Both candidate pairs promise to take action with smoking referendum results

Julie Knapp

Smoking in public places has been debated by many legislatures across the nation, and now the Washburn Student Government Association wants to bring the discussion to Washburn University.

A referendum concerning smoking will be placed on the WSGA election ballot for the March 7, 8 and 9 elections.

The question will not be a final decision on whether to ban smoking on campus, it will merely be an opinion poll on what students are thinking.

There are two main reasons for putting these questions on the ballot Whitney Philippi, chair of the communications committee, said. First, the communications committee wants to get people’s attention about WSGA, and second, because it’s an important issue in the state legislature right now.

“We hope it will stir up attention,” said Philippi, “if they see something like this on the ballot.”

After the elections, Philippi explained WSGA would like to use the information to decide their next action, which could be hosting a town hall meeting about the results.

“There are so many options with this,” said Philippi. “I’d like to hear everyone’s opinions.”

Nick Woolery and Andrea Chancey, candidates for president and vice president of WSGA, said that smoking on campus was an issue they would both look at, but take their time with in developing policy.

“I don’t support smoking, but I think it’s an issue we would take our time with and not rush into,” said Woolery. “While I would like to see a smoking ban, that maybe wouldn’t be best for the campus.”

WSGA did a similar opinion poll on smoking in the 2005 election, but those results are no longer available for WSGA to analyze.

Vince Bowhay and Lacey Keller, president and vice president candidates, said it’s time for WSGA to return its focus to this issue. Bowhay wants to provide the information garnered from Washburn students during this upcoming election to those exploring the city-wide smoking ordinance.

“If there is an outstanding vote that says ‘yes, we want smoking here’ or ‘no, we don’t want smoking here,’ we can take action appropriately,” said Bowhay. “We can talk to the administration. If it is down the middle, we could designate a couple of places or get rid of it all together, which a lot of places in Kansas have already done.”

Overall, both candidates agree the results from the opinion poll need to be utilized well.

“WSGA tried to do this before, and they had a lot of support, but just didn’t do anything with it,” said Chancey. “I’d like to see something happen with it.”