In response to a SUNY-wide smoking ban proposed by SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher, the Student Association has organized a panel to allow students to voice their opinions on the potential ban.

The SUNY Board of Trustees backed Zimpher’s proposal over the summer to ban tobacco on all SUNY campuses, but in order for the ban to be enacted, the state legislature must approve the proposal.

Although individual campuses can choose to ban tobacco without legislative approval, Binghamton University remains undecided on whether it will join SUNY Brockport, SUNY Albany and University at Buffalo in banning smoking.

The SA created the panel to get student input about the potential ban and SUNY policy.

“The purpose of the panel is to create a student opinion regarding the proposed ban, that we will send to the SUNY Board of Trustees and the BU campus administration,” SA President Mark Soriano wrote in an email.

Soriano said his intention was to make the panel as diverse as possible and to include smokers and non-smokers. The panel is made up of Stephen Bedik, Daniel Burkett, Alexandra Cain, Amanda Ceravolo, Joshua May and Samantha Steiner, ranging from freshman to juniors at BU.

“All of the [panel] members are clearly very enthusiastic about the project, and very willing to get started,” Soriano said. “The members appear thoughtful and balanced in their approach to the questions we seek to answer.”

Soriano and Dov Berkman, a student representative for Binghamton University Council, will argue on behalf of both sides of the issue, fostering discussion among committee members.

“The panel will not have to reach a unanimous decision, and I hope that there will be a lively debate,” Soriano said. “My role in the debate will be to play devil’s advocate, and I will stick up for smokers and non-smokers as needed.”

Soriano said the first panel session was held Monday after the panelists were selected last Friday. They provided the panelists with a brief history of tobacco use on campus and the SUNY Board of Trustees policy, according to Soriano.

“It is important that our panelists are able to reach a decision from an informed position so that whatever policies they suggest are relevant,” Soriano said.

The committee started discussing goals and creating a survey, which students can expect to be released in a few weeks. They will also create a poll for the entire student body and use the data they receive to form their final verdict. The results will be presented to the BU administration.

“I will be speaking with Vice President for Student Affairs Brian Rose, as well as Dean of Students April Thompson about the poll,” Soriano said. “Once we have the data, Dov will bring the results before the BU Council and I will go to President Stenger to see what can be done.”

Joshua Frumkin, a senior double-majoring in philosophy and philosophy, politics and law, said the ban would strip students of one of their rights.

“This is a terrible idea,” Frumkin said. “Look at other banned activities and how often they still happen; this would just cause stress for those who do smoke.”

Frumkin said he believes it is an issue of free rights.

“The smoke is not causing any harm and is happening outside anyway, not even close to residential buildings,” Frumkin said. “Prohibition never works.”