Posted October 7, 2015 by Cooper Point Journal in News

Where Can I Smoke?

Evergreen Reduces Designated Smoking Areas

By Nix Chace

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Returning students may have noticed the lack of smoking areas this year on campus. Controversy sparked when administration decided to remove smoking pits from the core of Evergreen’s campus during summer quarter.

Designated smoking areas on campus have been reduced from nine to five.

The “core” of Evergreens campus is defined by the school’s website as “the area encompassing Lab I, Lab Annex, Lab II, Longhouse, Seminar I, Library, CAB, CRC, CUP, Child Care Center, Communication, Seminar II, Bus Loop, Red Square and sidewalks/walkways between these buildings, inclusive.”

The new smoking areas are in front of the carving studio, behind the library, behind the HCC, and behind the COMM building.

The Administration took action in making the core of Evergreen’s campus smoke-free, a controversial decision that was debated by the students and administration. A survey sent out in december of 2014 with about 500 student responses made minimal impact on the administration’s decision.

“If one were to follow the survey findings alone, they would point to keeping the campus smoking policy as it is now, or making slight modifications to some poorly placed designated smoking areas,” says the official document framing the “smoking situation” at Evergreen, written by administrator John Hurley.

The document continues to address campus feedback on the decision, stating that “62% of students participating [in the survey] rejected the notion of an outright ban of tobacco use on campus.” The votes are representative of about one-fifth of Evergreen students. Due to Evergreen’s rural campus location, there cannot be an outright ban on smoking, however the vice president made a proposal last winter that 56% of students supported, which stated:

“The vice presidents propose the establishment of a smoke-free campus core, including the residence halls. This would include removal of the current designated smoking areas within that identified campus core.  New designated smoking areas would be created outside the campus core and there would be fewer of them. While they need to remain reasonably close and accessible to function as intended, they would be located in areas of low traffic and placed so that those wishing to avoid second-hand smoke could easily do so.”

The new approach to campus smoking reached a consensus last winter quarter, changes to smoking areas began this past June. The decision has garnered a variety of responses from students, while many students voted in the smoking debate, many greener’s feel that student voices may have been deprioritized in the final decision.

“I think the decision is unnecessary and kind of ridiculous. A lot of people smoke at Evergreen and that’s just how it is and moving smoke pits isn’t going to discourage smoking at all. there was a big deal last year about there not being enough smoke pits open especially at night bc it’s potentially putting people into a situation where they may feel unsafe bc they have to go far just to have a cigarette” said Sawyer Gaines, a returning student at Evergreen.

The main reason for the initiative is “ to provide a safe, healthy and productive environment for the campus community.” On the school’s website, it goes on to say that “It has been medically documented that tobacco smoke can affect the health of smokers and nonsmokers, interferes with productivity and results in long term maintenance costs of facilities, including equipment.”