By Meredith Bentsen
Former Campus Senate Co-Chair Gavin McGimpsey ’11 proposed a campus-wide smoking ban to Senate last semester. Thanks to the surrounding controversy, however, the proposal was tabled until now.
The proposal, which Campus Senate is currently discussing, entails a smoking ban on the entire campus. The ban would not take effect until the 2016-17 school year. None of the currently enrolled classes (2012-15) would be on campus to experience the ban.
If the policy is passed, students who choose to ignore it will face consequences. The policy has provisions that include loss of a lottery point and loss of Senior Week privileges if caught smoking.
“I think that [the smoking ban] is not good because a lot of people smoke,” Franny Alston ’15 said. “Even if they did put a ban on smoking, it wouldn’t stop anyone,” said, “Technically, it’s a free country.”
“We’re not going to be here so why is this even being proposed now?” Jessica Frawley ’15 said. “The Senate is voting for future students; they’re voting for people they don’t even know.”
The first item of business Campus Senate needs to assess is the magnitude of the smoking problem at Kenyon, according to Senate Co- Chairs Professor of Spanish Clara Romn-Odio and Charlie Fine ’12. The Senate is working to create a campus-wide survey and aims to distribute it within the next few weeks. “The most important thing is that everyone take the survey,” Fine said.
Alana Lawson ’14 said she feels strongly that there is a smoking problem on campus but thinks the ban is unrealistic. “As much as [the smoking ban] would make campus more pleasant for non-smokers, I don’t think it’s very practical,” she said. “First off, what is technically on-campus and off-campus can be blurry at times, as is demonstrated with issues with the Sheriff, and second off, the smokers would be out of a convenient and familiar place to smoke. It could work in theory but would ultimately be very difficult to enforce.”
Both co-chairs agreed that a better approach to smoking at Kenyon would be to simply enforce the Ohio code: people can only smoke in areas that are at least 25 feet away from buildings.
“In terms of my personal opinion, it is more important for the school to focus on policies that focus on restrictions that allow for the wellbeing and comfort of the community at large,” Fine said. “It shouldn’t necessarily be enforcing more paternal restrictions in order to restrict behaviors that people really legally have the right to do. So for that reason, I’m somewhat hesitant. That being said, there is an Ohio code, and it’s actually written into our school’s current policy, [that states] you can’t smoke within the immediate vicinity of places of employment and clearly that’s not necessarily being enforced. But as far as a campus-wide ban, I think that that’s probably too drastic.”
Romn-Odio agreed with Fine. “It is, of course, a topic of controversy,” she said. “For this reason, I think that the first step we have to take is to survey faculty, staff and students to determine the magnitude of the problem.”
“I think [McGimpsey’s] primary contention was that there is no safe level of secondhand smoke,” Fine said. “He cited some research into whether outdoor smoking or outdoor secondhand smoke was significantly a detriment to the health of people around you. A secondary reason was that smoking is simply unhealthy.”