EDITORIAL: Tobacco-free policy lacks regard for Marquette’s majority population
November 12, 2015
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Marquette aspires to be tobacco-free. Marquette Student Government Senate voted 16-3 for legislation hoping to implement a tobacco-free campus policy on Tuesday. The legislation will be sent to University President Michael Lovell to make the final call.
Michaela Bear, a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences and senator for MUSG, stated if Marquette does not go tobacco-free, “It will make us look terrible.” The question is, whether the university decides to go tobacco-free or not, to whom will we look terrible?
If we are doing this to protect our appearance or better our image when compared to other Jesuit universities, like Creighton University and Santa Clara University, who have instilled tobacco-free policies, Marquette needs to ask itself whether this legislation is being instilled with all Marquette students, faculty, and other campus workers in mind.
Implementing this legislation will marginalize international students. Ricky Krajewski, one of the authors of the legislation, spoke with a member of Global Village regarding the policy. The member explained that they had come to Marquette prepared to respect a culture different from their own and added that abiding by different norms could be a good learning experience for them.
While this international student’s perspective offers insight and hope for harmony between international students and this policy, it is not representative of the entire international community. Students who identify with a foreign culture that uses tobacco regularly will be isolated in the same way.
It is equally important to consider Marquette employees who smoke. Yes, they work for the university, but it isn’t right to regulate what they choose to put into their bodies.
Given Marquette’s urban geography, tobacco-free legislation is a logistic nightmare. Our campus is cut down the middle by one of Milwaukee’s busiest streets.
Think about individuals passing through from surrounding Milwaukee neighborhoods – will the policy apply to passersby? Will they be fined or told they have to walk down a different street or wait at a different bus stop a few blocks away?
Telling fellow community members that their habits are not welcome here and they must go elsewhere to smoke will only further denounce Marquette’s ability to welcome the surrounding community.
Imagine another scenario: if Marquette allows those passing through to smoke while upholding a tobacco-free campus policy for Marquette workers and students, there is no doubt that the policy will be difficult to enforce.
Taking into consideration that people are social beings who see and then do on a regular basis, if someone sees another person smoking on campus (aware of the law or not), he or she may feel inclined to smoke as well. Add in tobacco’s addictive nature and it will be very difficult for someone to fight the urge to smoke in that moment.
It will be difficult to enforce this policy. Approved or not, students and university workers who choose to smoke will continue to do so. Where there’s a will, there’s a way, after all.
From middle school health classes to lectures from parents, smoking has been stigmatized for the last few decades. It’s fair to say that most – if not all – students and faculty members on Marquette’s campus are aware that smoking and general tobacco use is harmful to the smoker’s health and the health of those around them, but it isn’t the university’s responsibility to decide whether smoking is an activity in which adults shouldn’t engage.
Instead of instating a tobacco-free campus policy, the university should do more to offer designated on-campus smoking areas. That way, smokers have places they can go for a break without being completely isolated, and non-smokers will be knowledgable of those places and can steer clear, especially if their health is of concern.
The idea of making Marquette’s entire campus tobacco-free is overwhelming, especially given its urban setting. Ultimately, it begs the question, who exactly are we doing this for? If it really is for all of the individuals who make up the university, then it is essential that everyone’s voice is heard.