Profits Over People: KU Chancellor Lies about Campus Carry – Part 3

As you can see from the Chancellor’s emails to me, she has zero interest in doing anything to stop campus carry. I can’t help but wonder if she’s also in bed with the NRA like the Kansas Board of Regents is.

don't become a jayhawk

For Part 3, I thought I’d share with you an series of emails between myself and Chancellor Gray-Little about campus carry. On Martin Luther King Day, she sent out a campus message about diversity and inclusion efforts on campus and even mentioned the Legislature, but, like usual, there was absolutely no mention of campus carry.  I decided to email her about it and quickly became enraged. I did not share this email exchange with very many people at the time because I felt like it would be inappropriate. I also felt like I would get told that what I said to her was out of bounds– I did use some strong language– and I was afraid I would be punished for it. I have now decided that the benefits of sharing this exchange outweigh the potential risks.

As you can see from the Chancellor’s emails to me, she has zero interest in doing anything to stop campus carry. She is retiring by July however, so it seems as though she’s ready to hightail it out of town and let the rest of us deal with the repercussions of her inaction. I can’t help but wonder if she’s also in bed with the NRA like the Kansas Board of Regents is.

I have put the correspondence from KU in bolded blue again. My emails to the Chancellor are in bolded green.

 

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1/17/2017

MLK, the Kansas Legislature, and the ongoing transformation of KU 

Faculty, staff and students:

As has been the case for many years, the start of our spring semester coincides with Martin Luther King Day observances. I re-read my opening messages of the past few years, and I found myself almost wishing that Martin Luther King Day might eventually be “just another holiday” – but it is not yet. This year, more than any I can remember in more than 30 years, King’s call for equal justice and his aspiration to make true democracy a reality for our country are needed.

During the past two-and-a-half years, universities nationwide have struggled to address issues of race, gender, sexual identity and religion, among others, as if we must learn the lesson of equality for every group that is identifiable as different in some way. These struggles recall problems of our larger society, issues reflected dramatically in cities like Charleston, Dallas, Orlando, and others. As Ford Foundation President Darren Walker noted, “The events of this year have tested any commitment to hope, and to the belief that equality can triumph over indifference and injustice.”

But this is precisely why our efforts to ensure that our university embraces diversity and inclusion are so important. No single action can achieve our goals. We need to be comprehensive, systematic and unceasing in our efforts.

Last semester, we conducted our university-wide Campus Climate Survey. We are reviewing the findings and will begin to take action in the next several weeks. Last April, our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Advisory Group submitted its report to KU-Lawrence leadership, and in September the provost responded to that report and continues to make progress on its implementation. And KU Medical Center continues to pursue various initiatives to integrate diversity, cultural competence and inclusion across the center’s campuses.

The Martin Luther King holiday and start of the semester coincide with the start of the 2017 legislative session, which began last week with the governor’s State of the State speech and the release of his budget recommendations for next year. While he does not recommend additional cuts to KU, his recommendations retain the $10.7 million allotment cut he made to the KU budget last May – essentially making that a permanent annual cut.

Last year’s sudden loss of $10.7 million has significantly impacted KU and forced us to make difficult decisions for the current fiscal year. With that in mind, we will be working with legislators on two crucial priorities this year: restoration of the 2016 cuts to KU, and stable funding for KU moving forward.

In talking with most legislators, it is clear they are excited about the ongoing transformation of KU – and this semester has some exciting moments in store related to that transformation. On February 9, the University of Kansas Cancer Center’s quest for Comprehensive Cancer Center designation through the National Cancer Institute will reach a major milestone, when the NCI visits to conduct its review of our center’s research program and leadership.

In addition, we continue to develop our Central District into a new hub of education and research that will address urgent needs and position us for excellence for decades. Last November, we celebrated a “topping out” ceremony for the district’s Integrated Science Building. Looking ahead, we will soon complete the parking garage, while the residence hall and dining center are slated for completion this summer.

The start of a semester is a good time to remind ourselves of our priorities. As classes begin this week, please remember our commitment to improving our retention, persistence and graduation rates, and enhancing our research and scholarship. Thank you for your continued dedication to these initiatives and your commitment to an inclusive university community. And thank you for all you do to serve our students, our state and our world.

