Student Voice


September 28, 2022


Freezing Fog

Students appointed to Chancellorʼs Task Force for tobacco free campus

September 20, 2012

Appointing members for the Chancellor’s Task Force is on the agenda for UW-River Falls faculty and staff regarding the tobacco policy on campus.

The Faculty Senate approved the motion to implement the Chancellor’s Task Force on Wednesday, August 29 at the Senate meeting.

“The next step is to finish appointing the members,” Wes Chapin, political science department chair and Faculty Senate chair said. “Student Senate needs to appoint some members, academic staff council needs to nominate some members and we [Faculty Senate] still need to appoint a faculty co-chair.”

There will be nine voting members total on the committee. There will also be two members that are considered ex-officio, non-voting that will serve as support for the committee.

Alice Reilly-Myklebust, director of counseling and health services will be one of the non-voting members and serve as a co-chair on the committee.

Part of the charge is to look at current information that is out there about data on UWRF students, faculty and staff.

“Also research on tobacco and second hand smoke; data that we have about how students feel about a tobacco free campus, information about implementation and about other campuses that have instituted related policies so we are getting information from campuses that may have done similar things,” Reilly-Myklebust said.

National data, policy trends and best practices will also be looked at when recommendations to Chancellor Dean Van Galen are presented.

“Our No. 1 priority is to get those recommendations to the Chancellor,” Keven Syverson, health education coordinator and task force non-voting member, said.

There is no statute within the UW System about having a tobacco free campus. According to policies, the movement has to be voluntary in order to go forward.

Gregg Heinselman, associate vice chancellor for student affairs, has been working with Syverson and Reilly-Myklebust to move forward with the notion of a tobacco free campus.

“After two years of research, debate and three open forums for students, faculty and staff, they presented their findings to Van Galen and decided that the help of Faculty Senate would be needed to move forward,” Heinselman said.

“Health and wellness of the students is a concern,” Heinselman said. Higher frequency of lower grades, missing class and a low positive persistence was observed in students who used tobacco.

“The question we asked was, ‘Where are students exposed to smoke?,’” Heinselman said. “There is a 25-foot radius around university buildings but it is still an issue. How do we respond to this issue for our students?”

Two students that are tobacco users were split on the issue.

Sophia Guth, a junior business administration major, observes the fact that cigarette butts littering the campus are a problem but the idea of banning tobacco use is not needed.

“I would have to walk across the street to smoke,” Guth said. “I think it would cause more stress for students and would be stupid because we are outside and you can’t really ban someone from smoking outside in public.”

As Heinselman pointed out, the 25-foot radius is not enough to make students not smoke near the buildings. A junior psychology major and sporadic smoker, Jenna LaValle, said she gets frustrated walking through smoke on her way to class but is not grounds for having UWRF be a tobacco free campus.

“I don’t think it’s to the point where we need to ban it but I think maybe if people listen to other peoples’ concern and were more knowledgeable about it that it would be better,” LaValle said.

If UWRF does become a tobacco free campus, there will be a need to partner with the community.

“Students will be pushed off campus to smoke,” Heinselman said. “That could potentially affect the surrounding residents and business owners outside of campus. It will be a community and University wide partnership.”

The task force will explore all options and research when it comes to presenting their recommendations.

“Our charge of the task force is to deliver written recommendations to the Chancellor and chair of Faculty Senate no later than November 16, 2012,” Syverson said.