Another piece of the Charleston peninsula could go smoke-free if College of Charleston students get their way.
The school’s Student Government Association last week voted 14-8 in support of a resolution to make the campus “tobacco-free.” But on the same day, the school’s Faculty Senate voted against a similar resolution with a 15-14 vote. The students’ proposal now moves to college administrators, who will decide whether to consider it.
If the plan is approved, the college would join the city of Charleston in banning smoking across a section of downtown.
City Council earlier this month outlawed smoking on pubic sidewalks, streets and inside parked cars for several blocks around Roper Hospital and the Medical University of South Carolina.
Student Government Association President Erica Arbetter said student leaders proposed the resolution after a poll this year found 80 percent of students were in favor of a ban.
“There is no safe exposure to tobacco and there’s no place for it on a college campus,” she said. “There’s only one right thing to do.”
The college’s current policy allows smoking in designated outdoor areas, Arbetter said, but smokers simply don’t comply with the policy. “Students smoke outside those areas all the time,” she said.
Lynn Cherry, Speaker of the Faculty, said the Faculty Senate’s narrow defeat of the ban represented concerns about how the policy would be enforced and how it would impact pedestrian and vehicular traffic that moved across the urban campus everyday.
“One of the questions and issues raised related to what is considered College of Charleston property and what is the city of Charleston property,” she said.
Jeri Cabot, the college’s dean of students, said the students’ resolution will be passed on to Victor Wilson, executive vice president for student affairs, who will review it.
He then will decide whether to bring it to a team of administrators for consideration, and possibly to create a policy.
Arbetter is hoping they do. Many students start smoking in college, she said.
“By allowing a culture of tobacco, you’re perpetuating a problem. Banning tobacco is part of the solution.”
She knows that the policy will face opposition from some students, she said. About 50 of them showed up to voice their concerns on the day her group voted in favor of pushing for the ban.
But she hopes college administrators move quickly to approve it.
“I hope they do everything in their power to put the policy in effect by fall 2013.”