Sincerely,

Bernadette Gray-Little
Chancellor

email 2 chancellor 1

1/18/2017 

 

email 2 chancellor 2

1/19/2017

Some truth

People WILL die, WILL be physically injured, and WILL suffer (and have suffered) psychological trauma as a result of campus carry in Kansas.

I know I’ve annoyed the shit out of everyone I know about campus carry for approximately one year and 7 months. I know many of you want me to stop bringing up guns or asking you to do things that are inconvenient. 

But I want you all to remember something: 
I don’t exaggerate.

 I joke about being the “extremist” to other people’s moderate, but really I’m being and reacting entirely rationally. 
People WILL die, WILL be physically injured, and WILL suffer (and have suffered) psychological trauma as a result of campus carry in Kansas. That is not hyperbole for effect. That’s not me trying to get a reaction. That is TRUTH. 
If you think your social comfort and maintaining a sense of false and brief normalcy around you is more important than people’s lives and mental health, you need to seriously reevaluate your life choices.  

This law has ALREADY hurt me and will hurt and kill others. 
Please, for the love of life, help.

#failcampuscarry

Profits Over People: How the University of Kansas is lying about campus carry- Part 2

The University of Kansas can do more to oppose campus carry. Do not believe administrators when they tell you otherwise.

don't become a jayhawk

In the second installment of Profits over People, see how the Provost of KU responded to a parent and alum who expressed concern about concealed carry at the university. Like in Part 1, I have put the communication from KU in bold blue text. My commentary is in red italics. 

Thank you for your frank note. I am truly sorry to hear your son has chosen to leave the University of Kansas and heartbroken that the reason for his departure is a law beyond my personal and professional power to change. 

So far this is okay and seems genuinely sympathetic. I take some issue with the “beyond my personal and professional power to change” line however, because there are more things that her office could be doing in opposition to campus carry that would not violate the law. 

As I’m sure you know, the issues surrounding concealed carry on college campuses in Kansas are complex and even today are still being analyzed, debated, and discussed.

It’s actually really quite simple. There is overwhelming evidence that suggests guns on campus are a bad idea, as highlighted in this pre-Brownback Kansas Board of Regents report on the topic. Acting like campus carry is a matter of opinion– like one’s preference for chocolate over vanilla ice cream– is ignoring mountains of evidence. This issue is still being “analyzed, debated, and discussed” at KU in part because opinions that are not based on facts and evidence are presented as having equal weight and validity to ones that do. This behavior is shameful for a research university to be participating in. 

Every day at KU we manage a delicate balance of all laws and evolving regulations that affect our institution as we strive to fulfill our stated mission to educate students and conduct research that positively impacts our world. 

Allowing death machines into campus buildings without even informing prospective students about it is not a “delicate balance.” It is a willful concealment of facts. 

I can assure you there has been no conspiracy to hide information about concealed carry or deliberately mislead anyone.

And we are supposed to believe this, why? The yellow sticker pictured below that says “[image of gun free sign] expires July 1, 2017” was part of a campaign put on by individuals and not an official sticker from the university. These stickers have been constantly removed by maintenance staff and have to be continually replaced. If the University of Kansas were not intentionally hiding this information, they would link their website concealedcarry.ku.edu to the main admissions page, which they don’t do, and they would include it in every single promotional item for prospective students. They would also put up their own version of the yellow stickers. I heard from a trustworthy source that the Chancellor even admitted that they won’t put information about campus carry into admissions material because they are afraid it will hurt enrollment. gun free sign ku

For some time now, the university has involved faculty, students, and staff in efforts to address the law’s implementation on each of our unique campuses. 

Note: she says “to address the law’s implementation”. She does not say “to oppose the law” or to “find ways to keep guns off campus” or “to make sure that the campus is free from unrestricted firearms everywhere”. As I mentioned in a previous post, the Kansas Board of Regents has been working with the NRA to develop policies for implementation. 

Our collective goal is to make KU’s campuses as safe as possible using all the means at our disposal. 

