Springfield College students may have been approached in the Richard B. Flynn Campus Union in the past few weeks and asked to fill out a survey regarding their smoking habits and thoughts on a smoke-free campus. This survey is part of an ongoing proposal put forth by Campus Recreation and Dave Hall, the Director of Campus Recreation.
“It essentially just germinated with myself, [and] our fitness director,” said Hall. “So for about a year, we went and took a couple [online seminars] on smoke and tobacco-free campus initiatives.”
The proposal is in its early stages, as Campus Recreation has surveyed students, faculty and staff. At this point, almost 300 faculty and staff and close to 300 students have been polled.
“I sense that people feel comfortable with moving towards a smoke-free, environment,” said Hall. “Or an environment where we designate areas for people to smoke. And then provide those safe areas to do that and then also provide and protect the rights of other folks who don’t have to walk through [smoke] walking into a building or into a residence hall. Then let them pursue whatever kind of healthy lifestyle they want, while at the same time providing outlets for smokers, that’s just anecdotally what I’ve gathered people are sort of starting to say.”
This idea is not a new one at other institutions according to Kate McMahon, Assistant Director of Campus Recreation.
“It’s a current trend among a lot of colleges and universities throughout the United States,” said McMahon.
According to Hall, there are 586 campuses around the nation with some sort of smoke or tobacco-free policies in place.
Hall and Stacey Rose, the Health Educator on campus, have put together a 22-person committee that is considering all angles of the issue. In addition to surveying students, faculty and staff, the committee is trying to reach out to the Department of Public Safety, Facilities and Campus Services to gain their input as well. This board meets once a month and has met three times thus far. Most recently they examined the results of the student survey.
“We surveyed about 294 students,” said Hall. “I think we found, I don’t know exact numbers, but I know less than 30 or 40 who do smoke, and I think a lot of it was tied to weekend activities.”
Several students did raise the issue of student rights, and right now Hall thinks that this smoke-free initiative will involve setting up designated smoking areas on campus to accommodate smokers, while allowing those who wish to remain smoke-free to avoid the secondhand smoke.
“Springfield College has a focus on health and wellness,” said Stacey Rose, the health educator. “Going smoke-free fits in with the values that we try to portray and our mission.”
There are many benefits to be had from going smoke free, which Campus Recreation believes fits in well with the mission and values of Springfield College. Due to the size of the campus, it should be comparatively easy to implement.
“We’ve also gotten feedback from the students that because neighboring campuses like UMass Amherst are going smoke-free, why aren’t we going smoke-free?” said Rose. “We’re a much smaller campus; it should be more manageable.”
There will be a fair amount of work involved to get this initiative off the ground and running throughout the Springfield College campus.
“That (would) mean building a gazebo, building some benches, [putting] signage on campus, certainly a marketing campaign,” said Hall. “Whatever way we go to let people know exactly what is going to happen over the course of probably six months to a year.”
Hall also wants to avoid surprising students with this initiative. Rather than spring it on the student body one day, Campus Recreation wants to work with the student body and campus community to figure out exactly how this initiative will work and when it will go into effect.
Josh Ernst may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org