Imagine a real-world Narnia, right here on our beautiful campus. It was nestled out of plain sight, sandwiched between the back of a building and a shady treeline. I was locking my bike on a rack across from this magical time-warp the first time I spotted it.
A crowd of six or seven people were gathered there; some stood, while others sat with their legs crossed. One person laid flat on their back and gazed in admiration at the sky. But that alone could simply be the scene of any friendly gathering at Sweetheart Circle.
This was a much different sight. A burning cigarette rested unapologetically between the fingers of every person back there and it was beautiful.
Georgia Southern has been a tobacco-free campus since 2014. Unfortunately, the student body had no say in this decision. This is a statewide policy enacted under the University System of Georgia. Nonetheless, student and faculty continue to smoke. We all agree that non-smokers shouldn’t have to be subjected to secondhand smoke against their will. However, is it right to force people to go upwards of six hours without a designated area to smoke peacefully?
Last week, Narnia was discovered and promptly disbanded by campus police and the once lively cove is now empty. One thing is for sure: they didn’t all decide to stop smoking. Did they find another spot? I can’t be certain, but my guess is yes.
It’s worth noting that you can now carry a concealed handgun on campus, given you have the proper license. There are also several exceptions to this law and designated places where a concealed handgun is not allowed, for example, in a classroom where high school students are present or in faculty offices.
The smoking policy, strangely enough, is much more strict. The list of areas you cannot smoke covers every inch of this campus and the only resemblance of a loophole I found from the University System of Georgia was this: “The intent is the campus is tobacco and smoke free unless otherwise needed for educational purposes and/or the advancement of research on campus.”
For the smokers on campus, I suppose a worthy exploration of the words “educational purposes” is in order.