“All the means at our disposal” would be great. That’s not actually happening. The University could  inform every single prospective student, faculty member, staff member, and visitor about the law. They have that kind of platform. All of the administrators could talk to the legislators as “private citizens” since they are barred from using state-appropriated funds to lobby for gun control measures. Making sure that every single person who may interact with the University of Kansas in any way shape or form is not illegal. The University of Kansas doing anything less than that is not “using all the means at our disposal.” 

I understand the stance you and your son have chosen to take, and I wish nothing but the best for both of you. 

Her sympathy is seeming a lot less sincere at this point. 

Sincerely, Neeli

The University of Kansas can do more to oppose campus carry. Do not believe administrators when they tell you otherwise. 

I will continue this series with Part 3. Stay tuned.

Profits over People: the University of Kansas lies to prospective students about guns Part 1

The University of Kansas has done way too little, way too late with regard to campus carry AND they are misrepresenting fact from official accounts in an attempt to protect profits. If you want a quality education, don’t go to a university that values money over evidence and ethics. Most universities in other states won’t have neonazis with guns AND an administration unwilling to admit that that’s a problem.

don't become a jayhawk

The University of Kansas values profits over people. This is just the first installment of what will likely be a series.

The following is a case-study of official communication from a KU recruiter to a parent who expressed concern about campus carry and mentioned that her son is transferring because of the law.

The bolded blue text is copy/pasted from an email written by a KU recruiter whose job is to recruit high school students in a more northern state that I will leave nameless. If you really want to try to figure out who wrote this letter, feel free to go through the KU admissions page. The red text in italics is my commentary, which I tried to keep brief. Some subjects I’ll write about later in more depth (once I do, I’ll update this page to include hyperlinks).

Thank you for your email. I understand your concern for the new Kansas law that will take place in July 2017. As you mentioned, KU did fight against  this change and its effect on KU’s campus. However, we are left with the law as it is. 

Woah, let’s stop right there and roll back shall we? Yes, the Kansas Board of Regents opposed the original bill in 2012 , but the Board of Regents, and the University of Kansas, have since refused to support any opposition efforts in the past 4 years. All opposition has come from individuals and not from administration. Also, remember that Governor Brownback gradually replaced the entire 9-member Kansas Board of Regents with three new appointees in 2013, three appointees in 2014, and three appointees in 2015.

The NRA and KSRA thanked the Board of Regents for working with them to create concealed carry implementation policies in the hearing for HB2220. There is also no mention here of HB2074— a bill that would permanently exempt the college and university campuses that is currently sitting in committee (as I write this on 3/26/2017) or the other efforts currently underway in the Kansas Legislature. 

But, alright, we’ll continue. . . 

While I cannot predict how this will change student behavior on campus, given my time as a student for four years and an employee for four years, I have a strong feeling that there will not be much change, if any, in the practices of students that are attending KU.  

While I am not naming the person that wrote this email so you’re rightfully suspicious of everyone in the Admissions Office, I looked the recruiter up. . . she is a white woman who is clearly a US citizen. By nature of her whiteness, she is not subject to the threats that people of color and people from other countries receive on an almost daily basis at the University of Kansas. Incidents like this are not a rare occurrence.  

I have this feeling since the overarching concealed carry law has existed for some time outside of campus and that has not, in my opinion, affected life in Lawrence for both students or community members. 

It bears repeating– this white woman’s experience is not indicative of the experience of everyone in Lawrence. 

Under this law, Kansas has allowed concealed carry in nearly all public areas for several years, and this law will bring the campus under the same law that currently applies to students in most of the rest of the city of Lawrence. 

Fact check: the concealed carry law has not existed as it is for that long. Concealed carry has only been legal in the state of Kansas since 2006, when there were stringent permit and training requirements. Since 2006, the training requirements for a permit have been gradually whittled away until 2015 when they got rid of permit and training requirements for good with SB45

In its existence, I have not felt unsafe because of what is allowed by this law.

Again, because you are a white cis woman. 

A student on our campus would be under the same laws as a patron walking into a Target or Grocery store in any other place.

