More than a month after NMU President Les Wong proposed a smoke-free campus, the Associated Students of Northern Michigan University (ASNMU) hosted discussions this Tuesday and Wednesday about smoking regulations on Northern’s campus.
During “Let’s Chat,” an Oct. 24 talk show on Radio X, Wong laid out his projected plans for a smoke-free campus. “Pretty soon we’ll have everyone wearing a fan over their head,” Wong said. “I think it’s an issue of student health and responsibility,” he added.
At the campus smoking discussion, the student attendees talked about this issue. Student smokers expressed concern that a smoke-free campus would be an infringement upon their personal freedoms and that the university would be discriminating against them.
“I feel like it would be promoting intolerance of one group of people,” said one student in the crowd.
Students also discussed current policy regarding the use of tobacco products on NMU’s campus. This current policy prohibits smoking in campus buildings, except in designated interior areas and within 30 feet of building entrances.
Various students expressed concern about the cloud of smoke that many students have to walk through when entering dorms or classroom buildings.
One solution, suggested by smokers and non-smokers alike, was the construction of smoking shelters or stations. This would help smokers stay thirty feet from the doors and protect them from the elements. It would also relieve non-smokers of having to travel through a cloud of smoke. Furthermore, it would ensure that smokers knew exactly how far from entrances they needed to be. The general consensus at the discussion was that smoking shelters or stations would be the most obvious and best possible compromise between smokers and non-smokers.
Other suggestions included re-instating smoking rooms in the dorms, designating a residence hall just for smoking and issuing tickets to students who do not smoke 30 feet from the doors.
The goal of the discussion was for students to be able to voice their opinions about smoking on campus. This included proposing ways to improve or change current campus smoking policies. The discussions were also triggered by complaints from students received recently by ASNMU, said Chris Germain, Chair of the Assembly. ASNMU has also been discussing on-campus smoking issue at their meetings, added Germain. The student’s input on these issues will eventually get passed back to Wong, according to Jessica Beaver, ASNMU Vice President.
ASNMU representatives prompted the attendees with questions and then allowed for discussion on the proposed topics.
Over twenty people attended the discussions each night.