Megan Xanthos is a freshman majoring in English.
The cigarette butts that litter the ground around the “Let’s Share The Air” signs may be the saddest irony around campus these days, but they also reveal a laughably flawed smoking ban.
The no-smoking policy, officially instituted this fall, has polarized campus.
The University’s intent – helping students and employees make healthier choices – is good. But the execution now has me shaking my head. Students are simply not sure what the policy actually is or how it can be enforced.
Administrators have said that we are in the midst of a two-month rollout period for the policy, but that’s not an excuse for leaving students’ questions unanswered.
Does it mean that smoking is allowed until those months are over, or does it mean that smoking will not be penalized as harshly in those months? Moreover, is there even a penalty for not following the new policy? It’s not only the students who are confused.
A policy cannot be enforced if not even University Police Department officers understand the logistics of it. Outside of Thurston Hall, I heard students asking officers about the policy, but UPD had no answers about enforcement. GW employees have also been puzzled by rumors, The Hatchet reported this month.
Because GW is located in a city, the University cannot stop members of the District community from abiding to a rule without any legal ramifications. People not affiliated with GW will still smoke in Foggy Bottom, so second-hand smoke will not be eliminated. With all of the foot traffic campus receives, enforcing the smoke-free policy is all but impossible.
So at the very least, during this rollout of the policy, students and community members deserve to have their concerns assuaged.
A smoke-free policy seems to be more of a positive public-relations boost than an effective ruling. Clearly placing signs around the campus that tell people not to smoke doesn’t alleviate this public health issue.