Non-smokers forced to police new rule in quad

+%28%29

()

Students returned this fall to a smoke-free campus, but the new policy – which restricts smoking to the parking lots – contains no formal enforcement provisions.
Instead, it relies on posted no-smoking signs, as well as “the initiative of non-smokers to politely request that smokers comply and the courtesy of smokers to acknowledge the restrictions and comply.”
Campus police are not involved in enforcement.
Bill Oye, dean of student life, said he walks through the quad regularly, asking anyone smoking to stop.
“If they fail to cooperate, especially if it is obvious to me that I have spoken with them before, then that would be a violation of the student code of conduct,” Oye said.
According to the Student Code of Conduct, Oye said, repeat violators are subject to suspension.   However, it is unclear how violations will be tracked.      
President Judy Walters said she approves of the change, calling it “a very collaborative effort.” She was not involved in the decision, she said.  
Oye said students had complained about the amount of cigarette smoke on campus, especially near classrooms.
“They were very frustrated,” he said. “Some suffered from asthma and could not walk through the main quad,” Oye said. “They actually have a right to be on campus, to use services that are in the quad.”
In the past, Oye said, students caught smoking near classrooms would “play games,” claiming they were walking to the quad or pretending not to know of the rule.  
The new policy aims to eliminate any gray areas by making a clear distinction between smoking and non-smoking places.    
Still, he acknowledged the difficulties involved in navigating the quad in previous semesters.
 Last fall, a group of speech students addressed such concerns to the Associated Students of DVC in hopes of persuading the council to support a no-smoking policy on campus.  
After deliberating the issue, then-ASDVC President Bundit Kertbundit took the proposition to the Leadership Council of managers, staff, faculty and students, which approved it in January.  The policy also applies to the San Ramon Valley Center.
Previously, smoking was permitted in the main quad and parking lots.  The new policy restricts smoking to the parking lots only.   
Los Medanos and Contra Costa colleges have had similar policies in place for approximately three years.
The switch stems from Assembly Bill 846, effective January 2004, which extended no-smoking areas to include 20 feet within an exit or entryway and any operable windows.  The bill also gave California Community Colleges power to implement additional restrictions.
Aside from health, Oye says the new policy is beneficial in other ways, because “we have a duty as a college to help people think about ethics.”  
The policy, he said, “prepares students for the real world that they will be getting into,” since more employers are leery of hiring smokers, fearing they will develop bronchitis and have to go on sick leave.   
But Terry Armstrong, dean of counseling and student services, said it does not go far enough.  
“If it were up to me … we wouldn’t even have the parking lots,” he said, although admitting such an option is unrealistic.
“I don’t want to eliminate access to the college for people stuck with that addiction,” Armstrong said.
The policy has earned mixed reviews among students.
International relations major Geovanni Hernandez, 21, said the new policy isn’t working.
“People are still smoking in the quad,” he said.
Mustafa Tarzi, 21, a biotechnology major, didn’t hesitate to voice his objections.
“It sucks,” he said. “I’m not going to walk to the damn parking lot.”    
Lex Williams, 22, said he does not think it is fair for “a board of 30 people who have transferred already” to make a decision for the entire student population.
But others praised the change.
“The quad smells so much better,” said biology major Alexandrea Deroque, 18. “Last year it was nasty.”
Student Chris McDonald said he is happy about the change, although it’s “kind of high school.”

Still, McDonald recalled what it was like navigating the quad in previous semesters. “I’d hold my breath when I walked through,” he said.