GUSA takes stock of on-campus smoking policies
Earlier this March, the GUSA Freshmen Executive Committee created a feedback forum concerning Georgetown’s on-campus smoking policies. The forum, combined with the results a student survey, may encourage GUSA to support the enforcement of stricter smoking rules on campus.
The Freshmen Executive Committee planned both the survey and forum in order to assess student opinion before undergoing any potential advocacy for a policy change.
According to GUSA freshmen outreach coordinator Reed Howard (SFS ’17), one of GUSA’s most common mistakes is acting before it actually understands the views of the student body. “GUSA should always be driven by the vision of the student body, not the other way around,” Howard wrote in an email to Vox.
Howard joined Mattie Haag (COL ’18) , the director of marketing for advocacy, and David Patou, advocacy chair for the Freshmen Executive Committee, in putting together the smoking forum and survey. In emails to Vox, both Haag and Patou wrote that Georgetown should tighten campus restrictions on smoking.
According to Haag, both American University and George Washington University are smoke-free campuses, but Georgetown’s policy only states that someone can’t smoke indoors, in designated non-smoking areas, or anywhere that would create secondhand smoke.
Haag wrote that the ban on secondhand smoke is clearly not enforced and cited the areas outside the ICC, Reiss, Harbin, and VCW as examples of places where smokers produce a lot of secondhand smoke. Why Haag didn’t include the Lau stairs is beyond Vox.
“I’m personally in favor of creating a smoke-free campus, but there at least needs to be stricter enforcement of the current rules and greater education about our policy,” Haag wrote.
Patou also decried the current policy and its lackluster enforcement. “Most students are hard-pressed to have a day walking around without walking by—and directly being affected by second hand smoke from—smoking students or staff members,” Patou wrote. “I think this is something that has to change. Colleges and universities are supposed to be at the forefront of progress and forward-thinking policies.”
Saying he wanted to wait for more responses, Patou declined to provide the exact data collected thus far by the survey but wrote that “the overwhelming majority” of surveyed students are against the current policy. According to Patou, about half of those against the policy want a complete smoking ban on campus and the other half want more strictly enforced smoking and non-smoking areas.
Given the feedback collected so far, it’s possible that GUSA may pursue anti-smoking advocacy down the road.
Photo: Caroline via Flickr