Cigarettes, culture and the common good

People love to casually ignore the many “No smoking” signs scattered across campus. Photo by Henry Gramling.

All articles published within this section of The Cor Chronicle are the opinions of the respective authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Cor Chronicle

In response to recent acts of vandalism on campus, President Sanford sent out a letter with the statement, “One indication that the perpetrators of these acts of vandalism were not members of the UD community is that, in addition to frequent misspellings in the signs, members of our community recognize the need to care for our physical spaces and recognize that doing so advances the common good.”

It is a mark of pride that our campus community can merit a statement that is so certain of our consideration for others. Unfortunately, when it comes to smoking on campus, we don’t merit this statement.

The subject of smoking is a difficult conversation to have here on campus. From the time we could watch TV, most of us have been bombarded with all the health-related reasons why smoking should be avoided. When we are past the age of reason, perhaps we may confront the moral issues related to smoking.

The general consensus most people reach is that whether they like it or not, smoking is a decision best left to the individual, not to the law. Our university guidelines reflect this principle by having a campus where smoking is only prohibited in certain areas, rather than having a campus where it is completely prohibited or can only be done in very select spaces.

These are very loose guidelines, especially in comparison to other universities. However, even the few rules that do exist are continually disrespected and ignored.

The doors and vents surrounding Braniff are consistently filled with cigarette smoke and the foyer to Haggar carries the smell of smoking throughout. Despite the numerous “No Smoking” signs surrounding these areas of campus, without fail, they are ignored.

The key aspect of President Sanford’s letter that stands out to me is the implication that we as students of the University of Dallas recognize “advancing the common good” as a virtuous act by which we live our lives. To many at UD, the social enjoyment that smoking provides seems to be a common good, or at the very least it is not an obstacle to that goal.

To those who believe this, I ask, what about those with smoke allergies? What about your friends with asthma? Or the people who simply don’t enjoy having their clothes reek of cigarettes?

Have you considered the parents of potential future students who see attendees of a school of “independent thinkers” ignoring multiple “No smoking” signs near a door? I assume these parents would disagree with the president’s letter. Because we disregard a basic request from our administration, simply because it inconveniences us, they most likely think we don’t respect our campus space or the school.

Smoking is not a right. At a private university founded on certain moral principles, it is well and just for the ordinances around the doors to be implemented. It is reasonable to expect us, as students with consideration for others, to follow them.

The most frustrating part of seeing fellow students needlessly disregarding rules is that these are the same students who are incredibly smart and kind in every other part of their lives. The people who can deliberate Plato for hours on end and who are the first to compliment you during the day are the same people who don’t see why we need to respect the smoking laws at UD.

I understand and sympathize with those who don’t appreciate the lack of clarity surrounding the no-smoking areas. Twenty-five feet is a confusing area to estimate, and in certain situations, the signs are not as clearly placed as they could be.

However, this rule still is a law of campus and the law not being the most clearly defined or enforced does not negate that fact. As adults, we should have enough self-control that we do not require punishment to follow a rule. It is also difficult to accept the excuse of ignorance at a school like UD, where intellect and virtue are constantly prioritized. I would just like to ask those who do choose to smoke here to think a bit before they light up directly in front of a door. How does this action represent you and how does it represent us as a community?

Make this a campus that deserves the remarks of pride from Sanford. Make it a culture that deserves those remarks from everyone.


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