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Justin Neville, the former Student Senate president, spoke to the senate on Monday to give an update on the initiative to have a smoke-free campus.
The Environmental Issues Committee will be presenting at the Faculty Senate meeting about emissions and air quality issues. The smoke-free campus initiatives will be a part of that. The Utah State Board of Regents has considered this issue before and is thinking about bringing it up again.
“We are actually behind on this process on a state level,” said Andrew Gardiner, the Weber State University Student Association president. “It’s probably going to become a statewide issue. That’s good news for us, because that means our process will be a lot easier to push through.”
If the Board of Regents passed something that banned smoking on campuses, it would apply to all colleges and universities in the state.
Neville said students first approached the Student Senate in 2010, asking if anything could be done about the smoking, particularly between Elizabeth Hall and the Shepherd Union Building and a few other places.
“The main reason is health issues,” Neville said.
He also said that more than 7,000 large companies have restrictive smoking policies.
“If the university is here to prepare us for the workplace and prepare us for our professional lives, then we came to the conclusion that the university is doing us a disservice by not having such a ban here at the university,” Neville said.
The current smoking rules say people can smoke 25 feet away from a building on campus. The initiative was first started in 2010, when 381 colleges and universities had already banned smoking on campus.
Neville said the senate originally wanted to go completely tobacco-free, but changed it to smoke-free.
“Think of how many more would want to come to this campus because you can’t smoke,” Gardiner said.
Some of the other senators said they wondered if admissions would go down if smoking was banned.
“It’s an issue we have been working on for quite a while,” said Brady Harris, the legislative vice president.
In addition to the discussion, the senate also filled another associate justice position. Gardiner picked Khristina Bills for associate justice, and the senate ratified the decision.
“I think we can benefit from her experience and expertise,” Gardiner said.
Bills was the first person Gardiner interviewed for the position back in April. She has worked as a paralegal and is a senior majoring in social work.
“What I would bring into this position is the idea that knowledge and access for students is extremely important,” Bills said. “We become accountable to students for becoming their advocate for listening to their legal needs, to being able to respond to them.”
Bills said that, as associate justice, she plans to get a legal resource page on WSU’s main website for students to find legal support outside of school for issues with housing or jobs.
“If you don’t have access to information, how can you defend yourself against something that is happening to you?” Bills said.
The Student Senate also changed its meeting time to Mondays at 2:30 p.m. The meetings are open to the public, and students are welcome to come and voice their opinions.