Welcome back! I hope that everyone had a relaxing winter break and is rejuvenated for another great spring semester. Today, I want to touch on one of the more controversial issues of university policy that Student Government has been involved with recently: the university smoking policy. I’d like to take this column to clarify where the current policy stands post-Jan. 1 and to discuss Pooja’s and my stance on the issue.
On Dec. 21, an official communication was sent out to the campus community helping to explain the current nature of the smoking policy. As of Jan. 1, smokers are restricted from smoking in several smoke-free zones: The Cut, Hamerschlag Mall, tennis courts, Cyert Center, and areas around athletic fields. For the time being, campus police are instructed to warn students who are violating this policy. In addition, smoking is not permitted within 20 feet of any building entrance or air intake as per the university’s previous policy.
While designated smoking areas outside of these areas have not yet been officially decided by a group of students and faculty/staff, smokers are asked to abide by the previous rules, but can smoke in any other location on campus — although those locations are now more limited.
Since Anita Barkin, the director of Health Services and chair of Healthy Campus 2010, introduced the new smoking policy, I’ll admit that I have been generally in favor of it. I recognize that Healthy Campus 2010 is trying to look out for the well-being of the campus community, and that the new policy is in accord with the university’s overall stance about the importance of wellness.
That being said, I must say that I am disappointed with the current “we’re trying to remove smoking containers so that you cannot smoke on most of campus, but we haven’t outlined the designated areas where you can smoke” temporary policy. It doesn’t make sense why the committee doesn’t take the next semester to thoughtfully plan out where the designated smoking areas should be and then allow for the new smoking policy to take effect in full in September.
The current “limbo” period is nothing more than confusing and will only make enforcing the policy later that much harder. Will what one day was a warning card be a monetary fine the next day? I suggest that Healthy Campus 2010 use the remainder of this semester to plan a comprehensive publicity campaign so that when students return in September, they’ll be aware of the change in policy — and that means more than a few official communication e-mails.