SGA resolution could limit campus smoking areas

Anna Lawson

A resolution passed by the Student Government Association could limit smoking on campus. 

At SGA’s previous Tuesday meeting, the Senate passed Resolution 1-15-S, Resolution to Support a Limited Smoking Campus. 

The resolution would limit tobacco use to 39 designated areas. The resolution also says the Administrative Council will create a plan, which would decrease the smoking areas over three years. The policy doesn’t limit electronic cigarettes or smokeless tobacco. 

Currently, WKU’s smoking policy states smokers must be 30 feet away from buildings. 

There are multiple campuses in Kentucky that are smoke free, including the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville.

SGA passed the resolution with a 13-11 vote. The authors of the resolution, senator J. William Berry and chief of staff Seth Church said they were both pleased with the vote on Tuesday’s meeting. 

The resolution didn’t pass without controversy. 

Senator Joseph Hunter said they all had a duty and responsibility to the students of WKU not to enforce popular opinion or to change the lifestyle choices of the student body.

“I cannot and will not vote for in favor of a resolution that implicitly denies a student of this university, who is in compliance of all federal laws and regulations for practicing their own free will, to choose a lifestyle for themselves,” he said. 

Senator Jody Dahmer spoke in favor of the gradual resolution. 

“The reason that we are doing baby steps instead of one drastic change all at once is to change the culture over time,” Dahmer said. “The main point of this is to protect the student well being.”

After Tuesday’s meeting, Berry said that many people don’t think that a compromise can be better in some situations.

“I think that some people are extremist and don’t think that compromise will get anything done,” Berry said. “But those people just have to realize that working in any kind of government position, getting something to be passable, sometimes, is a far better goal than to continue to drag out and fight for things that will never happen.”

However, while the resolution was passed, it now has to go to President Ransdell, the Administrative Council, Staff Council and University Senate. 

According to SGA President Nicki Taylor, Ransdell has said that if two of the bodies agree, he will pass it through. The creation of 39 smoking areas will be dependent on when and if Ransdell pushes it through, and if administrators want to start the policy this semester or next. 

Taylor said this change will take some getting used to, but it is a good compromise. 

“It’s a happy medium between making sure that people can avoid smoking areas but those who do choose to smoke can have appropriate areas,” she said. “Change takes getting used to, and I do think there will be some growing pains.”

As far as knowing if students will actually obey the rules and use the smoking areas, Taylor said that they just have to wait and see.

“Theoretically, it should work,” she said. “But we don’t really know until it happens.”