next week.

How far should the University of Kansas go to spread the word that concealed carry is allowed on its campus, starting July 1? And how differently should this law be treated from other laws?

The proposed resolution demanded that the KU administration inform current and potential students, faculty and staff of the law’s provisions, in the following forms:

• Official emails to students (and legal guardians for those under 18), faculty and staff describing the law and legislative actions that are underway or pending.

• Notifications on all public doorways.

• Emails and fliers to prospective students and their families “highlighting the presence of guns in dorms.”

• Notifications by all campus tour guides hosting prospective students and their families.

• Notifications to all international students and employees that federal law bars them from carrying guns.

• Notification in all offers of employment, and university job ads.

• Notifications on KU’s home page, ku.edu, “at least half as large as the largest sports banner that has been posted.”

• Weekly ads in The University Daily Kansan near page 1 and measuring at least 3-by-3 inches.

Those who argued for the resolution said it would help prevent KU from trying to hide the fact that guns are allowed on campus from prospective students, parents and faculty hires. People shouldn't learn about it only after moving to campus, they said.

Committee members against it argued that the resolution was overreaching, its demands too specific. Student body vice-president Gabby Naylor, who is from Rhode Island, said anyone coming from out-of-state has a responsibility for knowing laws in their new homes.

“I think that that’s your responsibility to understand,” she said. “I don’t think that the school should have to tell you the law.”

No guns allowed signs are posted on doors leading into Wescoe Hall on the University of Kansas campus on Monday, Oct. 17, 2016. Jayhawk Boulevard and Strong Hall are reflected in the glass.

No guns allowed signs are posted on doors leading into Wescoe Hall on the University of Kansas campus on Monday, Oct. 17, 2016. Jayhawk Boulevard and Strong Hall are reflected in the glass. by Sara Shepherd

In late January, the university website concealedcarry.ku.edu went live. It’s home to a host of information and additional links about the law, KU’s policy and safety recommendations. As of this week, at least, I did not see a direct link to the site on KU’s online homepage. University Senate president Joe Harrington, professor of English, said he was still waiting to hear whether KU planned to add a link to its home and admissions pages. The webpage for KU’s Office of the Provost — which created the concealed carry page — does contain a direct link.

I do know two more places that will definitely contain notification of the law, because Kansas Board of Regents Policy requires it: housing contracts and tickets for certain events. For state universities to set up metal detectors and prohibit guns at athletic or other large ticketed events, tickets must state that concealed guns won’t be allowed in.

University Senate Executive Committee wasn’t the only place people were talking about campus carry this week. It’s also come up:

• At the Regents meeting: Now, faculty senates at five of the six state universities have passed resolutions opposing campus carry, KU Faculty Senate president Pam Keller, clinical professor of law, told the board during its meeting Wednesday in Topeka. She said the sixth, Pittsburg State, is considering a similar resolution.

• At Budig Hall: About 150 people attended a campus carry informational meeting Wednesday, organized by the Office of the Provost. Questions were asked, answers were given — and not necessarily the answers all attendees wanted to hear. (See related story here.)

• At the statehouse: A Kansas House committee narrowly voted not to advance a bill that would have exempted the University of Kansas hospital complex (not the same as an academic campus, but currently affected by the same law) from the upcoming requirement to allow people to carry concealed firearms. (See related story here.)

Clarification: An earlier version of this post said the proposed notification resolution died in University Senate Executive Committee. What actually got voted down was a motion for the committee to endorse the resolution. It'll be heard by the full Senate anyway, sans the endorsement.


— I’m the Journal-World’s KU and higher ed reporter. See all the newspaper’s KU coverage here. Reach me by email at sshepherd@ljworld.com, by phone at 832-7187, on Twitter @saramarieshep or via Facebook at Facebook.com/SaraShepherdNews.

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University Senate at KU opposes campus carry in ‘strongest possible terms’; Regents expected to approve policies Wednesday

Elected representatives of faculty, staff and students at the University of Kansas are now formally on the record opposing campus carry. KU’s full University Senate this month approved a resolution, first crafted by the University Senate executive committee, stating that the body opposes “in the strongest possible terms” allowing concealed weapons on the KU campus.

