Few dorms exercise right to vote on smoking policy

Jeff Stone

Although several residence halls have voted and rejected a policy that would allow smoking in all parts of the building, the vast majority of dorms have not entertained the policy, a Residential Hall Association officer said Monday.

A ruling passed last year by RHA changed housing rules by forbidding smoking in any area of a residential hall unless a majority of the dorm votes to allow smoking in individual rooms.

Residents of North Mid-Quads Hall will have a chance Sunday to decide whether to allow smoking in their dorm. Students in Lindgren Hall reached the required majority to pass the measure, while Allison Hall residents earlier this quarter voted overwhelmingly to keep the ban on smoking.

Half of the students in the dorm must approve the new policy for it to pass.

The policy will be reviewed yearly, said Matt Turk, RHA president. Students should talk with their dorm president if they would like to see a referendum, he said.

“One main reason (for this policy) was huge student outcry against smoking,” Turk said.

In Allison Hall, between 70 and 75 percent of the students voted to not allow smoking in all parts of the 355-resident dorm. The vote, held in conjunction with elections for Associate Student Government senators, received a large turnout, said Allison President Gabe Gutierrez.

“People were upset because of the way hallways smelled last year,” said Gutierrez, a Weinberg sophomore.

Allison residents said they were content with the new policy.

“I’m happy with the decision to not have smoking in Allison because I enjoy a smoke-free and clean environment,” said Allison resident Sarah Aronson, a Weinberg freshman.

But Lindgren residents, a 74-person dorm of mostly singles, did not get enough votes to pass the ban.

Lindgren resident Miguel Boyas, an occasional smoker, said the new RHA policy could inconvenience smokers.

“If there was no smoking, then the only option would be going outside, which is not good in the winter because of the cold,” said Boyas, a McCormick freshman.

Public Affairs Residential College has not voted on the issue yet, but the dorm president Tracie Gibler, a Weinberg senior, said the dorm would vote on the policy if someone felt he or she would like to smoke inside PARC.

“How I left it was if anyone felt strongly for or against it, they should contact me, and we would have a referendum,” Gibler said. “No one in PARC seems to passionately want to smoke, so we haven’t acted on the referendum.”