By Alec Hudson – Staff Writer
Centre College has had a strange and often inconsistent policy in regard to tobacco smoking on campus.
While the college tries to promote a healthy lifestyle for all students, it is one of the few college campuses in Kentucky that isn’t tobacco free.
This poses a problem for the school because students are able to smoke essentially anywhere, even though the official campus policy does have restrictions.
Sophomore and Student Government Association (SGA) member Rebecca Barefield explained, “The current policy is for smokers to be 20 feet away from the doors of campus buildings, but this policy is not really enforced as students often smoke right next to the entrance of Young and Crounse.”
Her solution to the problem is simple: true enforcement of the 20 foot rule. “That should be the way to go; it would be easier to have benches or other designated smoking areas for campus community members to congregate around and let those who do not wish to be around tobacco have smoke-free spaces.”
Not everyone in SGA agrees with this sentiment, however. Senior SGA member Erik-Jan Hassell said that he doesn’t have a problem with tobacco use.
“I understand there are some people who do not want to be smoked around, but I see no reason why people shouldn’t smoke on campus,” he said. “As long as smokers are responsible residents and don’t litter cigarette butts on the grounds or in the gardens I don’t see a need for regulation.”
But what do smokers think of current smoking policy? Senior Zach Stewart, who said he has smoked off-and-on for two years, likes the current lax policy.
“Centre has done a good job about not making it a campus priority, which is nice because there aren’t many students at our already small college who smoke.”
Realistically, will the policy be enforced or even change? While it may seem likely that the campus may want to change its image, not everyone sees a change to the smoking policy as a high priority.
Hassell argued that Centre’s culture differs from other universities. “Larger schools tend to have more restrictions in policy in terms of tobacco and alcohol due to the large amount of students, but Centre’s size means that it generally does its own thing,” he said.
Barefield, though more in favor of smoking restriction, also agreed that it’s not a major issue. “It’s something that needs to be addressed at some point, but it’s really not a pressing issue,” she said. And if there were a change to the policy, how would smokers be affected?
Stewart claimed that he could get used to it. “I wouldn’t like it, but I’d learn to adapt. Honestly it doesn’t matter too much, and I get that Centre is trying to encourage students to be healthy.”
Until change comes, students will likely continue to smoke around campus without many limits. And because of this smokers must try to be polite about their usage in public places.
As Hassell noted, “The best way for smokers to adapt here is for them to be mindful. It’s understandable that nonsmokers may get frustrated when they are smoked around or when they see smokers throwing butts on the ground, so smokers need to remember common courtesy.”
Stewart argued that though smokers need to be courteous, nonsmokers also need to be open about letting others use tobacco on campus, “Students get stressed out here and sometimes they just want to smoke, and honestly the amount of smokers here is so low that it doesn’t really make a difference.”
But health does matter, and though nothing may change in the near future, Barefield argued that small restrictions will be better for the Centre in the long run.
“I know some students want to smoke and I don’t want to stop them, but we shouldn’t have students standing in front of campus buildings and letting smoke in. Basic enforcement of the 20 foot rule would be better for all of campus,” she concluded.