Zachary Huebschman, Class of 2019, is a political science graduate and a former student senator in the Off-Campus Caucus.
Just last year, I served as a student senator to not only represent students, but also to make Texas A&M a better and safer university for all students. Now, as a former student, I feel the need to encourage the student senators to act in the face of a health crisis that nearly killed a member of the Aggie family.
During their last general meeting, student senators tabled a resolution supporting Chancellor John Sharp’s vaping ban across all of the Texas A&M System. Additionally, in a highly unusual action, student senators sent the resolution to committee to be reconsidered by the body at their next meeting. This action came after senators questioned whether vaping was a health crisis several times at their last meeting. Yet the Center for Disease Control (CDC) stated that they had linked nearly 1,300 cases of lung injury and 33 deaths to electronic cigarettes. Additionally, the CDC mentions "the fact that the possibility that nicotine-containing products play a role in this outbreak cannot be excluded."
The meeting opened with a statement from newly elected Class of 2023 President, Fawaz Ahmed Syed, where he called on Student Senate to improve resources to prevent addiction on campus rather than support a campus-wide ban on e-cigarettes. The CDC reports that two thirds of all 18- to 24-year-old JUUL users don’t even know JUUL has nicotine in it. Nicotine is an addictive substance, and the CDC further reports that nicotine can affect brain development until the age of 25. The resolution that the Student Senate considered and tabled at their last meeting served as an opportunity for the Student Senate to further educate the student body on the dangers of vaping and any nicotine use.
This health crisis has reached the Aggie community. A current student was hospitalized with lung damage. In his own words, "don’t do it, not at all, it’s horrible for you and I came very close to dying, and I’m lucky."
During the Student Services Committee meeting, student senators revised Senator Collin Tran’s original resolution to recognize, rather than support, Chancellor Sharp’s vaping ban. Regardless, by passing this resolution, the student senate will help Aggies further understand the dangers of vaping and nicotine use in general. Aggies’ knowledge of nicotine’s destructive and addictive properties is the primary step in preventing a new and growing public health crisis.
At their next meeting, the student senate has the opportunity to vote on a resolution recognizing the dangerous and addictive properties of nicotine use in all forms. I encourage the student senate to take a proactive stance on this crisis. Furthermore, as a former student, a former senator and someone who cares deeply about the health and safety of all Aggies, I support the vaping ban on Texas A&M’s campus.