Major opposition to banning smoking on campus has prompted the Students Association to ask the college to reverse the move.
“The message from students is clear; the majority of students, both smokers and non-smokers, do not support the idea of a smoke-free campus but would prefer to have enforced, designated areas to smoke,” Students’ Association President Deijanelle Simon said in a public announcement in the Student Commons on Nov. 23.
She said the board made a request to college President Cheryl Jensen, to revisit the recent smoking ban.
An interim smoke-free campus policy was implemented by the college on Oct. 15 as a result of the legalization of cannabis in Canada two days later.
After the Oct. 15 announcement, the decision sparked opposition by students — both from those who smoke and those who don’t.
“I think it’s unfair for students that do smoke, and I know that a lot of my friends smoke and I know how aggravated they can get when they are not allowed a cigarette,” said Nicole Conway, first-year baking and pastry arts management student.
Conway wasn’t the only student who felt that way.
The SA held consultations with hundreds of students in October and November on all three Algonquin campuses.
The SA also held a class rep meeting in October where, out of 170 students that were in the room, only seven were smokers — but the majority all opposed the smoke-free campus policy.
“A lot of people talked about mental health as well and smoking is a stress reliever for a lot of people. They do not feel supported by a smoke-free campus,” said Matthew Regnier, SA director.
Students have expressed the opinion that it is unfair for smokers to have to walk some distance to get off campus. Most students only have a 10-minute break and it does not give them much time to go for a smoke and come back.
“I feel like it’s pretty unfair to say you have to cross the street to go in the forest right there to smoke,” said Conway.
The revised policy that the SA came up with to present to Jensen is to establish strictly-enforced smoking zones that are conveniently located, but away from the main entrances and high traffic areas that are equipped with protection from inclement weather.
“Our request to you, President Jensen, is for Algonquin College and Students’ Association to partner in the new creation of a new, strong and enforceable smoking policy that effectively regulates smoking on campus, and protects the rights of non-smokers, while upholding values of caring, learning, integrity and respect for everyone,” said Simon.
“I think it’s a really good idea to keep it out of high traffic areas and keep it out of doorways,” said Conway regarding the policy changes.
The college is inviting students and employees to attend a public forum on Dec. 7, for input in creating a permanent policy in place for Jan. 1.