SGA passes tobacco-free resolution, swears in new Senate

The 57th Wichita State Student Government Association finished its term in office Wednesday by passing a resolution in support of a tobacco-free campus.

The resolution culminated a year’s work from the 57th SGA administration and the campus organization, “Tobacco Free Wu & Me.”

Tobacco Free Wu & Me members have spent the last year researching the support and implementation of a tobacco-free policy at WSU.

President Emma Crabtree, a senior psychology major, and Vice President Jasmine Douglas, a graduate student in community psychology, led the group, which presented findings at Wednesday’s meeting.

The group issued surveys, hosted focus groups with smokers and completed interactive projects on campus.

“Sixty-five percent of students, faculty and staff said they want a tobacco-free campus,” Douglas said, referring to a survey of 557 people.

When the group reached out to smokers, Douglas said they were met with support.

“Many smokers felt that the transition period would be easy if we offered tobacco cessation services that can actually help them quit smoking,” she said.

Given a semester warning of a potential tobacco-free policy, both agreed the policy could be implemented successfully.

But, for any policy change, there has to be a policy proposal that university President John Bardo has to approve.

The resolution shows that the Senate supports a policy proposal and change.

Before the resolution was passed, Sen. Matthew Brinkmeyer questioned a completely tobacco-free campus.

“What is the purpose of eliminating e-cigarettes and smokeless tobacco?” Brinkmeyer asked.

Both Douglas and Crabtree answered by saying the most effective tobacco-free policies eliminate ambiguity and work best when all products are banned.

“To ban one product and not another contradicts the whole mission of establishing a healthy and mutually respectful environment at Wichita State,” Crabtree said.

“I don’t understand the including of smokeless tobacco to the proposal, as it doesn’t affect others besides those taking it,” Brinkmeyer responded.

A few more senators debated in favor of the bill, and it passed 22-2.

This was the last meeting of the Senate, and the newly elected Senate began its year-long term by swearing in members. Joseph Shepard was sworn in as president and Khondoker Usama was sworn in as vice president for the next academic year.