NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - A smoke-free campus is quite possibly in the future for Stephen F Austin State University.
SFA's regents heard favorable recommendations to adopt a policy from both the Student Government Association and the Faculty Senate Monday. While the proposal has overwhelming support, it also has its share of critics.
Smokers are in the minority at SFA. They know campus smoking restrictions are likely to occur. Smoker and adjunct faculty member James Couch doesn't like the idea.
"Just seems like a bit of an intrusion, you know, into our lives to try to enforce a certain lifestyle on us," Couch said.
Then there are smokers like SFA sophomore Erik DeValcourt. He's willing to accept the majority rule for a smoke-free campus.
"It can be bothersome for some people, and I'm not trying to affect anyone else with my bad habits," DeValcourt said.
Students are the ones who began the initiative for a smoke-free campus. The Student Government Association reached out to the Faculty Senate to sponsor a joint resolution. It was presented to regents today.
"We all know the effects of smoking on the health and we want to make this campus a healthier campus. Like I said, we're not the first people to do this and we're surely not the last," said Tristian Harris, SGA's president.
Aside from health concerns, there are financial benefits to being a smoke-free campus.
"Many federal funding opportunities, we're not available to apply because we're not a smoke-free campus, so moving to a tobacco free campus will allow opportunities to have greater federal funding in the future," said Dr. Karen Embry-Jenlink, the faculty senate president.
Regents are waiting for a written policy to consider. Meanwhile, smokers on the SFA campus will continue to enjoy their cigarettes and predictably discuss their rights over others.
"What? Next fall we'll be able to bring a hand gun on campus, but not a cigarette," Couch said. Right. That seems kinda strange to me."
SFA President Dr. Baker Patillo will appoint committees to survey the campus on both the gun issue and a smoke-free campus proposal. Policies will follow for regents' approval.
Later in Monday's meeting, SFA regents took steps to get rid of three campus housing facilities to make room for the new Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics building.
Gibbs Hall will go away. So will Todd Hall. Both aging dorms are in a section of campus designated as a science corridor. It is now referred to as a "STEM corridor."
"Everybody has heart string ties that whenever they were there, at Todd or one of those things," said Dr. Scott Coleman, the chair of SFA's Board of Regents. "And I understand that completely, and we're respectful of that, but at the same time, you know, we're not making any more dirt, so as we move forward and progress with the university, it's really a matter of what makes the most sense for students and faculty and what's best for the university."
University Woods, across from the Coliseum, will also be torn down. That property will be used for a housing operation which is currently located in Gibbs Hall.