UM administration has decided to let students enforce the new Student Government bill, passed last September, that provides for a 25-foot non-smoking buffer zone around residence halls, effective since Aug. 15.
“When I wrote this bill, I wanted to make it something that would make the non-smokers happy and keep the smokers comfortable,” Mike Johnston, former SG president and author of the bill, said. “You have to respect the right of breathing healthy air.”
Many freshmen, however, say they have not been made aware of the exact stipulations of the rule.
“I remember hearing something about the rule, but nobody has said anything,” Whitney Drechsler, freshman, said.
The bill, which passed 16-5, states that smoking is not permitted within a 25-foot radius of the residence halls. It also states that UM will provide covered seating in smoking areas.
Fines and penalties have been established to deter violators.
“A $50 fine has been set for not following the policy,” Dr. Patricia Whitely, vice president for student affairs, said. “Also, violators must take a mandatory educational class on second hand smoke at the Wellness Center.”
According to Whitely, failure to pay the fine and to attend the two-session class will lead to further disciplinary action including expulsion from the residence halls.
According to administration, plans are underway to construct the covered seating areas outlined in the bill.
“The bill is something that all of the resident coordinators support,” Keith Fletcher, resident coordinator for Hecht, said. “We have all gotten consistent complaints about the ‘cancer cloud’ from students.”
However, despite the apparent positive impact of the bill, some still see holes in the wording.
“It’s a little funny on the surface because the way that the bill is written you can’t smoke outside the residence halls, but you can smoke outside the Wellness Center and the dining halls,” Fletcher said.
However, Fletcher is confident that students will be able to effectively enforce the new bill.
“The hope behind the policy is that students will police themselves,” Fletcher said. “This can mean asking a smoker to move to the designated smoking area.”
Whitely agrees with Fletcher’s sentiments.
“Given that this was a student-driven policy, students should enforce it,” Whitely said. “If someone is a chronic offender, go inside the residence hall and request someone to write a report.”
Students have expressed mixed opinions in regards to the enforcement of the policy.
“If they really want to enforce it the University has to do it, not a student,” Drechsler said. “If my RA tells me to move I will, but as soon as she’s gone, people will be lighting up again.”
“They’ll have to be out here 24 hours a day enforcing it because people are smoking at all hours,” Drechsler said.
Some students feel that it is the responsibility of UM administration to enforce the policy.
“I’m not sure I would feel comfortable asking someone to go smoke somewhere else,” Jennifer Smith, freshman, said.
Marie Federico says she is always considerate of others when she smokes.
“If someone asked me to move I would,” Marie Federico, freshman, said, “I used to not like the smell of smoke.”
The Miami Hurricane will continue to follow this issue throughout the semester. For more information on the specifics of the smoking bill, contact the Student Government office at 8-3082.
Leigha Taber can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.