WSA Tables Vote on Tobacco Resolution, Entertains The_Real_MRoth

Have strong opinions on the tobacco resolution? Get ready to get polled.

Smokers, rejoice: Judgment Day hath been delayed. After much ado, ballyhoo, and brouhaha over a proposed resolution to ban the sale of tobacco on University-owned properties (read: Neon), the Wesleyan Student Assembly decided on Sunday night to table the sequester cuts vote until polling the student body. No, this doesn’t mean the resolution is going away for good. It does mean that it’s postponed.

“We tabled the vote in order to poll the student body and engage more with the owners of Neon Deli,” explained Student Affairs Committee Chair Nicole Updegrove ’14, who first proposed the resolution, via email. “Many of us, myself included, weren’t willing to vote without more opinions from the student body.”

The proposal quickly sparked some loud, impassioned, and occasionally bizarre arguments in the Wesleying comments section (my favorite one notes that “addiction is the gift that keeps on giving—if we start selling cigarettes at Weshop, Pi, and Usdan, it’ll be a big help to the University’s endowment”), and Updegrove has been quick to respond to some of the angrier voices.

“Although it’s alarming to receive Internet hate just for proposing an idea (never thought that Wesleyan was a place where I would be referred to publicly as ‘this chick,’ better ask my sociology prof what that means about postmodern gender identity in anonymous-non-anonymous interactions concerning symbolic power), it’s great that people are actually talking about it so we can get a sense of what they think,” Updegrove wrote. “I wish this many people were creating a buzz around RA reform, the career center, or tuition increases!”

The tobacco decision followed a cameo by President Roth ’78 for an hour of Q&A at the WSA’s General Assembly. Roth, sporting faded jeans and a Wesleyan Cardinals sweatshirt, answered questions ranging from hosting bans (he told Mickey Capper ’13 this was probably a question for Dean Mike Whaley) to University policy on forced leave to the controversial Washington Street development (Wesleyan is probably not withdrawing its sale, though Roth declined to provide greater detail). When asked by Jesse Ross-Silverman ’13 if the Office of Admissions was tracking data on socioeconomic diversity following the end of need-blind, Roth replied, simply, “Yes,” then quipped: “Sorry, I’ve been taking tips on answering questions from lawyers.”

Semi-anonymous Twitterer @TheDogTooth managed to livetweet this portion of the meeting:

…and accidentally sparked a trending topic of his own:

More on the proposed tobacco sale ban here.

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10 thoughts on “WSA Tables Vote on Tobacco Resolution, Entertains The_Real_MRoth

  1. Slim

    I love that the resolution “celebrates the spirit” of the historical (and ongoing!) campaigns for divestment from arms manufacturing and the fossil fuel industry. But I’m still waiting on the WSA campaign calling for divestment from that (or Israel for that matter). This resolution makes it sound like those struggles are a thing of the past, but the University is still deeply invested in Raytheon, coal industry, etc.

    It’s nice that Nicole Updergrove wants to take the University’s money out of unethical profits, but a few freshman starting smoking when they get to Wes pales in comparison to the death and suffering that the University bankrolls around the world through their shady and non-transparent endowment funds.

  2. Evan Weber

    guys obviously neon deli’s tobacco sales are a huge revenue source for the university and the only thing keeping us from abandoning financial aid altogether don’t you see?!!?!??!?!?!??!?!?! but i’m so conflicted because i know that us banning sales will have a huge impact on the tobacco industry and stop people from smoking foreeveeeeer…..ugggggghhhhhh

  3. Anon

    Maybe if Neon really cared about their revenue, they would actually take inventory and stop basically letting the wes students who work there steal things

  4. jeff the cat

    “‘Although it’s alarming to receive Internet hate just for proposing an idea (never thought that Wesleyan was a place where I would be referred to publicly as ‘this chick,’ better ask my sociology prof what that means about postmodern gender identity in anonymous-non-anonymous interactions concerning symbolic power), it’s great that people are actually talking about it so we can get a sense of what they think,’ Updegrove wrote.”

    wonder what your sociology professor would say about your proposal re: the biopolitical injunction 2 ‘make live and let die’ vis-à-vis the institutional encouragement of ‘healthy choices’ as a way 2 justify mechanisms of control on a population level.

    pretty dishonest 2 mobilize social theory 2 justify biopolitics…

    food 4 thought yall.