State university campuses currently prohibit guns, but Kansas law requires them to allow lawful concealed carry beginning July 1, 2017. KU and the other universities have been prepping for that date by crafting policies for implementing the new concealed carry law. The Kansas Board of Regents is expected to approve draft policies from KU and the other schools on Wednesday.

Understanding that at this point the Board of Regents and individual universities are not in charge of the law but rather drafting policies to comply with a law that others made, the University Senate’s statement directly addresses the state Legislature. It says:

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.

In true academic fashion, faculty members from the six state universities are already discussing possibilities for studying effects of the law — whether they want it to become reality or not.

The Regents Council of Faculty Senate Presidents is working on a survey to measure university faculty, staff and students’ anxiety about campus carry, according to a report at last month’s Board of Regents meeting. The idea is to establish a baseline by surveying people before implementation and then again after implementation. The group is also checking with other U.S. campuses with similar laws to see what data they collected before and after implementation.

No guns allowed signs are posted on doors leading into Wescoe Hall on the University of Kansas campus on Monday, Oct. 17, 2016. Jayhawk Boulevard and Strong Hall are reflected in the glass.

No guns allowed signs are posted on doors leading into Wescoe Hall on the University of Kansas campus on Monday, Oct. 17, 2016. Jayhawk Boulevard and Strong Hall are reflected in the glass. by Sara Shepherd


I’m the Journal-World’s KU and higher ed reporter. See all the newspaper’s KU coverage here. Reach me by email at sshepherd@ljworld.com, by phone at 832-7187, on Twitter @saramarieshep or via Facebook at Facebook.com/SaraShepherdNews.

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Legislating restrooms and religious clubs: How would bills affect KU?

Kansas lawmakers in the past week have advanced a couple pieces of legislation that could affect certain Kansas University populations: transgender students who need to go to the bathroom, and students who want to join a religious club they don’t necessarily agree with.

One was just signed into law, and I’m unqualified to guess whether the other is going anywhere, but I did do some poking around to find out how they compare with the status quo at KU.

First, restrooms.

In short, two separate but identical bills proposed in the House and Senate would require transgender students at Kansas public schools and universities to use restrooms and locker rooms designated for their chromosomal sex at birth. (This story provides more details.)

With help from KU spokeswoman Erinn Barcomb-Peterson, I determined that with the exception of a KU Libraries policy that prohibits use of library restrooms “for purposes other than which they are intended,” KU doesn’t currently have any rules or regulations about where people can go to the bathroom.

There are a number of single-occupancy restrooms on campus (often called family restrooms), some of which have signage specifying that they are gender-neutral — even though by definition they already are. It doesn’t seem this bill would apply to those, but rather only restrooms that are designated for one sex or another.

None by Hugo Macias, Jr.

The Kansas Board of Regents doesn’t have any overarching bathroom policies, either, but says federal laws prohibiting sex-based discrimination would dictate what’s required. According to a memo from the Regents legal team, transgender students seeking to use restrooms designated for the sex they identify as have repeatedly won court cases, and the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights has also ruled that they can use the restroom of their choice.

Next, religious clubs.

None

Gov. Sam Brownback signed this bill into law Tuesday, and it will take effect in July — although, according to The Associated Press, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled nearly six years ago that universities can require membership in such groups to be open to all. The bill will allow college religious groups to restrict membership to like-minded students.

Currently at KU, all registered KU organizations are open to all students, KU spokesman Joe Monaco said. Whether they actually receive university funding or not (clubs often get money in the form of student fee revenue) doesn’t matter, Monaco said — all registered KU organizations are eligible to request it so they’re all in the same category and follow the same rules.

There is an overarching Regents policy specifically addressing club membership. Relevant passages:

The established policy of the Board of Regents prohibits discrimination on the basis of age, race, color, religion, sex, marital status, national origin, physical handicap or disability, status as a Vietnam Era Veteran, sexual orientation or other factors which cannot be lawfully considered, within the state universities. All fraternal and campus related organizations shall follow this policy in the selection of their members, except the prohibition against sex discrimination shall not apply to social fraternities or sororities which are excluded from the application of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (20 U.S.C. Sec. 1681 et seq.).

