Student senator harassed for supporting anti-smoking policy

An Undergraduate Student Senator said she was harassed after introducing a resolution in support of Kent State’s proposed anti-smoking policy.

“I have been followed and had things thrown at me because of all of this,” said Chelsea Kennedy, senator for the College of Public Health. “I think a lot of it is because of misunderstanding surrounding the resolution. People think I am deciding something, and it’s not my decision. I just have a passion for promoting health. 

“I don’t want to be put in danger because of miscommunication and because people don’t understand.” 

After attending several conferences and learning that more than 1,400 universities and schools across the country have tobacco- and smoke-free policies, Kennedy introduced a resolution in support of the ban. USG passed the measure in February. 

“A lot of the backlashing is coming from that some people think that smoking is a right and a part of the constitution,” Kennedy said. “I don’t smoke. For me, it impedes on my right to breathe clean air.

Kennedy said the hostility will not deter her. She continues to promote education of students and faculty about what the policy means to smokers at Kent State.

“The biggest way to create change on-campus is through a change in the culture,” she said.

Kennedy describes the culture shift as one similar to what happened with seatbelts, which became required by law to be worn in 1968.

“Now if you don’t wear your seatbelt, you are kind of criticized, and it’s seen as being irresponsible or unsafe,” she said. “I think similarly with this, it is about a culture change, which will take time.”