Contributing Writer (Crow’s Nest)
As originally posted here.
Student Government passed a survey regarding the pending smoking ban around campus. The results polled from 115 students stated the majority preferred designated smoking areas on campus.
“Basically the results that came back were pretty skewed towards not having a ban of tobacco on campus,” said Chuck Terzian, SG senator and University, Community and Government Affairs chair. “They were more in favor of having designated areas. I think if you look at it and ‘no change to the policy’—which is kind of designated smoking areas, but not really.”
Terzian said designated areas out-weighted a complete ban 2-1 among all polled. Many non-smokers were in favor of having designated areas.
“We just got the results in as the semester broke,” Terzian said. “From what I understand, it’s not an open dialogue. It’s not something up for discussion.”
Terzian said administration initially asked SG to pass a resolution in support of the ban. Rather than drafting one, SG opted to conduct a survey.
“We had a problem doing that,” Terzian said. “Most of our committee was in support of it at first. Then we started hearing from people and their arguments swayed a lot of us. We needed to do a survey, because we don’t know and we can’t actively represent even with just a sampling.”
“I think not all of us were supportive, but it was pretty evenly split amongst us,” said Senator Courtney Parish. “We just didn’t feel right without asking the students first.”
Terzian said the senate would make a non-binding resolution that reflects the results of the survey.
“They wanted to change the policy to where they could have a little more control and … adhere under Florida law because you’re not supposed to smoke under anything covered,” Terzian said. “I think since they were going to change the policy, why don’t they change it so it’s like this? The way it was presented [was] that it was a good idea. It was for everyone’s health. There will be some resources available and we found out those resources weren’t very extensive for smoking cessation.”
Terzian did not personally endorse the measure but he agreed with designated smoking areas.
“So with that in mind, we just we couldn’t completely support it,” Terzian said. “Personally, I had a issues with it with the freedom thing. We’re all adults here. It’s not the university’s place to tell us if we can or cannot hurt ourselves. I agree with making it designated areas away from hurting someone else with second-hand smoke. I completely agree with that, but chewing tobacco, which is gross—I don’t support it, but I support your right to do it.”
“We share the same views,” Parish said. “I’m glad we did the survey, because I think it was wrong for administration to try to go over the students’ heads.”
“I think their main argument for taking someone’s freedom of choice is when your choice hurts somebody else,” said Senate President Christian Haas. “I agree with that, but like [Terzian] said, ‘tobacco-free campus.’ Chewing tobacco doesn’t hurt other people unless you’re spitting on someone.”
Parish said she understood the measure in regards to cigarettes because it would cut down on littering from the cigarette butts, but Terzian countered after attending the American Student Government conference in Washington, D.C., that while there is heavy enforcement in some campuses as high as a $75 fine, he said in one case, it created a bigger problem. He said it created a worse litter problem because smokers did not have places to properly dispose of the butts.
The measure at USF St. Petersburg will not levy any fines for tobacco use.
“There seems to be a sentiment among the student government, perhaps the student body, that is looked at pretty negatively towards the administration for this [smoking ban] policy,” said Mark Weber, Legislative Affairs Chair of Student Government.
Weber said that the university is not a democracy.
“We don’t elect the chancellor or the upper administration. It’s more of a business. There are many policies and procedures that are made without student body input,” Weber said. “I think it’s more of a courtesy, which they had more reason to do. They’re just trying to be nice and I just don’t think we should look at this negatively or give them any slack for not taking their input, when I’m sure they do that all the time.”