The right of organizations to establish standards for membership is acknowledged, provided that all students are afforded equal opportunity to meet those standards. Just as all students have the right to choose those with whom they would associate on the campus, an organization shall have the right to select its members subject to these principles.

There are currently 36 registered KU organizations in the “Religious” category, according to a search of groups listed on RockChalkCentral.ku.edu. Those include lots of Christian groups, several Jewish ones, the Muslim Student Association and the Society of Open-Minded Atheists and Agnostics, to name a few.


— I’m the Journal-World’s KU and higher ed reporter. See all the newspaper’s KU coverage here. Reach me by email at sshepherd@ljworld.com, by phone at 832-7187, on Twitter @saramarieshep or via Facebook at Facebook.com/SaraShepherdNews.

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Sporting events, high-risk facilities mentioned as likely locations for prohibiting guns at KU; fans may have to go through metal detectors at Jayhawk games

The subject of guns on campus, as it usually does these days, came up in Thursday’s Kansas University Senate meeting. A KU-specific policy for implementing the law is still in infancy and nothing has been decided, but some tidbits of Thursday’s discussion may be of interest to the KU community.

For one, the University Senate’s weapons committee will continue to meet with groups across campus, University Senate President Mike Williams said. He said conversations with KU Athletics leaders indicate KU will at least need to put in place adequate security measures to prohibit guns during games at Allen Fieldhouse and Memorial Stadium. That raises the possibility that fans will have to go through metal detectors at both Allen Fieldhouse and Memorial Stadium.

Also, Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said areas with sensitive materials are likely candidates for security measures. (She did not specify any locations, but faculty have previously cited concerns over science and engineering labs housing combustible substances.)

“There are places at the campus where, because of the materials there, they’d have to be excluded because an accidental discharge of a weapon would be disastrous,” Gray-Little said.

No guns signs are posted on a side door of KU's Art and Design Building, as well as other buildings on campus, pictured in May 2015.

No guns signs are posted on a side door of KU's Art and Design Building, as well as other buildings on campus, pictured in May 2015. by Sara Shepherd

A committee led by KU administration will develop a policy for allowing concealed carry on campus, which will be required by state law beginning in July 2017. Last month, the Kansas Board of Regents approved a policy requiring each state university to develop a campus-specific plan.

In other University Senate news:

• The KU Staff Senate has created a Diversity and Inclusion Committee, Staff Senate President Chris Wallace reported. “We’ve come to realize our Senate is not real diverse,” he said, adding that the committee’s goal is outreach to underrepresented groups.

• The University Senate elected a new vice president, graduate student and Student Senate representative Brent Lee. Lee will complete the term of Shegufta Huma, who is not enrolled as a student this semester.

— I’m the Journal-World’s KU and higher ed reporter. See all the newspaper’s KU coverage here. Reach me by email at sshepherd@ljworld.com, by phone at 832-7187, on Twitter @saramarieshep or via Facebook at Facebook.com/SaraShepherdNews.

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State senators introduce bill in attempt to permanently exempt universities from concealed carry law

A group of five democratic state senators — including two from Douglas County — is trying to reverse the portion of a law requiring public colleges to allow concealed carry of guns on their campuses starting in July 2017.

Under current law, the personal and family protection act, postsecondary educational institutions are among a handful of entities allowed a four-year exemption before they must allow guns, like other state and municipal buildings have been required to do for the past few years. That exemption runs out in July 2017. (Sidenote: Other entities with the same four-year exemption are medical care facilities, adult care homes, community mental health centers and indigent health care clinics.)

Senate Bill No. 348, introduced Jan. 21, would scratch colleges from the exemption list and, instead, state that the law does not apply at all to postsecondary educational institution buildings, or buildings leased by them. (Another note: Buildings on the grounds of the Kansas state school for the deaf or the Kansas state school for the blind are currently the only place the concealed carry law doesn’t apply, according to the legislation.)

The bill was referred Friday to the Committee on Federal and State Affairs. You can track its progress via kslegislature.org.

No guns signs are posted on a side door of KU's Art and Design Building, as well as other buildings on campus, pictured in May 2015.

