By RAFAEL FLORES, Staff Reporter |
Smoking tobacco and vaping is not allowed on any Amarillo College campus, but some students say their classmates, as well as college employees, are breaking the rules.
Most of the smoking is done in outside spaces around the campus, such as public sidewalks or parking lots, with the peak smoking time around noon. One place where it is not uncommon for students to pass by smokers is on the sidewalk in front of the police station by Durrett Hall.
“It’s like when you go out to dinner, you don’t want someone smoking in front of you while you’re eating,” Guadalupe Medrano, a radiology major, said.
For other students, the issue involves health concerns. Emily Eachen, a computer science major, said that the smoking exacerbates her asthma. “I can’t be around it, I’ve actually had family members who used to smoke and have had cancer from it,” she said.
Prohibition of smoking on campus began when the Student Government Association submitted a resolution concerning the policy to AC officials in the spring semester of 2015.
In October of that year, the SGA released a two week survey to the student body regarding smoking on campus. The survey received responses from 10 percent of the student population and revealed that 62.7 percent of the students surveyed favored a smoke-free campus.
This led the board of regents to make the campus entirely smoke-free. The policy also banned the use of electronic cigarettes and vaping devices on campus. The policy became an official part of the student code of conduct in August 2016.
Some students said rather than prohibiting smoking and vaping on all AC campuses, the college should create designated smoking areas.
“I don’t think we should be smoking everywhere,” Adrian Cordova, a machining technology major, said. Cordova suggested creating a more secluded area for smokers with ashtrays to reduce the odor of cigarette butts.
Wesley Condray-Wright, the director of communications and marketing, said that students and staff may be breaking the no smoking rules because of lack of awareness.
There are a limited number of ‘No Smoking’ signs on campus and Condray-Wright said some signs were removed due to their negative tone.
He said the campus master plan calls for posting more positive signage. “Instead of saying, ‘No smoking,’ they will say, ‘We are a smoke-free campus.’ We want to let students know what our policies are in a more positive tone,” Condray-Wright said.
Other students said AC is overstepping its bounds by banning smoking on public sidewalks, which are city property.
Arad Strong, a legal studies major, said that the sidewalk in front of the Durrett Hall is not property of the college and therefore smoking should be permitted there.
Sgt. Adan Aleman of the college’s police department said, however, smoking on public sidewalks qualifies as smoking on campus. Aleman also said there have been no reports of smoking misconduct so far this year.