Dozens of students flooded into the UMC Glenn Miller Ballroom Thursday night to attend the weekly CUSG Legislative Council meeting and take a stance on the two controversial bills being presented; a ban on smoking and a bill providing more funding for the Greek community.
David Schafer of OZ Architecture, UMC Director Carlos Garcia and UMC Board Chair Tiffanie Battram began the meeting with a presentation regarding the renovation of the Glenn Miller Ballroom. The revamp project aims to improve the aesthetics, functionality, acoustics and service of one of the campus’s best-known spots.
Despite the project’s $3 million budget, “the goal is to not raise student fees,” Garcia said.
During the public open hearing that followed the presentation, several audience members, both Greeks and non-Greeks, stood up to speak about the Shoulder-to-Shoulder Bill, a bill that would provide more funding for the Greek community. Supporters of the bill were met with applause from the audience.
“Panhellenic fully supports this bill in its entirety,” said Nikki Comer, a student and speaker on behalf of the Panhellenic Council. “I can’t stress enough how much you need to vote ‘yes’ for this bill.”
Emma Harsin Drager, one of the co-directors of Diversity Affairs and a student who spoke out in opposition to the bill, questioned the rhetoric of the bill and expressed that Greeks are not an underrepresented group on CU’s campus.
Ryan Roden, a 23-year-old sophomore open option major, is the current president of Zeta Beta Tau and attended the meeting to support the bill.
“It sounds like there needs to be some clarification about how people are interpreting the language of the bill,” Roden said. “I’ll be meeting with people next week to see if there’s any way that I can help out.”
According to a Facebook event page created by CUSG representatives from the Inspire ticket called “Support for the Greek Bill,” the bill will “allow the [Interfraternity Council (IFC)] and unaffiliated groups to access cost centers (UMC, etc.) at student fees. Additionally, it will allow Panhel and multicultural Greeks to receive funding for open events.”
During a Nov. 15 legislative council session, the Greek bill failed on its first reading by a vote of 4-12-1.
The meeting then switched gears to discuss a bill proposing a tobacco-free campus.
Those in support of the resolution emphasized the health concerns of secondhand smoke and the environmental impact of both smoke and cigarette butts.
Those against the passing of the bill stated that CU cannot act as a “parent” to students. One student stated that people who are bothered by his smoking can “simply use their legs and walk five feet away.”
There was a suggestion to create designated smoking areas, an idea that was almost immediately deemed ineffective by those in favor of a tobacco-free campus. The main concern of students in opposition of the bill was its imposition on individual rights.
At the close of public forum, Logan Schlutz, Legislative Council’s vice president of Internal Affairs, a member of the Greek community and the author of the Shoulder-to-Shoulder Bill, sat before Legislative Council and explained his bill.
He highlighted that it would make cost centers more accessible to the IFC and “promote compromise and dialogue.”
The CUSG Legislative Council seemed to have divided opinions.
Representative Caitlin Duffy, an alumna of Delta Delta Delta at CU, opposed the bill and was “awakened” by Emma Harsin Drager’s perspective. Duffy expressed that “the Greek system is not open to everyone,” so access to equal funding would be unfair.
On the other hand, Alexis Scobie, a newly instated representative-at-large, was one of several members of Legislative Council who spoke in favor of the Shoulder-to-Shoulder Bill.
“As a member of Alpha Phi, we learned about where we’re from and why our sorority was founded,” Scobie said. “It was because women were discriminated against. It’s important to recognize that there are two entities – sororities and fraternities. If you can’t be in a sorority, you can be in a fraternity.”
Following a vote of 11-5-2, the bill was passed to a second reading, meaning it will be discussed and reviewed during the next Legislative Council meeting. If the bill is passed, the IFC will see improved access to cost centers for event funding.
The proposed resolution to support CU becoming a completely tobacco-free campus was discussed next. Representative-at-Large Zeke Johnson and Director of Health and Safety Christopher Schaefbauer presented their bill to Legislative Council. The two discussed the health, global, academic and environmental impacts of tobacco.
“If you’re not going to be able to consume tobacco on campus, it is a lifestyle change as well,” Schaefbauer said. He noted that when campuses have gone tobacco-free in the past, statistics have shown that the number of smokers has gone down.
The tobacco ban would require self-enforcement, as the authors of the bill said that the bill would be upheld “without tickets and without fines.” Johnson and Schaefbauer stated that they would like to leave CUPD out of the regulation of the policy.
CU’s current policy for smoking states that “smoking areas are permitted outside university facilities provided that these areas are located far enough away from doorways, windows and ventilation systems to prevent smoke from entering enclosed buildings and facilities.”
CU is one of four schools in the Pac-12 that has yet to establish a tobacco-free policy.
The reactions of Legislative Council were mixed.
Lorenzo Herrera, a representative-at-large on Legislative Council, said he was a former smoker in favor of a tobacco-free campus.
“I never had a right to expose others to toxic chemicals,” Herrera said.
Journalism Senator John Michael Tomczak opposed the tobacco-free ban.
“The spirit of this bill is admirable,” Tomczak said. “I believe a majority of students would like some kind of ban, but I do not believe a majority of them would like a complete tobacco-free ban.”
Representative Scobie conducted her own survey in an effort to increase student outreach and get a better feel for the consensus of CU students regarding the tobacco-free bill. Scobie asked 358 students, 20.4 percent of whom were graduate students, the question, “Do you think CU should be a tobacco-free campus?” 39.7 percent strongly agreed, 14.9 percent somewhat agreed, 2.8 percent had no opinion, 10.1 percent somewhat agreed, and 32.4 percent strongly disagreed.
The bill was moved to vote and failed with a final count of 6-8-3, most likely due to a lack of student opinion to justify either banning tobacco or permitting it on the CU campus.
Student Body President Brittni Hernandez addressed the council following the voting. Hernandez seemed optimistic for the future of CUSG.
“I’m glad discussion happened on the Greek bill,” Hernandez said. She expressed concerns regarding discrimination of transgender students in students groups, including both Greek and multicultural sororities and fraternities.
Hernandez also announced that the 4/20 Task Force had its first meeting earlier that day to start planning how the university will handle 4/20 in 2013.
The next CUSG Legislative Council meeting will be held on Thursday, Dec. 13 in UMC 247.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Alyx Saupe at Alyx.email@example.com.