Is it the SU’s responsibility to support your habit?

By Amanda Affonso

Yet another smoking space on campus will soon see closure. The Black Lounge will close so that bigger, better, more profitable services can be provided for students. (If you can’t tell by now, I’m somewhat pissed off by this).

Let’s take a look at some points from last week’s slc Viewpoint on the Black Lounge: The fact is, smoking space may not have ranked as high as some of the "essential services" the SU provides, but you are comparing apples and oranges. When you put a smoking lounge against scholarships & bursaries, the Campus Food Bank, and Safewalk, it’s no wonder it ranked poorly. In fact, I am surprised it ranked so well in comparison. You can’t compare space to services!

Many people on this campus do not like or care for politics. But the Students’ Union provides space for political clubs to promote their values. The same goes for students studying economics. The majority of students at this university are not studying economics and are not members of any economics or other faculty-specific club. Yet the Students’ Union still finds a place for them to use and never asks the rest of the student body whether or not they deserve space in a referendum. Imagine asking students if certain groups of people deserved to have a space in Mac Hall. Let’s not get carried away here!

There are hundreds of examples I could use to stress my point here. Please let me say that I support these groups outlined here and feel they do deserve to exist in this building. What I am trying to say is that you cannot take a group of people, label them, and ask a larger body with little or nothing in common, if they deserve to exist. In fact, if smokers have to pass this test, so should every allocated space.

It’s true the cost for an upgraded lounge could be high. But in comparison, students are spending money on a new restaurant and bar to replace Max Café which only ranked 17 out of 19 in terms of services provided. Where’s the responsible choice here? This is based on the same perception survey Ms. Affonso used to downplay a smoking lounge on campus. If the current Max Café only ranked two spots higher, why are we spending all this money for a new bar to replace the old one. Are there not better ways to spend students’ money?

The only thing smokers have been told is that the Lounge will be closing. Is that really taking care of student needs on campus? I am not telling the SU to build a new smoking lounge for students. Just provide some space so they don’t crowd around the front doors of Mac Hall. As well, I am not telling the SU to abandon new plans for Max Café. Just include a not-for-profit, always-open-to-students-smoking-lounge in the plans so you don’t have to spend any new money on smokers. It may not make us any money, but is that what we are here for anyway?

The Black Lounge is the only not-for-profit smoking area on this campus. The Students’ Union has decided NOT to include a new, or even an upgrade in the campus smoking lounge. Many groups will benefit from the expansion and redevelopment plans, but not smokers. Once again, we will lose in the fight for the right to have a smoking area.

This isn’t a question of how responsible the SU is. It is a question of whether or not smokers count as students. They aren’t asking for a brand new lounge, just some attention to the matter please!

Vote YES to Smoke and to Coke!

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