Oakland CountyAugust 6, 2012
Smokes are no longer on the syllabus at OCC
By Tiffany Esshaki
C & G Staff Writer
Oakland Community College announced July 30 that when the new semester begins this fall, backpacks will be welcome on campus, but packs of cigarettes will not. The college has instituted a ban on the use of all tobacco products on OCC property.
According to a press release from the college, the ban was passed by OCC’s Board of Trustees at its March 20 meeting. The new policy no longer allows for those on campus to use cigarettes, cigars, pipes, chewing tobacco or snuff. Electronic cigarette substitutes will still be permitted.
According to Michael Schmidt, manager of the environmental health and safety committee, the ban is an effort to relieve concerns and complaints from campus patrons who were unhappy with having to endure second-hand smoke while walking in and out of school buildings while smokers used tobacco near entrances.
“Concerns were over second-hand smoke primarily around our buildings during breaks during class periods and concerns for indoor air quality. There were concerns for having to walk through a crowd of people smoking.”
Schmidt said that the smokers at times also posed a threat to the property itself, saying that each of OCC’s five campus locations saw around one or two small fires each year caused by discarded cigarettes that weren’t entirely extinguished. That, in combination with health and litter concerns, prompted the committee to approach the board and request a change.
The ban will become effective Sept. 1, just as students begin classes for the fall semester. For some returning students, the ban may take some getting used to. Schmidt said that many students and staff will likely have to be reminded a number of times about the new policy, which at some campuses will mean little more than asking the students to move further from buildings to adjacent public property to smoke. But for those who continually ignore the ban, disciplinary actions may be taken.
“Any board policy is up to every employee and student to be in compliance with and assist in enforcement. Much of the time, it will likely be a reminder. But if there’s a continued infraction, it’s brought to the attention of an academic dean. For a student, (a disciplinary action) is not likely to be monetary; there won’t be any tickets issued. It’s a violation of college policy, which means a student could ultimately be expelled.”
When asked about the new policy, OCC nursing student Ann Book of Rochester said she’s pleased with the ban.
“I hate walking into and out and the smokers are right there. You can’t breathe. Other public government buildings are like that. People should be able to come out on breaks and get some fresh air.”
But for student and smoker Morgan Fitzgerald, the ban will be a more difficult change of routine.
“It’s not fair. It’s outside; it’s not like a hospital or anything,” said the Highland Park resident. “But I guess I understand. Maybe if we had a separate section where we could go and smoke and we wouldn’t be bothering anybody.”
Demetrius Newby of Detroit agrees. He said the ban will make his stressful school days all the more difficult when he has tobacco cravings.
“It’s a little upsetting. It relieves some stress, when people come out and smoke. It’s not a good idea.”
According to the statement from OCC, the college will charge student groups like Phi Theta Kappa, the international honor society for community college students, with the task of communicating the new policy to their fellow classmates. The statement goes on to say that OCC, which is Michigan’s largest community college and the 21st largest in the nation, is joining a growing number of colleges and universities across the country that have implemented similar policies.
OCC has campuses in Auburn Hills, Waterford, Royal Oak, Southfield and Farmington Hills.
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