This month the St. Mary’s Student Government Association (SGA) passed a resolution enforcing no smoking on both the campus center patio and balcony. The resolution does not change any existing rules but simply reiterates the SGA’s support of the existing Maryland public smoking law. This law states that no person may smoke within 25 feet of any public building.
The resolution was brought forward by the Class of 2016 President, Andrew Wilhelm. Wilhelm mentioned that his motivation for bringing forth the resolution was derived from comments and complaints he received from students. Over time, students and faculty had, he said, become less and less respectful of the legal smoking distance.
The SGA resolution was intended to remind smokers of the minimum distance in order to restore the smoke free environment to the upper deck and campus center patio.
Although all of the voting members of the SGA supported the resolution at some level, there was some significant debate over how far the resolution should go. Since St. Mary’s is a public college, all buildings on campus are considered public buildings and are thus subject to the law.
SGA President Andrew Reighart said that the biggest questions in the debate were “how much of the campus did we want to include and did we want to try and enforce the resolution?” A few senators wanted to expand the resolution to include buildings other than just the campus center; others suggested involving public safety.
In the end, the resolution was restrained to the campus center, did not include any mention of enforcement and was passed unanimously.
“We just wanted to reinforce the rights of non-smokers as they are established by Maryland state law,” said Wilhelm. In addition, he was adamant that the resolution has absolutely no ulterior motive to harm smokers or try and influence their lifestyle.
So far, the resolution seems to have been fairly successful. Many students report having seen less smoking in and around the campus center upper deck and patio. In addition, there has been no formal outcry from smokers. That said, there has been some informal discontent.
One regular smoker said that “neither the SGA nor the State of Maryand should tell people where to smoke.” Still, the measure has been more popular with some.
Sophomore Alice Mutter said that she finds smoking “very unpleasant around the campus center but less so around the dorms and class buildings.”
Although it seems likely that these issues will eventually come up again, both Wilhelm and Reighart agree that this particular resolution is not a precursor to any larger SGA movement on or against smoking.