The Kent State University committee reviewing the idea of possibly banning smoking on all eight campuses Tuesday held the first of 21 public forums scheduled to gather feedback on the issue.
The first meeting Tuesday morning, one of three held yesterday on the Kent campus, drew less than 20 members of the campus community, including members of the committee, press and university administration.
Evan Gildenblatt, executive director of Kent State's Undergraduate Student Government, said the committee is merely gathering information at this point in order to make a recommendation to Kent State President Lester Lefton's cabinet after all the public meetings are held.
"We are not making binding decisions, but we are gathering input on how this will effect our campus community here at Kent State University," he said.
The public forums are scheduled through March 14 across all eight campuses and include two more set for the Kent campus on Thursday. See the flier attached to this article for a complete list of times and dates.
Part of the feedback-gathering process included a survey distributed late last year about the idea of banning tobacco use. More than 8,300 people responded to the survey.
Take our poll. Should Kent State ban smoking?
Greg Jarvie, vice president of enrollment management and student affairs and co-chair of the committee, said they're withholding the results of the survey until after all the meetings are held.
He said the committee is on track to make its recommendation to the president's cabinet this summer.
The first meeting Tuesday morning revolved more around the idea of adjusting the university's existing smoking policy to create designated smoking spaces and increasing the distance smokers must stay away from building entrances instead of focusing on banning smoking completely.
Marianne Warzinski, director of academic programming for the College of Communication and Information at Olson Hall, said the university should consider a policy that creates a more harmonious balance between smokers and non-smokers.
"If you ask me if I think it should be smoke-free, the answer is yes," she said. "I feel like the current policy isn’t working quite well.”
Warzinski said her office is constantly flooded with secondhand smoke by people who light up on their way outside or who ignore the buffer of 20 feet required between smokers and building entrances.
“I’m getting secondhand smoke pretty much every day," she said. "Our campus, to be blunt, looks like an ash tray."
So to address litter and secondhand smoke issues she and several others at Tuesday's meeting suggested increasing the buffer distance or building an outdoor pavilion or other designated smoking area.
"We haven't ruled anything out," Gildenblatt said.
Thursday's public forums are at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. in the governance chambers on the second floor of the Kent State Student Center.