COLUMN: Do Aggies want a smoke-free campus?
Published: Tuesday, February 11, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, February 11, 2014 00:02
Recently, a lot of opinions have been brought to my attention regarding the discussion of USU becoming a smoke-free campus — both for and against the idea. While everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion, I am in support of beginning to discuss the smoking concern on campus. Why? The students. While I do not yet know what the opinion is of the majority of students, I do know actions are being taken across the United States to decrease tobacco use.
I am currently serving as the USU/SA Student Advocate vice president. With this position, it is my responsibility to represent student concerns to local, state and federal government, student services, auxiliary services, student government and university administration. I have received a wide variety of concerns that have been brought to my attention which have spanned from receiving more university funding from the state government to providing more microwaves on campus for student use.
This academic year alone, about 30 students, all whom have concerns with the smoking of tobacco products on campus, have approached me; half of which have addressed the idea of USU becoming a smoke-free campus. As student advocate, it is my duty to address the concerns and find solutions that are brought to my attention, even if it includes controversial topics such as smoking on campus.
According to the New York Times, adult cigarette use in the United States has decreased significantly in the past decade. Smoking use went from 24.7 percent in 1997 to 18 percent in 2012.
As of January 2, 2014, there are 1,182 colleges and universities in the United States that have adopted policies to make their campuses smoke-free. In addition, these changes have been made while smoking rates are at an all-time low. I do not yet know what is best for USU, but as the number of smoke-free campuses is increasing, and smoking rates are dropping, it is easy to see the American public is realizing the harmful effect of tobacco smoke.
My experiences at USU have led me to believe the student voice is highly accepted and welcomed by the faculty and administration. Just because this seemingly controversial topic of smoking on campus has been brought up doesn’t mean the student involvement and influence should be any different. If the students believe smoking is a big enough concern on campus to initiate change, I believe it is my duty to initiate the changes students want.
In the coming weeks, it is my plan to send out a survey to students and faculty members seeking their opinions about smoking on campus. This will give me the necessary information to better understand the trends and opinions of tobacco use on campus, and to find the best solution.
Although I do not yet know what is best for USU, I believe it is in the best interests of the students to conduct research and explore potential options. This topic is being discussed because the students have a voice. Students, remember: Your voice matters. Let it be heard.