UW-River Falls is now one signature away from becoming a tobacco-free campus. Both Student and Faculty Senate have passed recommendations that UWRF become tobacco-free. Now the measure sits before Chancellor Dean Van Galen.
How have we gotten to this point? Becoming a tobacco-free campus is a huge deal seeing as the only other campus in the UW System that is tobacco-free is UW-Stout.
Let’s face it, this recommendation certainly has not come out of the blue. Many people around campus would say that smoking and the use of tobacco has become a problem on campus. A large part of this problem is because the 25-foot rule is hardly enforced at all.
It’s fair to say that a majority of people do not appreciate having smoke blown in their face the second they walk out of a building on campus.
Yet, that is somewhat of a common occurrence on the UW-River Falls campus and that is why the discussion of becoming tobacco-free has occurred.
In fact, in a recent poll taken by the Student Senate, 70 percent of students who responded support a tobacco-free campus. That result is in no small part due to the fact that many students are bombarded by smoke directly outside of buildings, and not 25 feet away.
We are not saying that all smokers and tobacco users are guilty of this offense. There are plenty of smokers and tobacco users on campus who abide by the 25-foot rule.
However, the few who do not abide by these rules could potentially ruin the privilege of smoking on campus for everyone.
This isn’t to say smokers and tobacco users are the only ones to blame, however. The University has the rule that smokers must be 25-feet away from a building if they are smoking anything. This, quite frankly, is rarely, if ever, enforced.
If rules are not enforced, or enforced incredibly rarely, then who is really going to follow them? Obviously, a good number of our students do, but people only remember the ones who are not following the rules.
Now we are one signature away from becoming a tobacco free campus. The inability of the 25-foot rule to be followed or enforced has gotten us to this stage. For better or for worse this is the direction which our campus is heading and it is a shame that a few people might ruin this privilege for all.