Wilkes has undergone a few changes entering the 2015 fall semester including changes to on-campus dining as well as the building of the gateway. Another change that many students and faculty are aware of is the enforcement of a new smoking policy.
This new policy prohibits smoking within 20 feet of any university building, window or ventilating system. This policy is intended to promote a healthier environment for students and faculty by eliminating all secondhand smoke that could be inhaled by people entering or exiting buildings, according to the statement shared by President Leahy through email. There has also been a hut installed next to Breiseth Hall where smokers can sit, providing shelter for them during inclement weather.
It is unclear whether this new policy is indicative of a future, stricter policy for smoking on campus. However, it might raise some controversy among non-smoking and smoking students and faculty.
Senior Integrative Media major and smoker Annie Stauffer has no problem with the new smoking policy.
“I don’t mind it at all,” Stauffer said. “I can understand nonsmoking students not wanting to have smoke blown in their faces,” she said. “I think that there are a lot of smokers who could be way more considerate.”
Dr. Michael Garr, a sociology professor who enjoys smoking pipes and cigars, agrees that smokers should be considerate.
“I think it’s a fairly good policy. I think smokers need to be considerate of nonsmokers…. I have no problem with the smoking policy, what I have a problem with is the rationale behind it. That this is being done for the health of students,” he said.
He went on to explain that there are many things that can be done to improve the health of our students, but that he feels tobacco use is the only thing that receives zero tolerance.
“Smoking has become a moral issue more than a scientific issue… clearly there is evidence that smoking cigarettes and secondhand smoke are harmful, and certainly indoor smoking bans are needed… however, as for outdoor smoking bans, smoke dissipates much too quickly for it to be harmful to other people,” he explained.
Despite those feelings, Garr thinks the policy is ultimately good because even he finds himself bothered when leaving a building if someone is smoking directly outside.
Even Thomas Krutsick, a freshman pharmacy major who is strongly opposed to smoking, feels that the new smoking policy is fair. “No smoking on campus at all would be nice, but that wouldn’t be as feasible because it is still the smoker’s right. I think this policy is a nice compromise,” he said.
Dr. Deborah Tindell, a professor of psychology who does not smoke, feels that the policy isn’t quite harsh enough.
“I think universities ought to be nonsmoking. I think the policy maybe is not even as strict as it could be,” she said. “I think we owe it to our students to demonstrate an environment that has good healthy behavior, and I think we owe it to our nonsmoking students to create a safe environment for them.”
Tindell feels that as a professor it is her duty to promote the health of the students at her institution. However, she is still realistic that not all students will cease smoking.
“I think as long as there are smokers you have to provide some kind of access, otherwise there’s no way to implement the policy effectively. So there will probably need to be someplace on campus that would be appropriate,” she said, in regard to a possible future where smoking freely on campus is banned.