Michael Stemmler, guest columnist
With my red Miami tote in hand, I followed my tour group into the Armstrong Student Center. As our guide explained the history behind the latest project on campus and pointed out the countless dining options available, she took a moment to point out the red and white sign we passed before entering. “I don’t know if you saw the sign, but Miami is proud to be a tobacco free campus.”
I thought this was fantastic. My home was going to be a smoke free environment where I didn’t have to encounter the terrible smell mixed with harmful side effects of constantly being around cigarettes. Then, I lived here for almost one and a half years, and I quickly realized being a tobacco free campus was more of a goal at Miami than a reality.
Whether it’s the constant cigarette butts I see outside of my dorm or the multitude of students who stand in the parking lots and sidewalks smoking between classes, it’s apparent that Miami is not a tobacco free campus. Yet, once I started realizing this, I tried to see who the smokers were on campus, and I discovered something surprising – many students smoke, but so does the staff.
Early in the morning, as I walk to my 8:30s, there are members of the housekeeping staff smoking in their cars before their day starts. As I walk to lunch, members of the dining staff are smoking outside the dining halls. As I walk back to my dorm after lunch, professors are smoking outside of their academic buildings. Each one of these staffers can usually be found in the same place every day; it’s a part of their routine.
Now, I don’t have anything against those who smoke because their health is their own choice, but it creates a double standard for the university when its own staff continuously smokes on campus. Only once have I seen someone, who I presume was a professor, tell a student to put out their cigarette. On the other hand, I don’t think a student would ever tell a professor to put out theirs.
So, if we have signs all around campus that declare Miami is tobacco free, why isn’t it enforced like other aspects on campus? You can freely smoke on a no-smoking campus, but if you dare park your car in the wrong spot, parking services immediately jumps on you with ridiculous tickets and fines. If you can’t park for two minutes outside of MacCracken Market, why can you get away with smoking a cigarette in the parking lot outside of Bachelor?
I’m certain that second hand smoke is more of a danger to us than an expired parking meter or a car in the wrong parking lot; however, if there is no one to enforce Miami’s tobacco-free policy, then it seems the university is more concerned with making money off parking fines than enforcing a rule they champion during the student recruitment process.
I loved the idea of having a tobacco free campus, but if there is no entity to enforce that rule, then there should at least be the infrastructure to support it. If stopping students and staff from smoking altogether doesn’t work, designated smoking zones with proper ash and cigarette receptacles would limit smoking to certain areas of campus. This would lead to less litter and a controlled smoking environment. Overall, if Miami’s staff smokes, so will Miami’s students, and if the university wants to truly be a smoke free campus, changes must be made.