Citing concerns of second-hand smoke seeping into residence hall rooms, the Residence Halls Association will be voting on a resolution that would impose a ban on smoking in courtyards and courtyard doorways surrounding on-campus housing. If passed, this resolution will revise the Community Living at Michigan Handbook to include the new rule.
According to the Community Living at Michigan Handbook, all residents have the right to live in smoke-free residence halls. West Quad Residence Hall Representative Paul Edick, said the multiple complaints he has received from students residing in the residence hall about second-hand smoke drifting into rooms via open windows suggests that this right is being violated.
“We’ve had more than 20 people complain about smoke coming into their rooms, mainly those who live near the courtyard or near the loading docks where workers will smoke,” Edick said. As of now there is nothing on paper that can force a smoker to move out of the courtyard or a worker to move away from the dock while smoking, and that is a concern, he added.
Edick brought the issue to last Thursday’s RHA meeting and provided RHA members with a resolution that would revise handbook guidelines to ban smoking in residence hall courtyards.
Currently, RHA members are seeking input from students of the various residence halls on campus in order to make an informed decision as to whether or not to pass the resolution proposed by Edick.
Not all RHA representatives agree with Edick’s stance. East Quad Residence Hall Representative Daniel Ray said that passing the resolution in its current form would infringe upon the rights of students who smoke.
He added that there would be more repercussions from banning smoking from the courtyards of residence halls because students will begin to smoke in their rooms.
“It would be better to enforce the rules we already have, such as the rule that it is illegal to smoke within 15 feet of a building,” Ray said of the rule that mandates smokers stay a certain distance away from buildings when smoking.
Although Ray said he has had some complaints about second-hand smoke disturbances from East Quad residents, the level of complaints was not enough to prompt him to take any action. “I can see it passing, but not as it is written,” he said.
The resolution will define a courtyard as any area of a residence hall surrounded by at least three sides and will be considered part of the interior of the residence hall. With the new definition, the resolution will also ban smoking in doorways of residence halls.
Engineering sophomore Danielle Layher, who lives on the 5th floor of Markley, said she frequently complains that smoke from the entrance of her residence hall harms her health and studies.
“We usually leave the windows open to air the room out, and smoke from cigarettes and pot will drift up,” she said.
Layher and her roommate, who has asthma, said the issue is compounded by noise disturbances. “A lot of the time, (the smokers) are drunk, loud and rude,” Layher said. “We shouldn’t have to go confront people at 3 o’clock in the morning.”
As for a solution, Layher does not completely advocate the resolution as it stands. “They should definitely enforce the 15 feet rule,” she said.
LSA freshman Dmitri Malcolm said he occasionally smokes outside of Mary Markley Residence Hall and said he thinks the resolution is unfair to those students who choose to smoke. It’s too cold outside to go far, he said. “There are already so few places to smoke besides the sidewalk on the way to class and in the courtyards; I think it’s not fair at all.”
Engineering freshman Dapo Abioye, who lives in West Quad, doubts that the resolution would solve anything. “People are going to be loud either way,” he said.
Edick also acknowledges that the resolution could cause problems for students that smoke. “We’re taking into consideration the rights of smokers; we’re working towards a compromise,” he said.
RHA will be voting on the resolution tomorrow at 7 p.m. in Mosher-Jordan Residence Hall.