For the first time in the history of the University of Dallas’ Groundhog Party in the Park, smoking will be banned at the event.
This decision has provoked anger and indignation in many UD students and alumni who see both smoking and Groundhog as integral traditions of the community. But it has also given the rest of the student body a literal breath of fresh air.
Any person who frequents the Mall, TGIT or other popular UD events, knows for certain that smoking is commonplace on campus. Smoking has been so ingrained in the culture that many freshmen who have never smoked before have become frequent smokers due to intense social pressure.
Groundhog is an important celebration that has become part of the university’s identity and has always featured vast populations of smokers.
The large amount of smoking that occurs at campus events such as Groundhog prevents students who are asthmatic, intolerant or allergic to tobacco smoke, as well as those who find the habit disgusting and unpleasant, from attending and participating in beloved traditions.
These students have been excluded from student life at UD for far too long. The university appears to have recognized this, and its effort to eliminate smoking at Groundhog will begin to mend the breach between the smoking and non-smoking students.
While many seek to, and likely will, circumvent the smoking ban by sneaking cigarettes and cigars into the celebration, the news that smoking itself has been officially banned from an event so connected to UD’s identity has hopefully begun the process of separating the poisonous practice from campus life.
Though they are not as vocal as the smoking population at UD, there is a large quantity of students who detest the practice and see it as a stain on the otherwise outstanding school they call home.
The move to ban smoking at Groundhog comes in conjunction with a more coordinated security team as well as the addition of medical personnel for the festival.
All these movements surely indicate that Groundhog 2018 will be the safest and most inclusive one yet.
The battle to eliminate smoking at UD is one that will take place in events that define culture at UD, such as Groundhog, and one that individual students must wage whenever they see their friends being pressured to make a decision that will negatively affect the rest of their lives.
UD is an institution dedicated to searching for truth, and the truth of the matter is that smoking is addictive, endangers one’s own health, is costly, and excludes many from participating in campus life.
Despite the zealous backlash from the smoking community against those opposed to smoking, progress is being made, and the smoking ban at Groundhog 2018 is nothing but a sure step in the right direction for everyone.