Will guns on campus run off top faculty? Yes, says a departing professor.

Caitlin Whitehead / SCAD

After a decade at the University of Kansas, noted scholar Jacob Dorman resigned his tenure position in response to conceal carry being allowed in Kansas college classrooms starting July 1. That is the same date a law signed a few days ago by Gov. Nathan Deal will open public campuses in Georgia to guns.

Dorman’s resignation letter, which appeared in the Lawrence Journal-World, is going viral and generating a lot of discussion among people who work on college campuses including in Georgia.

Dorman is jointly appointed at KU in History and American Studies. He received his doctorate from UCLA in 2004 and an A.B. from Stanford University summa cum laude in 1996. He’s won an ACLS Charles Ryskamp Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship at the Newberry Library, the Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Wesleyan University Center for the Humanities, and research fellowships from Yale, Columbia, Duke, Wisconsin, the University of Texas, Harvard University’s Du Bois Institute, and the Hall Center for the Humanities of the University of Kansas.

If you are interested in this topic, look at Inside Higher Ed, which has a story today on Dorman and a great discussion underway in the comment section. Inside Higher Ed also talks to other professors who are either retiring early or considering changing jobs in the wake of campus carry.

Among the academics commenting is one who writes:

I know the “we are all safer if we are all armed” folks will appear. But, there are at least 2 failures in their arguments:

1) Most people simply are not trained to deal with an active shooter situation. It does not matter how great you do at the range; you need to know what to do in a volatile and dangerous situation. Very few police can do it; why would we think the Average Jane can?
2) There is simply the question of comfort level. I hear/read pro-concealed carry folks say that my students (all of them??) are already carrying. I imagine some might be, but as soon as they are discovered, they are expelled/suspended. Further, even if some of my students are carrying, why would I want to open the door to all of them (and my colleagues) doing so? One need not be a teacher of ‘controversial’ materials; one need only be one who sometimes gives out low grades.

To which someone else replied:

Of course this is true. But we are not asking average Jane to perform the function of police officers, who are asked to enter an active shooter situation to deactivate the active shooter. Instead, average Jane wants to be able to defend herself as best she can when she finds herself against her will in an active shooter situation. If Jane is in a classroom when an active shooter starts moving from one classroom to another, killing people indiscriminately, she would much rather be armed than not, whether or not she is trained in active shooter situations. Admittedly, these are extremely rare situations, but some average Janes will be more risk averse than others

Here is an excerpt of Dorman’s letter. You can read the full piece here.

In light of the State of Kansas’ apparent determination to allow concealed carry of firearms in the classrooms of the University of Kansas, I am writing to tender my resignation effective two weeks from today as an associate professor of history and American studies at the university since I have accepted a job in a state that bans concealed carry in classrooms.

I have enjoyed getting to know Kansans from all parts of the state as my students, neighbors and friends, and especially benefited from getting to know Kansans from rural communities where gun ownership and hard work are equally a way of life. But Kansas will never secure the future that it deserves if it weakens its institutions of higher learning by driving off faculty members or applicants who feel as I do that there is no place for firearms in classrooms. Kansas can have great universities, or it can have concealed carry in classrooms, but it cannot have both.

In practical terms, concealed carry has proved to be a failure. Campus shootings have become all too frequent, and arming students has done nothing to quell active shooter situations because students do not have the training to effectively combat shooters and rightly fear becoming identified as a suspect themselves. But beyond the fact that concealed carry does not deter gun violence, the citizens and elected representatives of Kansas must recognize that Kansas is a small state, and in order to run a premier university, which is necessary for the health and wealth of the state, it must recruit professors from out of state. Recruiting the best trained professors necessarily means recruiting from coastal areas and progressive college towns where most people do not believe that randomly arming untrained students is a proper exercise of the Second Amendment’s protection of a well-regulated militia.

Let us not let the NRA destroy the future of the state of Kansas with a specious argument about the Second Amendment. Guns do not belong in classrooms any more than they belong in courtrooms, but a university simply cannot afford metal detectors at every entrance. Kansas faces a very clear choice: Does it want excellent universities, with world class faculty, or does it want to create an exodus of faculty like myself who have options to teach in states that ban weapons in classrooms?

 

Reader Comments 0

18 comments
Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

My BS meter pegged out when I read Dorman's reason for resigning.  Most likely, he's been shopping his resume around for quite some time.  Nothing like quitting a job and scoring brownie points with the snowflakes in the process.