I don’t even know where to start here. . . Target and grocery stores, by nature of being private businesses , can make their own rules with regard to concealed firearms. A business can ask a person who has a gun to leave if they are being disruptive. A professor at KU would not be legally allowed to ask a student if they even have a gun on them let alone make rules about what happens with them in their own classroom.  Also, university campuses are much different places than your neighborhood grocery store for about 1,000,000 different reasons that I don’t really think I need to list here. 

What this change allows is for lawful gun owners over the age of 21 to carry concealed handguns on all universities in Kansas and in campus buildings, starting on July 1, 2017. Fifty-eight percent (58%) of undergraduate students are under the age of 21, and a very large majority of students living in campus housing are under the age of 21 (almost 85%). 

To legally concealed carry in Kansas,  you need to be a US citizen or permanent resident over 21 with a pulse. No permits and no training are required. Also, the gun lobby wants to lower the age of concealed carry to 18, so who knows how long the “this won’t apply to most people!” argument is actually valid. 

The University of Kansas remains committed to the safety of our students, and has had and will continue to hold open forums to best understand what this means for our campus community and how we can continually improve all aspects of safety on our campus.

This line made me laugh, then cry. The University of Kansas has had a total of 2 public forums about concealed carry since 2013 when the law was passed. The first one was in December of 2015. The second one was in February of 2017.  There is a long history of sexual assaults being ignored at KU- the most recent of which is the rape of a 16-year-old girl in the men’s basketball dorm. The assertion that KU cares about safety at all is beyond INSULTING.

In addition, Kansas is not the only place where colleges are dealing with these kinds of laws. Other states — including Colorado, Idaho, Mississippi, Oregon, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin — have provisions in their laws that allow the carrying of firearms on their college and university campuses in various ways. 

Again, this is a misrepresentation of facts. Kansas will be the first state to have concealed carry allowed in all public university and college campuses without the universities and colleges having the ability to exempt certain areas from the law. Kansas is also the first state to institute campus carry with zero permit and training requirements. [I will also go more in depth on all the reasons this is just wrong in more depth later] 

I am not offering this as a combative point, but  KU is not the only AAU campus affected by a law of this nature. 

“I’m not offering this as a combative point, but. . . ” is a pretty crafty way to try to excuse yourself before you offer a “combative point.” 

Also, again: fact check. 

From a personal prospective, I have always had a heightened sense of awareness to topics of this nature.  Awareness of firearms, firearm rights and overall safety in many different settings crosses my mind daily. That being said, I have felt incredibly safe on campus and in and around Lawrence, even with the gun laws as they have been for several years. I know this is a personal decision for each student and family that explores attending colleges in the aforementioned states. 

And again, your experience as a cis, white, seemingly able-bodied woman is not and will not be the same as someone who holds other identities. And again, Kansas gun laws have not always been this way.  

I understand your concern, and am glad we can have a discussion before your son makes a decision to transfer prior to senior year.

I don’t think you do. You just spent multiple paragraphs explaining all the reasons why someone shouldn’t be concerned. Maybe you should listen.

I would hate to see him have to add time to his graduation, remove himself from his KU community, or lose scholarship options elsewhere if a conversation would put you more at ease with what this really will look like for our students. 

Condescending much?! Also, you admitted early you actually don’t know what this will really look like for our students. You just “feel” like it will be okay. Campus carry will not be okay. 

In summary, the University of Kansas has done way too little, way too late with regard to campus carry AND they are misrepresenting fact from official accounts in an attempt to protect profits. If you want a quality education, don’t go to a university that values money over evidence and ethics. Most universities in other states won’t have neonazis with guns AND an administration unwilling to admit that that’s a problem. 

For more on how KU is lying about campus carry, check out Part 2 of this continuing series.

Dear middle-aged white men with tenure . . .

Dear middle-aged white men with tenure who are too afraid to speak out against campus carry,
This letter is for you.

Dear middle-aged white men with tenure who are too afraid to speak out against campus carry,

This letter is for you.

Do you really, truly believe that you are at a higher risk for expressing something that polls have shown to be a popular opinion? 

You. 

