By Wyatt Porter,
A UMF student senator has introduced a series of resolutions to the smoking policy on the campus, aimed at accommodating students who smoke.
Senator Tyler Washburn has presented a series of five resolutions to the Senate General Assembly to better accommodate smoking students on campus. “My goal from the outset of this campaign for smokers’ rights is to ensure that not one minority gets trampled on by a majority, nor to have their decisions made for them without taking part,” said Washburn. These resolutions include providing a designated area for students to smoke, while acknowledging the fact that smoking is unhealthy.
“Though I am not personally a smoker, I think that it is an infringement on the rights of smokers,” said Washburn. “When you start to infringe upon the rights of students or people in general it becomes a very slippery slope.”
The resolutions, which are co-sponsored by Senate Vice President Katie DesFosses and Officer of Financial Affairs Jacob Taylor, were proposed to the Student Rights and Activities committee and were passed unanimously. When the issue was presented to the Student Senate General Assembly on Oct. 22, it was met with mixed opinions.
“I am opposed to the measures brought up in our general assembly meeting because it seems we’ve beaten this policy to death, so to speak,” said UMF Student Senator Kelsey O’Connor in an email interview after the general assembly meeting. “There are already laws we can see present in our everyday life that don’t tolerate smoking. These can be found in restaurants, corporate buildings, etc. I think it makes perfect sense to keep smoking out of institutions of education.”
“I don’t really like the fact that we are telling people what they can and can’t do,” said Student Senator Geoff Ballou at the general assembly meeting. “I think the signage [around campus] is offensive. I can see how a smoker could feel targeted. I think we should discuss it more,” he said.
The issue of litter as a result of smoking was brought up at the meeting. “Since the adoption of the smoking policy, we have seen a rise in smoking related litter,” said Washburn. “I think a smoking area could alleviate the litter-bug problem.”
The senate decided not to vote on the policy at the meeting.
“It is my understanding that [the proposition] is well worded,” said Student Senate President Matt Roy. “I worry that it starts with a smoking kiosk, and it starts to radiate out. It’s just very difficult to control. There was a smoke free corridor, which didn’t work. It is a smoke free campus, and I have seen countless people smoking on campus anyway. I just want to help Senator Washburn compile something that we can pass to the president’s council.”
Washburn expressed that he is not opposed to modifying the proposal. “There are still other options on the table and I am glad that they were recommended,” he said. “I will fully utilize article five on student governance rights to get the job done.”
Washburn referenced article five section one of the Student Senate Constitution, which discusses students’ right to bring initiatives to the Student Senate to vote on through petition.
He feels strongly about the issue, Washburn’s ultimate hope is that the students’ voices will be heard. “To me, I really do hope that through the course of the discussion we can bring more people to the side of giving students the right to make their own decisions,” he said. “I look forward to a spirited discussion and ultimately, whatever side comes out on top, if the students decide, I will be happy.”