The students have spoken – no ifs, ands or (cigarette) butts about it. As the smoke clears, the most important aspect of the new policy banning campus smoking is what it says about the power of the student body. So do not worry about student rights going up in a puff of smoke, because it takes only one student to light the match and fuel change on campus. This endorsement of student power is a breath of fresh air for the college. When the Student Government Association sent the resolution to ban smoking on campus to the board of regents, the burning question was: Would the regents listen? Many people felt concerned that the resolution would not be taken seriously or would be overlooked. The members of SGA, however, were sure that if they remained persistent, they would succeed in getting the ban passed. They sent out surveys to all Amarillo College students and faculty members asking the burning question, “Should AC adopt a smoke-free campuswide policy?” The masses responded, and the regents listened. Starting in August 2016, all AC campuses will become smoke-free.
While the new policy is exciting for those who oppose on-campus smoking, the ban also is significant because it demonstrates the importance of being an active member of the student body and letting one’s voice be heard. The change would not have occurred if the SGA members had sat idly and not fought to represent their constituents’ needs. Many individuals think they are just one voice and that their opinion does not matter enough to make a difference. They decide not to vote in local, state and national elections. They do not help choose their student representatives or even cast a vote in presidential elections. They say one person cannot change things, but that common belief simply is not true. Each individual’s voice matters and carries the power necessary to institute change.
The new anti-smoking policy is a symbol of this power. One by one, students came together, joining voices, gaining power, creating change. So students, if something going on at AC bothers you, remember that you have an elected body that exists to represent you. Turn to the SGA with your issues. Even better, become a voice for the students by becoming a member of the SGA. Never fall into the mindset that one voice is insignificant and will not be heard. Go forth. Be strong in your beliefs and fight for change.
Stop blowing smoke and light a fire that cannot be extinguished. Get involved with your campus and do what it takes to be heard.