By: Kevin Thomas ~Staff Writer~
Student Government Association (SGA) held a forum last Thursday in the Arrupe Overlook to discuss the issue of smoking on campus after receiving student input in a poll that was part of the recent executive election.
The idea for a smoke-free campus originally came from a student Senator who has since stepped down from office. The former Senator began the project with a small survey given out in front of the cafeteria but then moved on to work with faculty and staff committees as a possibility that students might want to pursue.
The senator then sent the information to Xavier President Father Michael Graham, who asked for more information and research to get a better representative sample of the student population. SGA decided to do more research and created a committee to address the idea.
The forum began at 7 p.m., with a panel of five current members of SGA showing a PowerPoint about possible options for the future of smoking on campus. The panel consisted of SGA Vice President Michael Quigley and current Senators Josh House, Johnny Srsch, Mckenie Lauver, Michael Krauza and the chair of the committee on smoking, Senator Chris Harding. The PowerPoint included information gathered by the committee on policies instituted at other universities regarding smoking.
“We were encouraged to talk with the rest of the crowd,” said first-year Amanda Borucki, a smoker who attended the forum. “It wasn’t led by student government. It was more of an open discussion.”
The forum was attended by a diverse group of around 30 people.
“It was smokers, it was non-smokers,” Borucki said. “It was all years, freshmen through seniors. It was a very wide variety. There were people who used to smoke, but don’t smoke now, who still advocated for smoking on campus. There were non-smokers who said, ‘This is our right.’ It was a good mix of people.”
The forum served as a way for students to make their voices heard by SGA. Many found the forum setup more personal than clicking “yes” or “no” on an online poll.
“There wasn’t a real huge consensus from (the survey on the executive election),” Quigley said, “specifically the first question of it being an issue on campus, which was practically a 50- 50 split, and then also given the fact that we had publicized the event and got a huge draw from essentially only smokers. I think if it was such a huge issue for non-smokers, they would have also come to the forum and expressed their concerns.”
The committee has plans to meet again today, Wednesday, Nov. 16, to discuss where to move forward given the information discussed at the forum and to present different ideas for the future.
“We came up with numerous initiatives that were actually derived from the forum and the individuals at the forum, moving away from the whole banning ideology,” House said. “When you ban people, or ban people’s actions, then you’re marginalizing a group.”
“To take this group of people who are already somewhat stigmatized in our society for some reason or another—to basically put them in a box—it goes very much against the Jesuit values,” Quigley said. “Another point that was brought up (in the forum) was that we should be able to make our own health decisions. The university doesn’t tell us that we can’t drink Mountain Dew. It almost seems like smoking is somewhat of an easy target.”