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.

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.  

HB2220, Preemption, and how KBOR is conspiring with the NRA

On Thursday (3/9/2017), there was a hearing on HB2220 — a bill that would preempt all of the individual universities’ policies for campus carry and make it so that individual universities and colleges in Kansas could not make rules regarding guns on campus that are more restrictive than the policies developed by the Kansas Board of Regents.

Here is the full livestream from Loud Light.

As always, the proponents were the first to give testimony. Chairman John Barker gave all of the proponents as much time as they wanted or needed to speak.

Travis Couture-Lovelady, the guy that quit his position as a Representative in the KS Legislature in order to become a full time lobbyist for the National Rifle Association, spoke very highly of the Kansas Board of Regents’ policies on campus carry and thanked them for having discussions with them while they created their policies. Moriah Day, the spokesperson for the Kansas State Rifle Association, said something similar.

Then, it was time for the opponent testimony.

Zoe Newton, Chair of the Kansas Board of Regents who was by Governor Sam Brownback in 2014, first spoke in opposition to the law and she was given as much time as she wanted to speak. This was the first time since 2012 that the Kansas Board of Regents testified for or against a law concerning guns on college campuses. In her testimony, Newton said, “The Board sought opinions from the Attorney General’s office and worked with legislators and gun-rights advocates throughout the process to ensure that its policies would not infringe upon the rights of lawful gun owners. The Board has actively overseen the development of the university specific policies for the same reason.” — The Kansas Board of Regents worked to ensure that their policies were acceptable by the NRA!

Mind you in 2012 when this law was first up for consideration, the Kansas Board of Regents was in strong opposition to campus carry in every way. Brownback replaced all of those board members.

Multiple administrators at Kansas universities have told me that the Board of Regents is working behind the scenes to stop campus carry. This is a LIE. They wouldn’t be thanking each other in a committee hearing if that were the case.

After Newton spoke, Chairman Barker gave the rest of the opposition testimony a strict 3-minute time limit.

KU student Mikaela Warner reminded the committee of Willie Dove’s irresponsibility with his gun earlier this session and asked ““How can we expect college students to be more responsible than our legislators?” as quoted in the Topeka Capitol Journal.

Dr. Ron Barrett, professor of aerospace engineering at KU,  brought a 6-foot tall missile as a supplement to his testimony about how industry will be affected in the state.

I told the committee that the law is only meant to protect and defend white men. Chairman Barker interrupted me and said, “I’m going to have to give you a warning,” to which I responded, “A warning for what?” He told me to “stay on topic.” I said, “People are being threatened now on our university campuses for being black, for being LGBT, for not appearing the way all of the representatives for the NRA have appeared in front of this Legislature,” as the  Lawrence Journal World reported. Then I said that every single person and member of that committee that supports HB2220 and supports guns on college campuses is personally responsible if anyone dies or is injured as a result of guns being allowed on college campuses and that we will all hold them accountable for it.

There were a few other verbal testimonies in opposition and multiple written ones submitted that you can find here.

The most important thing that came out of the hearing in my opinion was that the Kansas Board of Regents has been working directly with the NRA and wants to make sure that they are happy with all of the gun policies that are made. Don’t believe anyone who tells you that KBOR is secretly opposing this law. All of them were appointed by Brownback and they are doing NOTHING to oppose this law.