In an effort to move forward with the smoking ban resolution, the Student Government Association held a public forum Sept. 17 to discuss reservations and general opinions surrounding the resolution.
A total of four people, which were SGA members, attended the forum. SGA President Alissa VanMeeteren as well as any person from the general public was not present.
If approved, the current smoking policy, which prohibits anyone on campus from smoking within twenty-five feet of an establishment, would be amended and ban everyone from smoking on campus property.
DJ Smith, junior and SGA vice president, believes SGA has done everything they have been asked of by the Executive Committee, and that at this point, they have three options to choose from.
“The first thing we can keep doing is push the original all out ban and continue to let the administration do nothing but talk about doing it, get rid of the smoking ban altogether, or thirdly, we can readdress the smoking ban,” Smith said. “We (SGA) have to choose where we take this.”
The biggest concern discussed was whether or not the resolution should be readdressed. At the meeting, they decided the campus-wide smoking resolution should not be revised.
SGA Senator junior Hanna McElroy firmly defended the current resolution and said she does not believe it should be readdressed or dismissed.
“I don’t think readdressing it would change anything, and I think it would more so be prolonging an issue we already understand and that we’ve already well researched,” McElroy said. “Readdressing would just be backtracking.”
USD could experience the first phase of the no-smoking policy transition as soon as early as next month, when SGA is forcing the Executive Committee to make a final decision on the resolution through a call to action.
The call to action, which was passed unanimously at SGA’s weekly meeting on Sept. 18, states that the Executive Committee must respond to the resolution by
First introduced last fall, the resolution was unclear to many, including the Executive Committee, who must approve the resolution in order for it to go into effect. After reviewing the resolution, the Executive Committee has still not responded to the resolution, but asked that the implementation and education process of the resolution be outlined in more detail.
VanMeeteren said in a prior interview prior to the taskforce meeting the new smoking resolution is not something that can be rushed, as it will have a major impact on the university, and she said she understands the Executive Committees’ concerns.
“It’s important to remember that even though we are frustrated, getting big plans like this implemented is hard,” VanMeeteren said. “It takes a long time, and the important thing is to just keep fighting and going about it in a new a way.”
VanMeeteren said she recognizes there are a lot of opinions regarding the resolution, and SGA is working to do what’s best for all on campus and not just the majority of campus.
“We recognize that we are stuck in between a rock and a hard place,” VanMeeteren said.
Sophomore Rachel Weinandt said that prohibited smoking on campus would be a good thing, and hopes it is something that will be implemented soon.
“I would love a smoking ban on campus,” Weinandt said. “I hate walking behind someone when they are smoking.”
Brandon Landers, a first-year at USD living in North Complex, said he believes that an all campus smoking ban would be like taking away his personal rights.
“I would probably not take the ban too seriously,” Landers said. “There’d be situations where I’d end up smoking anyway.”
If all goes according to plan, the resolution will be implemented in three phases.
The first phase of the resolution consists of educating the public on the policy. Some of the education methods would include handing out flyers to people around campus and sending out email notifications to students, staff and faculty.
The second phase will include the beginning of enforcement of the policy along with continued education. VanMeeteren said enforcement of the policy would not be as strict as it would be once fully enforced, but that it’s important to establish that the ban will be implemented.
The final phase will comprise of full implementation and enforcement of the new resolution. Once the resolution has been put into full effect, smoking on campus will not be permitted unless otherwise specified. Each phase is expected to last one semester.
Smith said the new resolution has been a long time coming and said he is excited for the process to move into its’ final stages.
“I would like to see it finalized and done before the end of the semester, just because it’s already been so long of a process,” Smith said. “This isn’t something I want to be focusing on the entire year.”
Reach reporter Trent Opstedahl at Trent.Opstedahl@coyotes.usd.edu.