Most likely, young Jacob is butt hurt when his book "Chosen People: The Rise of American Black Israelite Religions" didn't fly off the bookstore shelves there in Kansas.

Milo
Milo

Most professors are weenies. This just reinforces that. 

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@Milo 

I guess you've never handed back tests/papers with Fs to 21 year olds with short fuses during class discussions, and then see them turn up at your office to "discuss the grade"...never had a student stand up in class and say, "Let's all take off our clothes!", withdraw him from class, and then have him come to your office to be reinstated...never had a student shout at you after class, "Do you believe in Jesus Christ?!"


I have and I'm no weenie, even if I am female.

JK1951
JK1951

I still don't think there will be appreciable new amount of students carrying a weapon that  didn't already do so and I haven't seen anything to make me think different.

redweather
redweather

@JK1951 I suspect you're correct. There are so many places where CC permit holders can't take their weapons that I doubt there will be a huge, or even an appreciable, influx of guns in classrooms. This law is long on political theater, short on substance.

redweather
redweather

Some months ago I decided to take early retirement and will leave Georgia State University at the end of May, but not because Governor Deal signed this law.  What's driving me into retirement is the poorly managed consolidation with Perimeter College. Although I've kept hoping that we would turn the corner on this, the fiasco continues with no end in sight.  The fact that Deal signed this law simply removed any doubts I had about my decision.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@redweather 

Very sorry to hear this, for because several of my former graduate students took teaching jobs with Georgia Perimeter College, now Perimeter College and merged with Georgia State. Could you briefly mention the elements of this "fiasco"? And how is the consolidation being "poorly managed"?

(Of course, Georgia State above all other USG universities has a thoroughly open campus with fluid boundaries. This campus carry law is especially relevant here.)

redweather
redweather

@OriginalProf @redweather There are serious, ongoing technology problems affecting the way students are admitted and registered, and this has adversely affected enrollment. I am not sure if the folks in IT don't know how to fix the problems, don't care to fix the problems, or don't have time to fix the problems.  I will give just one example. We discovered last Fall that about 200 of the 1,500 MOWR students attending the Perimeter Campuses were incorrectly coded as out of state residents. The university has been aware of this since at least October and I'm not sure what if anything has been done about it, even though it affects the students' ability to register for classes, have their transcripts sent to other colleges, etc.  I could give other examples like this, but unless you know something about the Banner system it would mean virtually nothing.  Additionally, and in general, the lines of communication between the downtown campus and the Perimeter College campuses are woefully inadequate, resulting in much needless confusion, not that confusion is ever needful.  

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@redweather @OriginalProf 

The technological problems don't surprise me, given the size of both GSU and PC. That's fixable. But your last sentence seems a problem that Georgia State folks need to know about. What about someone from PC talking with their Ombudsperson?

redweather
redweather

@OriginalProf @redweather Even Peter Lyons, who is the Vice Provost and Dean of Perimeter College, isn't always in the loop. If I had to guess, I would say the communication problems are systemic and probably related to turf.  

As for the technology problems, they certainly should be fixable, but they are not getting fixed. And new ones crop up all the time.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@redweather @OriginalProf Again, I urge you to contact the GSU Ombudsperson at 404-413-2000 or drop by the office at 33 Gilmer St. Sessions are always confidential. I think that this is something that Georgia State (and esp. Dean Lyons) needs to know about.

Chris Mashburn
Chris Mashburn

guns have been on plenty of campuses and it has not stopped the teachers before.

Annette Laing
Annette Laing

Your use of the term "teacher" hints at your utter lack of knowledge of academic life. I'm a former professor. The very suggestion of a guns on campus bill contributed to my decision to resign. It's miserable enough working for the University System of Georgia without having to worry about armed and unstable students. Meanwhile, since I doubt you're in a position to evaluate the credentials of the person at the lectern, I wonder if you understand that professors not all equally qualified? That's a rhetorical question, by the way.

Chris Mashburn
Chris Mashburn

Annette Laing just because you're a chicken Liberal Snowflake doesn't mean all teachers are.

Astropig
Astropig

Hey- looks like there's a job opening at K-U!


I'll bet plenty that there will be in excess of 100 applicants.If depriving students of civil rights is what it takes to be a professor there,then maybe we're better off if a busload of them leave.