Smoke out, wheels off

In August 2009, Boise State became an entirely smoke-free campus as a way to maintain a healthy and safe learning environment for students, employees and visitors. The university is now one of over 300 U.S. colleges and universities also entirely smoke-free, according to the Health Services website.

As also stated on the website, “92.3 % of Boise State students agree that the desire to breathe clean air should take precedent over smoker’s desire to smoke.”

Although Jared Ostyn, a junior majoring in computer science, believes the smoke-free policy has a good intention, “Right now I see people smoking on campus all the time and no one who can do anything seems to care,” he said.

When asked about this issue, Jo Ann Gilpin, security operations manager at the University Security Department said, “A big part of enforcement is community helping us.”

She encourages anyone who witnesses smoking on campus to approach the individual in a non-confrontational manner and inform him or her of the policy. Of course if the person becomes argumentative, campus security should be contacted regarding the matter.

“Our most common call is from people saying there is a group that comes out every day at lunchtime, and they are at this spot, can you go over and take care of that” Gilpin said.

When asked how students and visitors have been adhering to the policy Gilpin said, “On a day to day basis we don’t have as many visitors here as we do students, so you have that section of students that do violate the policy and then you have visitors, so it’s probably pretty even.”

When the smoke-free policy was first implemented there was no official enforcement and the campus community was tasked with the responsibility of promoting the policy. However, due to the volume of complaints regarding noncompliance, beginning in the spring 2011 semester, Campus Security began implementing smoke-free campus enforcement measures.

The authority campus security has gives them the ability to have focused patrols to monitor specific hotspots.

To highlight the success of the enforcement effort Gilpin said the Greenbelt was, “literally a cloud of smoke,” before security started enforcing the policy.

Accordingly, the following offense levels have been set up by the University:

First offense: Verbal warning reminding the individual about the smoke-free campus policy.

Second offense: Written warning is provided.

Third offense: A Security Incident Report is completed, filed and forwarded to the appropriate office for disciplinary measures. For students this would be the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities.

There have only been a few second offense citations handed out so far this semester and Gilpin believes sometimes just having the authority of a piece of paper helps security with compliance. She also noted she is not aware of a violation which has yet escalated to the third level.

As can be witnessed during football games, smoking seems to be allowed during the tailgate at Bronco Stadium. Although Gilpin states this is not an official exception she said, “In our line of work you have to pick your battles.”

Gilpin explained there are official exceptions in place however, such as for large events at Taco Bell Arena and the Morrison Center where there are designated smoking areas.

In addition to the smoking policy, a second policy was put in place in March 2011 to address a separate issue on campus. Anyone who has walked through the quad knows what a congestion nightmare it can be. That is why the recent pedestrian safety policy created the pedestrian friendly zone in the Quad and was implemented in response to student and faculty concerns, according to Transportation & Parking Services. The zone is in force 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday.

When asked his opinion on the pedestrian safety policy, Ostyn said, “The wheels down policy is of less importance than the smoke free campus effort. It’s annoying for pedestrians when the rules are not followed, but in reality I don’t believe it makes much difference to their personal safety. Also, given the resources required to effectively enforce this policy, I don’t believe that it is a feasible regulation to enforce.”

Gilpin, however, holds that this kind of policy is in fact needed.

“Having the policy in place helps make it not as socially acceptable, (to disregard safety concerns),” Gilpin said and believes the policy makes it a social norm to not ride through the Quad because of the potential for injury.

However, unlike the smoke-free policy, this is a mostly peer-enforced policy, with no official enforcement methods in place and is handled more on a case-by-case basis.

“We don’t want to be that police state” by having somebody patrol the area constantly, Gilpin said.

These recent policies do attempt to address the most common safety concerns the citizens and visitors to campus face, and although no policy or enforcement can fully remedy a problem, hopefully it can serve as a reminder to show more courtesy to one another.

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