Laura Houser & Megan Weiland

Based on results obtained from a survey, the ad hoc committee on the smoking policy reported to Miami’s university senate Monday that they are in a consensus to make the campus smoke-free.

Miami’s already established smoking policy prohibits faculty, staff and students from smoking within 25 feet of all university buildings, including indoor and outdoor athletic facilities, bridges, walkways, parking garages and theaters.

Before making amendments to this current policy, the committee released a survey in February to all students, staff and faculty offering them a chance to voice their opinions about smoking on campus.

“We have a consensus as to the direction we would like to go,” said Jay Barden, senior building and grounds manager and member of the committee.

Six thousand members of the Miami community responded to the survey with 52 percent supporting a completely smoke-free campus. Additionally, 62 percent reported in favor of a smoke-free campus with additional support groups available for those who need them.

Barden said they will not go forward with the smoke-free policy unless there is an interim period in which therapy and support were offered for those quitting.

“To be perfectly honest, it looks like we’re going smoke free,” Barden said.

One concern being considered is the economics of a decision like this for facilities such as the Marcum Conference Center and the Miami Inn.

Barden worried people might not return if they were prohibited from smoking even in these buildings and said they were considering creating designated smoking areas for visitors and significant donors staying there.

Barden added this policy would only affect university property and university maintained streets.

The committee hopes to create a final report and recommendation by the end of April.

Institute paid parental leave

The senate also endorsed a proposal to provide paid parental leave to benefit eligible employees.

The proposal will offer six weeks of paid parental leave to each eligible birth mother and three weeks of paid parental leave to each father, domestic partner and adoptive parents.

This paid leave will count as six weeks of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which currently provides eligible Miami employees with leave up to 12 weeks. The remaining six weeks will be able to be taken at full or halftime leave, with the option of an additional three months unpaid leave if needed.

“(This is) a critical move for this institution in attracting staff,” said Jeffrey Herbst, university provost and executive vice president. “Since a great number of the faculty that we will be recruiting in the upcoming years are of child-bearing age, a parental leave policy is an important topic.”

He added that this will make Miami competitive with Ohio State University but not on par as the University of Chicago, Princeton or Stanford.

Lastly, in other general business of the university senate, the department of physical education, health, and sport studies voted to change the name of the department. The new name will be department of kinesiology and health. The name change will go to the board of trustees. If approved, it will go into effect July 1.