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Wednesday, May 6, 2015

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SGA request delay of potential smoke-free campus policy

Student Government Association members have approved a motion to send a recommendation to the Chancellor asking him not to approve any smoke-free or tobacco-free policy until it is approved by both the SGA and the Graduate Student Senate (GSS).

“The faculty senate is trying to ban smoking tobacco and chewing smokeless tobacco on campus,” said Sen. Jarred Rose, a co-sponsor of the motion, at yesterday’s SGA meeting. Rose explained that the motion delays a potential smoke-free campus policy until a time when students feel that it is necessary to implement.

Rose said that the SGA was not necessarily opposed to the policy, only that it was being pushed through too fast.

“We’re not trying to ask the chancellor to reject policy, but rather to wait to make a decision on it until he gets more information from the SGA and GSS,” he said.

“The Faculty Senate hasn’t had any type of open communication or forum with us, which is disappointing,” Rose continued. “If the SGA tried to do anything like this we’d have lots of opposition; everyone would be trying to stop us. This just seems like it’s coming from very closed doors.”

The motion’s co-sponsor Sen. Josh Davidson, a smoker, explained his concern was not about the act of smoking, but about the Faculty Senate infringing on his rights.

“Anyone can smoke anywhere else outside,” he said. “This wouldn’t be such an issue if they were just telling me that I had to smoke 50 feet away from a building instead of 20. But this is more than that.

“When the faculty is telling me and other students what to do without any student consultation, then I have a problem,” Davidson continued. “This is about respecting individual choices whether you agree with them or not.”

Rose, though not a smoker, agreed.

“I don’t personally agree with smoking but I think you should have the right to smoke if you want to,” he said.

Other concerns about the policy were also addressed at the meeting.

“If you are driving [and smoking] through campus in your car on North Pleasant Street, you would be violating the policy,” said Sen. Ellen Moorhouse.

Rose noted that the policy would also apply to members outside the UMass community, including parents and visitors.

Rose explained that he had heard rumors that the faculty senate was looking into implementing a smoke-free policy, but he figured it wouldn’t go anywhere because there would probably be a lot of opposition.

“What is funny in this situation is that Faculty Senate didn’t understand why there was so much opposition,” he said.

Ashley Berger can be reached at aberger@student.umass.edu.

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