20 Things We Should Ban Instead of Cigarettes


EDITOR’S NOTE: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of the editors or that of SLCSpeaks as a publication. We have acknowledged that the content in this article may be offensive or triggering for some. 

Sarah Lawrence has a lot of things going for it: a beautiful campus, close proximity to the city, amazing faculty, inspiring alumni, and unique academics.

Our beloved school also has a lot of things going against it, but for whatever reason, President Karen Lawrence and the administration seem to think that the most pressing problem is the smoking of cigarettes.

I can think of about 694 MUCH more important things that Sarah Lawrence College should focus on banning before it works on the ridiculous proposition to ban smoking on campus, but the first twenty should be enough:

1. The number of emails Fireman Bob sends us about fire inspections.

2. Walking around barefoot in public

3. Not showering for more than 24 hours

4. Eating an entire meal (or any hot, smelly food) in class

5. That one annoying girl who is in every single one of your classes who will never shut up

6. Political rants, anywhere, anytime

7. Whoever the fuck controls the heater in the library

8. Everyone who partakes in any sort of graffiti

9. The general shittiness and lack of quality food and service provided by AVI.

10. The lack of concern for students exhibited by security

11. Ecosoft toilet paper.

12. Sweatpants unless you’re a dance third on your way to a 3:30 a.m. African dance class

13. That one horribly rude Westlands employee

14. The paper-thin walls in Health Services that allow you to hear exactly which STD tests that kid from your class caught this weekend

15. Pooping in co-ed bathrooms

16. Co-ed bathrooms

17. Walking down Kimball at night

18. Asking parents for donations (we’re already paying $63,000 a year…)

19. Assigning students to live in living rooms in Hill House, rather than actual bedrooms

20. Juggling


But in all seriousness is Sarah Lawrence actually concerned about banning tobacco, a 100% legal substance for people over 18, when marijuana, hard drugs, sexual assault, regular assault, stranglings, and student/employee sexual affairs have all been highly visible problems during my few years at Sarah Lawrence? Shouldn’t the administration and campus as a whole be focusing these much more important issues? Doesn’t the administration realize that by banning smoking, students will just smoke inside the privacy of their own dorm rooms even more than they already do now?


But, smoking is bad. Maybe the school will get a little publicity out of it and a single asthmatic student will apply for the class of 2017! That one asthmatic student will make all of this ridiculous chatter worth it. I mean it’s another $63,000, right? Maybe we can use that extra $63,000 to form a committee to ban alcohol next.


Whether you believe tobacco should be banned on campus or not,take the survey here and maybe give some suggestions of your own on what Sarah Lawrence should focus its time and energy on, like cutting astronomical tuition costs and choosing a relevant commencement speaker.


Alex Hughes is a sophomore at Sarah Lawrence. He was born in the Bible Belt and works as an editorial assistant at The Faster Times. You can follow him on Twitter @TheAlexHughes.


  • Reply October 18, 2012


    I believe that the point of the task force is not to ban smoking, point blank. I know several people on the task force, all of whom are smokers to my knowledge. I doubt their decision will be BAN SMOKING EVERYWHERE FOREVER.

    Also, I know that most of this is supposed to be facetious, but please do keep in mind some of the “important things” you have pointed out that need changing. Such as the “co-ed” bathrooms, which are actually gender-neutral bathrooms provided for those who are a part of the Trans community, or who prefer gender-neutral pronouns.

    Also, for asking parents for donations… actually not ALL of us are paying $63,000 a year, and there are reasons parents are asked for donations. Many parents do give, and it improves the participation rate of donations per year in the school, which allows the school eligibility for grants and funding. This means that, if we can keep our participation rates high enough, thanks to not only alumni, but also current and past parents, then in the end we may be able to SPEND LESS.

    While I understand the overall tone of this article, and in many ways agree with you, it is also important to understand the importance of the implications of your words, even through humor.

