In UIS Housing’s efforts to provide a healthier environment for students, a new policy became effective on Jan. 1 that bans students from smoking inside their residences. The policy was approved by the Housing Residents’ Council in an attempt to fully provide a “smoke-free environment” to all residential units on campus.
The policy, viewed negatively by some students, reflects the current conflict in the Springfield City Council as they debate adopting a smoke-free environment for city workplaces.
In addition, hospitals in the Springfield area such as St. John’s Hospital, Memorial Medical Center and the Springfield Clinic have all adopted smoking restrictions for employees and visitors alike and many other Illinois state universities have adopted similar policies. The controversy over smoking policies is certainly not limited to Springfield as the issue is quickly becoming a subject of nationwide debate.
John Ringle, director of housing and residential life, cites the harmful effect of secondhand smoke as a driving force behind the new smoking policy. “We are ever-mindful of the health and safety issues associated with secondhand smoke in the ambient indoor air environment,” he wrote in a campus-wide e-mail informing residents of the policy. “We are also cognizant of continuing to serve as wise stewards of student-generated rental dollars, by controlling where possible for increased administrative and facility cleaning costs associated with remediating smoker-occupied apartment units.”
The policy mainly effects those students living in on-campus apartments and townhouses due to the fact that smoking has always been banned within Lincoln Residence Hall.
While the old policy allows students to smoke inside their housing units with the consent of their roommates, smoking is now completely prohibited in the interior of apartments and townhouses. Smokers are still allowed to smoke exterior to their residences but must smoke at a considerable distance from entrances, exits, windows or air vents to minimize the exposure of others to secondhand smoke.
If evidence of smoking is found within a housing unit by housing staff, the offending individuals will be written up and the incident will be handled as a judicial matter. Violators can also be subjects to educational sanctions and fines and be forced to forfeit their security deposit upon move-out.
Some backlash over the new smoking policy is anticipated, as the change will affect smokers among nearly 600 residents between the townhouses and apartments on campus. However, a lack of serious opposition at the Housing Residents’ Council meeting at which the policy was discussed led to its approval. Ringle urges residents not to view the policy as a smoking ban, as students who wish to smoke can still do so without endangering the health of their peers.
For students who actively smoke and do not feel that they can continue living on campus due to the new policy, there are options. They can submit a petition to housing requesting an early release from their contract along with supporting documentation, and housing staff will review the request and decide accordingly.
Despite some criticism, housing hopes that the policy will be supported by the student body and seen as a protective measure for the health of its residents. “We anticipate that the diverse members of our campus communities will come to embrace this change in the positive manner in which it is intended,” wrote Ringle. “We aim to improve upon the quality of on-campus life - as well as indoor air quality in general. Please join us in supporting this policy change promoting a more healthy campus community.”
SGA discusses combining two colleges at UIS
By Laura Camper - General Assignment Reporter
At a meeting on Jan. 22 Student Government Association members discussed the possible merger of two University of Illinois colleges with Nancy Ford, representative of the campus senate and Harry Berman, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs. UIS administration is considering combining the colleges of Education and Human Services and Public Affairs Administration.
“The topic is really reorganization not reallocation,” said Berman. He said that the issue was not the elimination of programs but a better use of the existing faculty. He said with the focus of the two colleges on professional education and graduate education they share a “synergy” that would be improved by bringing the faculty together under the same college.
Money is also an issue he said. If a new Dean is hired for the college of Public Affairs and Administration the university is looking at a salary of about $130,000, roughly the equivalent of two faculty members. The merger of the two colleges would mean that a new dean would not be needed.
Ford countered that there should be an open discussion on the subject before a decision is made. She said the faculty of the College of Public Affairs and Administration has signed a resolution opposing the merger and the faculty of the college of Education and Human Services is planning on joining them. “I don’t know what is to be feared by including faculty and students in the discussion of reorganization,” she said.
Senator Evan Wilson agreed. “I think it was irresponsible of administration to hit us over the head without taking into account how the faculty and students feel about it.”
SGA members voiced concern a merger would give the impression the college Public Affairs and Administration was not a focus of the university. Bob Skorczewski, vice president of SGA, said UIS was founded as Sangamon State University as a Public Affairs college. “I don’t think it is necessary to combine the colleges to accommodate the cross interests,” he said.
President Samantha Drews expressed concern that the Dean of Education and Human Services has a focus on education. “I don’t want Public Affairs and Administration to get shortchanged.”
Drews also introduced an issue about Coca Cola. She said the campus contract with Coca Cola expires in about six months and because of allegations of human rights and environmental abuses in India, Turkey and Columbia against the company, she wants to look into a resolution banning Coke from the campus.
“I would rather have a company that does not have any human rights complaints against it,” she said, adding that about 10 universities have banned Coke from their campuses including University of Illinois in Champaign and the University of Michigan.
Trustee Carrie Bauer suggested the senators visit killercoke.org for information about the complaints against Coca Cola. Matt Riedle said he would like to see a more balanced account since the title of the Web site shows it is a biased site.
Drews said the most balanced account she found was the University of Michigan Dispute Review Board minutes that she had forwarded to members, which included statements of representatives for Coca Cola who met with students at the meeting.
Drews said members of other campuses brought this issue to her and she was not going to draft a resolution until SGA members had a chance to look at the issue and find out if there is a student consensus.
Other issues discussed included lobbying for a state law standardizing requirements for publishing new editions of textbooks. Jeffrey Isbell announced the New York Times newspaper is now available in the entrance of the Brookens Library and University Hall as well as in front of the bookstore. Senator Ryan Morrison announced the creation of a Graduate Student Union.