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Campus safety struggling to enforce smoking policy

Photo credit/ Kelsey Van Horn

Rachel Looker, Asst. News Editor

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Marywood’s new smoking policy, which banned the use of tobacco and other smoking-related products on campus, is proving difficult to enforce.

The new policy went into effect on July 1, 2015, making Marywood a smoke-free campus.
Sr. Anne Munley I.H.M., Ph. D., president of Marywood, approved the smoking policy last October, but this is the first semester that students and faculty are being required to abide by the policy.

The policy states: “The University has been designated as a smoke-free institution. Therefore, smoking, any use of tobacco products, and other smoking-related products of any kind are prohibited on all Marywood University property, including but not limited to, all buildings, walkways, parking lots, athletic fields, in any University vehicle, and in any personal vehicle parked or operated on University property.”

The policy defines tobacco as “all tobacco-derived or containing products” and defines smoking as “the carrying by a person of any lighted smoking device.”

The policy also states, “other uses of tobacco products include the use of snuff, chew, spit, spitless, and smokeless tobacco.”

Mike Finegan, chief of Campus Safety, stated that enforcing this policy is very difficult.

“The enforcement of this policy has always been regarded as a challenge for obvious reasons,” said Finegan. “Unless we happen upon somebody who is smoking, it is going to be difficult for us.”

Finegan added that it is specifically challenging to enforce the policy when students or faculty members are seen smoking in personal vehicles on Marywood’s campus.

“As far as someone smoking, they’re driving by, how are you going to stop them?” asked Finegan. “We don’t have the authority to run license plates, and I’m not so sure we would do that for someone just driving by having a smoke anyway.”
According to the policy, students found breaking the smoking policy will be reported to Ross Novak, senior director of Student Conduct and Resident Life. Employee violations will be sent to Dr. Patricia Dunleavy, associate vice president for Human Resources.

Finegan stated that he has not seen many violators of the smoking policy this year.

“I know some people have taken a ride off campus to have a cigarette. People on their lunch break might take a ride to have a smoke. I don’t see a lot of flagrant violations of the policy,” said Finegan.

String of emails highlight policy challenges

On Sept. 3, 2015, Joe Garvey, vice president for business affairs and treasurer, clarified the smoking policy in an e-mail to students, stating the policy also applies to electronic cigarettes.
The e-mail stated that there have been several fire alarms that have gone off because of e-cigarettes. Each fire alarm cost the University $500.

“Since school started, we’ve had four fire alarms go off in the residence halls all caused by the vapor from an e-cigarette,” said Finegan. “The buildings had to be evacuated, the fire trucks responded and it was determined that an e-cigarette caused it.”

 

On Sept. 16, new e-mails were sent to students and the MWAdmin list describing a concern regarding the smoking policy. Marywood administrators, faculty, and staff received an e-mail from Garvey and students received an e-mail from Dr. Amy Paciej-Woodruff, assistant vice president for Student Life.

Both e-mails stated that many employees and students are crossing Adams Ave. and College St. to smoke on other properties surrounding Marywood’s campus.

Students and employees, the emails state, are leaving trash and cigarette butts on these off-campus properties.

According to Garvey in the e-mail sent to the MWAdmin list, “This is disturbing, as Marywood employees and students we should be aware of the institutions core value of respect. Littering our neighbors property certainly is not reflective of this value.”

The e-mail from Garvey directs smokers to “stay on our side at the curb if you must” instead of crossing the street.

In her email to students, Paciej-Woodruff stated that the school has received complaints from neighbors about smoke, cigarette butts, and trash.

“Out of respect for neighbors and the environment, please try your best to ensure that no litter is left behind,” her email concluded. She also encouraged students to utilize Student Government Association and the Graduate Student Council for further discussion about the policy.

Garvey declined a request for an interview on smoking policy matters.

Students react to smoking policy

Not all students are on board with the smoking policy. Elijah Mulligan, sophomore aviation major, said he thinks the policy has created different issues.

“There was never an issue with smoking on campus before when students and faculty were using the designated smoking areas,” said Mulligan. “Many members of the community surrounding Marywood University are complaining about people standing in front of their houses smoking and cigarette butts are being disposed of in their yards.”

Steve Mushal, graduate student in the Business Administration program, said that while he supports the ban, he recognizes it is difficult to enforce.

“I think that the smoking ban is a good idea, but it’s incredibly Utopian: it works in theory but fails miserably in practice,” said Mushal. “I think overall this policy is failing because it is nearly impossible to enforce and, even if it is enforced, only solves a minor issue in a university with much larger issues on hand.”

According to Finegan, the new policy has been well advertised. He stated that it is important to educate students and faculty on campus.

“We try to educate everyone, and I think the smoking policy was put out there in plenty of time for people to know,” said Finegan.

Finegan said that all members on campus need to be involved for the smoking policy to be effectively enforced.

“I understand and appreciate that we are the enforcement arm of this policy and we will do everything in our power to ensure that people comply, but at the end of the day, we can’t be everywhere so we would ask that the whole campus really take it upon themselves to just make this a healthier place to work,” Finegan concluded. 

Brigid Edmunds contributed to this article.

Contact the writer: [email protected]

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