This guest column was written by Kent Johnsen, a sophomore at Northern State University. His views do not necessarily represent NSU or students.
A very controversial issue has been brewing on the campus of Northern State University. When the smoke cleared, the decision was clear: 247 for, 116 against. By rule, the proposition goes to the faculty.
However the vote, there is a sense of frustration and opposition to the ban. Many feel as if it’s their constitutional right to smoke. Many are unhappy as to how the voting was conducted. So allow me to clarify some things and offer my opinion.
- First off, the smoking ban does not apply to the entire campus. You would still be free to smoke in the parking lots and vehicles.
- Secondly, we’re not taking away your right to smoke. If you are of legal age, you can legally consume tobacco products. We’re just saying we don’t want it on campus. At the University of South Dakota, the last school to enact a smoking ban, there wasn’t even a student body vote, just the student senate. Ironically, little to no serious objection was raised there.
- Thirdly, this just bans forms of smoking. There are a lot more students who use forms of smokeless tobacco than smoking, and that still is allowed.
- Lastly, as someone who promotes Northern as a top school, seeing people standing around smoking does not reflect well on the university, overall diminishing the possibility that students can miss experiencing a great university.
I voted for the smoking ban because I am tired of walking into the buildings through a cloud of smoke of those huddled by a smoking post. Not only is it unhealthy, but your clothes begin to smell of it as well and it is very unattractive. This is my opinion and I am entitled to that.
What is irking me about the situation is the fact that many smokers did not vote either for or against it, and I have heard criticism from it both by ear and on social media. However, simple math will tell you that the voting numbers were just about 350 students. That’s only about 10 percent of the student body.
The facts are this: Every student was sent the link via email and given three days to vote. Every student is given the right to vote. Only 10 percent of the student body exercised their right to vote. When it is all said and done, the opinion of those heard were clear by a two-to-one margin: We don’t want smoking.
Did you vote? If so, you have the right to defend your position as I am here. If not, quit complaining. You were given equal opportunity with the rest to have input. There was nothing “unconstitutional” about the voting process or the ban.
It’s now in the hands of the faculty, but otherwise it looks like it’s time that NSU follows the rest.