Forum allows for student, faculty, community input in evolving weapons policy

Fred Gusek, professor of arts, science and business, answers questions about the weapons policy during the open forum regarding the campus weapons policy in Forum Hall on Sept. 15, 2016. (Miranda Snyder | The Collegian)

Kansas State’s Weapons Advisory Work Group held an open forum Thursday in Forum Hall in the K-State Student Union, during which students, faculty, staff and community members could voice input for or questions about the university’s changing on-campus concealed-carry weapons policy.

This forum was the work group’s second, having held a similar one in May.

The workgroup is in the process of adapting K-State’s weapons policy, which will begin compliance with state concealed-carry laws beginning July 1, 2017, allowing concealed-carry on campus.

The goal of Thursday’s forum was to gauge opinions concerning the weapons policy, according to Cindy Bontrager, vice president for administration and finance and member of the work group.

“This is an emotional issue, and so, we felt it was important that people had kind of an individual voice and that they were able to share their perceptions and get questions asked,” Bontrager said.

Pat Bosco, vice president of student life and dean of students, said the forum allowed the work group to let students, faculty and community members know how serious the work group is in its goal to make all aspects of the policy work together.

“The forum gave the university and the community a chance, once again, to understand the law is coming into effect July 1, and that there are implications to the law and that we’re doing the best job we can to represent the nuances of this particular change in state law,” Bosco said. “It not only effects K-State, but all the other Regents schools.”

K-State’s work group has been looking at the evolved weapons policies of other Board of Regents schools to help create one similar to most of theirs, Ronnie Grice, assistant vice president for university police and public safety, said.

“A lot of them went through the same thing we’re going through, and we’ve even been kind of sharing information on the different policies, so we can keep them as consistent as possible,” Grice said.

Regarding student concerns with safety issues due to concealed-carry being allowed on campus, Fred Guzek, work group member and former Faculty Senate president, said the work group has spent much time considering a multitude of recommendations for possible training and education programs to follow the implementation of the policy.

“Are there things that I can say today that will make people feel more at ease? Probably not,” Guzek said. “Are there things the university will do over time to try and make people feel more comfortable and feel safe and happy on this campus? Yes, absolutely. We’re married to that idea.”

Lolwa Alfoudari, sophomore in architectural engineering, said she attended the forum to learn more about the evolving on-campus weapons policy and found it successful in that aspect.

“The change of the policy makes me kind of concerned, yet I am eager to learn about it,” Alfoudari said. “I found the forum pretty effective just to make people knowledgeable about the policy and to educate about it.”

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