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As a Tepper alum, I am appalled that Carnegie Mellon is considering a campus-wide ban on smoking, indoors and outside. Though not a smoker, I fully support smokers' rights to engage in their perfectly legal habit.
I had always believed that universities were the bedrock of freedom and liberty. By banning perfectly legal behavior, Carnegie Mellon would be turning its back on the proud, rich history of liberty at American universities.
Freedom has to include the right of people to do things that you do not like. The current policy of prohibiting smoking indoors and within 20 feet of entrances and air-intake systems is more than sufficient to protect the rights of nonsmokers to not inhale second-hand smoke. Going further would make Carnegie Mellon no better than organizations that want to ban offensive speech or eliminate the teaching of subjects that offend their religious beliefs.
I implore the university to remain a force for freedom–even if that means allowing someone to do something that you do not agree with.
–Matt Healey (TPR'01)
Your article on the smoking ban raises a number of interesting questions about personal liberties. The question at hand here is, "Where is the line between both the smokers' and the nonsmokers' personal liberties?" The question about where that line lies brings to mind the oft-repeated quotation that "Your freedom to wave your fist around ends where my nose begins." The smoker has the right to indulge in smoking, and the nonsmoker has the right to breathe nonsmoky air. Where does one draw the line between the two?
The answer lies in the fact that in a civilized society we try to minimize the impact between the two parties. With the ban instituted, smokers still have the right to smoke, they just need to do it away from where nonsmokers are breathing fresh air. So who is inconvenienced more? The single smoker who will now have to walk off campus to enjoy his or her favorite pastime or the numerous nonsmokers who will smell the smoker's odor if they stay on campus?
And by the way, your comparisons at the bottom of the article don't seem to be consistent. The University is not banning smokers from smoking (as Prohibition did); it is just banning where they can engage in the activity because it impacts nonsmokers.
For your argument to be consistent, the University would have to ban any students from using tobacco for the health of those students. This ban doesn't do that.
–Bob Larson (TPR'94)
After reading the story Hero, about a Carnegie Mellon student coming to the aid of a police officer in a life-and-death struggle with a suspect, I wondered how many of us would do the same. I'm proud that Ben Saks went to my alma mater. He is a real hero in an age that needs all the heroes we can find. My compliments also to another student, Michelle Bova, who did a fine job writing the story.
–Leonard Chottiner (E'48)