Vice provost responds to smoking ban editorial

IâÄôm writing in response to the recent Minnesota Daily editorial regarding the smoking ban discussion currently underway at the University. It is important to remember that the smoking ban issue was brought to the President and Student Affairs by studentsâÄîthis was not an initiative put forward by the administration. I would guess that If the University had responded to the request by saying âÄúno, we do not want to look into this issueâÄù the Daily would have lambasted the administration for turning a deaf ear to its students. The Daily has made it clear that it does not favor a smoking ban, so it is not surprising that the editorial board takes issue with what has been done to gain input from the community . You find the survey âÄúflawedâÄù and you find the open forums âÄú insufficient.âÄù Given your starting point, these are not surprising declarations. Because we are a large and complex institutions, it is difficult to have representation from every constituency that might be interested in an issue. Your statement, however, that the working group members are primarily âÄúUniversity public health officialsâÄù is blatantly false. You owe your readers better and more accurate research. Gathering the opinion of all members of the campus community, including students has been a priority. To date we have consulted with the Minnesota Student Association (which represents more than 25,000 undergraduates), the Residential Housing Association (which represents the more than 5,000 students who live on âÄìcampus), the presidents of the various Interfraternity Council and Panhellenic Council chapters (which represent approximately 1,500 students), and the Student Athlete Advisory Council (which represents more than 700 student-athletes). We have also consulted with the Student Affairs Student Advisory Board which includes representatives from more than 15 large student organizations on campus, and with the Senate Committee on Student Affairs. In addition, an email was sent to all students promoting the two open forums that were held on this issue and students were instructed to provide feedback via email if they wanted, and many have chosen to do that. Despite the size of our University we have tried to consult with various student organizations and we rely on them to represent the interests and opinions of the students they represent The information we have gathered from these sessions and the survey will help the administration determine whether or not a smoking ban should be implemented on our campus. This is clearly a controversial issue and it has been helpful to hear the voices of so many members of the community. Jerry Rinehart is the Vice Provost for Student Affairs. Please send comments to [email protected].