  5. weird_vibes

    My roomie made an interesting comment the other day: it’s often the case that people who are anti-smoking aren’t *really* concerned about other people’s health. It’s in the same vein as fat-shaming. The so-called ‘concern’ and the guise of do-goodery both just serve to hide what people are afraid to say: the behavior they are trying to police makes them uncomfortable. They just don’t like it. Maybe they hate the smell of smoke. Maybe they have a personal reason for thinking cigarettes are evil. Which is fine! Everyone is entitled to their opinion…as long as it doesn’t encroach on what I am able to do with my body.

    Most people won’t recognize mild discomfort as a grounds for policing others’ behaviors, so anti-smoking advocates feel the need to tack on this false concern, this great humanitarian concern…and then suddenly, more people are okay with it, because they’re ‘helping’ us. It’s not for them, it’s for us.

    I don’t buy it.

    Take cigarettes away from Neon, fine — but don’t act like you’re doing me a favor.

    1. the real point

      I’ve said this once but it’s worth repeating because apparently the point hasn’t quite come across: This has nothing to do with trust in decision making. It has little to do with smoking. If it passes, it’s not doing you personally a favor, though it’s also not keeping you from continuing to do everything you already do except buy cigarettes from stores that are on university property. It’s about what industries the university should be profiting from. I’ll again give the example of if we divested from oil and gas (something that a number of students have called for) and then put a gas station on campus that we profited from, it wouldn’t be saying no you can’t buy gas and we don’t trust you to be able to make the correct decision about your fossil fuel use, it would simply be saying that Wesleyan does not believe that we should profit from the industry, a statement Wesleyan has already begun to make with our choice of endowment managers (as is pointed out in the resolution).

      The same way that I’m sorry if the university interrupted people’s convenience in buying alcohol when we closed Club Liquors in the same building that Neon is in, no one is or was forced to change consumption patterns if they don’t want to change them. The idea is that the university should not profit from them given their (proven) side effects (and those side effects do extend to others not just the user so don’t use the fatty foods argument on me).

      If you think that the university should continue to profit from the tobacco industry regardless of your views on smoking, then you have a legitimate reason to oppose the resolution. Based on the comments, though, it sounds like this was brought to engender just that discussion on where the priorities of the students lie in terms of university investment and profits not whether you can smoke on campus. Personally I know smokers in favor of this and people who can’t stand being around anyone who smokes who oppose it. It’s not about your freedom to smoke. No one is questioning that. Question this on economic grounds if you want–shouldn’t dictate terms of trade (though as the owner of the property we can set our lease terms the same way a private apartment could say you can’t have a pet) or ethical grounds–that we shouldn’t move away from taking profits from the tobacco industry but don’t see this as an attack on the freedom to smoke on campus. It’s simply not that.

      1. alum

        Are you sure Wesleyan closed down Club Liquors due to not wanting to “profit” from alcohol? Pretty sure they wanted to make a new Weshop/dining option and also down-size Neon Deli, and if they could cut off super easy access for buying alcohol as a side effect of making a new building, then even better.

        Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t recall it being about profiting from alcohol.

        1. the real point

          The point I was making with the Club Liquors move was more about the argument people have been making about this forcing a change in consumption patterns. Removing Club Liquors meant there was no longer a location on campus to buy alcohol, though this did not mean that the university did not still permit alcohol on campus. Again, this is more towards the complaints that this is the “anti-smoking brigade” trying to limit freedom of behavioral choice on campus. Probably should have made that more clearer in the initial point but hopefully this helps.

          1. alum

            I think I agree with what you were trying to say, I just think there’s an important distinction between changing/promoting/influencing student behavior through a direct action involving a public building on campus vs. making a symbolic gesture about private investments that won’t do anything except hurt students (which is how I feel about divesting, and is an argument for another time). But yes, I concur, I think it is a fair comparison of Club Liquors vs. cigarettes at Neon.

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