ASSP approves survey

Senators and ASSP have been sending out emails to SPU students asking if they would be willing to participate in a smoking-and-tobacco-use survey.

The survey administrators need the senate’s approval for SPU to participate in the smoking survey, which is given by the Fred Hutchinson Research Center.

According to Dr. Beti Thompson, a representative of the Hutchinson Research Center, if SPU does agree to participate in the survey, SPU would not be the administrators of the study.

"If the university does agree to participate … [SPU] will not administer the survey. If we have any smokers, [SPU] would never find out," Dean of Students Kathleen Braden said in a senate meeting on April 15.

According to Thompson, the survey is only seven to 10 minutes long and deals strictly with tobacco use.

The aim of the survey is to conduct a randomized, controlled trial of 30 colleges in Oregon and Washington. The study is about comprehensive tobacco control and intervention, including policy changes and cessation components.

The survey would be administered via mail by sending out packets to randomly selected students. Every student would receive an ID number that would be used to track who has returned the questionnaire. Only the chief programmer sees the link between the ID number and the student’s name.

"We would hope that you would listen to us (about recommendations)," Thompson said. Thompson commended SPU on the preventative measures SPU has already taken against smoking, such as no smoking dorms and no smoking areas.

According to Thompson, the survey would be sent out to 1000 students, which is roughly one-third of SPU.

The first school to reach 90 percent participation rate of survey completion gets $1000. The second place school will receive $500 and the third place school will receive $250.

According to Thompson, the recruiting of colleges to participate is only one step in the study process. Following steps include surveying 1000 students per college and then blocking them according to size, response rate and prevalence.

The goal of the survey is to understand how college students think about smoking and quitting.

"The study is unique because we’re really trying to go to college students to find out what appeals to them," Thompson said.

The aim of the survey is to reduce smoking prevalence, increase smoking policies and promote smoking cessation.

The facts that inspired this survey were gathered by the Fred Hutchinson Research Center and show that entering college increases smoking, 85 percent of college students fantasize about quitting daily, and 11 percent of college smokers do not start until entering college, according to Thompson.

ASSP officers, senate and the administration are taking into account the feelings of the student body first and foremost before deciding whether to participate in this survey.

Hill Hall senator Andrew McBride and Robbins Hall senator Kelly Faust acknowledge the fact that some "students don’t have time. I’m against this … we can’t force anyone to stop smoking," Faust said.

McBride agrees, adding that SPU students have enough demands to deal with.

"I’m against it," McBride said. "We have enough demands placed on us as SPU students."

Ashton Hall senator James Pedrick agrees with the idea of a survey, but still has concerns about the privacy rights of the students.

"The survey can be positive … my only concern is students feeling like they’re being harassed," Pedrick said.

"It’s just people rights … if they don’t want to stop smoking, it’s their issue," commuter senator Karin Keil said.

Hill Hall senator Matt Cheung said, "students don’t care."

ASSP president Emily Cochran adds that whether the students participate is not the issue.

"If we administer the survey and students don’t fill it out, that’s [Fred Hutchinson’s] problem," she said.

"It’s an example of the kind of thing that good researchers do," Scott Strawn said. He said SPU should take the opportunity to be involved in research.

According to Keil, commuter students were resistant to the idea because of privacy issues.

Senator-at-large Jason Van Winkle said that he feels that asking opinions and discussing the issue is a good start, but it is going to be a sensitive issue.

"It is a valid thing that people are actually being asked … but I think knowledge to be gained is worth [student] discomfort," Van Winkle said.

Cochran said that she feels the survey is a good idea, but she understands the students’ hesitation.

"I think the survey is a great idea," Cochran said. "I definitely understand student sentiment that there’s a lot going on right now … but part of being a community of learners is based on participating in studies."

"(We need to be) looking beyond the five minutes it takes individually (to fill out the survey) and asking if this will benefit the university in the long run," Cochran said.

"Unofficially this would spark a conversation (we need to have) because there are students that smoke and (that) needs to be addressed," Kuhnau said.

Sophomore Bri Clark agrees that an increased awareness is needed on campus.

"Being good stewards of our community and our body means encouraging anything that would cause people to be more health-conscious," Clark said.

Because of the controversial nature, the senate meeting was taking, executive vice president Gavin Hesse ended the discussion after a five-minute recess to meet with the ASSP officer core. When the meeting reconvened, he announced that all senators were to confer further with their constituents and email him the results by 3:30 p.m. yesterday.

The reason for this was to enable the officers to make a rational, educated decision based on an overall picture rather than individual sentiment.

"It’s such a touchy subject," Kuhnau said. "[We] wanted to decide based on all information, not based on spur of the moment comments." ASSP officers held a meeting to evaluate senate input based on their constituents’ response.

After the meeting yesterday, a verdict was returned by the ASSP core announcing that SPU would be participating in the smoking survey, according to Hesse.

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Title: ASSP approves survey | Author: Jade Nirvana Ingmire | Section: News | Published Date: 2002-04-24 | Internal ID: 2660