A policy to ban smoking on campus was recently approved by Oakland University administration, according to OU Director of Media Relations Ted Montgomery.
The ban is scheduled to go in effect during the fall 2013 semester.
OU Student Congress Vice President Robbie Williford said both Cora Hanson, environmental health and life safety manager at OU, and Steve Roberts, assistant vice president of finance and administration, came to an OUSC meeting and handed them a notice stating that the non-smoking policy had passed. The policy entails the reasoning for the ban, the new policy, explanation of the policy and procedures to be taken if students and staff decide to disregard the new policy.
“Personally, we’ve (OUSC) seen a lot of students who are concerned with it. Some students are for it and others are against it,” Williford said. “OUSC wants to make sure the entire student body’s voices are heard before any decisions like these are passed.”
Williford said he believes students were disregarded in the decision-making process of the new smoking ban. He said when the idea was first brought to the OUSC’s attention, the proposal had already been submitted.
“The way the university went about it was confusing and I wish Hanson would have came to us earlier like last year,” Williford said.
He said he’s upset that the student’s voices weren’t heard right away, however, he is grateful that students were at least given a notice about the ban.
Zane Smith, a junior studying physical therapy, said the university can’t take away his right to smoke.
“We have a lot of people that live on campus that are smokers and we pay large sums of money to live here,” Smith said. “I’ve thought about this a lot and I think the designated areas are enough.”
He said he understands why there is a 50-foot rule, especially by the dorms, and agrees that designated areas are needed to respect those who are not smokers.
One of the reasons for the ban is OU’s initiative to promote a healthy work and learning environment, according to Hanson.
“Secondhand smoke doesn’t support our goal of health and wellness, and allowing smoking on campus is a contradiction to what OU is trying to promote,” Hanson said.
Eric Lonczynski, a sophomore studying cinema studies, said he’s still going to smoke and the university can’t stop him.
“I don’t think anyone will follow this new policy, and if no one listens then they can only give out so many tickets,” Lonczynski said. “If they don’t know our name, then how will they have the authority to ticket us?”
Lonczynski said he doesn’t understand why OU did not allow students to vote on this new policy. He said if they would have allowed students to vote, he would respect the new policy more.
Andrea Lawassani and Hannah Lawassani, freshmen biology majors, both are nonsmokers. Andrea said she was almost burned by a cigarette walking to class.
“People tend to be careless about where they flick cigarettes,” Andrea said.
She said, however, that is the only direct interaction she’s had with the smokers on campus.
“Sitting in class with a smoker sitting in front of you who obviously just finished smoking a cigarette is distracting,” Andrea said. “It’s hard to concentrate especially when you are trying to take a test and all you can smell is the horrible odor of carcinogens.”
Hannah said she gets annoyed when a smoker is walking next to her and blows smoke halfway into her face.
She said there is usually a crowd of smokers near the entrances of buildings — not 50-feet away.
“I have really bad allergies. Smoke makes my eyes watery and it makes my throat close a bit,” Andrea said. “I’m happy about the ban.”
Joe Collision, a sophomore studying psychology, is a nonsmoker but he said he’s pretty indifferent on the subject.
“It’s outside, so it makes no difference to me and it’s not a big deal,” Collison said.
Williford said he hopes the university will inform the students more about the new ban so that the transition is a smooth one.