The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

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SGI takes on campus smoke

Possible changes to the current smoking policies on campus were discussed at the last Student Government, Inc. floor meeting of the 2012-2013 academic year.

Vice President Kevin Grover announced the results of a campus-wide survey that was conducted over the course of this semester to the representatives present at the meeting on April 19.

The survey showed a growing trend toward healthier lifestyles in the student body. Of the more than 1,500 students who responded, only 13 percent of them admitted to smoking.

Of the 96 faculty members to respond to the survey, only six of them admitted to smoking.

The voluntary survey was accessible by St. John’s Central to students and faculty of the University.

The survey also showed that a little more than half of those surveyed were concerned about the effects of second-hand smoke.

Grover explained that this concern has been persistent issue for the student body in the past few years. He explained that in 2008, a program called Change Cards was introduced to campus, which allowed SGI to directly communicate problems  the student body had to University President Rev. Donald J. Harrington, C.M.

Grover said that after two semesters of the change cards being implemented, the University took action on the 30-foot from the entrance of a building policy.

“This was mainly due to the lack of enforcement of the 30 foot from the entrance of a building policy,” he said.

Grover explained that the University placed cigarette disposal units in what he called “strategic locations,” around campus to help enforce the rule.

However, Grover said that even with disposal units in place around campus, second-hand smoke has continued to be an issue for some students.

The survey showed that more than 75 percent of the respondents felt like the 30- foot policy was not enforced.

Freshman Ajay Parikh, who was smoking outside the D’Angelo Center,  admitted that he had not been troubled by anybody for smoking too close to any of the building entrances.

“I’ve never had any problems,” he said. “Public safety walks by and drives by all the time and doesn’t do anything about it when I’m smoking.”

Tara Roeder, an assistant English professor and a smoker, believed that the University should enforce smoking areas around campus.

“I honestly think the rights of people who choose not to smoke need to take precedence as far as where those spaces are,” she said.

Junior Michael Lopato, who ran on an independent ticket for senior senator promising to loosen alcohol and tobacco regulations, agreed that the University needed separate designated areas for smokers and non-smokers.

“Ideally I’d like to see the ‘30-foot policy’ continued to be enforced,” he said.

“But if some compromise had to be reached I’d like to see there be different areas be set up for smokers and non-smokers.”

Grover said that although the University is technically a smoke-free campus, in that they don’t allow smoking indoors, he wanted to join the other Universities who were going completely tobacco free.

According to the American Cancer Society, more than 200 campuses around the country have gone completely tobacco-free.

DePaul University and Wagner College are currently seeking to go tobacco free. Grover said that Wagner was close to a target date for when they would be banning smoking on campus.

Grover also said that during the recent Town Hall meeting with Harrington, a student brought up a concern about the negative effects of smoking on campus.

Parikh said he had no problem with stricter policies being enforced on campus.

“To me personally it’s no big deal,” he said. “It could be an incentive for some people to quit smoking.”

Grover said that although he is a non-smoker and supports a stricter policy, he understood how some people could have a problem with a tobacco-free campus.

“As Americans, we don’t like rules being forced upon us,” he said during the floor meeting.

Parikh agreed with those comments, but said that asking students not to smoke on campus was a less extreme example of freedoms being revoked.

“I can see how people would react in that way but it’s not something crazy like saying ‘you can’t wear a black shirt on campus,’” he said.

Grover said that Student Government would work with smokers who might have problems with a new policy implemented on campus.

“[We] understand it will be a tough transition for the population on campus that does smoke,” he said.

“We’ll be as supportive as we can working with wellness to give them the programming they need in working with the transition and continuing to listen to any questions or concerns they’ll have.”

Grover said that at this point, there was no time frame for further action to be taken on the smoking policy, and said that its fate rested in a vote from the Board of Trustees.

Grover also added he hoped the new board would continue to communicate with the administration in the following academic year.

“I just hope they’ll keep the conversations going with the administration,” he said.

“As long as the conversations keep going on, then we’ll likely to see action as soon as possible.”

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Anthony O'Reilly
Anthony O'Reilly, News Editor
Anthony has been one of the most, if not the most, loyal person at this paper. His passion and his dedication to reporting and production is unparalleled. In the last few weeks, he has demonstrated the qualities of a leader and a coach that are required for this position. I have nothing but confidence that Anthony will do a great job. He will serve you, the reader, by providing the most honest, objective news possible. —Terence Cullen News Editor, Emeritus
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