Surveys show support for smokers’ area, as president and chancellor prepare to discuss pilot ‘smokers’ corner.”
By Kyle R. Cotton
Two recent surveys show one of the top concerns on campus this semester is the smokers’ corner at Belknap and Dewey places and testing out a designated smoking area on campus.
President Robert Vela said he plans to talk to Chancellor Bruce Leslie about designating a pilot smoking area and the Human Services Club is helping clean up the corner.
The Student Government Association and the United Methodist Center both conducted student surveys about the corner.
SGA’s survey was done at the beginning of the semester through e-mail and at campus events throughout the semester.
The survey had a total of 287 respondents, of which 280 answered questions as to whether there should be a smokers’ area on campus.
In the survey, 88 percent of respondents identified as non-smokers; the rest said they are smokers. Of non-smokers, more than half said there should be a smoking area.
Among respondents who smoke, 75 percent said there should be such an area.
Karen Elliot, American Sign Language sophomore and SGA president, said, “The importance of these surveys is so that student needs and student wants are being met by student government.”
“It’s a tedious process to do surveys and get results, but when student government is moved to action, we want to make sure we truly are reflecting opinions of students at San Antonio College,” Elliot said.
Elliot said such surveys previously helped SGA delay a switch to e-books for classes.
With 600 responses at that time speaking against a move to e-books, it was a way to get students involved in that conversation.
According to Student Trustee Jacob Wong, students were concerned about switching to e-books because not everyone had access and students just preferred having a physical copy in their hands.
“We had a really great response … and we want this to be an ongoing discussion so that students have every opportunity to reach out,” Elliot said.
Other results in the SGA survey include student activity involvement, with 49 percent participating one to four times per month in student activities, and choosing an animal mascot for this college to accompany the Gnome Ranger, with 42 percent supporting the Texas Red Hawk.
SGA meets at noon the first three Mondays of the month in the Craft Room of Loftin Student Center.
SGA is currently soliciting a new survey about campus open-carry law.
The United Methodist Center, which did its survey last semester and had more than 350 respondents, is conducting a similar survey this semester.
Respondents rank eight issues on a one-to-10 scale of importance. They can also write in topics of their own choice. In last semester’s survey, campus-carry gun laws ranked first in importance, followed by the National Security Administration’s data-mining. The smokers’ corner tied for third with marijuana legalization.
“The reason we did the survey is because of our Hot Potato discussions,” said Alex Ruiz, anthropology sophomore and Methodist Student Organization president. “It gives us an opportunity to figure out what students want to know more about, and we’re trying to use our Hot Potato discussions for that.”
“Students aren’t getting heard and this is a way to give them a voice,” Ruiz said.
Though the organization falls under the banner of United Methodist Campus Ministries, the group’s lectures commonly cover a range of issues such as campus open-carry and the recent measles vaccine controversy.
“We want to keep these as neutral ground as possible,” Ruiz said, noting they need educators to lead these discussions.
Ruiz said religious leaders are not always qualified to lead some discussions like sex education.
“We want to be able to do a topic of discussion for each department,” Ruiz said. “Sometimes we can’t discuss everything … one semester we had 50 topics suggested.”
The organization has had problems getting responses this semester from students.
“Responses have been pretty poor this semester due to a lack of attendance,” Ruiz said.
Ruiz said they get responses by sending surveys out with the speakers and asking students to fill them out after each presentation.
“I think the lack of responses this semester is just because there aren’t as many students (enrolled) as there were last semester,” Ruiz said.
The next Hot Potato presentation, at 12:15 p.m. Tuesday at the United Methodist Center at 102 Belknap Place, will revisit the topic “Legalization of Marijuana.”
For more information, call 210-733-1441.