Government & Politics

University of Kansas is preparing for guns on campus

Expressions about guns on the campus fill a University of Kansas sidewalk.
Expressions about guns on the campus fill a University of Kansas sidewalk. Kansas City Star

In anticipation of new policies concerning how Kansas colleges will deal with guns on their campuses, University of Kansas students, faculty and staff on Tuesday talked about what they should expect.

More than 100 people attended a session organized by the University Senate, made up of representatives from each of the campus governing bodies for students, faculty and staff.

For now, Kansas Board of Regents policy prohibits anyone — students, employees and visitors — from possessing weapons of any type on university property at schools in the regents’ system. This also applies to those licensed for concealed carry of handguns.

But that all changes in July 2017 when, according to state law, the only way to prevent anyone from having a concealed weapon in a university building would be to install security measures and security staff at building entrances, which most likely would be cost prohibitive.

If nothing changes by then, the no-guns-allowed signs posted at entrances to all university buildings will come down.

Most people who spoke at Tuesday’s campus event expressed fear and frustration and said they did not believe that guns on campus would be good for the university.

One student wanted to know how a resident assistant would be able to stop disruptions in dorms when she or he knows the students involved are packing guns. A faculty member asked whether instructors could refuse closed-door sessions with students because they don’t know who might be carrying a weapon.

“Many groups are already having these conversations, and it is our responsibility to gather as much information as possible,” said Mike Williams, University Senate president. “Our goal is to make sure all constituents out there are fully aware of what is coming.”

Keith Strawder, an engineering student, said he would have no problem with people carrying concealed guns at KU.

“Most talk of gun control comes from fear,” Strawder said. “People don’t understand guns so they fear them. At the end of the day, no legislation, no sign on the door, is going to stop someone from committing some heinous act. I would much rather have the option to protect myself.”

But Taylor Holm, a senior in communications, disagreed that having a handgun would prevent a mass shooting on campus. He said the campus should be a gun-free space.

Williams encouraged those in attendance to send letters and emails to lawmakers.

“Shame on us if we just stop and quit telling people that this is not the best thing for this university,” Williams said.

The regents are drafting a new policy and providing guidance to the campus communities.

Mará Rose Williams: 816-234-4419, @marawilliamskc