Editorial: Referendum too close to go tobacco free

The decision that sits before the Board of Trustees is simple: Case Western Reserve University should not go tobacco free.

The Undergraduate Student Government’s (USG) referendum results were inconclusive; a 52 to 48 percent vote in favor of tobacco free should not count as approval by the student body.

The current proposal, which would remove designated smoking areas and leave no alternatives, could be detrimental to students, staff and community members.

This portion of the referendum was only voted on by 1,150 students. A close vote with a turnout under the 25 percent mark means the student body is effectively undecided.

The Editorial Board believes that more debate and polling will need to be conducted, and a new proposal needs to be drafted. As it stands, the decision to go tobacco free is not fair.

The Faculty Senate passed the current version earlier this semester before gathering student opinion. They rushed the vote; the senate mistakenly thought they had approved the proposal last semester only to realize they hadn’t met quorum. We imagine the Faculty Senate has now realized that they forced through a proposal that was clearly not supported by enough of the student body.

Scrambling to approve this proposal before garnering student opinion is a slight to students on campus. The Faculty Senate should not be treating the very students they interact with in classrooms with such indifference.

The administration and the Board of Trustees, on the other hand, have shown stronger resistance. We applaud them for not voting on the proposal before the complete results of the USG referendum come in next week on Wednesday, April 20.

We’d like to see this new dose of caution carry on to future decisions. Instead of passing the proposal now, the Board of Trustees should vote against it. Next semester, USG, the Faculty Senate and the administration should work together to draft a new proposal that all parties approve. There needs to be more polling and forums that involve undergraduate students, graduate students, staff and faculty.

The current proposal would not allow for the usage of e-cigarettes, some of which do not contain tobacco. Further, the proposal bans non-smoking forms of tobacco. Neither of the above have the harmful effects of secondhand smoke. There needs to be an open discussion on what’s best for everyone.

There are even questions as to whether this proposal would be effective. The current version relies on community members for compliance. The idea of students going up to one another asking each other to put out a cigarette may not be something the student body is comfortable with or even something they care about.

The student body is undecided, and the Faculty Senate made decisions that don’t reflect the CWRU community. The Board of Trustees shouldn’t make the same blunder.

CWRU is not ready to put a ban on smoking.