The Student News Site of Chatham University


The Student News Site of Chatham University


The Student News Site of Chatham University


Chatham University revises its smoking policy


On Friday, October 17, all of Chatham’s faculty, staff, and students received an email from Zauyah Waite, Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students, and Walt Fowler, Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration, regarding changes to the smoking policy on campus.

This email follows recent interest in the smoking policy, sparked by the removal of the smoking benches on the quad near the Braun, Falk, and Coolidge building complex earlier this month. The benches were replaced with a sign that read, “No Smoking, Violators $100 Fine.” This sign has since been removed from its post.

In the campus-wide email, Waite and Fowler address the disappearance of the benches. According to the email, complaints of cigarette smoke have increased this semester, especially from people with respiratory problems in the Braun, Falk, and Coolidge area.

The email states that public safety officers had asked smokers to move away from the former designated smoking area, and they had relocated the “cigarette butt caddies.” However, their requests were not being respected and the caddies were being moved back to the area, making the sign prohibiting smoking in the area necessary.

“It is Chatham’s desire to afford students, faculty, staff, and visitors on campus the right to breathe clean air while also maintaining the rights of our constituents to make their own health choices,” the email read.

To ensure the right to breath clean air, smoking is, “prohibited in areas where offices and classrooms can be impacted,” according to Waite and Fowler. Specifically, the email mentioned that smoking would not be allowed surrounding Braun, Falk, and Coolidge on either the side facing the quad or the side facing Buhl Hall.

According to the email, there is currently no sure way to enforce this ban. However, upon being caught smoking near a building or littering the ground with cigarette butts, students will be charged a $25 fine per offense. Public Safety will be responsible for fining offenders.

The email also expressed the administration’s concern with allowing those who choose to smoke to do so.

The smoking benches removed from the Braun, Falk, and Coolidge area were aged and in poor condition. It is the administration’s intention to “replank” them and reinstall them on the Quad, along with additional benches and a picnic table.

In addition, the administration plans to construct a “smoking pavilion” with picnic tables next to the ramp leading to the library.

Although no timeline was mentioned in the campus-wide email, Waite has since said that these changes are, “scheduled to be completed by the end of the semester.”

“It is our intent that [the pavilion] will be both convenient for students who want to smoke but will also be far enough away from [Braun, Falk, and Coolidge] and other buildings that the smoke will not impact other community members,” said Waite and Fowler in the email.

They then cite a similar pavilion that was created at Chatham’s Eastside campus in response to complaints of cigarette smoke too close to the building. According to the email, the pavilion, “seems to have alleviated 95% of the complaints of non-smokers.”

Despite Waite and Fowler’s interest in creating solutions that serve both smokers and non-smokers, they make it clear that, “non-smoker concerns must take priority.”

Having reviewed the smoking policies of other campuses, Waite and Fowler believe that most schools also prioritize non-smokers’ complaints of cigarette smoke, and they state that they, “think these new procedures are balanced.”

According to Waite, neither she nor Fowler has received any complaints from smokers about the new policy since their email was sent, and all of the feedback that they have received has been, “to express gratitude and thanks,” for the changes.

“I hope the current arrangements respect and meet the needs of the Chatham community members: students, faculty, and staff,” said Waite.

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