Issue of guns on WSU campus still troubles some students, faculty

Wichita State University (KSN File photo)

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – A battle over guns on the Wichita State University campus continues to brew.

Last week, KSN told you WSU officials met with the Kansas Board of Regents to talk about prohibiting guns in specific areas on campus. Now, in a last-ditch effort to keep WSU gun free, student leaders are sending a plea to Kansas lawmakers. Their goal is to get the legislature to postpone any open carry policies until the year 2020.

Many Wichita State students and faculty feel uneasy with the new gun policy that’s scheduled to take effect next July. According to the student government association, some students might think about leaving WSU because of the policy.

Unless state law is changed, Kansas college students could be toting guns around campus in addition to books in their backpacks.

“It’s going to be a change, it’s going to change our environment,” said David Moses, Wichita State University’s general counsel. “We’re going to have to be more aware of our surroundings.”

Kansas universities currently are fine-tuning their gun policy proposals for the board of regents. At Wichita State, the student government association wants to bring that new proposal to the table.

Among those worried is Taben Azad, the vice president of the Student Government Association.

“I think the percentage is like 54.4 percent of students are somewhat opposed to concealed carry weapons on campus,” said Azad.

He wants lawmakers to push back the date so Kansas colleges will have more time to draft adequate proposals and give students more time to get used to the idea.

“We’re a little worried to see that we’re rushing through and in a sense procrastinating with it,” said Azad. “To have more time would give more feedback from more students and faculty to see what we could do to adequately adjust their needs.”

According to a survey by the board of regents, 70 percent of faculty members said allowing guns on campus would negatively impact their course and how they teach it.

Azad even worries the new open-carry policy might drive some students away from Wichita State.

“I think around 40 percent of students recognize that they might not want to come to WSU as a result of this change, and might not want to attend any universities in the state of Kansas.”

If Azad and other members of the SGA cannot postpone the new gun policy, he says they’ll continue educating students on what to expect come July first.

“We can’t do much about the policy that’ll take place in July of 2017, but the best thing that we can do at this point is make sure that students are educated,” Azad said.

Azad also said WSU’s student government association and campus leaders are working to set up a town hall meeting for WSU students and faculty about the process.