Students push for a tobacco-free campus

Sep 21, 2016
Tobacco-Free Campus Initiative

The Student Government Association (SGA) at Newman University began its research for a tobacco-free campus in the Spring of 2015, and could see results as soon as 2017. There is much that goes into an initiative of this scale, and a lot of people to see it through to fruition.

The journey began with then sophomore Chase Blasi and former university Provost Michael Austin in early 2015. Blasi discovered a grant that was up for grabs from the Kansas Health Foundation and recruited Director of Grants Bill Meitl to help with the request. Dean of Students Levi Esses said, “At the time, WSU was going through, Friends is still going through it. It’s one of those things that other universities were looking at so the students thought they’d check it out for us.”

After receiving the grant, the SGA started preparations to initiate the process. During the recent Involvement Fair held at Eck Hall, the initiative became stronger with 45 student volunteers signing up for the cause. Some of those students will attend meetings and others will speak at different events.

Esses talked about the importance of the ultimate goal which is to “figure out what a tobacco-free campus looks like and promote that while also figuring out what the policy will look like.”

Deciding on ramifications for those who are using tobacco on campus and drafting a policy will be a main focus for meetings throughout the fall. After presenting the draft within community forums, the SGA will submit it to the Board of Directors in February for approval. If all goes well, the campus could be tobacco-free as early as the 2017-18 academic year.

“This will effect visitors to campus as well,” said Esses. “Part of the initiative will have to include PSA’s at athletic events, communication to donors and alumni, and organizations that use our meeting rooms such as Dugan-Gorges Conference Center.”

The tobacco-free campus initiative goes in conjunction with the other three pillars of healthy living promoted at Newman: Eating healthy, exercising regularly, and maintaining mental and spiritual health.