The Student News Site of Chatham University


The Student News Site of Chatham University


The Student News Site of Chatham University


Chatham students stunned by removal of smoking benches

Photo courtesy of Phoebe Armstark
Photo courtesy of Phoebe Armstark

Students at Chatham University were taken by surprise recently when the smoking benches near Braun Hall were removed and replaced with signs warning of a $100 fine for anyone caught smoking.

The sudden action, coupled with the marked lack of notification about the change from administration, left students confused and angry.

“Taking away all of the smoking areas, without giving the students any prior notice, is basically saying, ‘We don’t really care about your needs,’” said junior Chloe Bell at the Chatham Student Government (CSG) meeting on October 2.

The cause for the new smoking fine was eventually addressed at that meeting, when Dean Zauyah Waite, CSG advisor and Chatham University Dean of Students, explained that Chatham is merely trying to exist in accordance with the law, which dictates that no smoking can occur within 25 feet of a building with public access.

Photo courtesy of Phoebe Armstark

When confronted with the point that people are still smoking despite the new signs, Waite said, “enforcement is going to be tricky,” and that students, “can’t tell them to stop.” She said that all people can do for now is, “be polite.”

However, in regards to the benches themselves, Waite said, “the ground [under the benches] has really been ruined due to overuse, so we’re going to tend the ground.”

In response to this Junior Nicole Lyons said, “if we care so much about the environment we should create an area for them to go smoke. Otherwise they’ll just throw their butts everywhere.”

Despite a suggestion from Junior Phoebe Armstark about allowing people to smoke near the amphitheater by Dilworth, Waite said that creating new smoking areas is, “most likely not a move that the institution is going to take.” She said that if the institution truly believes in protecting the environment and keeping its students healthy, it would not make sense for it proved student with areas to engage in an activity that is dangerous for their health.

“There’s going to be a spectrum of opinions,” Waite said, “as the university is going through a transition.”

In answer to a question about whether or not the campus is now completely smoke and tobacco free, Waite said that, as of right now, that is not the case. Smoking is still allowed, just not within 25 feet of buildings with public access, in accordance with the law.

However, she said that “based on what’s happening nationwide, all campuses are considering this [change].”

“The folks from UPMC have to deal with it,” Waite said, in response to students’ expressions of concern.

Several students were in support of this idea. They pointed out that, for students with asthma, allergies, and any other respiratory issues, it is not fair to have people walking across campus smoking cigarettes.

Others were less pleased. Lyons pointed out that banning smoking would be, “discriminating against smokers,” because, “they’re still ‘part of our school.’”  She said that, “making people quit smoking really isn’t our place.”

Others pointed out that if the university was really concerned about students’ health, it would try to help smokers quit, rather than just banning smoking all together.

The issue is still up for debate, but the CSG plans to send out a poll to gather student opinions, and will take action based on the results.

Waite finally went on to say that though no official correspondence regarding this issue has been sent out yet, information would be forthcoming.

Leave a Comment

Comments (0)

All Communiqué Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *