Through an e-mail from Vice President for Strategic Communications and External Relations William Walker on Monday, Rensselaer announced that it would be joining more than 360 other colleges and universities in the United States in becoming a smoke-free institution.
Walker cited the “commitment of the Institute to its development as an increasingly health-conscious organization” as one of the stimuli for the change in his e-mail and stated that this new policy would be in effect as of July 1, 2010. Rensselaer will be attempting to promote a healthier campus culture, more specifically, a campus culture that frowns on smoking. The move is the last step in phasing in a policy to discourage smoking on certain areas of campus. Rensselaer plans to offer help in quitting as well as education programs and outreach to those interested.
The policy is most likely going to be enforced through a change in campus culture and members of the Rensselaer community policing themselves, according the administration; however, the phase in date of July 1 will give the Institute an opportunity to adopt and develop a transitional plan of how the policy will be enforced and how to best help smokers within the Rensselaer community adjust to the new plan.
Although personal opinions on whether the policy is a positive or negative move for the campus vary on our staff, we believe that it is good to know the administration is trying to improve the health of students, faculty, and staff on campus.
We are, however, worried about how this policy will be upheld. Although it is good to know we won’t have the “smoke police” running around campus to enforce the policy, we question how this new policy will work. The shift in campus culture, though a positive vision, is a rather lofty ideal to aspire to that is unlikely to be reached in only seven months. Even though the Rensselaer Union has had a smoke-free policy within 25 feet of the building since last October, it is rarely enforced.
We hope that the administration will give serious thought to how this plan will be implemented and will seek input from students, faculty, and staff on how to accomplish this.