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Letter from the Editor

Issue 10 Letter From the Editor: Let My People Smoke (If They Want To)

by Christian Diaz, News Editor

Apparently, smoking is our controversial topic of the month.

It’s not surprising that the student life folk have decided that making Warren Wilson smoke-free by 2015, as proposed in our strategic plan, is not plausible.

Our culture promotes individuality through such facets of the college as the work and service programs, which allow us to personalize our educations according to our interests and skills. This culture conflicts with a policy that seeks to manage our personal health in a uniform, one-size-fits-all approach.

Not only does it seem unfeasible, but enforcing a campus-wide ban on smoking is startling in its sheer Puritanism. I have to say that one of the many refreshing characteristics about Warren Wilson is the flexibility with which the school functions.

Having attended a college program that strictly prohibited substance use, I can speak first hand about how stressful and tempting it becomes to live in such a setting. How will students react when they are written up for smoking cigarettes?

Don’t get me wrong; I understand the concerns of non-smokers. Take for example, the following letter, which the Echo received as a response to our previous issue.

I would like to say that I am very surprised at a comment made within an article… [which] recommends bringing friends to the Jensen Trail for an after-dinner smoke.

- First, that is simply against the rules on that side of campus, period. Meditation Hut does not equal Smoking Hut. As someone who uses that trail for a multiple-times/day commute as well as fitness, I appreciate the rules in place regarding smoking locations.

- Second, while I understand that the views expressed in The Echo don’t necessarily reflect those of the Echo staff, or of the college, I am amazed at the irresponsibility of printing that single sentence without any acknowledgment of the ongoing – and HIGHLY polarized – discussion of the college’s smoking policy.

I can sympathize with the writer; smoking in the Jensen trail is inconsiderate and offensive. My response to this reader is that the comment was published because it reflects a real aspect of our campus culture, whether we like it or not. People are going to smoke wherever they want, no matter the rules. (Of course, I understand that in this instance The Echo encouraged such behavior, and that is problematic).

Nonetheless, I have to say that I am personally unbothered by the smoking habits of my peers here. This might be due to the designated smoking areas, which have been effective in limiting the amount of smoking that occurs outside those premises.

In regard to a full campus ban on smoking, perhaps the administration believes that policy, however unpopular it may be, will eventually change campus culture. There is reason to believe that this is the case if we examine what happened with the introduction of smoking huts—cleaner, smoke-free air in general but also a draw for students who find solace and camaraderie smoking in the hut, students who perhaps didn’t smoke before.

How would a ban on smoking change student’s behavioral patterns?

As stupid as this sounds (especially when there are so many more pressing matters worthy of discussion on this campus), smokers have rights too, and frankly, I don’t care if an individual chooses to smoke, and neither should the school.

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