The University of Kansas doesn't enforce any mandate on its employees to take active shooter training. The lack of enforcement has prompted concern among faculty, staff and students since two years ago the Kansas Legislature authorized concealed carry at public universities.
The KU Public Safety Office offers a "Run, Hide, Fight" active shooter training that departments or groups on campus can request. Since 2016, PSO has reached around 4,000 faculty and staff at the University through the training, Deputy Chief James Anguiano said.
There were 10,229 faculty and staff members on campus in fall 2018, according to the most recent data from the Office of Institutional Research and Planning.
“We tailor the training [to specific groups]," Anguiano said. "And I think that’s what benefits us is that we’re able to tailor the training and talk about questions on campus and then talk about instances that may occur off campus."
Shawn Leigh Alexander, Faculty Senate president and professor in the African and African-American Studies department, said his department requested the training and found it effective. However, he said he found it concerning that it was up to the department to set up the training, rather than the University organizing it.
“My opinion is that we should not have to do that,” Alexander said. “The University should set that up. They should set it up with all the departments. They should set it up at the beginning of every year and, in particular, instruct faculty members about active shooting of every single building that they’ll be in."
Alexander said he takes time at the beginning of each semester to go over concealed carry policies in his syllabus, but many students said other professors are not as diligent in addressing it. Some said they’ve seen it in syllabi and have glanced over it, while others said they haven’t heard anything about it in their classes.
Charlsie Solano, a freshman, said she did some intruder drills in high school and is aware of concealed carry on campus, but she said she doesn’t remember hearing anything about concealed carry from professors, or seeing it in a syllabus.
“In high school, yes, we did some of the drills," Solano said. "Here, I have no idea what we would do."
In a concealed carry forum held by Student Senate in early November, panelists and attendees raised questions about GTAs and others on campus not receiving any form of active shooter or de-escalation training.
Graduate student Brittney Oleniacz said she received active shooter training through her department, but other departments across campus do not organize trainings for their faculty and staff.
“Many GTAs have not received any training on how to handle a gun, especially international graduate students who are GTAs,” Oleniacz said.
Active shooter training is not part of GTA training, nor is any sort of de-escalation training. Graduate Teaching Assistant Coalition vice president Neill Kennedy said in a setting where tough topics are being discussed, having concealed weapons only adds to GTAs’ fears of a student becoming aggressive.
“A reality of being a GTA on campus is that not only are you scared to teach in the way you want to teach and assign the things that can be challenging for students who have never encountered … discussions on race, class, gender and sexuality, and disability, [but] now you have the extra concern of maybe this student has a gun in his backpack,” Kennedy said.
Kansas legislators lifted exemptions that excluded college campuses from concealed carry laws in the Kansas Personal and Family Protection Act in 2016. Kansas Regents universities began allowing concealed carry on campus in July of 2017, but no training has been required of anyone on the University’s campus.
Kansas State University, the second largest public university in Kansas, offers a similar program called ALiCE Training but does not require it, according to its website.
“We don’t mandate that [training] happens, but any group — a department, a student group, anyone — who would like that or would like to be part of that here on their own or set up something for a group, they can definitely contact public safety for that,” Interim Provost Carl Lejuez said.
Since the exemption of college campuses was lifted, Anguiano said there have been few firearm-related incidents. He said there has only been one concealed carry violation on campus since the exemption was lifted and one other incident related to firearms.
Lejuez said he wants to be careful of what the University requires of its faculty, staff and students. He said he hopes anyone who feels the need to go through the training can do so with the program made available through PSO.
He said he feels the administration at the time of the exemption did a lot to prepare the campus for the change.
“I think it’s one of those things where there are some people on campus who will always feel some discomfort with this," Lejuez said. "So what I want to do is make sure we’re being responsive and being thoughtful, and at least as far as I know, we’ve been able to do that."
For Alexander, he said he believes it will take faculty, staff and students making training a priority and demanding it from administration to make it a mandated program campus-wide.
“That will only come with the demand by faculty, staff and students. The administration is perfectly fine sitting back and doing what they’re doing currently,” Alexander said. “So it will take faculty, staff and students to stand up and say we want this and [ask] how are we going to do it.”
"Run, Hide, Fight" training videos are available on the University’s Alerts page. Groups can request an in-person active shooter training by calling PSO.