Debates on vaping up in smoke

Jenn Tran

Students discuss living the college life vs living the Christian life on campus

As SPU students, there is an expectation to know the policies and standards the school holds.
In section 10.5 of Seattle Pacific’s Student Standards Handbook, it states that SPU prohibits the use of tobacco in any form or display.

It also prohibits other smoking related options “including but not limited to cigarettes, cigars, snuff, smokeless tobacco, chew, hemp, hookah, vaping, paraphernalia, devices, etc.”

As a Christian community, it in is SPU’s interest to protect students with health concerns by providing a tobacco-free environment, as well as providing a dry campus. As of 2005, SPU is smoke-free.

The handbook states that any student who violates SPU’s drug and alcohol policy will be fined $100, the money going towards alcohol and drug prevention programs for that particular student.

Vaping, however, has risen in popularity as of the late 2000’s, and continues to be thought of as a growing substance abuse concern on college campuses across the nation.

Vaporizers are similar to e-cigarettes: they have a battery that heats a cartridge of liquid, which often contains nicotine and an artificially flavoured sweet syrup, until an aerosol is produced to be inhaled.

The short rush or buzz, often called feeling “domed,” comes from the nicotine in the vapor, causing the release of adrenaline.

These devices are also able to deliver THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, making vapes an easy way for students to become intoxicated.

SPU Wellness, SPU’s health blog, dedicated a post on Jan. 18 to the dangers of vaping and smoking, informing students of the potential health dangers. The post discusses the research of long-term effects of vaping and acknowledges the chemicals found in vaporizers that are “known to cause lung damage and other physical health problems,” emphasizing the idea that although vaping is considered a healthier alternative to smoking cigarettes, they are not at all healthy.

Although SPU has made their guidelines clear, there are students on campus who consider themselves members of the vaping/smoking community, and a debate on the rationality of being allowed to smoke has been raised amongst the students, all of whom have requested to remain anonymous due to privacy reasons.

When asked about continuing the use of vaporizers, Student A says they have been vaping for two years and have no plans to quit.

“It’s fun, and something to do. It doesn’t make you incapable of function but you can still feel a slight buzz; you get ‘domed’ opposed to getting high,” they said.

“The town I’m from is very open to weed and nicotine. My friends back home all do it.” As for those who do not share the same opinion, Student A respects their perspective as well.

They understand that it is most likely bad for their health, but they have emphasized that they do not plan on continuing the activity for their entire life.

“People still use drugs and drink alcohol because it’s a part of growing up. It’s a tendency to experiment alongside your peers. You know what you’re signing up for when you come to SPU, because you know what it’s about. At the same time I can’t expect myself not to give into the ‘normal’ college experience,” they said.

Student A doesn’t consider themselves to be a religious person and feels that their usage of vaporizers does not have an impact on an alignment with the Christian faith.

“I don’t see it as a bad thing because I don’t do it consistently,” they continued. “I’m a young adult. There’s an expectation for this age to experiment; I know it won’t be a lifelong habit. SPU has such a strong belief in their values, a couple students vaping won’t change that.”

SPU Wellness encourages students who turn to smoking and vaping as stress coping mechanisms to visit their blog to check out alternative tips on how to reduce stress and improve their wellness. Vaping360.jpg

“Stress plays a big role in why people smoke or vape and stress can come in many forms – maybe it’s stress from wanting to join in with your friends when they smoke or vape, or maybe it’s academic or financial stress,” the blog reads.

It explains that while  quitting cold turkey or switching to things like nicotine gum or the patch can help with quitting, reducing overall stress overall will be very helpful as well.

While stress is a major factor in why people turn to smoking, this is not the case for everyone.

Student B, who does consider themselves a religious person “to an extent,” wonders why people have a strong opinion on something they do not have to take part in.

“If I want to vape or smoke a joint after class, I should be able to because it’s my decision and my body,” they said. “I’d understand more if SPU meant no smoking indoors because it’s typical, but beliefs shouldn’t be shoved down my throat.”

Student B is aware that there are long-term consequences to smoking, but they feel that they should not be shamed for doing it.

Student C, however, had an entirely different opinion.
When asked about the affects vaporizers have on the community, they said that it is a shame, and something they will “never be able to wrap (their) head around.”

“I simply do not understand it. My friends and family have never smoked or vaped and they turned out just fine. This school should be a place where we as a community sharing one faith are able to feel comfortable being here with the promise of being a drug-free zone,” they explained.

“Coming to a Christian school, I figured that being a drug free and dry campus was expected and a perk that the state schools aren’t strict enough about.”

Although Student C has strong opinions against the substance use, they emphasized that they do not mind others doing it. They only ask that they are excluded from the act, and ask that the activity be kept off of SPU property.

“At the end of the day, I will never partake in this, but I can’t stop others from doing it. All I ask is for people to get their fix elsewhere or in the comfort of their own home so that us students who don’t stand with drug use feel more comfortable,” they said.

Student D, however, is of a different opinion.

While the school is a community where not everyone shares the same faith, Student D believes that all students should “follow the same lifestyle and have the same values.”

They continued, “Smoking, vaping, drugs and things are not a right or a privilege. They’re detrimental to your own health.”

Student D wants to eliminate the idea that the SPU guidelines in the handbook hold students back from experiencing the “college experience.”

“Students act as if SPU’s rules are ruining their social lives. There are reasons behind rules, darn good ones. People act as if the school doesn’t have their students best interest at heart,” Student D said. “These rules shape the people SPU wants on their campus. Don’t come here if you don’t agree with what they stand for.”

They know that not everyone shares their opinion, explaining that it is hard for them to voice their opinion on the issue because they believe people will look at it as hate speech, yet they stand by their belief.

“It’s my right as a student here to feel comfortable expressing my values and beliefs. I think there are more students like me who wish they could say something without getting mocked for it.” they concluded.

With the ongoing debate amongst students of the morality of smoking, many stick to their belief that all students should follow the same lifestyle guidelines while attending school, while others do not believe their smoking habit clashes with the school’s vision.

“I get that SPU has to have rules on these kinds of things, but to hear students complain about it is unnecessary. I can still be a “good Christian” while enjoy being high,” Student B said.

For more information, visit SPU’s Wellness Blog at http://digitalobby.spu.edu/wellness/2018/01/03/study-drugs/