At the University of South Dakota, it has been almost five months since the Student Government Association passed a smoke-free campus resolution. Now, as the school year comes to a close, USD has yet to see a smoking ban implemented on campus.
For SGA President Alissa VanMeeteren, the creation and implementation of a smoking ban is a process not to be taken lightly, and is currently in the hands of the students to put together.
“The beauty of things is the Executive Committee has reached out to students, and they want us to put together a ban that we see best fits campus,” VanMeeteren said. “This is a rare opportunity for students to have so much influence on university policy, and the next step is doing the research and figuring out what works and what doesn’t.”
The Executive Committee, which is comprised of USD’s president and vice presidents, has yet to approve the ban, because according to SGA Vice President DJ Smith, the Committee is in favor of the ban but they want to hear student input.
While the future of a smoking ban to turn USD into a smoke-free campus currently seems to be in limbo, Smith said the SGA is taking charge of the research aspect. All SGA senators have been given the assignment to choose two universities, and to research whether or not the university has attempted to implement a smoking ban and by what procedure they used.
In the last few fleeting weeks of the semester, senators will compile their individual information together to establish possible guidelines to follow during a transition to a campus-wide smoking ban.
“If we can see what’s working out on other campuses, it will give us a step up when we actually sit down to put a ban together,” Smith said.
Sophomore Lexy Schuman is SGA’s chair for its State and Local Committee, which is heading the effort of exploring a smoking ban.
“From our research, we think it would be best to transition to an all-out ban on campus,” Schuman said. “The summer and the fall could be used to supply students with education about smoking, its effects and the ban, and then it wouldn’t actually be implemented until 2014.”
Schuman said members of the state and local committee thought it would be best to first restrict smoking in and around the dorms, while the smoking receptacles would be moved to the outskirts of campus. This way, Schuman said, it can be a slow transition, but an effective one as well.
As SGA senators look to other universities for input, they are also open to student suggestions. Smith said he would encourage students to voice their own ideas they may have in developing the smoking ban plan, because ultimately, any policy made on their behalf will affect their lives at USD.
While VanMeeteren was not in attendance during the April 24 SGA meeting due to lobbying in Washington DC, she said during SGA’s April 10 meeting that the opportunity at hand to create a student-driven policy should not be squandered.
Reach reporter Megan Card at Megan.Card@usd.edu.