Today from 1:15 to 2:39 pm, our own University Senate met in Schermerhorn 501 for the first plenary meeting of the year. As with any such plenary, there were big helpings of Milano cookies, Newman’s Own juices, and petty behavior. Bwog’s plenary junkie Conor Skelding stopped by both for the laughs, and also to observe serious consideration of a campus-wide smoking ban.

PrezBo asserted his power at 1:15 sharp, banging his gavel, cutting off the chatter, and shouting, “Okay, let’s go!”

With his standard out-of-order opening speech, PrezBo eased along through the agenda, “Okay, we need a motion to adopt the agenda…is there a second? No objections…okay.” He talked about ROTC, NoCo, FAS, the College, and what the agenda would be for the day.

“The University is, I think, making great, great progress, and we all take enormous pride from being associated with it.” [applause mainly starting with two people]

And with his typical style, PrezBo dismissed the importance of the meeting as he built it up, saying, “I have to leave at 1:45 because the President of Ecuador is coming, and he has done some things on which I need to challenge him.” [laughs, sorta forced]

By then the meeting was actually underway, and a student raised the idea of course evaluations being open to students. PrezBo personally supports that, but “it’s not something I can or should decide on my own.” People laughed at that.

An anti-ROTC professor asked about how the ROTC committee would work, and PrezBo said he didn’t know. She asked for “as much information as possible.” After a little talk about Title IX and fringe benefits, the real issue of the meeting got underway: a campus-wide smoking ban.

So Facilities accidentally moved some smoking receptacles from where they should be, and they’ll be moved back. This really struck Bwog as emblematic of the Senate process: a resolution is debated, passed, but it’s not over then! Bureaucracy carries it out, and people from the person who chooses which receptacle to buy to the person who puts it in place all have a little effect on it. And it can be ruined by one mistake from the very last person on the chain.

That segued into a PowerPoint presentation which began with that shocking slide at left. People smoking really suavely!

Mark Cohen clicked his way through all the money the University spends cleaning up cigarette butts, the health damage secondhand smokes causes, and why a ban, though restricting the personal freedom of a few, is overall better for the school. He ended by advocating a full ban to match that of Barnard and NYC.

He talked about the “new signage” at Butler and elsewhere. A fairly acrimonious debate followed. Ron Mazor spoke against it, saying, “This is a bad idea. On the weekends we have underage drinking and smoking of various types. Personal behavior is not curable by passing a law. If it was, the War on Drugs would be over […] people would still smoke on campus [with a ban], that’s guaranteed.”

Mark started to interrupt him, but then was shouted down and apologized twice.

A Library senator complained about walking through “a wall of smoke” every time he went to work, and that nobody moved when he asked.

By this time, 1:51, PrezBo had managed to slip out! His seat was conspicuously empty, and he had disappeared.

A School of the Arts senator talked about how he liked to smoke pot and that this rule would be too harsh. “Let us not take the role of the state and be so draconian. And let us say, ‘You know what you’re going to die. You’re going to die of cigarette smoke. But as reasonable people, that is OK for you to choose.'”

A Law School professor mentioned that it is really “a moral issue disguised as a public health issue.” And the debate became a philosophical one about personal freedom!

Cohen responded that it was better to protect the freedom of the many to avoid cigarette smoke.

Interestingly, no draft has been sent to any senators at all, so Cohen was asked to make that happen. He stated that there will be a town hall-style meeting, probably the week of October 10th, between this plenary and the next. Go speak your piece!

By this time people were checking their phones, on their laptops, and trickling out. With PrezBo gone, the lady in his stead introduced a resolution to add 25 “concentrations” to the Mailman MPH degree meant to make our graduates more competitive in the job market. It passed nearly unanimously, and with little debate, much like the CE to PAX name-change last year.

Next was a chat about NoCo. Apparently the building wasn’t built to spec. The doors to the outside are seven pounds heavier than ADA guidelines, and the faucets in the fume hoods have no drains. Regardless, researchers there love it, both their labs and offices.

Then came a report from the Researchers Officers Committee, outlining the gender and race disparities in salaries and stipends across the University.

The meeting ended symbolically with the new senators being called out by name and given applause from themselves. Hurray, self-congratulation! Deantini was there and named. He humbly acknowledged himself when named, representing the College as he had promised.