Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Little Fascists

Yesterday our Chancellor Charles Bantz had a Chat with the Chancellor session over in the Campus Center. It was fairly well attended and a number of health and fitness issues were brought up by those in the audience. At the end mention was made of the Tobacco-Free IUPUI initiative. Now as a disclaimer I should say that I quit smoking in 2003 when our then Dean, Hermann J. Saatkamp, sent a notice around informing the School that Tony Sherrill, Chair of Religious Studies (one of my smoking buddies and a true gentleman and scholar) had been diagnosed with lung cancer. I spent the next year watching Tony slowly die. So anyway, I don't smoke. My wife does. My brother does. A number of people I know do. But I don't feel compelled to force them to stop or even nag them about how it's bad for them, it's expensive, it's a dirty habit, yadda yadda yadda. It's their own damn business. However the University feels that it's important to use all means possible to prevent smoking on campus. And when the issue came up in the Chat with the Chancellor session I was disheartened by how the administrators present, including Chancellor Bantz, expressed disappointment in their inability to prevent people from smoking on the city sidewalks (public property!) running through campus. I was also dismayed with the zeal with which a number of faculty and students in the audience rushed to voice their support for the removal of the rights of smokers "for their own good." The new Assist Dean of Students Jason Spratt went so far as to invite those interested in helping with the Tobacco-Free effort to see him after the chat to assist in forming squads to patrol the campus and confront those who are breaking the rules by smoking on university property. And it looked like he was getting a number of recruits. So I guess when President Obama starts up his National Service Plan he can come to IUPUI and get a number of recruits. I suspect IUPUI can't afford it but I bet Obama's National Service Corp will supply uniforms. Brown shirts, maybe?

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