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Students debate smoke-free campus referendum

Student Senate held an open forum regarding making Bradley a smoke-free campus at 6 p.m. Monday in the Student Center Ballroom.

The forum allowed members of the Bradley community, both for and against the smoke-free campus referendum, to come and share their questions and concerns. Among the audience members was a mix of about 30 student senators and students.

The referendum would allow students to vote for or against the policy during student body officer elections.

Among the things that would not be allowed under a smoke-free campus include cigarettes, e-cigarettes, cigars, pipes and hookah. The referendum proposes six possible locations away from high-traffic areas on campus that would be allotted only for smoking.

Jessica Draper, a health educator at the Hult Center For Healthy Living, opened the forum and addressed the audience to provide information on the health benefits of making campus smoke-free. She also said this change would not be done to exclude smokers, but to make campus healthy for all people.

“This [rule] wouldn’t be a judgmental or a bad thing against smokers,” Draper said. “We are not judging or excluding people who smoke. We are just asking them not to use tobacco on campus where it can affect other students and faculty who choose not to smoke.”

During the forum, Student Senate Vice President of Campus Affairs Alex Estes answered questions that attendees had about details of the referendum and also received feedback from the audience.

Estes also pointed out that all public colleges and universities in Illinois are required to be smoke free under the Smoke Free Campus Act, which began on July 1, 2015.

“We want an overall healthier environment— a healthier workplace,” Estes said. “[A smoke free campus] will create a cleaner learning and working environment.”

Student Body President Sarah Handler said the forum had a better turnout than discussions regarding the matter in the past.

Both students for and against the proposition expressed their concerns and questions regarding the referendum.

“There was a ton of student input at this forum compared to previous forums,” Handler said. “The turnout was a lot better and we had a lot more diversity of voices at this forum. We were able to actually have a dialogue about being a smoke-free campus.”

Jalyn Prewitt, a junior political science and English double major, was one of two non-senator students to ask questions during the forum, and Prewitt said she felt her voice was heard.

“I am an asthmatic student at Bradley, and so, I am very aware of who is smoking, where they are smoking and where to avoid because I have to keep myself safe,” Prewitt said. “So, I came here because I felt like I had something to say and add to the conversation. I would hope that my opinions would drive the conversation forward and also get towards the resolution of maybe having a smoke-free campus.”

Prewitt said the forum was successful in answering her questions and taking into account her point of view.

“I think [the forum] did address what I wanted to know,” Prewitt said. “There are still kinks to work out, obviously. It is a very new thing for our campus. I do think they answered a lot of my questions and I felt that I gave my opinion and it was worth something.”

Student senators receive constituency reports from the areas on the campus they represent, and they said smoking is reported as an issue on campus.

“For my constituents, we have a lot of issues with faculty smoking on campus as well as various graduate students,” Ashley Borja, senator for the College of Engineering and Technology, said.

Borja, a junior mechanical engineering major, said she received many constituency reports regarding smoking on campus once she brought up the vote to put the idea of a smoke-free campus on the ballot.

Kelsie Smith, senator for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, said she has also received many constituency reports regarding this issue not only this year, but also in previous years.

“A lot of the people that do smoke on campus do not smoke the recommended fifteen feet away from buildings,” Smith, a senior biology and Spanish double major, said. “Also, second-hand smoke is a big deal … and I don’t feel that students who choose not to smoke should have to take that risk because other students do choose to smoke.”

Students can vote to continue the discussion on becoming a smoke-free campus when they vote for student body officers during Student Body Officer election voting on April 11 and 12.

“After voting, if they do decide to pass the referendum, then we will have to have more sessions to iron out the exact specifics of how we want this implemented,” Handler said.

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