This year’s ban on smoking has been met with very mixed reactions from the students and faculty of Union. Some see it as a positive message, promoting a healthier lifestyle.
Others see it as a firm indictment of our very rights as adults. The first fact that must be stated is that it is fully in the school’s rights to ban tobacco use on campus.
Many indignant students see the ban as an ethically unfair prohibition of rights.This is not true – as a private institution, Union holds the right to ban something it deems offensive.
The larger problem lies with the reasoning behind the ban. I should make it clear early on that I am firmly against the new rule, but not because it violates our rights as students.
Rather, I find the reasoning and execution of the ban as unsavory. The reasoning behind the schools prohibition of tobacco use is reported as being a promotion of a healthy campus.
However, the way the administration has gone about the process has made it seem otherwise.
The ban on tobacco on this campus appears to be more for the public image of the school than for anything else.
For the school to ban tobacco on the grounds of health is inadequate considering the circumstances.
Firstly, in the past, the administration has done little to advocate for the student’s health. One simply needs to look at the meals in Reamer to see this.
A student with all meal swipes would be greeted by cheap food and few truly healthy options.
The situation in Dutch is even worse.
In the same way college smoking prepares a student for lung cancer later in life, unhealthy food options prepares him or her for heart disease.
Second, the ban on tobacco use is a very quick and seemingly decisive move.
Rather than incrementally slowing the acceptance of tobacco use, the school has made the decision to ban it altogether.
For the administration to truly be promoting a smoke-free campus without blindsiding the students, there should have been an extension on the distance from buildings and a ceassation of the sale of lighters in the bookstore, just to name a few examples.
While it is true that the announcement was made earlier this year, it still seemed to come out of left field and to be unfair.
Another problem is that the ban is blatantly insulting to those of us who use these products.
While it is no secret that tobacco use has gained quite a stigma in the last few years, and rightfully so, it is not fair to treat the users as addicts who would be doomed without outside help.
The clearest example of this is the suggested actions to the students facing this new policy. While there is nothing at all wrong with promoting a healthy campus through informational sessions and talks, the offer of gum and nicotine patches jams in the idea that all smokers are in need of assistance before the ban goes into effect.
In my experience, the tobacco users on campus are not addicts smoking a pack a day.
Rather, tobacco use is usually limited to parties (more specifically, waiting in line for these parties).
Of course this can be a slippery slope, as all addictions start somewhere, but it shows that the school believes this to be a more extreme problem than it true is.
The ban of tobacco use on campus generally furthers the already widespread idea that there is a large disconnect between the administration and the student body.
While some students certainly have strong opinions either way, the school is insinuating the idea that this ban is a widely demanded action.
The promotion of a healthy campus does not mean banning the things the administration deems unpleasant.
Rather, it is working with the students to find a solution that suits all parties involved.
This means the smokers and non-smokers alike.
Clearly, this is an opinion piece, and I am certain not all readers will agree with said beliefs, but I would be remiss not to voice them.
While I have the impression that this rule will be more of a brown bag over a bottle of liquor situation, it points to larger problems with the actions of the administration as a whole.