The Phi Kappa Literary Society held a debate Thursday evening to discuss the repeal of the University System of Georgia policy banning the use of tobacco products on campus following, which went into effect Oct. 1.
Song Kue, a graduate student studying in biomanufacturing and bioprocessing from Warren, Michigan, said the ban is not only good, but necessary.
“This legislation is intended for behavior modification, to create a cleaner and safer environment at the University of Georgia and all colleges across the state, to ensure that all students have the liberty to breath in clean air,” Kue said. “This policy has nothing to do with [infringing upon the rights and liberties of smokers]. It is about creating an overall healthier environment.”
Kue said the University does not have constitutional authority to overturn the ruling by the Board of Regents, and the board does have the right to impose rules upon the University. She compared this to many bars and restaurants that have banned smoking in their facilities.
Phil Grant, a Ph.D candidate in education administration and policy from Vernon, Alabama, also supported the ban and explained how smoking on the campus endangered not only students of the University, but also those in the surrounding communities.
“There are thousands of children in the Athens community, and let us admit it, smoking looks cool,” said Grant, chief justice of the society.
Grant said as a place of higher learning and education closely tied to the community around it, the University was responsible for how its students influence others.
Luke Whiteside, a Ph. D. candidate in risk management and insurance from Columbia, South Carolina, added that smoking threatened the livelihood of fellow non-smoking students.
Whiteside said the ban should not be repealed for the sake of our athletes and asked other debaters if they have “ever tried to grow tomatoes next to weeds.”
Kelly Olivo, a junior from Atlanta majoring in international affairs and philosophy, disagreed and said student choice should be considered.
“In all facets of education, students have at least some influence and control over who represents them,” she said. “With the Board of Regents, students do not have the ability to elect them and have their say.”
Olivo also said the implementation of the ban has been poor, mentioning that, in discussing with UGA police, there was no consensus on what punishment would be dealt out should someone violate the ban.
After much deliberation back and forth on the topic, spanning the economic, social and environmental issues revolving around smoking and the ban, the proposal to repeal the ban failed to pass. When polled, non-member guests voted 7-1 for the ban to be repealed.