By Tony Viola, Staff Writer
There is only one week left for students and staff to comment on the new potential changes to the smoking policy. Just in case you have been living under a rock, Section 1.1 of the proposed new smoking policy states, “The use of all smoking tobacco products, simulated tobacco products (electric cigarettes, etc.), natural/artificial tobacco-like substitutes, devices (Hookah, etc.), smokeless tobacco, or tobacco-like substitutes (particularly, spit-and-chew varieties) is prohibited in all University buildings, campus facilities (e.g. sports venues, parking lots, grounds), and off-campus locations such as the Highlands Center (and adjacent parking area) which are under the control of West Liberty University.”
Many students seem not too pleased with the changes. Communications major Melanie Meherg thinks she has earned the privilege to smoke when and where she likes.
“When I turned 18 I got the right to buy cigarettes and smoke them when I want. Its legal. We have the right to smoke,” the junior said. “Instead of banning it they should have a designated area to smoke at.”
“We’re adults,” Kayla Stickley added. “We should be allowed to smoke.”
Fellow Communications major Emily Chapman couldn’t agree more. “I’m a 26-year-old woman and I’m not going to be allowed to smoke on a campus that I pay to attend. There’s nowhere else to smoke,” Chapman said. “We’re not a big campus and we don’t have a big surrounding community. You can’t even go across the street to smoke a cigarette. I’d have to drive or sit in my car to smoke.”
Junior Darren Stern doesn’t even smoke cigarettes and has a few problems with the policy. “I think it’s ridiculous,” the Biology major said. “If you don’t like cigarette smoke, don’t go around it. Our campus is an open area; people don’t have to be around cigarettes if they don’t want to be. Smokers are nice people. If you ask them to move, they will.”
“We’re smoking outside in the open air. If they’re complaining about butts on the ground, then quite frankly what are they paying maintenance for?” senior Danny Davis questioned. “There are many other problems that they should be dealing with, like parking. It’s our right to smoke if we choose to. I personally don’t think it’s going to work. People will keep smoking.”
Despite these opinions, West Liberty seems hell-bent on re-enforcing its new potential policy. Section 3.1 states,“Faculty, staff, and students who see individuals smoking or using tobacco products or tobacco-like substitutes are asked to inform these individuals in a professional and courteous manner that University policy prohibits tobacco and tobacco-like substitutes use anywhere on campus.
“Offenders are to be reported appropriately to the Dean of Enrollment and Student Services/Registrar, the Vice President of Human Resources, or Campus Police.”
Section 3.2 continues, “The initial individual policy violation will be addressed with assistance and education in becoming tobacco free. Repeated violations will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action in accordance with the Student Code of Conduct and the student judicial and disciplinary policy or the appropriate employee disciplinary policy in place for faculty, management, and staff. Repeated violations could lead to student expulsion or employment termination as appropriate. And, for instance, if someone comes up to you and asks to ‘bum a smoke’, you will again be in violation of the policy.”
Section 1.4 reads, “The sale of or free distribution of tobacco products or tobacco like substitutes on campus is prohibited. This includes the delivery of tobacco products or tobacco-like substitutes to campus by means of delivery services of any kind. In addition, tobacco advertisements are prohibited in all University produced publications.”
So to all the people who read this and at any moment asked “Are you kidding me?” You have one week left to voice your concerns. Tell David Syrylo and Beverly Burke how you feel. Both serve on the President’s council and comments concerning the new smoking policy can be sent to Syrylo or the President’s office.
If the Board of Governors passes the proposed policy, the new rules will go into effect on July 1, 2012. Meaning when we return in the fall, the only time you would be allowed to smoke is if you’re on fire.
You have a voice. Let it be heard.