Letter to the Editor
Dear UNO Community:
After reading Eugene Kim’s March 30th article entitled, “Student health organization disgruntled over lack of recognition for work on smoke-free movement,” I felt it was necessary to respond with a few important observations and some context.
Thank you to the Gateway staff for calling attention to the smoke/ tobacco free initiative at UNO. As a former UNO student and current staff member, I am proud to be part of a community that is committed to improving the health and wellness of its members.
Over the past year, many students, faculty, and staff have dedicated their valuable time and energy exploring our community’s interest in moving toward a smoke/tobacco free campus. It has really been impressive to watch our student leaders work alongside a group of committed faculty and staff on this important issue. I believe this effort has been an excellent ex-ample of how shared governance can and should work on a college campus.
In particular, I would like to thank our Faculty Senate President, Dr. Lisa Scherer; Staff Advisory Coun-cil President, Melanie Krings; and our Student President and Regent, Jordan Koch; for their leadership and commitment to spending the necessary time to discuss and ex-plore this complex campus issue. We all owe them a debt of grat-itude for leading a collaborative and thorough process on campus. The recent Gateway story raised two issues I’d like to address: Eta Sigma Gamma’s (ESG) view their role hasn’t been recognized by UNO and ETA President Corey Kinnan’s assertion that President Koch’s involvement was motivated by self promotion.
When I met with Corey to discuss his ideas and thoughts related to transitioning to a smoke/tobacco free campus, I thanked him and complimented the role that ESG has played in supporting the smoke/tobacco free initiative. I encouraged him to send me any and all thoughts and ideas as we move to the implementation phase. I also made it a point to follow up with his faculty advisor after our meeting to let him know that I really appreciated Corey’s passion and commitment to the smoke/tobacco free initiative.
ESG’s contributions to the dialogue helped move this issue for-ward, and the group is a great example of Maverick students taking action on an issue they are passionate about.
But, the article made a suggestion that President Koch’s involve-ment in this important process
was somehow to help her resume. That is just not the case.
I’ve known and worked with President Koch for almost three years in her various leadership roles in student government at UNO. I have seen her in action: doused with an ice bucket for ALS sup-port; picking up trash at late night events; offering critical contribu-tions in long administrative meet-ings; talking with students in the hallway; and still finding time to email me thoughts and questions late into the evening and early morning.
President Koch’s first concern has always been how a decision would impact the UNO students she rep-resents. She has approached her job with a high level of seriousness and careful thought.
Personal gain is simply not a part of Jordan’s equation for making decisions. I am proud of Jordan as a leader and greatly appreciate her willingness to serve our cam-pus community.
So, the credit for the smoke/tobacco free initiative at UNO goes to our entire UNO community … Student Government, Staff Advisory Committee, Faculty Senate, student groups, anyone who voted in the student election, anyone who took a survey, focus group participants, etc. This was a collaborative effort, done the Maverick way.
As a son who lost both parents to smoking related diseases, it means a lot to me, and so many others, that our UNO community took the time to get involved.
Dr. Daniel J. Shipp
Vice Chancellor Student Affairs and Enrollment Management