    However, also, don’t take this as an attack in any way, but more a friendly SLC critique. I don’t think you intended to portray the things I mentioned specifically.

    • Reply October 19, 2012

      Ari Jones

      Aislinn, thank you for expressing all of the things I wanted to express in a much more concise and non-confrontational way than I would have. As part of the Committee on Student Life (the group that recommended Karen Lawrence create the task force, and a Committee that is not just made up of faculty and staff) I also think that this article unfairly accuses the task force of attempting to ban smoking from the get go. The whole point is to make a more informed and compromising decision. And I just want to add that anyone can join Student Life and have their voice heard on the task force through the survey or by joining. There are even open town hall meeting being held soon. I think that that shows that the school leadership has done everything it can to reach out to the campus community so that everyone’s opinions are heard and so that the decision is as fair as possible.

      Of course that remains to be seen, but I think their actions show that their intentions are good. And as for asthma, it is a very very serious issue, and I also suffer from it, so I think your dismissal comes off as flippant and a bit hurtful. Also, my primary concern is not asthma, it is second hand smoke. Cancer runs in a my family, and I do all that I can to avoid carcinogens. That is difficult when community members don’t respect the current smoking policy on campus

  • Reply October 18, 2012

    A. Louise

    6. You go to a liberal arts college that explicitly encourages dialogue and discourse in its pedagogy, your point is invalid.
    9., 10., and 13. are kind of problematic in my opinion. You should to be more informed and sensitive when talking about the workers of this campus. Please speak from your experiences and stop the generalizations.

    A few other things: not all of us are paying $63,000/year, donations are very important, but I do understand your feelings on that one more.

    And there are more legal precedents to ban smoking as city ordinances through the country in public places and on other college campuses…

    And lastly – I’m asthmatic. And a sophomore. Do you even know how widespread asthma is as a disease? Your whole second to last paragraph has me lost.

    Cool concept for an article and I mostly agree with you except for the above points!

  • Reply October 19, 2012


    This article sucks. Your list is terribly dumb.

  • Reply October 19, 2012

    Andrew C

    I read all of your posts because you’re really stupid, and oblivious to it. Please continue to make me feel better about myself.

  • Reply October 19, 2012


    I find it ironic that the article “How entitlement gets in the way of community” comes up on the sidebar to this article.

  • Reply October 19, 2012


    While I think it would be unfair to completely ban smoking on campus, given Sarah Lawrence’s large population of smokers, I think your response is childish and shows a complete lack of empathy for other people’s problems. If you have something to say about widespread sexual assault problems and other violence on campus, then please talk about that, because I wasn’t aware that there were more than isolated incidents of these things at Sarah Lawrence, but don’t use this article to justify hating on people who don’t deserve it.
    Seriously, who hates jugglers?

  • Reply October 19, 2012


    I would say that it sounds like more than anything else you just hate sarah lawrence

  • Reply October 19, 2012


    I just wanna point out that it wasn’t “President Karen Lawrence and the administration” who launched the Tobacco Task Force — it was students. Get the facts.

  • Reply October 19, 2012

    Mitchell Sunderland

    Great article! Hate on haters! I have asthma but it’s fucking asthma. Hugs and kisses.

  • Reply October 19, 2012


    As a member of the task force, let me take a minute to explain a couple of things.

    1. This is not the administration telling us what we can and cannot do. STUDENTS are the ones who are responsible for the creation of this task force and the investigation of this issue. It was brought up by a STUDENT in the Committee on STUDENT life. It is the only one of the six college governance committees that is majority student. It also is far from the first time this issue has come up. It mostly revolves around community respect regarding smoking.

    2. Often so many seats go uncontested or remain vacant on committees like Student Life or Student Senate, because people are apathetic. However, when these committees make a decision that are viewed as unpopular, so many seem to be up in arms about it. So why not actually get involved for once?

