RPI moves to smoke-free campus

Effective July 1, 2010, Rensselaer will join more than 360 other colleges and universities in becoming a smoke-free campus. The announcement was made Monday via an e-mail sent out to the RPI community by Vice President for Strategic Communications and External Relations William Walker.

In the e-mail, Walker stated that the change is part of Rensselaer’s “commitment of the Institute to its development of an increasingly health-conscious organization.” The Office of the Provost, Division of Human Resources, and the Division of Student Life will work together from now until July to develop a transitional plan to help create educational programs and outreach for smokers on campus who will be affected by the policy.

This announcement is part of Rensselaer’s slowly evolving policy designed to limit smoking on campus that has been occurring over the years, according to Vice President for Student Life Eddie Ade Knowles.

“It’s the next logical step,” Knowles commented, detailing Rensselaer’s development of a wellness program within the Division of Human Resources as well as the wellness theme housing part of Residence Life and sustainability initiatives within the student body. “It’s clear that the dominant culture is focused on being healthy,” he said.

In the seven months until this policy is placed into effect, the administration will work on a transitional plan to help encourage students, faculty, and staff that smoke to either quit or find places off campus to smoke. According to Knowles,“We really want to help our community.”

The policy received input from student government, in particular Grand Marshal Michael Zwack ’11 and President of the Union Alex Franz ’10. Zwack said, “[Smoking is] something that a majority on campus dislike, but we also want to ensure students transition into programs as painlessly as possibly.”

“The Union will step up enforcing its policy and the Student Life Committee will be talking with the Student Health Center,” according to Zwack. “We want to see how the Union can help offer solutions to help students quit smoking.”

In terms of enforcing the policy, the administration plans to develop an approach over the next few months. As of now, Knowles envisions the RPI community policing themselves rather than having the job taken on by Office of Public Safety. “We hope to change the campus culture and create our own enforcement of the policy through students, faculty, and staff.”