UNA SGA conducts student smoking survey

by News Editor Anna Brown

The Student Government Association might implement a non-smoking policy at UNA, but they want student opinion before writing a resolution.

The Senate worked with officials in the Department of Institutional Research, Planning and Assessment to build a student survey about UNA’s current smoking policies, said SGA president Nick Lang.

“Every student is very important,” Lang said. “By taking the survey, they’re telling SGA, ‘Here’s what we want,’ and that helps us to make sure that the students have the best college experience at UNA as possible. What the students want is what the students get.”

The Department of Institutional Research, Planning and Assessment sent a link to the survey to every student in a campuswide email Nov. 3, said director Andrew Luna.

A link to the student survey is also available on SGA Senate’s Twitter and Facebook pages.

“The goal of the survey is to receive as many responses as possible for students’ voices to be recognized,” he said.

Lang said he is waiting on an update from the survey committee to determine when it will close.

A certain number of students must respond to the survey in order for the results to be valid, Luna said.

“Based upon this formula, we’ve got around 7,100 students, so we’re going to need 364 responses in order to generalize the answers of the survey to the general population of UNA,” he said.

As of Nov. 12, Luna said the department has nearly received enough surveys to meet that quota.

Lang said if SGA receives the minimum 364 responses, SGA will draft a resolution to change the current policy.

“If data comes back from the survey saying, ‘We want the policy to remain the same,’ SGA will ask administration to keep it the same, but if there is mostly data saying, “Hey we want smoking areas,” they’ll give the students smoking areas; if there is a lot of feedback saying, ‘We want the campus to be completely smoke and tobacco free,’ we will request it,” Lang said.

He said the survey asks questions about the current policy, what students want to change and students’ opinions on going completely smoke-free.

“Your campus looks better if you don’t have people walking around smoking everywhere and cigarette butts everywhere,” said freshman Ashley Arreola.

Last year, SGA wrote and conducted a survey on smoking policies on its own, but this year, they decided to get some help from the university. Lang said President Kenneth Kitts asked the faculty, staff and student senate to conduct some research on the topic of smoking policy this year.

The Student Welfare Committee made sure the survey wording does not persuade students to choose certain responses, Lang said.

The survey asks students to rank statements from “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree,” based on each student’s opinion on the statement.

Some of the statements are “I think the current smoking and tobacco use policy should remain in place,” “I think the campus should be tobacco free (this includes ALL forms of tobacco, i.e., cigarettes, cigars, electronic cigarettes, dip, chewing tobacco, etc.)” and “I think there should be designated areas for smoking/tobacco use.”

Sophomore Hannah Thompson said she has not taken the survey, but plans to soon.

“I think it’s great that the students are getting involved in the lives of other students,” she said.

Sophomore Aaron Gordon said he has already taken the survey.

“I don’t think our campus should be smoke free because we already have a really good smoking policy with thirty foot distance for smokers,” he said.