ASU has wisely begun to institute policies that, although they may restrict individual choices a bit, serve the general welfare of the campus population.
The declaration of the campus to be a tobacco-free zone, with absolutely no designated smoking areas, spares those who might be especially sensitive to, or fear the effects of, secondhand smoke — even outdoors. It also, at least, reduces the exposure to a health hazard of those who ill advisedly choose to smoke when off campus.
Similarly, the banning of vehicles — including roller skates, skateboards, unicycles, bicycles, tricycles, motorcycles and, presumably, pony carts and dogsleds — from our pedestrian walkways is sure to reduce the incidence of harmful interactions, such as collisions and emotionally stressful near-misses.
Those policies are a good beginning, but I believe that even more can be done. I can suggest two analogous restrictions that could yield similar benefits.
The first would be to declare the campus a peanut-free zone. Many people are highly allergic to peanuts and react even to the faintest smell of them. The restriction would also benefit the general health of those who persist in choosing to eat peanuts off-campus be reducing the threat of life-shortening obesity.
The second of my suggestions is to separate the sexes throughout the University. This would not only eliminate a distraction from our studies, it would also reduce the opportunities for harmful interactions, including the transmission of possibly life-threatening STDs, unintended pregnancies and rapes. It would also demonstrate our cultural sensitivity and concern for the comfort of the many foreign students who come from cultures where such segregation is commonly practiced.
The general benefits of these two measures should certainly outweigh any minor inconveniences they might cause to individuals, and these are only what I, as a lone individual, have come up with. If the student government and the administration really put their collective minds to it, just imagine the measures they might devise to improve our well-being. With just a little effort of this sort, we might approach that old ideal occasionally attributed to some German political philosophers, “Everything unnecessary is forbidden.”
Harvey A. Smith
Emeritus Professor of Mathematics and non-degree seeking graduate student
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