Thursday, February 16, 2012

Faculty Assembly discussion on tobacco-free policy one-sided

By Heather Perry, Editor-In-Chief

The upset about the tobacco-free campus starting June 1 isn’t just coming from those at the tobacco-free forums. The same concerns were evident during the Faculty Assembly Feb. 10.

The motion for an information discussion about the tobacco-free campus report passed around 5 p.m. and for the next 20 minutes not a single Pacific Lutheran faculty member spoke out in favor of the ban.

Assistant Professor of Physics Katrina Hay, representing the Campus Life Committee, and Associate Professor of Economics Lynn Hunnicutt, representing the Faculty Affairs Committee, led the discussion. Hunnicutt emphasized the faculty’s power to advise the Tobacco-Free Task Force with “constructive feedback” and Hay explained how elements of the policy are still being developed.

The discussion began with a history of tobacco products at PLU from Dean of Social Sciences and Professor of Economics Norris Peterson, who said tobacco products have been “debated for quite some time.” He then read from a timeline starting in the late 1800s and cited how at one point women weren’t allowed to smoke on campus. The faculty met almost all aspects of his timeline with laughter.

Throughout the discussion, faculty members described the proposed policy as “unenforceable,” “incredibly invasive” and “silly,” equating it to Big Brother at one point. Associate Professor of French Rebecca Wilken asked whether the ban was for an insurance incentive.

Faculty members asked for the reasoning for going beyond Washington state law and voiced that banning a substance for health reasons isn’t non-judgmental, in reference to the campus report’s statement: “For those seeking to quit tobacco use, we offer a supportive, nurturing, and non-judgmental environment.”

Associate Professor of Theatre Jeff Clapp spoke about how the policy would not allow at least 50 classic theater productions to be performed on campus because of the incorporation of tobacco products.

Assistant Professor of Philosophy Hannah Love said that PLU will ostracize those who smoke through a “public shaming” when they have to walk across the street to smoke off campus.
Assistant Professor of Sociology Lauri McCloud added that it’s unfair for PLU to make the judgment that tobacco products are unsafe for the PLU community, but safe for Parkland and the surrounding community.

Three community forums on the subject of the tobacco-free campus policy were held Feb. 15-16. Those unable to attend the forums can still submit feedback on the policy to tfree@plu.edu.