After reviewing research, the Garden City Community College Board of Trustees tabled a language change to the board’s policy governance that would push the school to become entirely tobacco free.

Trustee Merilyn Douglass suggested amending a line in the policy governance stating that “the president shall not fail to (ensure) a safe and healthy environment on campus” by adding a clause explicitly stating that the president should create an entirely tobacco-free campus by a certain date.

Douglass presented research to the board detailing other college campuses’ anti-tobacco policies, including fines and other enforcement procedures. Some universities trusted students and staff to police themselves while others reported infractions to a certain administrator.

In April, all trustees said they were in support of taking steps toward a tobacco-free campus, though some were unsure how the policy would be enforced.

During Tuesday’s discussion, Trustee Leonard Hitz said he thought the policy would be difficult to enforce, and Trustees Jeff Crist and Blake Wasinger were wary of the exact language of the amendment. Crist asked whether ensuring “a safe and healthy environment” did not already include anti-tobacco measures, since tobacco is unhealthy, and Wasinger pondered whether additional language could be too restrictive to presidents.

Douglass maintained that the steps could be beneficial for students.

“Change does cause some uproar, but eventually, it works. And so, in this situation, a change or a policy to help kids not start smoking or stop it or deter it can, in the future, improve their health,” Douglass said.

Wasinger suggested the LiveWell Finney County Health Coalition conduct a survey to see if students, staff and constituents were in favor of the policy.

Vice President of Institutional Effectiveness and Accountability Jacque Messinger said she had already begun working with the GCCC Student Government Association and LiveWell to conduct a survey and asked for the freedom to continue, to which the board agreed.

The board tabled the discussion until the survey results are returned later this year.


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