By Thomas Mattes
Campus Senate passed a revised policy for the College’s regulation of smoking on campus on Thursday, Feb. 9, with 10 senators in favor of the measure and one member choosing to abstain. If President S. Georgia Nugent ratifies the policy, students’ smoking will be almost entirely restricted to residential areas on campus by Jan. 2013.
The approved resolution is a moderate alternative to the original campaign for a smoke-free campus by 2016, proposed last spring by former Senate Co-Chair Gavin McGimpsey ’11. The original policy would have eliminated smoking without entirely affecting any Kenyon students prior to the class of 2016.
The revised policy instead restricts students’ smoking to “predominantly residential areas, apart from designated smoking areas elsewhere on campus,” which the College has yet to determine. Senate has requested that the administration, including Assistant Dean of Students Alicia Dugas and Chief Business Officer Mark Kohlman, choose these areas in non-residential parts of campus and enter the revised policy into next year’s student handbook. Students will be allowed to smoke outside of residential areas as long as they maintain a distance of 15 feet from all entrances, exits and windows.
Senate’s new policy does not include any changes for non-student smokers. It does, however, correct an error in this year’s student handbook that relates to Ohio law for all smokers. The handbook currently states that the law prohibits smoking within 25 feet of a building, but since this is incorrect, Senate’s policy suggests changing the handbook to read: “Smoking in the area immediately adjacent to locations of ingress or egress to a public place or place of employment is against Ohio law.”
Any student who violates the new policy will face sanctions from the College’s Student Conduct Review System.
The revised resolution also suggests an allocation of funding to Bacchus, an alcohol education organization, and the Student Affairs Division to provide smoking-cessation resources for members of the Kenyon community.
The new policy stresses the College’s concern with “the health and well-being of its members” and the recognition that “smoking is hazardous to both smokers and nonsmokers, especially indoors and in high traffic areas,” such as the entrances to Peirce Hall and Olin Library.
Senate Co-Chair and Professor of Spanish Clara Roman-Odio noted that the policy “achieves a fair negotiation between smokers and nonsmokers – nonsmokers are freer from the negative effects of second-hand smoking, especially in high traffic areas of the College such as Olin Library and Peirce, while smokers still have the freedom to make their own decisions on whether or not to smoke.”
In the end, “everyone was happy with the final result and evidently came to a consensus,” said Senate Co-Chair Charlie Fine ’12.
Roman-Odio said she took pride in “the significant debate” that was the primary focus of Senate throughout the past fall semester.
Fine emphasized the resolution’s flexibility. “I think [the resolution] does a very good job of allowing students to make decisions for themselves, allowing for the comfort for both smokers and nonsmokers,” he said.
In the end, some reform of the smoking policy was inevitable, as McGimpsey noted in his original resolution last spring. Over 365 colleges and universities across the country have already banned smoking entirely, and, Fine said, “Kenyon had to comply with state law. There is no way around it.”
Visit http://community.kenyon.edy/x257.xml for the results of Senate’s smoking survey.