The results are in for this yearís Santa Monica College (SMC) election, held by the Associated Students from April 2nd through 5th, and 62.9 percent of students who cast their ballot voted ìyesî for a smoke-free SMC campus.
But only slightly less than eight percent of the entire student body ó 2,395 out of about 30,000 students ó participated in the election.
And only 7.4 percent, or 2,229, voted on the question ìShould SMC be a smoke-free campus?î
Of those 2,229 voters, 1,402 voted ìyesî for a smoke-free campus and 827 voted ìno.î
ìI mean, itís only seven percent of the entire campus that voted on this,î said SMC student Lindsay Pieper. ìI donít think that represents the whole student body. And I think a lot of the students on campus are smokers.
ìThere should be more people who want to be involved in the changing of Santa Monica College.î
The ìShould SMC be a smoke-free campus?î question had been placed on the ballot as a ìgaugeî and ìmeasure of student support,î said Evan Madeo, student director of financial support for Associated Students.
Depending on the results of the vote, the Associated Students intended to decide whether or not to bring the matter before the board of trustees for a vote, which could potentially make the campus smoke-free.
But at an Associated Students meeting Monday, April 16th ó the first meeting after the return from spring break ó it was not discussed as to whether or not the matter would be brought before the board of trustees.
ìOnly about 2,300 people voted [and] there are 30,000 students on campus,î said Megan Erden, director of student services for Associated Students. ìI personally think we need to get more input from the students.î
But Associated Students vice president Sepi Shafaghiha said, ìMy opinion is that we should definitely take this up to the board [of trustees]. Itís definitely something we want to bring to the board, discuss it as a whole and try to get something done.î
Shafaghiha also said that this is something ìwe want to take up with all the students due to the fact that the Associated Students is the voice of the students and we try to represent what the students want.î
But Pieper said that results of the election donít accurately represent what the students want or how the student population feels about smoking at SMC.
ìOnly eight percent of campus voted [total],î Pieper said. ìThatís way too low. As far as going to the board of trustees, I disagree with that.
ìI think the Associated Students should re-do the poll and I think they should put more questions on the poll that are relating to smoking and the environment. I think they should have questions about designated smoking areas, as well as environmental questions and questions about recycling.î
SMC student Nansi Cisneros, 25, says she voted ìyesî for a smoke-free campus after much thought and wished that more people would take advantage of their right to vote.
ìI donít smoke and I donít like to smoke, but I donít know,î she said. ìIt [a smoke-free campus] takes away your freedom, but itís a really, really hard decision. There are students that have asthma. Smokingís unhealthy. But if I smoked, I wouldnít want someone to tell me not to. Just like I donít want someone to take away my freedom of expression. But if we really care about that freedom, weíd vote.î
Cisneros, a member of the Native American Club and Writerís Club, had predicted that only one or two thousand students would vote in the election.
ìThe only students who vote are in the clubs,î Cisneros said. ìWe have a voice and we have to use it.î
Pieper said she wanted to see more political involvement in campus and a more ìvisualî Associated Students organization on campus.
ìI think that would be awesome,î Pieper said. ìYou donít really see them [Associated Students] except when the campaigns are going. It would raise awareness in students.î
Erden suggested a way of seeing more of what the student population wants ó asking the faculty to give out a survey to every class asking them to vote on whether or not SMC should be a smoke-free campus.
ìThis might take time, yes, but if anything, next yearís [Associated Students] board could take it up with the board of trustees,î Erden said. ìI mean, Associated Students represent 30,000 students on campus. We represent every single one of them, whether they voted or not. So thatís my opinion ó that we need to get more input from the students on this issue.î