Blowing smoke at freedom
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When we all return to campus next semester, the air will most likely be a little cleaner. A tobacco ban, as you all read on the front page and from President Sullivan in your inbox last week, will most likely be in effect.
Bans such as this are becoming more pervasive throughout the country, especially at institutions of higher learning. Almost 1,000 colleges and universities are tobacco free, according to that report.
The issue boils down to a central, constant conflict in democracies — the conflict between safety and freedom.
Throughout this almost four-year process, we’ve reported on the steps the steering committee has taken and the opinions of students. Ask any student and you’ll hear the same comments that we and the steering committee did. Yet, at the end of the day, the administration has the final say, and there’s little we can do about that. We can’t vote them out if they enact policies we don’t like. Which is why it’s so important to speak up.
The administration held four open forums all throughout 2014, according to the committee’s report. Anyone in the UVM community could speak directly to the committee members. Less than 15 people showed up.
The passion we’ve seen on both sides of the issue conflicts with this number. Folks will say their freedom to smoke is indicative of their freedom to make their own choices about their body, yet so few will defend that position to those who will impose this supposed injustice upon them.
We aren’t writing in support or against the tobacco ban, rather we’re writing against the apathy that allowed so little debate and is indicative of a greater problem. Whether or not the campus does want this ban or not is besides the point.
If you believe that personal freedom embodied by your ability to smoke on campus, defend it.