Ryan J. Garner
On November 22, an executive session of the school governing board was held.
At this meeting, 17 members of district administration, along with the five members of the board solidified the tobacco free initiative (Breathe Easy, Smoke Free/Tobacco Free.)
According to Maricopa Governance structure, “Chancellor Rufus Glasper has the authority to directly adopt administrative regulations,” and is authorized to make direct decisions in regards to the health and welfare of the Maricopa Community College District (MCCD).
However, “Glasper reports to the board, so his decision wasn’t unilateral,” said Shirley Henderson, Occupational Health and Safety Coordinator at MCC.
“This wasn’t an overnight decision,” she said, “health and wellness began most of this years ago.”
Greg Reents, student life director added, “The transition begins July 1 with increased signage and awareness. Public safety is going to gradually increase enforcement of the new regulation.
It will begin as a warning situation. No one will be ‘getting arrested’ right off the bat unless the offense is egregious.”
“Ash trays will go away first. The smoking areas will be broken up and some of the benches may be redistributed.”
“The main goals though,” said Reents, “are to educate and enforce. The goal is encouraging cessation.”
As for enforcement, Steve Corich, Public Safety Commander at MCC, said they plan to enforce the ban, “the same way we handle current smoking violations: a warning, and the paper trail.
“We don’t get our jollies enforcing.”
“I don’t think there will be many repeat offenders though, there’s a ‘velvet hammer’ held over people that consistently violate policy… we aren’t treating this like contraband. My public safety officers will be handling smoking the same way we handle longboarding.”
On student reaction
“Administration is purely basing the ban on promoting their own agenda,” said Jordan Sherwood, creative writing major and a smoker. “They want a checkmark in the box so it looks like they did something good for everyone.”
“What upsets me,” said Sherwood, “is that my tax goes into this school but I can’t even decide for myself if I want to smoke. I guess I’ll be looking for a hiding spot.”
ASMCC vice president Ray Arreco said that they had crafted a student Senate Bill, 11-12F1; titled student’s opposition to tobacco free policy, in order to represent students who smoke.
“Whether we were there or not (at the meeting) to voice our concerns, we still wrote a bill and felt it should have been taken into consideration.”
MCC’s student senate secretary of campuses, Rachel Young said, “we had fought for the designated smoking areas, so it was difficult for us to lose the battle.”
“We didn’t really have a chance,” said Young, “We don’t think they took into account the thoughts of the students.”
However, Corich countered, “We ‘committee’ things to death. For once we made a decisive decision and for me, it was a breath of fresh air.”