UW Police Beef Up Patrols Near Sorority As Judge Doubles Down On Naming Plaintiffs In Transgender Lawsuit

The University of Wyoming Police Department sends extra patrols to the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority house for a variety of reasons – not just because seven women suing the sorority for inducting a transgender member have been ordered to reveal their true names. 

Clair McFarland

April 18, 20236 min read

The Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority house at the University of Wyoming.
The Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority house at the University of Wyoming. (Cowboy State Daily Staff)

The University of Wyoming Police Department sends extra patrols to the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority house for a variety of reasons, not just because seven current and former members suing the sorority for inducting a transgender member have been ordered to reveal their true names. 

The women suing the sorority for inducting transgender member Artemis Langford have until Thursday to reveal their true names in a public court document if they want to continue with the lawsuit, a judge ordered last week. 

It’s an outcome the women have resisted. They urged U.S. District Court Judge Alan B. Johnson twice to let them proceed anonymously by citing a growing public fervor surrounding transgender issues.  

But the judge’s order is not the only reason the UW Police Department sends extra patrols to the sorority house, UW Police Chief Mike Samp told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday.  

A church elder’s December protest on campus, a state representative’s inflammatory meme and heightening political tensions and activities all have led to extra patrol requests at the department, Samp said. 

“We’ve certainly had some other situations that contributed to the extra patrol requests,” he said. 

No Death Threats 

Still, the department has no evidence of death threats related to the situation.  

“We do not have any documented, direct threats toward the house, the house members or the other students involved in this particular situation,” said Samp.  

Langford does not yet live in the sorority house, but spends time there with the women, according to the women’s complaint against the sorority.   

Samp said the community also has a role to play in peacekeeping by sticking to civil discourse. 

"(UW President Ed) Seidel called out essentially the campus community, that we need to be having civil discourse. And so far that’s exactly what’s happened," said Samp. "Largely, the Wyoming mentality is live and let live, and that’s how this has played out so far."

It Started In December 

The Todd Schmidt case is what started the extra patrol requests, Samp said.  

He was referring to a December incident when Schmidt, a Laramie-based church elder, came to the campus to protest the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority’s induction of Langford.  

Schmidt also tried to confront women at the sorority house, Samp said, and the campus police issued a trespass notice to keep him away from the house.   

State Representative’s Meme 

Police dispatched extra patrols to the Kappa Kappa Gamma house again when state Rep. Karlee Provenza, D-Laramie, shared a meme April 1 depicting an elderly woman holding a rifle with the caption, “protect trans folks against fascists and bigots!” 

Provenza has since apologized, saying it was intended as a pro-Second Amendment, pro-self defense statement and not as a call to violence.  

Samp said people in the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority house had safety concerns when Provenza’s meme emerged alongside other national incidents of violence pertaining to transgender and women’s rights.  

Not As Bad As George Floyd Protests 

There also are LGBTQ and political events on campus that prompt extra patrols, Samp said.  

“That’s what we’re here to do,” he said. “Provide a neutral police presence and a peacekeeping function.” 

Though the Kappa Kappa Gamma controversy demands more police activity than usual, it’s not as tense as the George Floyd protests of 2020, Samp said.  

The summer after George Floyd, a Black man, died in police custody in Minneapolis under the knee of his arresting police officer, the nation erupted in anti-police-brutality protests, and sometimes riots.  

Laramie was no exception, Samp said.  

“Some of the very first (protests) occurred on campus,” he recalled. “There were certainly issues on campus that actually exceed this particular situation as far as concern and criminal behavior.” 

But protesters eventually left the UW campus for the larger Laramie area.  

Probably Can’t Sleep With Guns 

Confronted with dangerous situations, many Wyomingites would recommend packing a pistol for self-defense.  

The University of Wyoming campus generally is a gun-free zone. But the college has a special provision by which people who already have a Wyoming concealed carry permit can apply to carry on campus.  

Because state residents must be 21 or older to obtain a concealed carry permit, a lot of the women in the lawsuit are likely too young for this exception.  

The women suing the sorority range in age from 18 to 21, according to the lawsuit complaint. Langford is 21. 

The women’s attorneys, Cassie Craven and John Knepper, did not respond to requests for comment by publication time.  

Langford also did not respond to a request for comment.  

Three Months Waiting For A Gun Permit 

It takes UW staffers about a week to approve campus conceal-carry requests, Samp said, adding that they evaluate applications on a case-by-case basis.  

“There are a few firearms on campus, but generally they’re prohibited,” added Samp.  

But obtaining the prerequisite state concealed carry permit takes much longer: between 60 and 90 days, according to Albany County Sheriff Aaron Appelhans.  

“There’s a little bit of a process,” said Appelhans.  

The process includes:

  • Applicants having lived in Wyoming for more than six months.
  • They must be 21 or older.
  • They must demonstrate firearms competency, which can be done by completing a conceal carry or hunter’s safety class.
  • They can’t have been jailed for substance abuse for at least a year before applying.
  • They can’t be a chronic drunk.
  • They can’t have been committed to a mental institution.
  • And they can’t be disqualified from having guns for any reason.  

Sheriff’s Office Is Ready  

Appelhans said that if the Kappa case ends up in the Albany County District Court for lack of standing in the federal court, or for any other reason, his department is ready to run court security.  

“It is something that we keep an eye on with the news that came out (that the women) have until the 20th to refile with their names,” said Appelhans. “We’ll see if they decide to do that, or not, and where that lawsuit will be argued.”  

The campus itself is not in the sheriff’s usual jurisdiction, Appelhans noted.  

Contact Clair McFarland at Clair@CowboyStateDaily.com

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Clair McFarland

Crime and Courts Reporter