By MEAGHAN MCINTYRE
On Wednesday Sept. 14, student senator and head of the constitutional cabinet Charbel Marche proposed to student senate of the need to increase the number of smoking spots on campus.
The senators within the Student Government Association (SGA) do their best to focus their work towards the needs of their constituents. Hearing complaints from residents who struggle with the current layout of smoking spots on campus is what motivated Marche to initiate the proposal.
“I have many friends that signed my petition to be a senator that are smokers and they were complaining that there are no smoking spots on campus,” Marche, a junior, said. “I am not a smoker but I was representing those that do and their concerns.”
UMW’s department of Buildings and Grounds are responsible for the addition of smoking areas on campus.
According to Marche and other students, it is both the unclear rules about where smoking is allowed and the setup of the smoking poles on campus that cause problems.
“The rules are too vague,” said sophomore international affairs major Maria Dubiel. “Are we supposed to be able to estimate 50 feet [from a building] exactly?”
In order to put out their cigarettes and properly be able to dispose of the butts, smokers rely on
having smoking poles accessible to them. The placement of these poles throughout campus
has led to issues for many smokers. “The smoking poles that the university uses are all in non-smoking areas and most smokers do not use these unless they are smoking by the building,” Marche said.
“No matter where we go, people are upset that we are smoking there,” Dubiel said. “With designated smoking spots, people would know where to avoid if they didn’t want to smell it. I think that it would help if there were spots with signs that say designated smoking areas because then I would know where to go.”
While the motion to increase the number of smoking spots on campus was passed by the student senate, its momentum reached a halt during the final part of the approval process in the SGA. Student Senate president Ethan Carter, a junior accounting major, explained the series of steps that must take place for a motion to get passed.
“A student senator proposes a motion, if the motion is passed by student senate it is then voted upon by the Executive Cabinet of the Student Government Association,” Carter said. Though the student senate approved of Marche’s proposal, the executive cabinet was split.
Therefore, causing the motion to fall short of getting passed. Sophia Hamdan, a junior English major, serves as the Legislative Action Committee Chairperson within the SGA and was in favor of passing the motion to increase the number of smoking spots on campus. According to Hamdan, the vote in the executive cabinet was split down the middle, which is why the proposal did not pass.
“I think it would better accommodate the population of students that do smoke,” Hamdan said. “I do believe the rule that one must be 50 feet from the building to smoke is reasonable, yet I think it would benefit students if there was a designated spot that they could go to where smoking is 100 percent allowed. Additionally, for those people that do not like the smell of cigarettes, they could avoid the area.”
Contrary to Hamdan, SGA President Alex Clegg voted in opposition for the motion to add more smoking spots.
“According to University policy, smoking spots must be outside of 50 feet from any building,” said Clegg, who is a senior communications major. “Currently, we believe there are an adequate number of spots in areas that fit that criteria.”
The clarity of designated smoking areas on campus is a commonly shared desire among smokers and nonsmokers.
“There should be designated smoking area with chairs or benches” said Jalen Brown, a sophomore International Affairs major. “People get upset when we smoke on campus walk, but there is really nowhere else to smoke.”
“I think the best solution would be to move the smoker poles 50 feet away from the buildings,” said freshman Zoe Minor. “That way smokers would know where to go.”