You have the age, the skin color, and the gender to be listened to by both the Legislature and the white men who can’t wait to parade their death machines on campus.

You have a “respectable” vocation with job security, health insurance, and enough money to live on comfortably. Before you inevitably argue with me about the amount of work you do versus how much you get paid, go talk to someone who has gotten fired or arrested in the Fight for $15 movement or read about what it really means to be poor

The people who really want guns on campus are not going to tell you that because you don’t want guns in classrooms that they want to watch you get raped while they stroke their guns and don’t intervene. They aren’t going to tell you that they’d love to see you in pain screaming for someone to save you so they can specifically not save you because you dared to insult their gun. They aren’t going to threaten to rape you. (Yes, those are all things that have all been said to me more than once by different white men).

The people that really want guns on campus are not going to call you a series of racist and xenophobic slurs or tell you to go back to your country because guns equal America and if you don’t like it you can leave.

When the people who want guns on campus see you, they think you are one of them. They assume you are a white supremacist who wants guns on campus just like them before they assume otherwise, and statistically, they are right.  

Your mere existence doesn’t set Nazis on edge.

You aren’t considered political by simply existing.

You have choice, like I have choice.

Now of course, you have every right to be afraid to say you don’t want guns in classrooms. You can be afraid, but if you really don’t want guns on campus you need to work past that and act. You need to think really hard about what your lack of action as a person who has the privilege of job security, the privilege of whiteness, the privilege of male-ness, and the privilege of age means for the rest of us who don’t have all of those things.  

So you won’t be getting any sympathy from me. Stop asking for it. 

Your silence is allowing this law to go into effect. Yes, yours

And before you try to mansplain the social media policy or your contractual agreements with the university to me, the First Amendment still applies to you. If it applies to Milo Yiannopoulos, it definitely applies to you.  

So you, middle-aged white man with tenure, you have no excuse.

Signed, 

A young white woman with next-to-zero job security who is more afraid to actually have guns on campus than she is afraid to say something about it.

Don’t Shoot the Messenger

If you think Kansas laws make Kansas look “insane” or “dangerous,” change the law. Don’t try to silence the people talking about it.

If enrollment for universities in Kansas decreases because people know about a dangerous law and decide not to come here, it is not the fault of people spreading information about that law.

If international students do not come to Kansas because of our hate crimes and guns everywhere policies, it is not the fault of the people being open and transparent about those policies.

If people transfer and leave the state of Kansas, it is not the fault of the people who told them about a law they don’t want to live with.

If it is suddenly impossible to recruit people to programs in the state, it is not the fault of the people who are letting out of state people know about policies that will affect them.

If Kansas is embarrassed nationally and internationally because of its laws, it is not the fault of the people who talk about them.

If you need someone to blame for campus carry and its impact on enrollment at Kansas universities, blame the Kansas legislature for passing this law in the first place.

Blame Governor Brownback.

Blame the people who are supporting and upholding the policy, despite the mountain of evidence that proves it’s dangerous.

Blame the National Rifle Association and the rest of the gun lobby for pushing these policies in states and using thousands of dollars to do it.

Blame the Kansas Board of Regents for working with the gun lobby to devise policies for implementation instead of working to ensure safe environments and opposing this law.

Blame the people causing the problem, not the people drawing attention to it.

If you think Kansas laws make Kansas look “insane” or “dangerous,” change the law. Don’t try to silence the people talking about it.  

Campus carry will hurt STEM diversity initiatives

I stopped by the engineering building on campus on Friday morning. There are thousands of kids roaming the hallways really excited about science and learning. Kids of all identities. I have seen more black people in this building in the past 20 minutes than I have ever seen in this building or honestly really anywhere on campus. This is good. This is engineering as a field moving in the right direction.

This is being taken away. The Kansas legislature doesn’t want little black girls to grow up to design robots and know they are smart and capable.

Instead, the Kansas legislature wants to fill the halls of this building with death machines on the hips of neonazis. They want the white supremacists to use this building to design weapons of war.

Campus carry is racist, sexist, and dangerous.

I absolutely CANNOT stop saying that.

Fail campus carry. Oppose the gun lobby.