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The 1.7%; the Misrepresentation of the Marshall Student Body

Letter to the Editor

Published: Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Updated: Tuesday, February 12, 2013 00:02

Over the past several months students have heard stern rhetoric regarding smoking on campus. The debate has become so much of an issue that the Marshall Student Senate voted 11-7 in favor of banning all tobacco products completely from campus. Throughout much of this debate, the 2012 Marshall Assessment Day survey has been referenced repeatedly as proof that the student body at Marshall wants a smoke free campus. According to the survey, 71% of Marshall Students want the campus to be completely smoke free. With such an impressive statistic, it seems pretty clear what the student populace wants. However, closer investigation into these numbers reveals something even more telling.

There are approximately 14,500 students that attend Marshall University. Given this base number and some simple math, we can deduce that 10,295 students (71%) want a smoke free campus. This deduction however would be incorrect. According to the Assessment Day Survey only 360 students answered the question regarding the issue. Out of that 360 only 252 students agree with the smoke free policy. So in actuality, only 1.7% of students actually said they wanted a smoke free campus. This can still be used a good polling data though, right? Again, you would be mistaken. As any pollster will tell you, a sample size of around 1,000 people are needed to project accurate numbers (with a +/-5 %), even with a student populace of 14,500.

I’m no math whiz, but even I know that 360 is nowhere near the needed amount of people to accurately project how students feel on the issue. Not only that, but nowhere in the survey were students even asked about a totally tobacco free campus, which is the issue that is currently facing the Faculty Senate. I personally hate cigarette smoke. The day my mother told me she quit was one of the happiest days of my life. However, as a representative in the Student Senate I will always thoroughly investigate these issues before I make a judgment for the student body, which is why I could not vote in favor of a smoke free campus, much less a tobacco ban, based on these numbers.

By: Student Senator Nick Chancey

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