At long last, Tobacco Free Trinity has finally achieved its goal. Trinity is now a smoke-free campus, after years of planning and debate and in spite of the rancour of some students.
After initially coming out against it, Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) eventually softened its position and then decided it’d be better off having no stance at all.
It wasn’t until this September, when the union held a non-binding plebiscite in which over 70 per cent voted in favour of a smoke-free campus, that College had any read on how students felt about the initiative.
For the most part, staff and postgraduate students have supported Tobacco Free Trinity, with consensus building over the years that a smoke-free campus is an inherently good thing. Certain tweaks to the original proposals alleviated some concerns, and trials of smoke-free zones have been largely successful.
Some students, however, have deep-seated issues with the policy, and descended on comments sections once again this week to express their disdain. It was a classic case of too little, too late.
Students had five years to mobilise against this campaign and ensure their voices were heard. Several College-wide votes were held and the smoke-free campus was central to many discussions at TCDSU council.
Rarely has opposition to the policy manifested itself in a campaign of any coherence or strength. Nobody needs reminding of the stunning success in recent times of student campaigns, but this simply has not happened for smoking.
Of course, there are some issues with the new policy – students have been quick to point to the cost and how difficult it will be to implement – but Trinity cannot be criticised for how this was introduced. It was phased in gradually and College really and truly engaged with the entire community.
Tobacco Free Trinity is just one in a long line of major changes in College that students have failed to engage with to any substantive degree. If they want to be heard, students need to speak up early – be it during elections or at council – rather than waiting to grumble retrospectively in comments sections.