University of Central Arkansas President Allen Meadors said the university will not ask legislators for a revision that would exempt the university president’s home from the Clean Air on Campus Act, which bans smoking on college and university campuses in the state.
A state newspaper article stated Monday that UCA officials were considering requesting that Meadors’ home be exempt from the newly enacted state law to ban smoking at public institutions of higher learning.
Late Monday, Meadors said he felt his words were taken out of context in the article.
"I did say that as a former public health official, the concern was about second-hand smoke, not whether people could smoke in their residences," Meadors said. "I can’t speak for the Legislature, but the intent of public health is so that an individual not be exposed to second hand smoke."
Meadors said it was "absolutely not" the university’s intent to ask legislators to amend the legislation, and never was.
"We would never do that," Meadors said.
Meadors said that the bill was a point of conversation among staff because "it was discussed by those who work with the Legislature that it was doubtful that private residences were thought about in this discussion."
"There are private homes that are leased to non-students that would fall under the state law," Meadors said.
Meadors is under contract to reside in the presidential home on campus.
Jeff Pitchford, UCA vice president for communication, said that the issue "has taken legs."
"I’m not sure about other universities, but (Meadors) is required to live there. At this point we are not looking to (request an amendment)," Pitchford said. "I said maybe this is something that should be looked at."
Jack Gillean, vice president for administration, said early Monday that no decision had been made to pose a request of the General Assembly to amend an exemption, only that the issue had been discussed. Gillean said he didn’t think an exemption would be unfrair because the UCA president is required to live in the president’s home on campus, while students have the option to live in university-owned or leased housing.
Meadors said he supports the ban, but wonders what will happen with future state officials who, being required to live on state property, may be smokers.
Meadors was quoted in the state paper that the Legislature will likely "re-evaluate private residences."
"My guess is, if they had a governor who smoked, he would be able to smoke in a place where he is required to live."
(Staff writer Courtney Spradlin can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 505-1236. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)