In perspective: Smoking on the UD campus?


Louis Hannegan is a junior politics major and the Commentary Editor.

Over the past two semesters, the University of Dallas’ campus has undergone many improvements, taking decisive steps toward building an image appropriate for the 21st century.  But perhaps we should consider making another improvement, namely, banning smoking on campus.

Though it delights many, smoking on campus is unpleasant to others both in its activity and its by-products.  As an activity, smoking is repulsive.  Addicts inhaling dirty air to get their hourly fix of nicotine before returning to class – who wants to see this gross habit as they socialize on the Mall or walk from class to class?  Even Carpenter’s sagging seems acceptable compared with this dingy activity.

But the sight is not the only sense that is bothered by this addiction.  The sense of smell also suffers.  Though it may appeal to some, the smell of second-hand smoke for many is nearly as obnoxious as the odor of someone who forgot to Axe down or brush his teeth.  Politeness keeps us from saying this to his face, but we consciously make an effort to keep our distance and stay upwind.  Certainly we shouldn’t require people to brush their teeth or wear deodorant – but wouldn’t it be reasonable to prohibit them from using a product that fills the Mall and entrances to buildings with that odor?

Just as gross as the activity itself are its by-products – cigarette butts.  Perhaps more than any other campus in the country, UD seems to have become a giant ashtray.  Mall, Cap Bar, patios, walkways, bushes, grass – all are littered with these yellowed stubs.  Like pigeon droppings and trash, these dingy scraps of paper and cotton add a grungy look to our campus which visiting professors and prospective students alike cannot help but notice. Though enamored by our curriculum, they are likely disgusted by our habit and its tangible remnants.

And though it would thwart the practices of some students, perhaps now is the time to push this habit and its by-products off campus and correct a flaw in UD’s image just as bothersome as our oft-lamented Carpenter or Gregory Hall.

Michael Davidson is a sophomore philosophy major.

Should smoking be allowed on campus at the University of Dallas? We cannot simply answer this with a “yes” or “no,” since the smokers will claim they have the right to smoke, and non-smokers will claim they have the right to breathe air that is clean of smoke. It is necessary to understand the context of the question in order to arrive at the answer.

Let’s put it this way: Should smoking be allowed in the United States? This is clearly beyond the scope of the original question; but by remembering that UD is in the U.S., we can understand better the approach necessary to the question. In the United States, the understanding of rights can be put simply: One has the right to do whatever he wants as long as that does not interfere with another’s exercising his right to do the same. The great virtue of the American citizen, i.e. the virtue that causes him to obey the foundational principle behind the law, is his respect for the rights of other people. “Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law” (Rom 13:10). This is seen as Pump and Dalroy travel through England illegally distributing alcohol (G.K. Chesterton’s “The Flying Inn”) or as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. writes from Birmingham Jail clarifying the existence of a law higher than civil law, a law that finds its fulfillment in love.

Those who do not smoke do not have the right, therefore, to cause smokers to stop smoking. Those who smoke, however, also do not have the right to deprive non-smokers of their clean air. Smoking should thus be allowed on campus. But if someone asks another to respect the area he or she occupies, then the other should comply. This should be handled on a case-by-case basis, since, as demonstrated, both parties can make a claim to their rights.


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