Where there is smoking there is fire, but a new draft policy passed by the Shared Consultation Counsel is an effort to clear the air once and for all. If passed by the governing board it will formally ban all forms of smoking on the Southwestern College main campus and its satellites in National City, Otay Mesa, Coronado and San Ysidro. A previous policy, which attempted to limit smoking to four areas in or near parking lots, was nearly universally considered a failure due to lack of enforcement.
Academic Senate President Patti Flores-Charter said most faculty have expressed support for a ban, but not all.
“When the policy was first introduced at SCC we did not have a 100 percent consensus,” she said. “Many faculty and classified professionals smoke.”
Former Academic Senate President Randy Beach said the issue has resurfaced for many reasons, but primarily because virtually every other San Diego public school system has banned smoking.
“There was a resurgence in the notion of Southwestern College going smoke free,” he said.
After visiting other smoke-free community colleges, the SCC directed a re-evaluation of the colleges’ practices, said Beach.
“The facilities committee discussed it and there was a lot of back and forth on whether it was a facilities issue, public health issue, police enforcement issue or an employee enforcement issue,” he said. “ The facilities committee deemed that it was not addressable with the way it was presented to them. Most committees looked at it and deemed that they were not able to classify what kind of issue the smoking policy was.”
Beach said interest in a smoking ban was recharged after SDSU went smoke free. When it was reintroduced at SCC it became very heated, Beach added. SWC’s Associated Student Organization (ASO) expressed objection to going smoke free.
Debate boiled down to smokers and non-smokers both claiming rights.
“(Smokers argued) it is a person’s right to make this choice,” Beach said. “(Non-smokers said they) have the right to not have to walk through a smoke cloud.”
On a split vote the SCC approved the first reading of the draft, although none of the four ASO representatives who had earlier raised objections to the policy attended the SCC meeting.
“All four representatives were absent that day,” said Beach.
ASO President Sayaka Ridley said she did not know why the ASO representatives missed the vote. She said the ASO supports the smoking ban.
Flores-Charter said SCC still needs to come to consensus about how to put teeth into the ban.
“The big question is what does enforcement look like?” she said.
“Other colleges, once they instituted the ban, did not use a heavy hand of reprimand, but still began to see (fewer) people smoking on campus.”
Flores-Charter said she favored a community policing model.
“I want students attentions to be on learning and academic discourse,” she said. “ I would hate for this to be a distraction to the business we are really about here.”
Kysten Templin, 19, a biology major, said she favors the smoking ban.
“When I walk down the halls of this campus, there is always at least one person smoking and not in the designated areas that were chosen for smoking,” she said. “Whether you smoke or not, it is your own choice, but I would prefer not to be on a campus where students and professors smoke wherever they would like to.”