I hope you’ll have time this week to enjoy the forecasted warmer weather! You know it has been a cold winter when 35 degrees feels like shorts weather …
This week, I want to elaborate on a recent resolution that passed Student Senate on Feb. 6 by a vote of 48-0-1. As you may have heard, this resolution recommended a stricter campus smoking policy for Kansas State University, and was in response to the clear mandate of the student body on the matter, as measured by a plebiscite vote taken last spring.
On March 5-6, 2013, 84.79 percent of the students who voted in the annual SGA general election stated that they were in favor of some sort of further restriction of smoking on campus. In fact, 36.89 percent voted in favor of an all-out smoking ban. The plebiscite revealed that 93.51 percent of voting students do not smoke — telling data to say the least. The vote was initiated by SGA’s Student Affairs committee, chaired at the time by now-Speaker of the Student Senate Kyle Nuss, in response to the complaints of students concerned about the air quality of campus.
With the plebiscite data in hand, it became the job of this year’s SGA leadership to determine a path forward. While many universities around the nation — including Pittsburg State University here in Kansas — have moved toward and implemented full tobacco bans on their campuses, Vice President Jake Unruh, Speaker Nuss, Speaker pro tem Kaitlin Long and I determined a compromise solution would be best for K-State at this time. That’s why we authored Resolution 13/14/66, which recommends “designated smoking areas” in strategic locations around campus where smoking will be allowed, with the rest of campus being smoke-free. We feel this solution balances the freedom and rights of the most K-State students: it recognizes the right to clean air for those students who choose not to use the smoking areas, but protects the right of those students who do smoke to continue to do so on campus.
From here, the experts will take over. A copy of the resolution will be sent to K-State’s Director of Public Safety Steve Galitzer, who we’re asking to work with the Campus Environmental Health and Safety Committee to determine the locations and number of the designated smoking areas. We’re also working with and encouraging the members of Faculty and Classified Senates to pass similar resolutions through their legislative bodies.
In my time at K-State, I can think of very few issues that have united the student body like this one — barely a day goes by that I’m not asked about our progress on the matter since the vote last spring. We’ll continue to keep the momentum going until progress is made!
Senior in political science