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Smoking penalties still up in the air

By Chris Owens (Special to the Chronicle) University Senate revisited the familiar controversies, deficiencies and concerns surrounding the almost year-old, south side smoking ban and possible punishments to enforce it, yet no solutions have been reached.

Senate members discussed on Monday how they could implement a reasonable penalty for smoking on the South Campus. One of the less severe solutions was “killing [smokers] with kindness,” as one senator phrased it, by handing out No Smoking reminders to persons found smoking. An objection to this proposal, however, was concern that the reminders would become litter on the ground.

A more severe penalty could be academic punishment. Students violating the ban would have their grades withheld by the University with this proposal. Many thought academic punishment was too cruel. Most members said that a monetary fine was the best course of action, but some members disagreed.

In the end, the problem was left unresolved. The University is doing more research about other schools’ bans to gain insight intotheir solutions.

In the meantime, Public Safety has been urged to take more action against smoking on campus. The Senate said that confronting smoking students is part of the Public Safety officers’ contract.

A poll conducted by SGA showed student support for a smoking ban on North Campus with 368 votes for the ban and 222 against.

William Finnegan, supporter of the ban, thinks that monetary punishment would be the best option.

“I think fines are going to have to be a part of effective enforcement… I think Public Safety will have to be directly involved,” Finnegan said.

Sacha Willk, a sophomore history major, said that the smoking ban on the South Campus was not as effective as it could be. Willk viewed an expansion of the ban into North Campus as a futile effort.

“There really isn’t a good solution to this problem. Students are going to do it anyway. It’s pointless,” Willk said.

Additionally, in response to the Senate’s ideas for instituting penalties against smokers, Willk expressed his doubts.

“Withholding grades is absurd and the reminders won’t work. The fine is your best option, but I still see there being some flaws,” Willk said.

Sam Fregly, a sophomore computer science major, shared a similar opinion as Willk.

“I’m all for a ban on south side of campus, but a ban on the north side is just ridiculous and wouldn’t be realistic,” Fregly said.

Besides the smoking ban, the Senate also talked about the costs to for students to replace IDs. Members are still looking at their options and other opinions on the matter.

The meeting concluded with new business that will be addressed at the next Senate meeting. Student parking, more polling data, getting students to join new subcommittees and the renovation of the Rathskellar are upcoming topics.

Public Safety Briefs, 10-17-2013

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