FAQs about concealed carry and teaching
Many faculty members have raised questions about how the state’s concealed carry law might affect their classes. The Provost’s Office has created a website with answers to many questions. What follows are questions that relate specifically to teaching, classes, and classrooms.
There is no way to address every possible question in a list like this. Rather, it is intended to reflect some of the main concerns that instructors have raised about the new gun law. In addition to the resources on this page, we urge instructors to visit the section on inclusive teaching on the CTE website. It contains many additional resources for creating constructive approaches for difficult conversations.
As an instructor, can I tell students that I don’t want guns in my classrooms or on campus?
Can I ban weapons during office hours?
No. Office hours are considered open hours in most university buildings, so a student with a concealed weapon may enter.
Can I ask students in a class whether anyone is carrying a concealed weapon?
I don’t allow cellphones in class and deduct points if a student violates that policy. Can I penalize a student if I see a gun in class?
There are more constructive approaches to handling such situations. University policy states that weapons must be concealed, so displaying a gun, even inadvertently, would violate that policy. In many cases, simply talking to the student privately and reminding them of the policy will take care of things. It is within your right to call Public Safety if you see a weapon, though.
Am I allowed to have class discussions about the gun law? And can I tell students that the presence of concealed weapons diminishes my feelings of safety and that I have changed the way I teach because of the concealed carry law?
You may certainly talk about the gun law in class. Discussing controversial topics is an important part of a university education. As with any controversial topic, though, you should use your position as an instructor to engage students and help them understand the subject matter. You may certainly explain your position, but you shouldn’t do so in a way that shuts down a conversation. That goes for all conversations about controversial topics. As an instructor, you should focus on helping students learn, not on pushing a political agenda. The inclusive teaching section of the CTE website offers information on how to handle difficult conversations.
Does the gun law limit my ability as an instructor speak out against guns?
As a private citizen, you have the right to speak out on any topic you choose. As a state employee, though, you may not use your position, work time or resources to pursue a political agenda.
I oversee several graduate teaching assistants. The concealed carry law has nothing to do with the subject matter they teach, and they aren’t trained to lead those sorts of discussions. What direction should I give them in case students bring up the topic of guns?
Here’s one possible approach: Have the GTAs explain to students that most of us on campus have questions about the new law and about how it might affect the university. This isn’t the class to talk about guns, though, and doing so would take away class time we need to help everyone better understand course material.
In my theater classes, I must occasionally put my hand on a student’s hip or back to guide their movements. Students are also constantly moving. What happens if they accidentally reveal a weapon or if I see a weapon during these types of activities?
Communicate with students in advance about such possibilities. Add a section to your syllabus and explain at the beginning of class the types of activities you will be doing. It is the weapon owner’s responsibility to keep the weapon concealed. If this sort of movement accidentally reveals a weapon, talk to the student and suggest that they make better arrangements in the future, though it is within your right to call campus security if you see a weapon.
What is the university doing to make sure my classroom is safe?
Public Safety officers are making an effort to be more visible on campus, and there will be substations at both the Kansas Union and the Burge Union. Keep in mind, though, that universities in other states had few problems after concealed carry took effect there.
I have to tell a student that they have failed a class because of academic misconduct and am concerned that the student might be violent. Can I get access to a secure room for that meeting?
Maybe. Public Safety has a portable metal detector. Setting it up requires time and resources, though, so it might not always be available. You can also request that a non-uniformed officer be nearby during a potentially problematic meeting. Contact the Public Safety Office at its non-emergency number: 785-864-5900.