As the University prepares for the upcoming implementation of concealed carry on campus, only some of its buildings — athletics facilities — will be able to keep guns out due to practicality and budget constraints.
Starting this fall, the University will implement armed guards and metal detectors at entrances to Allen Fieldhouse and Memorial Stadium during events with more than 5,000 spectators. Additionally, spectators will no longer be allowed to bring bags or purses into athletic venues and instead must use clear plastic bags.
These new policies are a reaction to the concealed carry law that will allow guns in campus buildings starting July 1. However, the law states that guns can be restricted from buildings if the buildings have adequate security measures (ASMs), such as armed guards and metal detectors.
In theory, every building on campus could restrict guns if ASMs were put in place. In 2015, the University investigated securing the more than 200 buildings on campus, but the investigation revealed that doing so would cost upwards of $20 million and congest the flow of student foot traffic.
“When we decided that the University wasn’t going to protect all of the buildings on campus, it was clearly a cost factor,” said Mike Williams, former University Senate president and associate professor of journalism. “But, it’s also the reality factor that so many of our buildings have so many entrances that just thinking how you would have that many people to staff them and how it would interrupt the everyday flow of things.”
Since the entire University could not be secured, University leaders instead singled out athletic venues.
“Those two locations were singled out by the committees of university stakeholders that put together the weapons policy last summer,” said Erinn Barcomb-Peterson, director of news and media relations for the University, in an email. “Allen Field House and Memorial Stadium events rose to the top of the committees’ recommendations because they include large crowds of people in close proximity, as well as an environment where emotions run high and there is a potential for conflict. The ability to pay for adequate security measures was also a strong consideration for their recommendations.”
Jim Marchiony, the associate athletic director for public affairs for Kansas Athletics, said the annual cost of ASMs, which will be funded by Kansas Athletics, has not been determined. However, the startup costs for next year would at least be in the million-dollar range, Marchiony said.
However, Marchiony said funding ASMs will not significantly detract from or harm any of the other Kansas Athletics’ programs.
“We’ll have to plan for it in our upcoming budget and make sure that we sharpen our pencils and make sure that there are funds enough to implement this,” Marchiony said.
Marchiony also said that fans should not expect a huge disruption to the sporting venues, and that it will be similar to security measures at professional sporting events.
“We don’t expect a huge disruption,” Marchiony said. “Every time you institute a new policy there’s a learning curve, but we think the clear-bag policy, it will make access to the venues much more efficient than if we did not have a clear-bag policy."
Clear bags should be similar to one-gallon freezer bags, specifically bags that are 12-by-6-by-12 inches, Marchiony said. However, traditional clutch bags smaller than 5.5-by-8.5 inches will be permitted.
Williams said the ASMs will act as a deterrent to gun use in athletic venues, which often include alcohol and are high-intensity situations.
“It’s a deterrent, and that’s the best we can hope for because the reality is that if you’re going to do a mass shooting or if you’re really going after someone, you’re probably not going to do it in an environment where you know you’re going to have to have a metal detector,” Williams said.
In the athletic facilities, the ASMs will be temporary and not permanent, Williams said. This means that the security measures will not be built into the buildings but will be movable and stored when not in use.
Moreover, the metal detectors will require at least two guards to run the machines, as well as one armed guard present. Each entrance to the athletic venues will require ASMs.
Williams and Marchiony both agreed that the ASMs will most likely be in place unless the state legislature were to change campus carry policies to allow local control.
“The best solution in Kansas would be that the legislature let the universities do what they think is best for their unique situation,” Williams said.
— Edited by Brenna Boat