    3. The task force is comprised of students, faculty and staff. The majority of whom are currently smokers or are former smokers (I myself, am a smoker). The investigation of the possibility of SLC becoming tobacco free is part of our charge. A single part of it. It is not the be all and end all, it is not the only option being considered. And to think for a moment that we would make a radical decision without the input of the community is ridiculous. Surely you must understand that we know just as much as you do how announcing a ban on smoking would be received (particularly by the students). I don’t want there to be a smoking ban on campus because I think it’s not a feasible option given our campus culture (and selfishly, my own personal desire to smoke on campus), but I do want a policy that works, or a community that seems to watch out for one another.

    4. This isn’t just about students either. This is about faculty, staff and administration. Do you know that if a faculty member breaks the same smoking rules, nothing happens to them? Nothing at all. We can get a nice fat ticket, but NOTHING will happen to them.

    5. The Task Force has decided exactly one thing so far, that our current policy does not work. People violate it all the time, it is un-enforceable. To try and change that would be a supreme waste of the resources of our public safety department. Also 25 feet from every college entrance, building or restricted path is actually next to impossible in certain areas. When you actually look at a map of campus it’s really not very much space at all.

    6. I am a smoker and I have no intention of quitting smoking in the near future. My smoking is a personal choice and I will not see that banned at the drop of a hat. However, I obey the rules because my personal choice has an impact on other people and their health. If the students at this campus listened to the policy in the first place, this would be a non-issue. It’s because of blatant disrespect, students brought this up.

    7. Respect your own community, stop complaining and get involved. There will be two town hall meetings on this subject next thursday from 6-8 in Reisinger and Friday from 1:30-3:00 in Reisinger. Please come and make your opinions known (but please, be respectful).

  • Reply October 19, 2012

    Will Horn

    Wow. The Quality of articles on SLC speaks articles have really slipped this year. Shame.

    • Reply October 24, 2012

      Ari Jones


    • Reply October 24, 2012


      The quality of the Tea Haus has always been horrible, though.

      • Reply October 28, 2012


        I agree with Will. There’s gotta be better stuff to write about than someone’s rant on how much they dont like some things at SLC. We get it. Everyone has some problem with SLC.

  • Reply November 6, 2012


    I’m humiliated that this person is speaking on behalf of myself as a sarah lawrence student. although i do hate that entitled, talkative bitch present in most of my classes.

  • Reply April 26, 2014


    Sorry mate, Real Talk time. (You’re a Gryphon, you can handle it.) This is poorly done. And, uh, also overtly sexist. Even if I didn’t already disagree with you, your “argument” essentially amounts to insubstantial grandstanding/an excuse to complain. Some of these are serious issues that need to be brought up in a different and more respectful context. The others would have been better fodder for a light comedic piece. Honestly, it’s so over-the-top in its incohesive whininess I thought it WAS a misfiled comedy piece at first, one reappropriated to address the issue by drawing attention away from it.

    Grouping these things together in this disjointed failed-Buzzfeed-writer fashion and slapping an unconnected political message on it (ironically, one of the things you decried) shows a lack of focus not befitting the Gryphon inside you, the rational participant in society who traces problems to their real sources instead of flailing around screaming about how everything is terrible. And how your petty resentment of toilet paper and opinionated classmates obviously deserves much more attention than something as silly as a medical condition or unavoidable carcinogen clouds.

    The smoking ban is not about “publicity.” It’s not even about saying fuck you to The Man. It’s about the undeniable, demonstrable truth that allowing smoking on campus does much, much more harm than good. You cannot compare it to alcohol or any unhealthy substance or habit whose effects can, at least superficially, be contained to a single person. Second-hand smoke is an infringement on the rights of other students to breathe clean air, or at least air that has not been polluted recreationally and preventably.

    Of course humor can be used to make an argument. But if that was even your intent, it did not work. And either way it’s in bad taste. Take it from an alumn who’s changed a lot, you’ve got a real Gryphon in there somewhere. You can be totally jaded about your college experience but still capable of the use of reason. I promise.

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