Volume 96, Issue 57
Friday, January 10, 2003

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SOGS councillors not blowing smoke

Re: "Smoking haven handed death sentence," Dec. 4

To the Editor:

This letter is in response to Peter West's remarks in the recent article written by Chris Webden in the Christmas edition of The Gazette concerning the decision to make the Grad Club smoke-free. In this article, Mr. West is quoted as saying, "... councillors did not adequately discuss the issue with their constituents." As Society of Graduate Students representatives, we feel these accusations are baseless and inflammatory. In the article, West charges councillors of not representing our constituents responsibly and of voting based on our personal feelings.

Councillors at the October SOGS meeting decided to postpone voting on this motion until the next meeting, so that we could adequately notify and discuss the motion with our constituents. The council recognized how important the motion was, and how many people it affected. In our department, we made every effort to discuss this issue with all students, through emails and personal conversations. Overwhelmingly, the response was to vote for the Grad Club to be smoke-free.

We would also like to point out that current Health Canada statistics confirm that only 22 per cent of the population aged 15 years and older were smokers in 2001. Do you really think graduate students at Western deviate so radically from these statistics? As most non-smokers would prefer a smoke-free environment, logic dictates this motion would pass, based on the preference of the majority.

Also, this motion is consistent with laws currently being passed in major urban centres across Ontario. The majority of people in these places seem to support the idea that people have the right to breathe clean air no matter where they are. Is it so unreasonable to believe that graduate students at Western feel the same way?

Until Mr. West has actual reasons to believe councillors shirked their duties, we would ask that he refrain from such offensive blanket statements.

Sarah Bod
MSc. student, SOGS councillor

Jen Silver
MA student, SOGS councillor

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