Kansas University professor teaches in bulletproof vest
University of Kansas students sitting down for their first screenwriting course of the year were greeted by a professor who looked more aptly dressed for a war zone than a college classroom.
Film and media professor Kevin Willmott however, hopes his ensemble, the focal point of which happens to be a black bulletproof vest, will serve as a lesson all its own, the University Daily Kansan reported.
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Willmott, the director of films including “C.S.A: The Confederate States of America," explained the protective gear — which he’ll be wearing for the rest of semester — is a protest of a Kansas law that allows students to carry concealed handguns on 30 public college campuses across the state.
The legislation, which does not require students to have a permit or training, was passed in 2013 and went into effect on July 1.
“Try to forget I’m wearing a bulletproof vest and I’ll try to forget that you could be packing a .44 Magnum,” Willmott told students in his first class on Tuesday.
In a note explaining his decision to wear the vest — published by the Kansas City Star — the professor explains “This is not the Kansas I grew up knowing and loving.”
Kansas is one of eight states — including Arkansas and Georgia — that allows students to carry concealed firearms to class.
“One of the main elements to this policy that I find disturbing is the covert and undercover nature of the weapons being on campus,” Willmott said. “No one can know who has a weapon ... we cannot ask and they cannot tell.”
He continued on to suggest the “hidden and unseen” aspect of the policy is intentional, noting that if the guns cannot be seen they will quickly be forgotten.
“This is where the vest comes in,” Wilmott wrote. “I hope by wearing the vest that it is a constant reminder to all of us that our students could have a gun, and in an emergency this could make a bad situation even worse.”
While he’s long mulled the latest addition to his wardrobe, he said the final push came during an open meeting where school officials discussed the implementation of the law. Wilmott said “a fellow professor who is Muslim” expressed an “overwhelming fear regarding” the policy and free speech on campus.
“This policy is an obvious threat to all who employ free speech and will destroy the trust-based interactions between students and instructors,” he said.
“In the end it threatens to wreck the very fabric of campus life.”