WSU professor opts to retire ahead of concealed carry on campus

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WICHITA, Kan. A distinguished Wichita State University professor plans to leave the university when the campus concealed carry law takes effect.

Dr. Deborah Ballard-Reish turned in her retirement letter to the university Monday. In it, she said she can no longer teach at the university when the concealed carry law goes into effect in less than a month.

"Anyone can carry a gun on my campus effective July 1, anyone, and that's not conducive to the goals of higher education," said Dr. Ballard-Reisch.

The professor said the decision to leave the university was difficult, but one she thought was best.

"I can't tell my students any longer they are safe to explore the complex questions of their lives in my classroom," she said. "I can't make them safe. I can not teach in that context. I can not teach in that environment."

Her retirement, effective July 1, is no coincidence. It's the same day the concealed carry law goes into effect, allowing people 21-years-and older to carry a gun on a university campus.

"I just got to the point where I couldn't accept that," Ballard-Reisch said. "I can not see how this can benefit my classes, my students in any way, and I don't see anyone is going to feel more safer because people on campus have guns."

Cale Ostby helped start the student organization Students for Concealed Carry three months ago. He said the group wants to educate people on how to safely carry a weapon.

"We are trying to be a resource to advocate for training and education," he said. "We are trying to spread the statistics of how concealed carry has affected other schools that has passed it as well."

Ballard-Reisch hopes her decision to retire early will send a message to those in Topeka she said can change what she called an "ill-advised" law.

"Its been an incredibly hard decision, but I think that people have to stand up and I have a position of privilege in the university, and so it's my responsibility to stand up, especially when legislators and the governor are belittling anyone who views things differently than they do," she said.

Eyewitness News reached out to Wichita State University Elliott School of Communications for comment, but did not receive and immediate comment.