Students to vote on a smoking ban at all U of M dorms
It's "highly likely" the University of Memphis will ban smoking in all residence halls come next fall.
That's the prediction of Danny Armitage, the school's associate dean of students and head of residence life.
The U of M's Student Government Association and Residence Hall Association plan votes on the matter in the coming days. Those student votes would only be recommendations, but Armitage said they would carry weight in the decision.
"If both say it, we will do it. If one says it over the other, we probably will do it. And if neither says it, we very well may do it," Armitage said.
Currently, the university allows smoking in some dorms, usually segregating the smokers on one or more floors. Two dorms -- the Carpenter complex and West Hall -- are entirely smoke-free.
About 18 percent of those living in residence halls said on their applications they are smokers or don't mind rooming with smokers, Armitage said.
"If at any time the student body had pulled up and said, 'Smoking in residence halls is a problem,' it'd have stopped," he said. "I don't think the university should dictate what the living conditions should be without student input."
Policies vary at schools across the state. The University of Tennessee-Martin allows smoking in some apartments, but UT-Knoxville joined East Tennessee State, Tennessee Tech and others this fall by banning smoking in dorms.
In Memphis, Christian Brothers University and Rhodes College also prohibit smoking in dorms.
Earlier this year, the Tennessee legislature passed a bill asking, but not requiring, that the state's public schools ban smoking in dorms. The bill originally prohibited smoking in residence halls, but it was watered-down before being passed.
U of M student Chuck Grimes is one of the sponsors of the SGA bill asking for a smoking ban.
"I realize that there are no merits to smoking. There are just no ways to argue the merits of it," said Grimes, a senior who lives in the Carpenter complex. "More and more studies are showing these days how harmful it is to health. And any educational institution has a responsibility to encourage a healthy living-learning environment."
Some dorm residents like the proposal.
"I think it should be banned. Every time you have people smoking in their rooms, the scent is very strong," said Kimberly Terry, working the desk Wednesday at Rawls Hall.
Kimmi Hayden, a nonsmoker in a family of smokers, is ambivalent.
"I don't really think it's that big a deal," she said. "If they ban it, it's just one more thing for people to (have to) follow."