SGA Executive Cabinet vetoes smoke-free resolution

Lashana Harney

Update: Nov. 20, 6:32 p.m. The SGA Executive Cabinet has released its veto statement.

The original story is below.

The Student Government Association discussed and passed a resolution to support making WKU a smoke-free campus Tuesday. However, the SGA Executive Cabinet vetoed the resolution following the meeting.

Resolution 11-14-F, Resolution to Support a Smoke Free Campus, initially passed with a vote of 14-10. 

Resolution author William Berry said he decided to leave the subject of location for smoking areas up to the administration. 

Berry said the smoking ban does not infringe on any student’s right. 

Senator Haley Jones disagreed. 

“Smoking is indeed legal,” Jones said. “People on campus are over 18. They can buy tobacco.”

The policy would not limit the use of other tobacco products or electronic cigarettes.

An official statement by the Executive Cabinet for the veto was not available as of press time, but during the SGA meeting, Chief of Staff Seth Church said he opposed the resolution.

“We have a housing requirement,” Church said. “For two years, you are required to live on campus and I don’t think that it’s fair to have these students come here and be students who live on campus and then tell them they can’t smoke while they are here where they live.”

Church said the effects of this smoke-free policy cannot be predetermined and he would only support the resolution under certain circumstances.

“The only way I could personally support the resolution is if the smoking areas were placed more centrally to campus and/or if the housing requirement was lifted,” Church said. “The smoking ban is appropriate, in my opinion. I think it’s a good idea to have. However, this resolution is not a smoking ban we should support.”

SGA senators can override the veto with a two-thirds majority in the Dec. 2 meeting.

Resolution 8-14-F, Resolution to Support the Consultation of the Student Body by Members of the Administration of WKU, which would encourage the administration to consult the student body when making decisions that involve students, was tabled from last week’s meeting. 

With the addition of five whereas clauses and additional information, the resolution passed with no debate.

“We want to construct a relationship with the administration in a way where we can get things done,” said Cole McDowell, resolution author and senator.

McDowell said SGA values the dialogue between itself and the WKU administration and hopes to further that dialogue, especially regarding decisions affecting students.

“This is a way to build a better relationship for the future,” McDowell said.

Resolution 10-14-F, Resolution to Support Veterans Resource Center Improvement, also passed with no debate. The resolution supported the renovation, construction or allocation of space for a Veterans Resource Center in order to promote the success, retention and well-being of military and veteran students.

Tyler Scaff, campus improvements committee chair, said the current Veterans Resource Center, located in Tate Page Hall, is too small for the number of veterans it serves.

“We need better counseling services for veterans, better representation for veterans, we need a better Veterans Resource Center,” he said. “It’s a necessity to represent these students accurately.”

Resolution 9-14-F, Resolution to Honor Dr. Patricia Minter, passed with no debate. Resolution authors Church, Nicki Taylor, Jay Todd Richey and Barrett Greenwell honored Minter for her seven years of service as faculty regent on the Board of Regents with a signed, framed resolution after the passage.

Taylor said Minter has always been there to help SGA.

Bill 14-14-F passed with no debate. The bill allocated $4,120 from Organizational Aid to go toward various campus organizations.  WKU College Youth in Government, Omega Psi Phi fraternity, Alpha Kappa Psi fraternity, WKU Athletics Street Team, MBA Student Association and the WKU Student Coalition for Renters’ Rights will be allocated $500 each. Vietnamese Student Association at WKU and Phi Alpha Theta honors society will receive $450. Iota Phi Theta Fraternity Inc. Eta Rho will receive $220 in funding.

The bylaws were suspended for Bill 15-14-F, Funding for Library Extended Hours. The bill passed with no debate and will allocate $1,200 to the Helm-Cravens Library to stay open until 2 a.m. during finals week. 

In SGA committee reports, Senator Beth McGrew said she has an upcoming project for the Campus Improvements Committee.

“The Campus Improvements Committee generally does a campus clean up event every fall, but our committee agreed that facilities does an amazing job to keep the campus really clean,” she said. “So, we thought that maybe our energy would be better directed elsewhere.”

McGrew plans to submit a resolution to support a decision to eliminate the usage of single-use plastic bags on campus.

“I think it’s important and it can get rid of a lot of waste and reduce our carbon footprint,” she said.