Senate nips smoking bill in the bud

April 18, 2010

By Katy McDowall


After lengthy debate Thursday night, Student Senate did not pass a controversial smoking bill that would have proposed restricting smokers to a few areas on campus.

The bill, SR 57-19, recommended smokers be restricted to designated parking lots near places such as the Baylor Sciences Building, Moody Memorial Library, Baylor Law School, Morrison Hall and some residential halls (Penland, Martin, Dawson, Allen and Russell).

The bill also recommended enforcing fines with minimums of $25 or more.

"The main goal is to take more action and not ban smoking, but only allow smoking in certain places," said Arecibo, Puerto Rico, freshman Rafael Deliz Aguirre, who authored the bill.

Deliz Aguirre said this bill was important because non-smokers are exposed to secondhand smoke, which is the leading preventable cause of death.

Twenty-one senators voted against the bill and 14 voted for it.

"Passing this proposal would be a major inconvenience for a minority group of students on campus that is currently underrepresented in this body," said Daniel Houston, sophomore senator and chair of the senate's community affairs committee. "I could not in good conscience pass this bill."

Sophomore Senator Michael Lyssy, who sponsored Deliz Aguirre's bill, said it would be good to encourage more restrictions on smoking because it is a huge problem on campus.

"We would be a leader in ensuring the health rights of students are guaranteed," Lyssy said.

Another bill, authored by Lyssy, which proposes creating 11 convenient and aesthetically pleasing smoking areas will be voted on next Thursday in Student Senate.

In other business, Student Senate passed SR 57-20, a bill proposing that a less expensive parking sticker should be offered as an alternative to the current sticker.

The new sticker would grant access only to the East Campus Parking Garage, Ferrell Center parking lots and other low-traffic areas during peak parking hours.

After peak hours, which would be determined by Baylor Parking Services, the new sticker would grant access to all Baylor parking areas.

"Parking is always one of the most prominent issues," Houston, who authored the bill, said.

Houston said while high-traffic parking lots and garages are at full capacity during peak hours, East Campus Parking Garage has 900 to 1,000 open spots and the Ferrell Center has 2,000 spots open.

"The proposal is to have a second tier of pricing for the parking decals," Houston said.

Houston said it will draw students from high-traffic areas to low-traffic areas and alleviate the current parking issue.

The bill passed 33 for, two against and three abstentions.

A copy of the bill will be sent to Chris Krause, assistant vice president for campus services, Matt Penney, director of parking and transportation services and David Garland, interim president.

Senate also passed SR 57-18, a bill proposing that the Baylor administration consider replacing desks that are in less than satisfactory condition in a number of academic buildings, such as Castellaw Communications Center , Tidwell Bible Building, Draper Academic Building and Old Main.

SA 57-16, a bill allocating $2,859.19 to the Latin Dance Society to fund the Seventh Annual Salsa Congress, also passed, as did SA 57-15, a bill allocating $1,301.59 to the Pi Mu Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha to fund the Mr. Pink and Green Scholarship Pageant 2010.