Kenyon talks about our safety as if it is extremely important, and everyone can agree that it is, but Campus Safety tends to fail in enforcing the safety measures that are already in place. Smoking is one of those areas where the campus authorities fail. Kenyon advertises itself as a smoke-free campus, except in designated areas, but, in my experience, these rules are never enforced. This is harmful for many reasons. Secondhand smoke is dangerous in and of itself, but it becomes worse for students with certain disabilities and sensory issues. Kenyon prides itself on creating a safe environment for all students, including disabled students. Campus Safety must enforce the already-established safety measures regarding smoking in order to ensure the campus remains safe and accessible for all students.
Everyone knows that college students tend to break some rules, and it is normally all right when those actions do not harm others, but smoking is something that can greatly harm another party. The smoking policy page on the Kenyon website specifically states that Kenyon understands that smoking is a hazard to the smoker and to anyone that comes in contact with them. The website states that smoking is prohibited in all buildings, including all residence halls, apartments, houses and academic and administrative buildings. So why does Mather Residence Hall smell like smoke all the time? As a first-year student who grew up in a community where most people are non-smokers, this causes a sensory overload for me — to the point where it makes me sick — and I cannot imagine that I am the only one who feels this way around cigarette smoke. Now, I am not saying that everyone should have to stop smoking; it is their choice, but every student should have to follow the rules on campus.
Not only does Kenyon have a rule in place that says smoking is prohibited directly outside buildings, but this is also an Ohio state law. Additionally, it is an Ohio law that no one under the age of 21 is allowed to buy or receive cigarettes, other tobacco products or alternative nicotine products such as e-cigarettes. So any student that is doing this under the age of 21 is not only breaking campus rules, but they are breaking state law. Even though college is supposed to be the time of freedom in our young lives, order, to a certain degree, is needed.
While I was researching Kenyon, I was assured that the college prioritized the safety of its students, yet I have found Kenyon consistently allows the rules to become lax and virtually ignored. Smoking does not need to become prohibited for students, but it should be restricted in accordance with the state law. Kenyon needs to make it its mission to regulate and uphold the rules it has created for the safety and well-being of its students.
Christa Cheney ’26 is a psychology and music major from Los Angeles, Calif. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.