The legislative branch of the TCU Student Government Association proposed and passed a smoking free resolution, based on a vote from less than two percent of the student population.
Residence Assistant Ryker Thompson proposed the idea to SGA after complaints about smelling smoke through the residential halls and seeing cigarette buds on the grounds.
“My body is sensitive to the smell of smoke and there were several insistences where I needed to walk around someone or go in a different door to avoid the cloud of smoke,” Thompson said.
On the other hand, the possible new policy has brought mixed feelings on campus.
Junior Abel Perez-Arita said that even though he is not a smoker, he cares about the rights of other people.
“I understand that this is private property and there may be allergies, but that doesn’t mean smokers should have their rights stripped away from them,” Perez-Arita said. There have been various petitions going around campus against the smoke-free proposal.
Thompson conducted two student surveys; one posted on Facebook pages for the Class of 2017 and 2018, and the second was an open response to the university’s residence assistants. The RA survey showed 70 percent of voters wanted a smoke-free campus and 98 percent of the Facebook class respondents were non-smokers.
Thompson said that the purpose for selecting the two classes to participate in the survey is that the two classes are required to live on campus.
There were 128 responses from the Facebook class survey. Also, 39 responses came from the universities residential assistants.
Senior Elyna Ramirez said the resolution not only impact student, but also faculty and staff.
“Anyone who smokes is going to have to leave campus and it will take time out of their day,” Ramirez said.
Universities such as the University of Texas, West Virginia University and Baylor University have a smoke free policy on campus. Thompson said TCU should align with those universities’ smoke-free policies.
“SGA is trying to follow the rule of what other universities are doing,” Perez-Arita said. “It’s like we are trying to conform to their rules. It boils down to image.”
Students started a TCU Students Against Smoking Ban survey on Facebook for all TCU students to participate.
Ramirez said the smoking population is small on campus, but suggests a compromising solution to accommodate both parties by creating designated smoking areas.
“If you are sensitive to smoke then you can avoid those areas,” Ramirez said. “If you didn’t want to smell like smoke then you don’t have to go near it. Something that is more fair to everyone.”
SGA President Cody Westphal said that he’s not certain on how the administration feels about the passed resolution, but says that they are always open to resolutions. The university interprets them as the voice of the students.
Kathy Cavins-Tull, vice chancellor for student affairs, agrees that a smoke-free campus will create a healthier environment for the TCU community, but they are uncertain if they will agree to a smoke free policy.
“I cannot say that we would follow any other university’s policy, but will look at what other universities have done and the effect of a change in smoking on our campus would have on TCU,” Kathy Calvins-Tull said.
Thompson said that choosing to smoke off campus would sustain the value of the university’s buildings and ensure the experience of prospective students’ and families is not harmed by the current smoking policy.
“The goal of this resolution is not to ask individuals to stop smoking; it is simply asking those on TCU campus to be considerate of others that may be sensitive to second-hand smoke,” Thompson said.