Alex Taylor, Contributing Writer
President Thomas Keefe is soliciting input from students and faculty through the Student Government and the Faculty Senate about the possibility of restricting smoking on the University of Dallas campus. This is due to a request voiced by an anonymous group of students to the administration to consider making UD a smoke-free campus.
The president is seeking input both on the idea of the smoke-free campus as well as the lesser restriction of creating smoking zones on campus where smoking would be allowed. Keefe cited the City of Irving ordinance that prohibits smoking 25 feet from building entrances, and said that some students routinely ignore the ordinance during inclement weather and that nonsmokers sometimes have to work their way through a cloud of smoke.
“Since there are people who live here every day, people who work here every day, I think that they should have the opportunity to have a say, so I’m interested what the response would be from the individuals,” Keefe said. “I don’t want to start a civil war, smokers against nonsmokers.”Keefe emphasized that no decision has been made, although he would like enough input to be able to make a decision by the end of the semester. He said that he wants to create a respectful situation for all students, faculty, staff and administrators; if the decision to create smoking zones was made, care would be taken to create zones that take the concerns of both smokers and nonsmokers alike into consideration.
“We need to find a way to live respectfully with each other,” Keefe said. “We respect the desires of the people who smoke to have a respectful space if that is what’s called for, and those people who don’t smoke are not subjected to secondhand smoke. If we decided to create smoking zones, then we would have to look at where are the most convenient spots to create those zones that would be respectful. I have no intention of putting people next to dumpsters out in the rain.”
Although the opinion of the student body on the issue is not yet clear, some students have expressed curiosity as to the size and composition of the anonymous complainants; besides the university’s reputation for promoting independent thinking, smoking is a popular habit among some students.
Sophomore Killian Beeler said that students should have been more open in their complaint, since reasoned argument and respect for the human dignity of every individual are cornerstones of the open and intellectual Catholic spirit of the university.
While Beeler and Keefe may have different solutions in mind to the problem, they both noted that the end of any action would be more courteous relations between smokers and nonsmokers.
Keefe, discussing how he would like new rules, if any are created, to be enforced, expressed distaste for the idea of a vigilante culture on campus where nonsmokers personally take it upon themselves to report rule breakers, but would prefer that smokers self-regulate their behavior in order to respect others. Beeler sees the replacement of the Irving ordinance as unnecessary, and believes that openness among students, on the part of nonsmokers and smokers alike, along with enforcement of the ordinance by Campus Safety, would go a long way in solving the problem.
“I believe the current 25 feet from any building smoking ordinance does not need to be replaced by a more aggressive rule, it just needs to be regularly enforced,” Beeler said. “The rule of law needs to be respected. Students who actually want the ordinance to be recognized should not be in fear of humiliation or harassment for personally asking their fellow classmates to follow the law. Smokers should be polite and respectful when asked to move away from buildings and give a little of themselves to the community and walk that extra 25 feet, whether asked or not.”
All those involved stress the importance of obtaining significant input from smokers and nonsmokers alike. On Friday, Student Government will be collecting information through the weekly SG-on-the-Mall table from 11 – 3, and encourage all students, faculty, staff and administrators to contribute their opinions.