No guns signs are posted on a side door of KU's Art and Design Building, as well as other buildings on campus, pictured in May 2015. by Sara Shepherd

The bill was introduced by senators Tom Hawk, D-Manhattan; Oletha Faust-Goudeau, D-Wichita; Marci Francisco, D-Lawrence; Tom Holland, D-Baldwin City; Pat Pettey, D-Kansas City.

Holland said universities should be able to decide whether they want to prohibit guns and not have that decision “forced upon them” by the state.

“Honestly, the schools won’t have enough money to put the proper security machines in place to rectify if they want to keep guns off campus,” he said. “Once again the state has overreached.”

Francisco said she agreed prohibiting weapons should be an institutional decision. She added that since only people 21 and older are allowed by law to carry concealed, practically half the people on college campuses would not be allowed to, which she called inconsistent and “disconcerting.”

I’ve heard a representative may be planning to introduce a related measure in the House. I’ll try to do a follow up report if and when that happens. (See update, below.)

The Kansas Board of Regents and state university administrators — at least at Kansas University — in the meantime aren’t counting on any changes in the law and continue to plan for the arrival of guns on campus beginning in July 2017. The Regents last week passed a statewide policy directing individual schools to create their own, more specific policies, about how the law will be implemented on their respective campuses. Read more about what the Regents policy says here.

So if the law that means guns will come to campus has been around a couple of years already, why are constituents on campus and legislators in Topeka just now speaking out against it?

“When it was four years from now, people could say, ‘Oh I’m going to deal with that later,’” Francisco said. “I think now there are many discussions about how could we actually address this.”

UPDATE (Thursday):

Rep. Barbara Ballard, (D) Lawrence, said she introduced a nearly identical bill in the House Standing Committee on Appropriations last week. She said she’s hopeful that by introducing the bill in committee, it will have a “stronger chance of going somewhere.”

Ballard’s bill, House Bill 2526, also would move postsecondary institutions off the four-year exemption list and onto the list of entities to which the concealed carry law does not apply, she said.

“Concealed carry and education don’t go together,” she said. Ballard added that, under current law, if universities want to prohibit it in any buildings after July 2017 their only option is to put in security measures. “We don’t have that kind of money, and higher ed doesn’t have that kind of money.”

Ballard was inspired by a statewide poll that she said showed 82 percent of Kansans don’t support campus concealed carry, as well as university students and faculty members speaking out against it. When the initial legislation was passed several years ago, 2017 seemed far away, she said. “The closer we get to it then the students on our campus and the students on other campuses start getting involved.”

— I’m the Journal-World’s KU and higher ed reporter. See all the newspaper’s KU coverage here. Reach me by email at sshepherd@ljworld.com, by phone at 832-7187, on Twitter @saramarieshep or via Facebook at Facebook.com/SaraShepherdNews.

Reply 13 comments from Keith Strawder John Middleton Emily Lange Steve Bunch Bob Smith Angel Gillaspie Bob Summers Sarah Bloxsom Gary Denning Richard Aronoff and 1 others

KU student-government leaders planning to lobby state legislators on concealed carry on campus, higher-education funding

We're just a few days away from a new Kansas legislative session, and KU's student government is getting ready to join in the fun.

Student Body President Hannah Bolton is rounding up students to come along on Higher Education Day, Feb. 11, when student governments from all the Kansas Board of Regents institutions will head to Topeka to lobby on the sorts of issues that might matter to college students.

Bolton said the KU representatives would focus on three issues in particular:

• Concealed carry on college campuses. The KU students will lobby against this, as they did last year at the same event. Bolton said the student-government groups at the other Regents universities would each be writing resolutions opposing on-campus concealed carry, as well.

• Potential higher-education funding cuts. Gov. Sam Brownback won't unveil his recommended state budget until the session starts, but the state Division of Budget last month recommended cuts of approximately 8 percent to higher-education funding, according to the Board of Regents. Bolton said that number is worrisome to students, so they'll hammer this one hard.

• And, finally, issues related to international students. Bolton said some of these issues (such as working restrictions) will apply more to the federal level, but one issue the KU students might consider will be in-state tuition for illegal-immigrant students who've lived in the state for at least three years. She said she wasn't sure how other student governments might feel about that issue, though.

KU student-government folks will also head to Washington, D.C., to lobby along with contingents from other Big 12 schools in March.

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