» By JENELLE GREWELL – jgrewell@my.apsu.edu

Changes to the smoking policy on campus were implemented at the start of this semester. Since the changes, students and community members have spoken out against and for the policy at Student Government Association meetings and through letters to the editor sent to The All State.

The policy eradicated smoking areas in the interior area of campus, allowing students, faculty and staff to smoke only on the exterior streets of campus.

When asked about the letter to the editor, which claimed the smoking policy changes to be unconstitutional, Gregory Singleton, Dean of Students, responded that every college and university has the right to put their own policies in place with the approval of the Tennessee Board of Regents.

Singleton explained policy changes are not just changed by students but by faculty and staff.

“Many schools have completely banned smoking,” Singleton said. He said over 400 schools have banned smoking on their campuses. He said APSU has just removed smoking from the internal parts of campus.

Singleton said there has been no change to the smoking policy since 2006. “If you want to be progressive as a university you have to review policies.” He said sometimes the policy reviews are mandated and sometimes they are reviewed by necessity. Not just smoking policies are reviewed, but parking and student conduct policies as well.

When asked about the letter to the editor claiming APSU looked like a smoker’s campus because of all the smokers on the sidewalk bordering College Street, Singleton said he is really glad to see students smoking in their designated areas. “If people are driving by on College Street, they are seeing [the smokers],” he said, but these smokers are not the overwhelming majority of the campus.

Tia Bailiff, senior political science major, said the changes to the smoking policy endangers smokers. “[Smokers] are forced to be in high traffic areas. If someone were to lose control of their vehicle, because APSU made these changes, would they be responsible?”

Megan Willowhby, a freshman English major, said she agrees the smoking policy is a safety issue.

She stated concern with the idea of a female student needing to go out to smoke after dark, but unable to find a male student to go with them. “Girls will start going missing,” Willohby said. She expressed concern to a friend of hers living in Castle Heights who goes out to smoke after dark. “Take one wrong turn and you are in a bad area.”

Singleton said voices in opposition are generally going to be louder than voices in support. “On the flip side, we have seen students who strongly agree [with the smoking policy].”

Bailiff said she feels smokers are ostracized. “There is not a bridge between SGA and the students.” She said she went to an SGA meeting and felt those who were there to represent her wouldn’t hear her voice.

Bailiff said during the SGA meeting, Singleton told her he would listen to students’ comments, but would ultimately back SGA. “It allowed us to understand that anything we say is futile.”

Singleton said he has offered to listen to students and they have not followed up.

He said SGA has given students the same opportunity and that students are allowed to present modification to their SGA representative. TAS