New Proposal Aims to Create Designated Smoking Areas on Campus

Photo by Abby Knudson
Photo by Abby Knudson

It is common to walk around Manhattan College’s campus and see some students and faculty smoking cigarettes wherever is most convenient for them.

A new smoking policy proposal aims to create new designated smoking areas on campus and educate the community about the health risks of smoking.

This proposal will be put to vote by the Manhattan College Senate on Nov. 17.

MC’s current smoking policy prohibits smoking inside any building, at any outdoor event with seating and within 25 feet of any building entrance.

“One thing I’ve noticed, take the quad buildings, is that you can be 25 feet from an entrance on the quad and where does that put you? Right out into the main circulating path of people,” Andrew Ryan, vice president for facilities, said.

“There’s going to be designated smoking areas around the college instead of the blanket 25 feet from an entrance to a building,” Ryan said.

Emmanuel Ago, Ph.D. and vice president for student life, said the new proposal was created with the help of survey results after it was noticed that many people were not in compliance with the current system.

The survey was conducted in May 2015 and shows that 83 percent of the 764 participants identified themselves as non-smokers.

In addition, the survey showed that 27 percent were in favor of a smoke free campus and 36 percent wanted to keep the current policy.

Ago wanted to stay true to the democratic process of surveying the community because the results show that, “people are not ready to go smoke-free,” Ago said.

Ago also credits the quadrangle renovations this past summer in helping the discussion about smoking on campus get started.

“That conversation prompted us to think about to what extent do we want people visibly smoking on the quad giving that we are investing a lot of money, time and effort into beautifying the campus,” Ago said.

The stages of the proposal process will involve first creating the proposal, then voting on it, followed up with an educational aspect on health risks and enforcement.

“Public safety officers will go on patrols to make people cognizant that we now have designated smoking areas and to politely redirect people to where they should be smoking on campus,” Ago said.

Ryan said that although it will originally cost money to provide signs, benches and receptacles for these new areas, it will save the time of facility workers who currently clean up the stray cigarette butts.

The new proposed smoking zones are the Jasper gazebo, the elevated area around Smith auditorium, Walsh Plaza, the service road by Lee Hall and Horan Hall, under Founder’s Bridge, Waldo Avenue by Kelly Commons, the parking lot of RLC and on the corner of 240th Street and Corlear Avenue by Leo.

Katherine Muller, a freshman psychology major, said the new proposal might not be followed because it is creates an inconvenience for those who do smoke.

“I also feel like it’s [administration] saying that it’s not as acceptable to smoke, that people should cut back, and it’s not good to be smoking all around campus,” Muller said.

Both Ryan and Ago said this proposal is not meant to isolate or put smokers’ safety at risk.

“A lot of the new designated areas were chosen, we took into consideration the safety of our students,” Ago said.

Rachel Stanton, a sophomore communications major, is a smoker herself but doesn’t think the new policy proposal will affect people since MC’s campus is relatively small.

“I also don’t understand why they would have to do that in the first place because it’s not like smoking is a huge problem at this school,” Stanton said.

Grace Hoffman, a graduate student and member of the Senate, said the new policy attempts to be fair to both smokers and nonsmokers.

“As a nonsmoker I do not like walking around campus behind a cloud of smoke, but I also do not believe smokers should have to go to parking lots or other places of isolation to have a cigarette,” Hoffman said.

The new proposal will be discussed on Nov. 17 at the Senate meeting, which is open to everyone.

“I think this is a great first step. We need to at least make sure people are aware that it’s not a free for all and that there are other people on campus and we need to be respectful of them in terms of health risks,” Ago said.