DSU students weigh in on whether to go smoke-free

With all that today's college students have to worry about - upcoming loan payments, term papers, exams, what's going on this weekend - whether the campus is smoke-free is not high on the list.

With all that today's college students have to worry about - upcoming loan payments, term papers, exams, what's going on this weekend - whether the campus is smoke-free is not high on the list.

"I think there are worse things and more important things to worry about," Dickinson State University senior Kathleen Rockeman said.

After the student senate recently held a forum at DSU to debate making its campus smoke-free, students' opinions are divided but largely indifferent.

"I really don't care; I don't smoke but the smoke doesn't bother me," DSU sophomore Eric Lovec said. "If they want to smoke, let them smoke."

Many non-smokers at DSU said designated smoking areas would be a good idea.


"I think it's unfair to make them walk off-campus to smoke," Rockeman said.

She said as long as the smokers stayed away from doorways, the campus has done all it needs to do.

"It's still in the air," DSU sophomore Undraa Bagaa said. "I don't see the point of view of a smoke-free campus."

DSU students Dan Fernandez Jr. and Richie Gonzales, who are both juniors, said they would be happy if the campus enforced a rule that smoking had to be kept 15-20 feet from doors.

The students said the 15-20 feet rule is a state law but it is not in the North Dakota Century Code related to smoking in public places and places of employment, 23-12-09 through 23-12-11.

Though it is in the century code that smoking is banned in enclosed areas of public places, with a few exceptions, students are pleased that smokers are not allowed to puff indoors.

Student Xiaojing Li said smoking indoors leads to health concerns because of secondhand smoke, as well as because it can cause accidental fires.

Students who believe the campus should be smoke-free, though, raised frustration that the smoke wafted in through doorways and windows.


"I hate smoking; it's my No. 1 pet peeve," DSU freshman Shaun Lambert said. "Designated areas are fine if they are away from doors."

DSU senior Mia Strachan said her dorm room is near the smoking area and she can smell smoke coming in, so she would be happy with a move to a smoke-free campus.

Students who would like to see a shift to a smoke-free campus were mostly a more adamant group.

"They should; it's nasty," DSU junior Alyssa Barnes said. "When they be smoking in the dorms, it goes right up into everyone's windows."

Smokers on campus, however, would prefer the campus did not change its policy.

"I'd say it shouldn't be smoke-free, because it kind of limits the rights of smokers," DSU freshman Troy Vaira said.

Students Bilguun Davaasuren and Gunblegt Byamadorj attended the forum and said it seemed like the student senate wanted to emphasize how bad smoking is for people.

Davaasuren said students at the forum in favor of a smoke-free campus argued DSU is the only North Dakota University System institution that is not smoke-free.


In fact, four NDUS campuses are smoke-free, with Valley City State University joining the list beginning Jan. 1.

The smoke-free universities are Bismarck State College, Minot State University, Minot State University-Bottineau and University of North Dakota.

The remaining university system institutions have various policies as to whether smoking is allowed anywhere outdoors on campus or only in designated areas.

"I don't want to hurt anyone," Byamadorj said. "If it's not hurting anyone, it's OK."

Davaasuren said he would be OK with keeping a certain distance away from doors and windows. He also said shelters would be fine.

"I am a smoker, I am against completely banning smoking from campus," Davaasuren said. "It's human rights."

DSU student senate president Lydia Johnson said the forum, and an already completed survey, are the beginning steps in determining whether to make the shift.

"The consensus is neither one is going to be happy," Johnson said. "The problem right now is banning it completely is pretty drastic."


She said the student senate members have not yet looked into what a compromise would mean.

"We wanted to get as much student input as we could, as much research from that end of the issue before we started discussing it," Johnson said.

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