Members of the college’s Faculty Association, along with other colleges and public institutions, traveled to Topeka on Jan. 26 to share their testimonies in support of Kansas Senate Bill 53.
The bill would extend the current ban on firearms at colleges and other state-owned facilities if passed. The current exemption is set to expire on July 1 of this year.
Melanie Harvey, vice president of the Faculty Association, was one of several who gave a testimony. She said that because of the large amount of those giving a testimony, supporters were only allowed 90 seconds to speak.
“The room was very crowded. People had to save a seat for me or else I would not have been able to get into the room,” Harvey said. “They limited [the speakers] to 90 seconds and that was for supporters of the bill … there were only five people who opposed the bill so they were given [more time] to talk.”
Harvey was the only one to speak from the college, however, she said that other than faculty, students, graduates, nurses and mothers were among those who chose to give a testimony.
“I think the most compelling [testimonies] for me, were the people that work at [universities and hospitals],” Harvey said.
In Harvey’s original testimony, she included a joint statement that was approved by the college’s Faculty Association and Faculty Senate on Jan. 19.
“It is the position of the JCCC Faculty that the presence of guns in the classroom is fundamentally incompatible with the free and civil exchange of ideas and the open discussion of difficult and controversial topics that are the hallmark of high education,” the statement read.
Harvey mentioned that in a faculty survey 80 percent of faculty opposed conceal carry on campus.
“While we recognize that opinions vary on the matter, a strong majority of our faculty oppose the presence of guns in JCCC classrooms and buildings,” the statement included.
Harvey and the association agreed that the decisions on this matter would be best determined by those who are either familiar with the situation or directly impacted by it.
“Our police officers, our security officers, our board of trustees, employees … we know what the population is like,” Harvey said. “We know the diversity of the classrooms, we understand the buildings; given all of that it should be left up to the people in charge of the safety of the college to decide what would be the best for us.
Hearings are currently continuing while the bill has been blocked by the senate.