Letters to the Editor

Secondhand smoke is harmful, in any amount

Recently The Hatchet quoted Student Health Services as claiming that “the occasional breath of secondhand smoke may not be so bad … For the average nonsmoker, being around smokers on occasion does not prove to be a huge health risk” (Weekly check up, Jan. 16, p. 7). Wrong.

California has determined that the tobacco smoke inhaled even outdoors causes lung cancer, breast cancer, heart attacks and other major health problems in nonsmokers temporarily exposed to it, and the state classified it as a “toxic air contaminant.”

According to Richard H. Carmona, the United States Surgeon General, “Even brief exposure to secondhand smoke has immediate adverse effects on the cardiovascular system and increases risk for heart disease and lung cancer.”

The Centers for Disease Control further explained why even brief exposure could trigger cancer: “There is some risk that even a very small amount [of secondhand smoke] can damage a cell, setting off a chain reaction that causes cancer.”

So, who are you going to trust: a spokesperson at Student Health Services, or the U.S. Surgeon General, the CDC, the state of California and many other experts?

-John F. Banzhaf, Professor of law

Mobilize on Marvin Center space

It isn’t often that space becomes available on this campus, let alone space for student use. I appreciate that Sam Salkin has brought attention to the fact that there are still no plans in place for the conversion of the 5,000 square feet in the basement of the Marvin Center, a space formerly known as the District Market (“Rebirth of the Marvin Center,” Jan. 28, p. 4).

For the past two years, I have been working with University administrators and student music groups to bring a student-run recording studio to campus. Everybody seems to like the idea, but I am always told that “there isn’t any space available.”

As such, I am one of many students looking to get some of that space. Some have suggested the location be used for a 24-hour student lounge with wireless Internet and projectors. This course would only lead to the same type of atmosphere found at Gelman Library.

The theater groups are vying for their own performance space, and as a sound and lighting technician for several GW student groups, I can understand where they are coming from. I think the proper course of action, however, is to put pressure on the managers of the existing performance spaces to be more supportive and accommodating of the groups’ technical needs.

It pains me to see such this part of the Marvin Center go empty day after day when there are so many students and organizations who could make good use of it and who have little or nothing to do without it. Worse yet is that this space will probably end up as more offices for an ever-growing bureaucracy. With elections coming up, I doubt that anyone in the Student Association is going to act on this issue. I would certainly vote for anyone who could get a plan together and renovations underway.

-David Ediger, Junior

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