April 8, 2009
University of Wisconsin-Stout students have voted overwhelmingly in favor of an advisory referendum on banning smoking from campus.
The unofficial results of the electronic voting Wednesday were 1,176 in favor and 718 opposed. The referendum was sponsored by the University Student Senate of the Stout Student Association.
The referendum results now will be forwarded to Chancellor Charles W. Sorensen for his decision.
“It is apparent that Stout students no longer want smoking on our campus, because of the harmful effects it can have on us," said SSA President Michael Lubke, SSA president, adding that students apparently were concerned about “walking through clouds of smoke and having cigarette butts littered around campus.”
Lubke also said that because people are told at an early age how harmful smoking is, “I am not surprised students no longer want to having smoking allowed on campus."
Finally, Lubke said, he hoped that policies for enforcing a ban and educating the campus if smoking is prohibited “should be developed with representation from all groups on campus including many students and student groups."
“This was an initiative that came from our students, and we obviously will have to consider this recommendation carefully,” Sorensen said. “I will share these referendum results and our other information with the relevant groups on campus to ensure this issue gets a fair hearing. I hope to have this issue settled in the early fall.”
Sorensen said that if he does decide to ban smoking from campus, he would give those affected by his decision at least six months to make the necessary preparations. He also said that smokers and other affected by a ban would have whatever resources are available to prepare for the ban.
UW-Stout currently prohibits smoking within 25 feet of any building entrance or exit. A committee the chancellor established in 2008 also recommended UW-Stout ban the use of tobacco products from campus. The committee’s report and other information is available at http://www3.uwstout.edu/committee/srec/index.cfm.