Student senate revisits e-cigarettes, debates allocation for campus event

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After a town hall meeting with city commissioners on Thursday, student senators came together to debate about allocations for student organization Turning Point USA, electronic cigarettes and student conduct with elected state officials.

A bill allotting $3,000 to Turning Point USA for the event Fighting for the First was debated for over 45 minutes.

Turning Point USA is a student conservative activism nonprofit organization with a mission to “identify, educate, train and organize students to promote the principles of freedom, free markets and limited government,” according its website.

Some senators pushed against funding the Turning Point USA event, claiming the organization has a history of holding rallies against minorities. Others argued in favor of the funding, saying SGA doesn’t have to support the message to provide funding for an educational event.

“Don’t condone this Wildcats,” Cole said. “Hate doesn’t have a place at K-State. We shouldn’t fund them because they have a reputation for hate.”

In response to the messages against funding the organization, Bayley Clark, governmental relations committee member and junior in political science, spoke for the funding.

“There is a difference between being political and partisan,” Clark said. “Right now, we are being political.”

Cole brought up that if Turning Point is a non-profit organization, it isn’t allowed to be political.

“This isn’t political. This is educational, and if it is educational in a conservative way, that is alright,” Clark said in response. “The point is, they are being educational in their event.”

Clark is the former secretary for the Turning Point USA K-State chapter. He resigned over winter break due to falling outs with members over views and educational values.

“There is no reason we should stifle speech,” Clark said. “If I didn’t hear from the other side of the aisle, I wouldn’t be able to make arguments for my side. If you hear the other side, it will help you.”

Nathan King, student senator and junior in mass communications, advocated for the bill, even if it is just so an opposing view point could be heard on campus.

After a roll call vote, the bill passed 24 to 16.

A resolution lifting the ban on e-cigarettes and vape pens was presented for a vote. Alec Hildreth, student senator and senior in marketing, advocated for passage of the resolution as he believes it isn’t enforced on campus anyway. Hildreth also stated that the devices don’t actually produce smoke; it is considered a vapor.

“The smoke from e-cigarettes isn’t as harmful as normal ones,” Hildreth said. “It doesn’t smell as bad either. There is no risk for secondhand smoke. People may vote against this because they think vaping is bad, but policing behavior is much, much worse.”

Andrew Booze, SGA intern and freshman in computer science, disagreed with Hildreth and debated against the resolution.

Booze said smoke or vapor from e-cigarettes is still harmful and the devices can be addictive as nicotine is used in the liquids being smoked. There are also aerosols, which can be harmful to the environment and lungs.

Michael Leverett, student senator and senior in social science, debated in favor of the resolution. He argued that the aerosol products in vape pens or e-cigarettes are no more dangerous than the ones used in hairspray, cologne or air freshener.

“If I use cologne or Axe body spray in the morning, I am breathing that in,” Leverett said. “Smoking a vape is no different.”

When asked why he felt the policy was unenforced, Hildreth said that if campus can’t ban the smoking of e-cigarettes, then they most likely can’t enforce the ban on any types of cigarettes.

“If these policies aren’t enforceable, we shouldn’t have them in the first place,” Hildreth said.

The resolution failed to pass by a hand vote.

In open period, SGA intern Noah Ochsner, freshman in agricultural communications and journalism, spoke about the students who were detained in the Statehouse Wednesday after displaying banners calling out senators against Medicaid expansion.

Ochsner said the students should consider how this action reflects on themselves and the university. As students often interact with state legislatures, this could affect future interactions.

Jonathan Cole, student senator and senior in mechanical engineering, was one of the students involved. He responded to Ochsner’s statement and asked him to “talk to me if you have any questions” and also directed that to all in attendance.

Also passed was a resolution calling with SGA election reform and a bill making amendments to the line of succession for speaker fo the student senate.

Senate will reconvene at 7 p.m. April 4 in Wildcat Chamber.

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My name is Bailey Britton and I am the managing editor for the Collegian. I grew up in Colby, Kansas. I am a sophomore studying journalism with minors in leadership studies and English. I value quality news coverage and believe that communication is a vital part of solving problems. When I have free time, I like to spend time with friends and family or be outdoors with a good book.