Letter to the Editor:
The 10/3 cover story, “Undesignated,” about GSU smokers needing a smoking section seems like “fake news.” Why? Because there is already a defacto smoking area in the middle of Library Plaza where GSU smokers can feel defacto welcome at all times. There, you can join 100’s of smokers every week without fear of any response whatsoever from any GSU entity, other than occasional glares from non-smoking passers-by. There’s not even a “smoke-free campus” sign anywhere in sight.
When you finish sucking in your cancer sticks, you can feel defacto cool just tossing them on the ground too since GSU pays people to clean up the defacto smoking section every day. If I were a smoker, I would be thrilled to have such a nice, airy, defacto spot to light up on campus with its banquette conversational design, shade trees, and prime vantage point just steps from the library, classroom buildings, and a fountain! Too bad for the non-smokers though : ( Risks in coming to GSU include breathing in Library Plaza, for sure, but it’s not too difficult to use the back entrance, or to hold one’s breath while walking really fast through that corner of Library Plaza. If GSU’s spineless non-smoking policy is any measure of expectation, non-smokers should just suck it up and get over it. Take your precious pink lungs to another library plaza if you don’t like it.
The dangers of secondhand smoke, which were ostensibly the basis for “implementing” a no-smoking policy to begin with, are of no consequence at GSU. While GSU’s School of Public Health, a respiratory therapy program, and a nursing school among others do offer an academic counterpoint to the practice, it is not their job to administer the student code of conduct. And while they may attract lots of prospective applicants, the defacto smoking section at the crossroads of campus tours and in plain sight of cigarette alley is an effective deterrent too.
Smokers: stop whining about having nowhere to light up at GSU; you defacto do! GSU’s non-smoking policy clearly has fewer teeth than a jelly fish. For 3 years, I’ve contacted everybody on campus I can think of to take action, but to no avail. However, there appears to be at least one course of action for those who prefer not to be exposed to secondhand smoke in Library Plaza. As recently as February 16, 2017, the minutes of GSU’s Student Life Committee meeting recorded the Dean of Students’ guidance on this issue. He stated that students who don’t like the smoke can approach the smoker and ask the smoker to stop. If the smoker persists, the non-smoker can ask for the smoker’s name and Panther ID# and report it to the Dean. How simple is that!? Non-smokers, you CAN have clean air if you’re willing to work for it! Smokers, with so much apathy, you clearly DO have a defacto place to sit, chat, shorten your life, stink up and litter the campus right in the heart of GSU. Plus, it seems the worst thing that can happen is a wheezing non-smoker may ask for your name and Panther ID#. There is also the option of walking out to the nearest public street to smoke, but why bother? Library Plaza is much nicer for GSU smokers, based on my last 3 years of watching from literally 50 feet away. #gsusmokes, #gsusmokerswelcome #gsupufflounge
Brett Reichert, MS
International Student and Scholar Services