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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato


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Campus smoking ban snuffed out

University concludes enforcement would pose a problem

by Dannie Higginbotham

Issue date: 10/21/08 Section: Campus News
Minnesota State's proposed smoking ban has finally been put to rest by the administration after opposition from the student government and members of the student body.

 Don Larsson, president of the Interfaculty organization, said the decision to forget the smoking ban was made during the last meet and confer.

 "We had been waiting for feedback from administration and students, and most of them expressed concerns how a ban would be enforced," Larsson said.

 The current policy, as well as the proposed smoking ban, call for peer-to-peer enforcement, relying on students to keep other students in check.

 Larsson added that Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Scott Olson had been hoping for high support from members of the MSU student body, but that support never came.

 "The staff was split on the idea as well," Larsson said. "Some supported a smoking ban, while others opposed it because they were smokers, or because they couldn't see a logical way to enforce it."

 One reason the staff decided against the ban is the problems other universities have had trying to enforce one.

 "Moorhead has a campus wide smoking ban, and this just leads to students having smoking parties in the street right off campus," Larsson said.

 Minnesota State Student Association President Ryan Anderson said he is glad the university put the measure aside.

 "We're happy the university made the right move, and that the senate's input was valued in the decision-making process," Anderson said.

 Anderson said he appreciated the support from MSU President Richard Davenport, who was in favor of the ban.

 "I have to give Davenport credit, because he really wanted a ban," Anderson said. "But after some discussion, he realized that it just wouldn't be feasible."

 Instead of a campus-wide ban, the university would instead have to be clearer on what the rules and proper locations for smoking are.

 "Right now one complaint from staff is that many smokers congregate near areas with vents, so smoke gets sucked into labs and offices," Larsson said.

 While Larsson said that smoking shelters would be one option for curbing smoking on campus, Anderson disagrees.

 "In a time of across-the-board budget cuts, a smoking shelter would not be a high priority," Anderson said.

 Anderson said the student government prefers to accept the current policy while making some minor changes.

 "We have to tinker with enforcement," Anderson said.

One reason the current policy doesn't work is because of the peer-to-peer enforcement aspect.

 "People don't like to be the bad guy," Anderson said. "In our polite Minnesotan society, not many people want to be the one to tell someone to stop smoking. We hope not to legislate common courtesy."

 Anderson believes it would be wise to promote the current smoking policy and its peer-to-peer idea.

 "We also want to promote Student Health Service's cessation programs," Anderson said.

 While the school looks for new ways to change or promote the current smoking policy, the current version of the proposed smoking ban has been set aside.

 "When Davenport proposed the ban last year, he received a lot of applause, so it's something a lot of people want to see," Larsson said. "But it would be hard to enforce without community support. No support would not mean a better situation for the university."

 Dannie Higginbotham is a Reporter staff writer