Faculty and staff respond to the possibility of a smoking ban

Ariel von Quintus

The St. Edward’s University Student Government Association is continuing its investigation of student opinion in order to see if the student body would want a smoke free campus policy.  However, even if SGA agrees to support this policy, it still would have to be approved by the university’s administration.

“[Implementing a smoke-free policy] is such a large, multifaceted issue, and something like that would take a great deal of study, and a lot of time before it could be adopted as policy,” said university spokesperson Mischelle Diaz.

Diaz said a smoke free policy on campus would affect every person who comes in contact with the campus, which includes students, faculty, staff, vendors and visitors.

“There would need to be overwhelming, clear evidence that a smoke free campus was something that was important to the majority of people on this campus,” she said.

SGA will be reaching a decision soon about whether the association will support a policy for a smoke free campus, but even after that decision is made, there will still need to be a thorough and time-intensive investigation by the St. Edward’s administration before any policy is implemented.

St. Edward’s staff and faculty members voiced their opinions about the possible smoking ban.

“I would be distraught if it happened,” Marvela Pritchett, secretary of the Center for Prior Learning Assessment, said. “I realize people have their opportunities to make their own choices, but I think it is a matter of choice and that surely there can be segregated areas where smoking is allowed. But to completely make it a non-smoking campus, I think would be unfortunate because it does deprive the few people who choose to smoke of that option.”

Another staff member, David Thompson, administrative coordinator for University Programs, said a smoking ban wouldn’t bother him.

“I could deal with it,” hesaid. “I’m going towards the electronic cigarette anyway.”

Neil Wise, professor of political science, said he believes a completely smoke-free campus may be too extreme a policy for the university to adopt.

“It seems to me if they’re going to smoke where nobody else is going to be bothered, I don’t see the objection to it, as long as they are not making a mess,” he said. “If there isn’t a place where it doesn’t affect other people, then we should be smoke free because we know about second hand smoke.”

Craig Campbell, associate professor of Public Safety Management, said if a smoking ban were to help people quit smoking, it would be great.

“I do wonder about the enforcement process and problems, but people have complied very well with the indoor smoking ban,” Campbell said.

Sandra Pacheco, vice president of academics, questioned the university’s ability to enforce a smoke-free policy on campus, as well as the value of teaching students that enforcing a mandate is the proper way to correct injustices.

“Even though research shows that there’s nothing about smoking that’s healthy, and second hand smoke can even hurt the bystander, do you mandate to an individual and take away their right to choose?” Pacheco said.

Texas State University, a tobacco-free campus, enforces its policy through health awareness campaigns. Ismael Amaya, associate dean of students at Texas State, said that students who disobey the tobacco-free policy are warned. If they continue reject the policy, they are reported to the Dean of Students Office for disciplinary action. Faculty and staff who violate the policy must answer to their departments. The campus police have no involvement in enforcing the tobacco policy and do not ticket people using tobacco products on campus.

Amaya said that, so far, the tobacco-free policy on the Texas State campus is working and that there have been no extreme incidents of students defying the policy.