The Residence Hall Association came one vote short of passing a resolution last night in favor of making all residence halls smoke-free within the next two years.
The resolution was written by Kinesiology freshman and West Quad resident Pete Woiwode after University Housing officials asked RHA members to gather information from students living in residence halls and submit an opinion for or against a smoking ban. It cited health and safety risks along with destruction to University property as its top reasons for wanting to ban smoking.
To date, nine out of 11 schools in the Big Ten have banned smoking from their residence halls.
The resolution, first submitted to RHA at yesterday”s meeting, stated that support of smoking and smokers by the University “considerably reduces our right to claim academic and intellectual excellence, for smoking is in direct conflict with any rational or progressive thought.”
The resolution included an amendment to reinforce existing policies which do not permit students to smoke next to exterior doorways and the removal or transportation of ashtrays from doorways.
Had the resolution been passed, the residence halls it could have affected are Vera Baits, Bursley, Cambridge, Couzens, East Quad, West Quad, Fletcher, Alice Lloyd, Mary Markley, Oxford Housing and South Quad.
Betsy Barbour, Mosher Jordan, Helen Newberry, Stockwell and Martha Cook residence halls are already designated as smoke-free.
Though a majority of the present RHA members voted for the ban, a two-thirds majority was needed. In the final vote, 11 members were for the ban, 4 were opposed and 2 abstained. Twelve votes in favor of the resolution were needed for it to pass.
Some students against the resolution said they felt banning smoking in the residence halls infringed upon student”s individual rights.
“I am completely, 100 percent, against (the resolution),” said Fletcher resident Jeff Souva, an LSA freshman, during the debate. “I feel that the University of Michigan has a long history of personal rights. U of M should support personal rights like it has in the past. I feel that we are totally infringing upon their rights in doing this.”
But students for the amendment said students” health should come before smoking privileges.
In the end, RHA President Tim Winslow, an engineering junior and resident of Baits house, said the two members who chose to abstain from voting were responsible for the bill”s failure.
LSA sophomore Carrie Rheingans said she abstained from voting because she felt members didn”t have enough time to talk to the students they represent to see if residents were for or against the ban.
“I abstained because my hall hasn”t given an official position,” Rheingans said.
Although the first resolution failed, many RHA members said they were in favor of a similar resolution. Others said the resolution had not been put to rest and would be a reoccurring theme in upcoming weeks.
“It”s going to come back,” said Music freshman and Alice Lloyd resident Anup Aurora, who said he is against banning all smoking in residence halls.
“I do think it should be controlled. The University is based on freedom of choice. If we take smoking away from students, that goes against what the University stands for.”
Regardless of whether RHA passes a resolution for or against smoking in residence halls, the final decision does not rest on their hands. University Housing has the final say.