Campus needs better sanctionsBy Leigh Terry | 11/18/2014 9:14pm
The University announced two weeks ago that our campus would be smoke-free starting in 2015. This ban will apply to all indoor or outdoor spaces on university grounds. However, The University of Alabama has not yet laid out its plan for enforcing the ban or the sanctions that will result from violations.
Students and faculty must be made aware of the consequences the University intends to impose on those of either group who continue to smoke. Will lighting up at the end of a long day of tests garner a $50 fine like a parking ticket? Will UAPD officers be writing student non-academic misconduct citations and forcing students to disclose and explain their smoking habits to graduate schools four years down the line? Further, how will the University prevent tenured faculty members from smoking where they work? The choice that the UA administration makes in this regard could affect cash-strapped students’ pocketbooks or worse, their job prospects in the future.
These new consequences – whatever they may be – are the reason the University should publish a plan to evenly enforce this ban on smokers of all races, socioeconomic backgrounds, genders and ages. I am concerned about this because I have frequently heard the sentiment that all the University would need to do to enforce this ban would be to “stand outside of B.B. Comer Hall.” This allusion to the hub of international student life on campus is an example of the patently false stereotyping that I urge the University to guard against.
I am a non-smoker who has seen students and faculty members of all races, genders, nationalities and socioeconomic backgrounds smoke on campus. White and black liberal arts students smoke in the sitting area between ten Hoor Hall and Galloway. Engineers smoke as they stroll across the Shelby Quadrangle, and Greek students smoke behind their fraternity and sorority houses.
International students should not be disproportionately penalized simply because they congregate in one of the most heavily trafficked corridors of campus, the Ferguson Promenade. On the contrary, the University should be working overtime to ensure these students, with varying degrees of English proficiency, receive notification of the new policy in the languages, formats and locations that will have the broadest, most effective impact.
These concerns are part of why I personally oppose this policy. Many of the organizations that endorsed this policy already know that drafting well-meaning policies is the easy part. Sanctions and enforcement is where the rubber meets the road, and this policy has the potential of running some students smack over.
This campus belongs to everyone in the UA community, and our administration has a duty to craft and release plans detailing how this policy will affect all of us.
Leigh Terry is a junior majoring in economics. Her column runs weekly.