By BRIAN BIGELOW | News Editor
Newly proposed changes to campus smoking policy would prohibit smoking in the center of campus, and some smokers are not happy about the changes.
“I’m very displeased with it,” said Bryant Smith, sophomore English major. “We, as smokers, are being treated as second class citizens. No one in a position of power really cares what we have to say about it.”
The new smoking rules would prohibit smoking within the center of campus, the area bordered by College Street, Marion Street, Drane Street and Eighth Street.
This would eliminate the Trahern and Blount/Sevier parking lots as smoking areas, including the popular smoking spot between the Harvill bookstore and Harned Hall.
“People will not follow the policy that’s in place. If we’re going to have a policy, it needs to be enforced,” said Greg Singleton, Dean of Students, adding the new policy will be easier to enforce. There will be less ambiguity and confusion about where smoking is allowed, making violators more obvious to identify.
The current smoking policy has been in place since July 2006. Any changes to university smoking policy would not take effect until the fall semester.
“I don’t think it’s very wise [and] I don’t think it’s very safe,” Smith said of the current policy, pointing out that cars often drive too fast through parking lots and pose a safety risk. He adds the new policy will not only fail to address the issue of smokers’ safety, but will also be an additional inconvenience for smokers who will have to walk farther between classes in order to smoke.
“You’ve got to balance the rights of everyone,” Singleton said. “You’re never going to 100 percent appease everybody.”
According to Singleton, the proposed changes passed unanimously in the SGA and no one came to any meetings to speak out against the changes.
Kenny Kennedy, SGA president, said he felt the concerns of smokers had been adequately addressed because ample opportunities had been provided for smokers to voice their concerns, though few, if any, took advantage of those opportunities.
Kennedy noted students have multiple avenues to learn about, and voice their opinions on SGA’s actions. The minutes of SGA senate meetings are posted online, providing information about proposals that are being discussed and the SGA website includes contact information for all senators and executive council members.
During the fall 2010 semester, a committee was formed in SGA to address concerns about smoking in non-smoking areas on campus.
University policies are reviewed every four to five years, said Kennedy, and that is why the smoking policy was brought up for review.
The SGA committee reviewed smoking policies at 93 institutions of higher learning, including every Tennessee Board of Regents school.
Nationwide, there are 430 institutions of higher learning that have enacted total bans on smoking on their campuses, Singleton said, including East Tennessee State University and Tennessee Technological University.
Middle Tennessee State University and the University of Memphis are also looking into revising their smoking policies.
The university policy committee will vote on the proposed changes to the smoking policy on Tuesday, April 12.
If passed, the matter will then go before APSU President Timothy Hall for final approval. TAS