By Rachel Luchmun
A town hall meeting discussing the campus-wide smoking ban was held Feb. 15. The Student Senate initiative aimed at clarifying the policy and answering questions from members of the community.
Dana Grove, executive vice president of Educational Planning and Development, Pam Vassar, assistant dean of Student Life and Leadership Development and Dennis Day, vice president of Student Success and Engagement, were members of a panel. Students, faculty and staff were invited to ask questions and voice concerns over the smoking ban.
The panel made it clear the college will not move from its position of a tobacco-free campus, despite appeals from students to institute more designated smoking areas.
“I want to make this clear to everybody: what the Board of Trustees voted on last spring was to have a tobacco-free campus,” Grove said. “You cannot have a tobacco-free campus that makes allowances for smokers. That does not make any sense; it’s a contradiction of terms. So no to extra [smoking] huts.”
“Are we fighting a losing battle?” a student asked.
“Yes,” Day said. The student then walked out.
Grove said the campus tobacco ban came about after a poll by the Student Senate showed a majority of students to be in favor of it. The Board of Trustees established the policy in August 2011, with the only exception to the rule being smoking in cars and in huts near the ITC building.
The huts were put in because of the collaboration between the college and Burlington Northern Santa Fe, which sends its employees to the college for retraining.
“When we were discussing this smoking ban, they asked if we would allow them to have those smoking huts,” Grove said. “We, I might say reluctantly for myself, agreed to do that. Sometimes I have second thoughts about that but we did it because of the relationship.”
Arguments against the ban were that it violated smokers’ rights to smoke. A student said the college was “just asking for a pneumonia outbreak” by making smokers walk to their cars in wintry weather.
Arguments for the ban were that smokers were forcing their smoke upon all students. Since the ban, many reported it was more enjoyable to walk through campus without smelling smoke.
Other concerns that were brought forward were that the ban was not enforced, with faculty, staff and campus police officers overlooking smokers in non-designated areas.
Gina Galanou, Student Senate president, said the reason for the meeting was because of strong opinions from either side. The aim was to inform students of the reasons behind the policy and allow them to ask questions.
“We are not here to make a decision,” Galanou said. “I think this document is said and done. As students being on this campus, you have the right to know why policies take place, how they start and how does that affect you as an individual.”
Contact Rachel Luchmun, news editor, at email@example.com.