Another Ban Failed: ME GSS considers other options on campus

Maine GSS Update

Tobacco ban opposed
GSS considers other options on campus

Alex Leonard
In the last session of the General Student Senate, a resolution to oppose the tobacco-free campus initiative passed unanimously. The resolution outlined other potential options for reducing the public use of tobacco.

The resolution, sponsored by President William Pomerleau, a smoker, stated that the Student Senate as a whole would oppose the idea of the tobacco-free campus initiative, but would instead encourage the university to undertake informational campaigns regarding tobacco smoking. This could include free over-the-counter medicine to assist the students who choose to quit.

“I understand we have to protect other students,” Gimbala Sankare said. “I don’t understand why it should be illegal on campus.” Sankare announced his candidacy for President at the meeting.

“It shouldn’t be a tobacco- free campus,” Pomerleau said. “Lend a helping hand to the students instead of smacking them in the face.”

Pomerleau made it clear that he, along with co-sponsors Vice President Steve Moran and Vice President of Student Entertainment Derek Mitchell, would look for other ways to cut down tobacco use instead of banning it.

“They could find a corporation to sponsor or co-sponsor [the initiative],” Pomerleau said. “If they did that, along with an informational campaign, it’d be a hell of a lot more effective than it would be to just ban smoking altogether.”

Although the resolution passed unanimously, there were some questions about the stance of student government. Sen. Christina Soyden was one of the few who spoke up in opposition of the Student Senate’s stance on the issue.

“My opposition to the resolution is not because I don’t believe that we shouldn’t protect the civil liberties of students,” Soyden said. “I believe that it’s too soon to decide to oppose or to agree with the resolution.”

Soyden went on to add that the decision was not one she necessarily opposed but felt that the rights of the non-smoker should not be infringed by the decision. She shares the opinion that there are other ways to cut down on tobacco use that affects non-tobacco users on campus.

“I think that student government would be better in being pro-active in finding ways to either make the policies that are in place work better or to find new ways to make it easier for students to smoke on campus,” Soyden said.

While the decision ultimately lies in the hands of the university’s administration, student government’s decision to oppose the initiative could impact the final resolution.

Another resolution that passed unanimously was an act to support Maine’s citizen initiatives. The act pertains to the November elections in which Questions Two and Three will have a direct impact on the students. If passed, Question Two would allocate $55 million for research and development, a large sum of which would be given to the University of Maine. Also, if Question Three was to pass, $11.3 million would be allocated to the university. The senate briefly discussed this act, concluding that it was in the best interest of the university to encourage a yes vote in the upcoming November election.

The Residents on Campus reported that the vote to amend its constitution and create Community Governing Boards, CGBs, passed 141-24. There will be elections for CGB on Oct. 25 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. in all resident halls. Residents interested in taking part in CGB must submit their names to CGB advisors by Oct. 22 to be added on the ballot. ROC also reported that they allocated $440 to the Sophomore Owls, $150 to the Sophomore Eagles and $675 to the Writing Center.

Other allocations that passed included $170 to the Student Education Association of Maine, $60 to the Black Student Union, $700 to Phi Sigma Tau, $200.43 to the Maine Outing Club and $305 to Work Study Payroll. Two resolutions also passed unanimously. The first allocated $2,687 to the International Student Association and the second act allocated $2,649.47 to the Equestrian Team. The budget was $129,671.95 at the beginning of the meeting and after all allocations was $123,091.95.

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