Smoking survey delivers mixed results

josh.snyder

The smoking survey recently issued online yielded no definite answers from participating students and faculty.

The results of the survey, along with revisions to the Campus Master Plan (CMP) and an increase in funding, were some of the many topics addressed by President Les Wong during his latest university forum.

The forum was held Thursday, Feb. 14 in the commons area of Whitman Hall and was the first held by Wong this year.

The information on the smoking ban was collected in a survey sent out via e-mail to students and faculty. A total of 4,548 people participated in the survey, 3,945 of which were students. Out of those students, 3,781, or 83 percent, were non-smokers. According to the results Wong presented, 54 percent of non-smokers supported the ban, compared to 4 percent of smokers. Just 28 percent of non-smokers were opposed to the ban, compared to 89 percent of smokers.

Wong said he is creating a panel to discuss enforcement of the current smoking policies and explore possibilities for implementing a ban.

English professor Ray Ventre said he hopes the panel will reach a good compromise with the smoking ban.

“A total ban on smoking would present serious difficulties for individuals in every university constituency,” Ventre said. “We need to find a balance between the rights of smokers and non-smokers.”

Currently, we are so far out of balance that we have a serious problem with the rights of non-smokers. [But] I don’t want to see people disenfranchised and made into pariahs.”

At the forum, Wong also spoke on the revised CMP, which he called “The Road to 2015.” One of the topics addressed concerned new buildings to be placed in the same location as the current Native Plants Area. The new proposal will allow for both the new buildings and the project to co-exist, Wong said.

Biology professor Ron Sundell, and faculty advisor for the Environmental Science Organization, the student group working on the Native Plants Project, said the compromise will allow them to continue to work on the project.

“It appears our project will go forward and be integrated into the proposed master plan nicely,” Sundell said. “I think the compromise will be beneficial to everyone.”

Wong announced that after listening to student and faculty concerns, administrators made changes to the master plan to accommodate the project. There will be fewer buildings on the current natural plants site and the shape of the remaining planned building will be changed, so it will have less of an impact on the site.

“They did a good job of changing the location and shape of the buildings to minimize the impact to the native plant wildflower and grass area,” said Sundell, who added that a decision still hadn’t been made concerning the proposed native flora, trees and shrubs area.

Also discussed during the forum was the new co-generation, multi-fuel boiler that will be installed on campus.

The boiler, which would primarily burn wood by-products, would be 20 to 30 percent more efficient and save NMU approximately $1 million a year in heating costs.

Wong also noted that Northern would be receiving a 2.3 percent increase in funding from the state government this year.