Group surveys students on campus tobacco ban

The Political Engagement Project group set up a booth outside of DUC on Wednesday afternoon to get students to fill out a survey regarding a tobacco ban on WKU’s campus. They set up 44 tombstones and had a student dressed as a pack of cigarettes to grab the attention of people walking by.

Joanna Williams

The lawn in front of Downing University Center on Wednesday afternoon looked like it was decorated more for Halloween than for the second week of spring.

A student was dressed as a carton of cigarettes, and 44 paper tombstones were set up in the space as part of a survey to gauge the student body’s opinion of a tobacco-free campus.

The survey, a capstone project for a group of political science seniors, asked questions such as whether or not participants used tobacco products and whether they support a campus-wide smoking ban.

The Bowling Green Board of Commissioners passed an ordinance regulating indoor smoking in public places in late January. The ban goes into effect on April 28.

WKU’s University Senate passed a proposal to ban tobacco on campus last semester, and Staff Council has since voted down a smoke-free resolution.

The Student Government Association plans to discuss similar legislation and read a resolution by the end of the month.

Madisonville senior Jack Jackson, who was part of the group handing out surveys, said one goal of the project was to give SGA a look at how students feel.

“They have been pressured to get some sort of legislation, and we’re just helping them,” he said.

President Gary Ransdell has said he won’t support a smoke-free campus until WKU’s three governing bodies pass a resolution.

Kaylee Egerer, chair of the SGA’s campus improvements committee, said nothing has been drafted yet because the SGA doesn’t know what side to take.

“Nothing is going to happen,” Egerer said. “But we need to get student opinion so that if Staff Council does it again we have the info.”

Nashville senior Rachel King, a member of the political science capstone class, said her group was happy to have a good combination of smokers and nonsmokers who took the survey.

“We don’t want it to be slanted,” King said. “We want to get both sides so that SGA knows it’s a diverse group.”

Briana Campbell, a sophomore from Columbus, Tenn., said she supported a smoking ban.

“I’m in favor because I don’t like walking into people’s smoke,” she said. “People die from second-hand smoke, and I don’t want to die because of someone else’s smoking.”

Hopkinsville junior Matt Sanchez said he understands people being bothered by smokers on campus.

“It’s one of your natural rights to smoke outside, but if it bothers people, why not try to make others happy too?” Sanchez said.

Nancy senior B.J. Hardy said he supports having designated smoking areas, but he said they should be enforced more.

“I think that if we are a leading American university, then why are we being led by other universities?” he said.