Students traveling to class on a rainy day may have noticed the congregation of smokers in between Murphy and Eder halls and have either choked to death or joined in under the rain free canopy. Since the majority of Missouri Western students are non-smokers, the Student Government Association is mediating to find a solution to this problem.
Joshua Todd, Student Government president feels that a smoking ban is out of the question for the campus mainly because of the residential halls.
“This is where people live. To just say, ‘you’re done’ to smokers on campus is going to cause more problems,” Todd said. “It’s a habit for these people; they’re addicted.”
Judy Grimes, dean of student affairs, holds strong that the issue of what to do about the conflict between smokers and anti-smokers should be dealt with.
“I think it was a great idea for the students to have the discussion and look at the pros and cons because it’s certainly not simple,” Grimes said. “But we know there are some major health issues related to smoking. We would like to have a campus of healthy students, faculty and staff.”
Todd and several SGA senators that attended a focus group last Wednesday, Oct. 5 discussed several ways to make both parties happy in this situation, such as banning smoking 15 feet in front of building doors. Enforcing this ban would be a problem for the university.
“You can’t enforce anything if it doesn’t exist,” Todd said.
The SGA has no authority to make campus policy, but by passing legislation, they can influence administrators to listen. Even if the 15 feet ban passes and becomes policy, SGA senators are worried that campus security would be too busy to enforce such a policy.
Jerrod Huber, a non-traditional student who serves as an SGA senator, led a group of non-traditionals who picked up an excess of over 1,000 cigarette butts outside of Murphy and Eder.
“It’s a problem,” Huber said. “I shouldn’t have to walk through noxious clouds of smoke to get to class at Murphy or Eder.”
Huber suggests that the SGA build roofing over the patios that the university has for smokers. Since the patios are set off on the side of the building, Huber also suggests that the SGA invests in signs to make the position of the smoking areas more clear.
Todd believes that the administrators will listen due to President Robert Vartibedian’s push for campus beautification and the amount of clout that this discussion has around campus.
“There is already enough concern and publicity about the anti-smoking group,” Todd said. “This group is taking initiative and I’m proud of them for doing that.”