On July 1, university President Wallace Loh announced a new policy that would make this university a smoke-free institution, noting this policy applies to everyone on the campus, including visitors and contractors, and that it covers all buildings and all campus property — except for four designated smoking areas. One is located just southeast of Ellicott Hall. One is located around the fork in the road just south of Comcast Center. One is sandwiched between Stadium Drive Parking Garage and Riggs Alumni Center. And one is on the front-left side of the McKeldin Library.
The policy, adopted by the Board of Regents in 2012, requires every institution in the University System of Maryland to develop a plan for becoming a smoke-free institution. The Campus Affairs Committee of the University Senate reviewed the system’s policy and made recommendations for the policy on this campus. Loh said we have an opportunity to make this a constructive experience that will promote our community’s health and well-being.
Well, let me say in the most diplomatic way possible that while I support the idea of a smoke-free institution, this policy is a joke. Like a poorly written essay with a bunch of typos, it needs serious revision, and here are a few reasons why:
First, the subject of the announcement reads “Smoke-Free Institution.” This is blatantly misleading. Because this policy provides exceptions for four designated smoking areas, this subject should at the very least be accompanied by a big fat asterisk and should probably be completely revised.
Second, one of the designated smoking areas is on the front-left side of the McKeldin Library. Try counting the students who walk by that area on a daily basis. How in the world did smokers on this campus cut this deal? I give this policy an “F” for effectiveness, but I give the smokers on this campus an “A” for their advocacy. They must have hired lobbyists who graduated summa cum laude from Georgetown Law to get this deal. Nobody being educated at this fine institution of higher education needs me to explain the dangers of inhaling secondhand smoke, and nobody here is incapable of understanding why designating a smoking area right near the front of McKeldin is a terrible idea.
For one, McKeldin is a place where many students study. Is this some sort of wild conspiracy to increase the likelihood that our future valedictorians experience lung problems? And second, this particular designated smoking area creates an especially painful eyesore. On Sept. 17, Kathryn Henderson of Complex magazine ranked our campus the 17th ugliest in the nation, and while I disagree with this ranking, this smoking area doesn’t help my rebuttal at all. In fact, the picture Complex uses in the ranking is of McKeldin.
I love you, President Loh, but you know better. Please get rid of the designated smoking area in front of McKeldin.
Thanks for reading, and feel free to give me feedback.
Disclaimer: Please be advised that I respect and have love for smokers but would simply prefer for them not to smoke in front of McKeldin.
Colin Byrd is a senior sociology major. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.