The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

October 15, 2008

MSU considers smoking ban

Many students oppose proposal

MANKATO — Minnesota State University is considering banning smoking campuswide.

The proposal is a result of the existing ban on smoking within 15 feet of a campus building entry not working well.

But the new proposal isn’t playing well with many students. And another state university that has a ban found unexpected consequences, including late-night smoking parties in the middle of the street, complete with live music.

A couple of years ago, MSU administration enacted a ban on smoking near building entries. But enforcement is “peer to peer” — students telling violating students to knock it off and move farther from the doorway. By most indications that hasn’t happened.

“I’ve never asked someone to move and I’ve never heard of anyone else doing it,” said Ryan Anderson, president of the MSU Student Association.

President Richard Davenport had said if the self-patrolling didn’t work — and he admits it hasn’t — he’d consider a smoking ban on all college property. That idea went through a campuswide review last year with no agreement and Davenport hasn’t taken any action.

The Student Association has, in nearly unanimous votes, come out against a campuswide ban. “We think they should have more enforcement of current rules,” Anderson said.

He questions how a campuswide ban would be enforced if the current policy isn’t, and students raised issues about the safety of pushing students off to the edges of campus to smoke. Anderson said there were also questions of fairness to smokers who live on campus who would not be able to step outside the residence halls to smoke.

At Minnesota State University-Moorhead, a campuswide smoking ban has brought many of the problems MSU critics have suggested.

MSU Moorhead security director Mike Parks said the college had considered a $40 ticket for violators but pulled the idea because security can’t give such tickets to faculty and staff on campus because of negotiated contracts.

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