Campus Life holds smoking, social policy forum
October 1, 2004
Filed under Archives
In light of recent student complaints concerning Guilford’s social gathering and smoking policies, the Office for Campus Life and the Community Concerns Committee of Community Senate hosted an informal forum where students and administrators could voice ideas and concerns at 5:00 p.m. on Sept. 23 in the Walnut room.
Residential Leadership Coordinator Mike Mackey, Dean for Campus Life Anne Lundquist, Director of Gender Issues and Health Coordinator Sandy Bowles and P.E. Center Manager Brian Wenger for Buildings and Grounds were present. Guilford County Fire Marshal Robert Cameron was also present to remark on the policies.
The first topic was Guilford’s social gathering policy. The present policy, found on page 22 of the Student Handbook, states that all social gatherings must be registered with the Office for Campus Life before an event occurs. Currently they have not registered any gatherings because the fire marshal has not deemed any place on campus large enough with sufficient exits to hold gatherings.
The newly enforced policy that restricts Guilford students to having four people in a room at once was not, however mandated by the fire marshal.
“At the beginning of the fall 2004 academic year, we came and inspected the campus,” said Cameron. “All decisions made were based on the fire code that requires enough space for one person per five square feet within an un-furnished room. We didn’t find any public spaces on campus that followed the fire code regulations that could safely host gatherings.”
“While dorm rooms are not considered public spaces, it is up to the discretion of the college to limit the people hosted in them,” said Cameron.
“As a college we are liable for any accidents that may occur on campus,” said Lundquist. “The social gathering policy was designed to hold the best interest of the student as well as the college. Because there aren’t sufficient exits in most of our buildings the college cannot, in good conscience, allow hazardous gatherings. The safety of our students is our main concern.”
Ideas to enable students to host social gatherings were, among others: creating alternate exits, re-evaluating the safety number, clearing all misconceptions of the policies between RAs and security, providing one place on campus for students to gather and party, leasing the gym out to hold student functions, creating a weekly e-mail sent to students regarding new policy changes, adding additional emergency exits and making anything which happens at gatherings the primary responsibility of the host.
“A group of my friends and I were stopped three times one night outside of Bryan before quiet hours had even begun and informed that we should go inside and disperse because we were keeping too much noise. We were constantly approached by security and administration telling us about ’24 hour courtesy hours’ when we weren’t being loud,” one student stated.
The smoking policy was next. All buildings on campus are smoke-free except for Bryan and the apartments. The entire interior of campus is smoke-free. Smokers are not allowed to gather on the front steps because of previous year’s complaints from parents, visitors, and staff about the clouds of smoke and crowding of people around some entrances.
Suggestions by students included, among others: find a median for smokers and non-smokers, build a gazebo or other building designated for smokers, or an indoor smoking and studying area such as the Underground once was.
In the 90 minutes the forum lasted, participants strove to bridge the gap between students and officials.
“None of the policies were designed to restrict students or their social lives,” Lundquist stated. “All decisions were made with only the students’ safety and best interest at heart. Any students with suggestions or comments on how we can make this better are urged to contact me, I am always open to ideas.