While students are no longerable to smoke in dorms due to a mandatory ban of the practice this year, organizers of the ban and University officials said it is necessary despite the inconvenience it may cause to student smokers.
After being initially criticized for instituting the ban without student input last January, the ban’s organizers, including former Residence Hall Association Vice President Jon Ostorwer and University officials, still support the restriction primarily as a safety issue. Open-flamed objects including cigarettes and cigars are banned from GW dorm rooms.
“I believe that the no-smoking policy is a good policy that will make the residence halls a safer place to live,” said James Kohl, director of residential life and education.
Kohl could not give exact figures on how many students this year have been sanctioned for smoking in their room, but he said overall, the policy has not been met with overwhelming dissatisfaction.
“A few students have been found smoking in their rooms, but the vast majority of students appear to be adhering to the policy,” Kohl said.
Ostrower said that while safety was the chief concern in banning smoking throughout all GW residence halls, replacing furniture and renovating rooms due to cigarette smoke damage is costly to the University as well.
“The school was spending additional funds to clean the carpets and replace the furniture. Everything just reeked of smoke,” Ostrower said.
A ninth-floor Thurston Hall fire last March and statistics from other universities persuaded Ostrower that the ban was necessary. Fire officials determined the cause of last year’s fire to be from a George Foreman grill, not cigarettes.
“We are one of the last schools to adopt a smoke-free policy,” Ostrower said.
While most students said they understand the reason for the ban, some smoker students have been left irritated, as this is the first year students are not allowed to smoke in dorm rooms.
“I wish there wasn’t a ban because it’s such a hassle,” said junior Daniel Weiss. “A regular smoker wants a cigarette before bed, and at other times when it’s a pain in the ass to drop what you’re doing to go outside.”
Other students, even some smokers, realize the reason behind instituting the ban.
“It doesn’t bother me,” junior Lauren O’Donoghue said. “I always smoke outside anyways because I don’t want my clothes and all my stuff to smell.”
Ostrower said the issue is a safety one for the entire dorm. He said smoke travels throughout the dorms via the buildings ventilation systems causing second-hand smoke to potentially disturb all the residents of the building. Ostrower encourages students to smoke outside rather than in the dorms.
“We don’t have anything against smokers,” Ostrower said. “If students want to come together, sit outside of their dorm building and smoke cigarettes or smoke hookah on University Yard, that is fine. We just don’t want to start a fire in a dorm room.”
Walking through University Yard or Kogan Plaza on a Friday or Saturday night, students can often be seen sitting in a circle, passing around a hookah, a device used for smoking flavored tobacco.
“I understand what the University is trying to do in protecting the students, I just feel that they are a lot more uptight than they used to be,” said one hookah smoker requesting anonymity.
“We hookah smokers have proven that we can handle the responsibility of smoking in our rooms,” he said, “and that the privilege should not be taken away from us just because of the irresponsible actions of others.”