Silent protest against guns on campus draws crowd from all over Kansas

The protesters from universities across Kansas such as KU, Kansas State, Washburn and Fort Hays State held signs that said “#failcampuscarry” and “love guns? Take classes online.”

Brenden Williams

The University of Kansas campus was the location for an anti-guns-on-campus silent protest against a part of the Personal and Family Protection Act that allows students and faculty to carry firearms on college campuses that took place on Monday, Feb. 8.

Students and faculty from campuses around the state gathered in Lawrence on a cold day across the street from KU’s Strong Hall. They were part of a silent protest against the law that says in 2017 students will be able to conceal and carry firearms without permits for their protection, the act is already in effect for public places but college campuses were given an extension until 2017.

The hashtag “#failcampuscarry” was used by protesters on social media.

A first year doctoral student at the University of Kansas, Megen Youngdahl and her peers at the university organized the rally and invited different universities around the state.

“We’re here to support legislation that would amend the law to exempt all institutions of higher learning in Kansas from having to allow conceal and carry,” Youngdahl said. “As it is right now, as of July 17, our temporary exemption will expire. When I came here I wasn’t aware the situation existed. I wouldn’t dream this situation existed, so myself and some others felt that something needed to be done about it.”

Students and faculty held signs that said “exempt us”, “let’s be gun free” and “love guns? Take classes online” as well as covering their faces with ties over their mouths that said “NRA”, representing the National Rifle Association. They also featured signs opposing Gov. Sam Brownback and held a large banner across the middle of the group that had “#failcampuscarry” written across it.

Elizabeth Dobbs, an English professor at Kansas State, as well as three of her fellow professors at the university drove to Lawrence on Monday to join the protest.

“One reason guns are such a bad idea on a campus is that it’s a community,” Hobbs said. “We need an assumption of mutual trust and respect, and in a classroom setting the assumption that everyone is armed is going to be very offsetting. They’re bad for student safety, they’re bad for faculty safety, they’re bad for staff safety, and we want to unite with our colleagues and friends at KU to show support to make any kind of change.”

Priscilla McKinney, a former professor at the University of Kansas, attended the rally because guns may limit free discussion in class.

“We’re opposing the law that will go in effect July 2017 that will allow conceal carry guns on campus,” McKinney said. “As faculty, I can’t imagine teaching classes where students or anyone has the option to carry a gun into a classroom. It would very much stifle a free and open discussion, which is what university is all about: free thinking, free expression. To me, for it to even be considered is a black mark on our culture.”