USG discusses results of second tobacco survey

The Undergraduate Student Government discussed the results of its second tobacco-free survey at its meeting Sunday night.

How St. Thomas students responded to the statement, "Students should be able to consume tobacco anywhere on campus."
How St. Thomas students responded to the statement, "Students should be able to consume tobacco anywhere on campus."

Sixty-eight percent of the 462 student respondents said they were somewhat to very familiar with the tobacco debate on campus this year.

“This was really great,” Mike Orth, USG executive vice president, said. “It shows we’re raising awareness on campus and getting ideas from the student body.”

Forty-one percent of students said they strongly disagree that students should be able to consume tobacco anywhere on campus, and 19 percent said they strongly agree students should be able to consume tobacco on-campus. Twenty-five percent of respondents said they strongly agree that students should only be able to consume tobacco in designated areas around campus.

The student body was almost evenly split when asked if it thought St. Thomas should become a tobacco-free campus, with 32 percent strongly agreeing and 34 percent strongly disagreeing with the statement.

“These were the three big questions we had,” Orth said. “I think the statements were a really good idea.”

He said the tobacco-free initiative is something USG is continuing to discuss with the administration and is still deciding if it is something it wants to do.

“As far as discussion we haven’t got too far with it, but there are a lot of ideas out there,” Orth said. “What we’re trying to do now is see what the students want and see what happens with that.”

USG President Greg Scharine said many people don’t know that if St. Thomas were to go tobacco-free it would affect all campuses, including the Minneapolis, Owatonna and Rome campuses.

“It is a much bigger project than we originally thought it was going to be,” Scharine said. “This is just for us to make sure the conversation gets started on campus, and we can investigate the different things that are working and not working so far.”

“Civility in the Neighborhood” sign campaign

USG Neighborhood Senator Jared Scharpen talked to the council about an “iPromise” campaign designed to encourage students to quiet their voices in the neighborhood at night.

“I’m hoping it will make students think twice about raising their voices so loud on their way to and from places off campus,” Sharpen said.

One of two sign designs is modeled after an iPod’s volume symbols. Sharpen said he used the design because students are familiar with it.

There will be 50 signs placed in different areas around the St. Thomas neighborhood reminding students to keep the noise level down. He said the signs are designed to bring awareness to students, not “a slap in the face saying partying is wrong.”

Sharpen said the signs are also a way for students and neighbors to meet in the middle with this issue. This spring will be a test run of the signs, but next fall the campaign will be much bigger, he said. The signs will be placed beginning this week.

“The signs will go in apartment, duplex and student rental home yards,” Sharpen said. “Places that are clearly student housing.”

He said the decision for the sign location is out of respect for other neighbors. He doesn’t want students to vandalize signs that are in non-student yards.

Ashley Stewart can be reached at