Student senate votes against proposal to ban smoking on campus

GVL / Emily Frye

GVL / Emily Frye

Sarah Hollis

With voting for next year’s Grand Valley State University student senate underway, the senate general assembly on Thursday, March 29, was used for announcing final information on long-running projects, and discussing and voting on two final proposals. 

Much of the general assembly was used to discuss and vote on senate support for a proposal for a smoke/e-cigarette/vape-free campus. The proposal was brought before the body as a collaboration between several GVSU departments and was spearheaded by the Health and Wellness department. 

The proposal would replace GVSU’s current smoking policy, which prohibits smoking inside buildings and within 25 feet of buildings, bus stops and the Little Mac Bridge. 

The proposed policy would prohibit smoking anywhere on the GVSU campus, with the exceptions of a designated smoking location next to Au Sable Hall and students’ enclosed personal vehicles. It would also create additional support and resources for students who decide they want to quit smoking. 

According to Amy Campbell, associate director of Campus Recreation, and Lindsey DesArmo, Health and Wellness manager for Human Resources, the main reasoning behind this proposal is to improve the health of the campus. 

After a lengthy discussion, the senate body voted against supporting the proposal, with 10 votes for, 23 votes against and zero abstentions. 

Despite the student senate body voting against supporting the current proposed policy, Campbell and DesArmo will continue to work with senate going forward and will continue the conversation about the implementation of a smoke-free campus policy. 

They have stated that they are committed to making sure the students are heard on this proposal and that the policy is implemented correctly. 

The student senate body is also willing to continue this conversation and work with these departments to improve the proposal. 

“I think it’s definitely really important to have constant communication with the whole task force, and there are student representatives on the Health and Wellness task force that has been working on this,” said Jonathan Bowman, student senate president. “I think that cooperation is going to continue. This was actually the first time that this proposal was ever brought to this body before, and it was happening right at the end of the year, so it was kind of rushed. 

“There wasn’t really a lot of time for thoroughly questioning and discussing it because we would love to have had an outside focus group meeting before this. Just because of time, this is when we had to do it. I expect that maybe towards the end of this year or starting next year there will be some focus groups getting students together to talk about this.”

Currently, GVSU is one of two four-year institutions in Michigan that do not have smoke-free campuses. According to Campbell and DesArmo, the other institution, Ferris State University, is already discussing the implementation of a smoke-free campus policy. 

The senate body also heard a resolution for creating a Veterans’ Center at GVSU to replace the current Veterans’ Lounge in the Kirkhof Center. The reasoning behind this resolution is that the Veterans’ Lounge does not accommodate the needs of the population of 500 student veterans at GVSU. 

The student senators will vote on whether to support this resolution at their final general assembly on Thursday, April 5.