Senate introduces resolution that could be first step toward increased smoking restrictions

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Leaders on the K-State Student Senate introduced a resolution Thursday night that, if passed, would voice the body’s support for a policy further restricting smoking on campus to designated areas.

The resolution comes after a plebiscite poll (conducted to determine public opinion on an issue) held last March indicated nearly 85 percent of voters supported more restrictions on smoking, and more than 35 percent favored a complete ban.

3,847 students and faculty cast a vote in March’s poll, which was held in conjunction with the student body presidential elections last spring. More than 93 percent of respondents indicated that they don’t smoke.

Although less than 20 percent of the student body was represented in the vote, Student Body President Eli Schooley said he thinks the result was consistent with the prevailing opinion on campus. Schooley co-authored the resolution along with Vice President Jake Unruh, Speaker Kyle Nuss and Speaker Pro Tempore Kaitlin Long.

“First and foremost, we always want to get voter turnout increased,” Schooley said. “While not all of campus, or not even close to all of campus in that particular vote, I do think that’s representative of most students I’ve talked to, particularly in the past year.”

If the resolution is passed, copies will be sent to several key decision-makers on campus, including President Kirk Schulz. Although passage would not obligate any action from university administration, Nuss said in a text message that it has been communicated to SGA that action will be taken if the resolution passes.

In addition to the legislation, two speakers presented to Senate during the first open period. Julia Keen, president of K-State’s Faculty Senate, requested that the body adopt a resolution officially opposing the new social media policy recently enacted by the Kansas Board of Regents. Employees at the six universities governed by the Board of Regents have spoken out against the policy for its broad terminology and potential to restrict freedom of speech.

“This policy applies to all university employees at the six Regents schools, including faculty, classified employees, everyone,” said Keen, an associate professor of architectural engineering and construction sciences. “We see it as a major obstacle to free speech.”

The Board of Regents has appointed a committee to review the policy and propose revisions, which will be considered until April. According to Keen, the board refused to act on a request for a motion to suspend the policy until that time, so it remains in effect for the time being.

Also present at the meeting was Jan van den Kieboom of Workshop Architects, the firm working on plans for the upcoming renovation to the K-State Student Union.

“Last semester, we focused on research and gathering input from students,” van den Kieboom said. “During break, we worked on taking that information and developing a vision of what this building can turn into.”

According to van den Kieboom, the Union is currently seen as a place to go in to get something done and get out. He described the building as dark and cramped, and said that it is, “doing very poorly financially compared to peer institutions.”

Workshop Architects then displayed a slideshow with mockups of a renovated Union. Some of the options on the table include a sports pub with an outdoor balcony, a new lounge overlooking the bowling alley and a purple glass staircase.

“We want to fight this feeling of being an institutional place,” van den Kieboom said.

The Union will be centered around what Workshop Architects called an “experiential layout.” The design will consist of a circular pathway lined with restaurants, shops, and a lounge and study space at the perimeters. Van den Kieboom said a focus would be to brighten the building’s atmosphere with more natural light and views of the exterior.

However, not all of the features in van den Kieboom’s presentation will be affordable under the $25 million project budget.

“The tough part is going to be prioritizing the stuff we do want and the stuff we just kind of want,” Schooley said.

Workshop Architects said they expect to have plans ready to send out for bids to construction companies within a year. According to van den Kieboom, the project itself will take about 18 months.

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