By Madeleine Thompson
Campus Senate moved forward with its revised smoking policy this week, selecting three designated smoking zones on campus based on the results of a student body poll. The poll, which asked for input on several proposed smoking areas, received over 300 responses, surpassing Campus Senates previous efforts to garner student responses.
With student feedback in mind, Senate designated the area outside lower Gund Commons (closest to Mather Residence Hall), Horvitz Hall (the west side of the building on the outdoor patio) and an area outside Olin Library as the three likely smoking zones.
Earlier in the semester, Campus Senate released an initial survey seeking student input on designating smoking zones. Not a single student responded, so Dean of Students Hank Toutain asked Campus Senate and Student Council members to brainstorm smoking areas themselves.
This campus is so reactive, said Senate Co-Chair Monty Clark 13. It is not proactive. If you give people a choice then they are reactive, and they are passionately reactive.
After consolidating the list, Campus Senate released another poll to the student body. This most recent attempt, which closed last week, asked students to rank their interest on a scale of one to five in six predetermined smoking locations: Olin Library, Gund Commons, the Horvitz Art Building, the Science Quad, Peirce Hall outside of lower Dempsey and the Peirce Hall visitors parking lot. Although 316 students responded to the survey, not all of the participants rated an interest for every location, resulting in varied total numbers of votes on each one.
Senates original proposal was to have two smoking areas, but a high interest in three zones led them to add another. The most popular choice was lower Gund Commons, which had an average rating of 3.253 out of 269 votes. Horvitz came in second, receiving an average of 3.067 out of 269 votes.
The third-highest interest was in Peirce Hall outside of Lower Dempsey with an average rating of 2.935 out of 275 votes, but 15 percent of responses asked that Peirce Hall be made smoke-free, according to Clark, which led Senate to use the fourth-place area, the space between the library and the Gund Gallery, as the final smoking zone.
In accordance with the policy, which was approved by Student Council and President S. Georgia Nugent last February, these three locations will be the only smoking zones on the academic campus. Smoking will still be permitted in residential areas, though it should not take place within 15 feet of building doors and windows.
When analyzing the survey results, Clark was most surprised by the negative comments left in the optional comments section. People have been using it to drop the f-bomb wherever they can, Clark said. I think that mainly has to do with a lack of understanding of the history of this. They havent been following it, and theres just this huge disconnect because people still think that were going to be a smoke-free campus when were not.
There were also positive comments that offered helpful suggestions. People asked for benches and were putting benches in [the designated smoking areas] because of that, so were really thankful that were getting that positive feedback, she said.
Clark is hopeful that by next semester, the College will install these new benches and ashtrays, and move currently installed ashtrays at least 15 feet from residence halls. Overall, the smoking policy will go into effect beginning next semester.
This has been a complaint of students for a very long time, Clark said. The Health Department has been called in through an anonymous tip four times for people smoking inside [Hanna Residence Hall] and for people smoking right outside the door where the smoke can waft in. This [policy is] going to help us keep a sense of legality with Ohio law.
Director of Campus Safety Bob Hooper has no plans to increase enforcement of smoking law, which currently entails following up on student complaints of smoking in residences and filing a judicial report in the case of repeat offenses.
It clearly cant get just pushed on [Campus Safety] as were going to be the only enforcement, Hooper said. It needs to be a community response. Safety plans to continue asking students in non-smoking areas to move and, once designated areas are officially installed, directing students to them.
The biggest challenge in terms of maintenance will be to keep the designated areas clean, Chief Business Officer Mark Kohlman said in an email.
Clark emphasized a desire to find a balance between the preferences of smokers and non-smokers.
Were trying to place these areas that are both convenient yet out of the way, making it so theyre accessible but not demeaning, Clark said. We dont want to make it so that people feel singled out. Thats not our issue.