Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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Outdoor smoking policies concern students, faculty

Clouds of smoke around campus buildings only annoy some Northwestern non-smokers. But some with respiratory problems and other health issues say the university should take action against the dangers of second-hand smoke.

Before arriving at NU, Katie James, an asthmatic, had to go to the hospital for treatment after walking through smoke.

“There’s nothing you can do about it,” said James, a Weinberg freshman. “You just have to walk through the smoke and not breathe. It would definitely help if they restrict smokers to certain areas rather than exposing everyone to it.”

Santa Fe Community College in Gainesville, Fla., began enforcing a new smoking policy this August to accommodate non-smokers. College police now can write tickets to students and staff members who smoke outside designated areas on campus, dubbed “butt huts.” The college built the smoking pavilions in fall 1999 so smokers could stay dry when it rains.

While wanting to respect the wishes of non-smokers, some NU smokers said they believe that it’s important to acknowledge smokers’ rights as well.

“I smoke 10 feet away from any building door and never inside buildings, but I would not like to be restricted to certain areas,” said Mike Fuller, a third-year Weinberg graduate student.

Some NU students said confining smokers to certain areas would be unfair since the university has not had any serious problems with violation of smoking policies.

“I don’t think smoking is a problem here on campus,” said Weinberg sophomore Neal Sawlani, a non-smoker. “We don’t need those policies here.”

But other non-smokers said second-hand smoke is threatening and the isolation of smokers is necessary.

Anamika Khama, an office assistant in the life science department, said smoke didn’t affect her until recently.

“Smokers bother me a lot now that I’m pregnant,” Khama said. “It’s really selfish and ignorant for people to smoke in public places. I think some kind of fines or punishment would help.”

At Santa Fe Community College, violators of the smoking policy have to take a three-hour seminar to learn about dangers of smoking and smokers’ responsibility to the community.

Violators of the smoking policy are allowed to appeal their referrals, said Dug Jones, the college’s director of the Center for Student Leadership and Activities. Appeals may be denied or approved, or the seminar may be replaced by an alternative sanction enforcing the educational aspect of the smoking policy.

Around 85 students have received referrals for smoking in undesignated areas. Out of those referrals, Jones has given 25 alternative sanctions as a result of student appeals. A student majoring in graphic design created new no-smoking signs instead of taking the three-hour class. A business major wrote a paper on the economic impacts of smoking. Another student wrote a paper on the effects of second-hand smoke in children.

“It is important to me and valuable to the students that the policy is not meant to be punitive,” Jones said. “The good thing about enforcing the policy is that we have absolutely succeeded in getting smokers away from buildings, which was what the majority of the complaints were about.”

NU administrators determine smoking policies separately for individual colleges and buildings, but in many places smokers face no punishment if caught smoking in undesignated areas. They simply put out their cigarettes or smoke elsewhere.

“Buildings in general are smoke-free, and smoking is allowed everywhere outdoors,” said Marvin Lofquist, an assistant dean of the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. “Of course, the rights of non-smokers take precedence.”

Besides just outside, smokers can smoke during certain hours and in certain areas at Norris University Center.

“You can smoke in the south portion of the 1999 dining room after 8 p.m. and in the designated areas of the game room,” said Joe Mroczkowski, associate director of planning and program development at Norris. “Two years ago the advisory board changed the rule from 2 p.m. to 8 to allow people to have breakfast, lunch and dinner in a smoke-free atmosphere.”

Whatever the rules, McCormick senior Rodriguez Gray said all he wants is a little courtesy.

“If smokers were considerate and responsible then we wouldn’t have a problem,” he said. “I’m not into policing smokers unless things get out of hand.”

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Outdoor smoking policies concern students, faculty