SGA seeks solution for designated smoking area

by Chris Van Buskirk / Beacon Correspondent • October 12, 2017

As construction on the Little Building continues, Emerson smokers lack an appointed smoking area, and now flock to the Boylston Street sidewalk. A designated smoking area existed at the side entrance of the building on Tremont Street before renovations began this May.  

Two students approached administration with complaints about the increase of smokers in front of campus and the discomfort it creates for students coming in and out of the buildings, Vice President and Dean for Campus Life James Hoppe said.

Hoppe approached the Student Government Association Tuesday hoping to find a solution to this issue. Several ideas surfaced during the roughly half-hour discussion.

SGA considered sending out a public service announcement informing students of how smoking in front of campus affects their peers, though this was dismissed as it was thought smokers would not receive it well. Class of 2020 Senator, Dimitrie Flores suggested an environmentally themed bulletin to reduce the amount of cigarette butts on sidewalks. This idea was put on hold when Chris Henderson-West, 2020 president, suggested an initiative to create a new smoking area. 

Though there is a widespread misconception that the college prohibits students from smoking within 25 feet of Emerson buildings, the sidewalks in front of campus are owned and maintained by the City of Boston—making it difficult for the college to enforce a smoking ban, Hoppe said.

“It's already hard enough to get people to not smoke in [Emerson] buildings,” Flores said. 

Given that all smoking is prohibited on the Boston Common and the Public Garden, SGA faces the challenge of finding a location that is both on campus and easily accessible by students looking to take a smoke break.

“Most college campuses are not as concentrated as ours, so because they’re more spread out there are more designated smoking areas and they’re further apart,” said Giuliana Bruno, Journalism Senator. “So I think it’ll be difficult to find another designated area because we are, besides Paramount, one corner and two streets.”

Hoppe said that there was little want from SGA to change school policy regarding smoking, and he suggested that creating a new smoking area could potentially solve the problem. 

Later in the meeting, Rob Sabal, dean of the school of the arts, and Hoppe informed SGA of the creation of the Co-Curricular Committee, which is tasked with investigating the co-curricular experience at Emerson. Co-curriculars are activities that complement what a student is learning in class. 

A good example, said Sabal, would be a visual and media arts major producing content for Emerson Independent Video (EIV). This student would learn production skills in their various visual and media arts classes which could then be applied to their work at EIV. Sabal said this is what would happen in a perfect world, but that in reality, what students are learning in co-curriculars often do not match up with their regular classes.

Sabal said that the committee includes faculty from each of the different schools and institutes on campus and representatives from the Academic Advising Center, the Office of Career Services, the TV, Radio, and Film Department, and the Office of Institutional Research. 

The committee will host a series of focus groups where students will be asked questions regarding their personal co-curricular experience. This marks the beginning of a lengthy research phase which aims to find how co-curriculars relate to both students and their regular courses. 

“This a major college effort to assess what is going on in the co-curriculars and imagine how they can be used in a much more purposeful and innovative way to enhance student learning at Emerson,” Sabal said. 

Hoppe said the committee doesn’t have official plans for the data yet, but that once enough information is collected, decisions will be made as how to best improve the co-curricular programs at Emerson.

 

Deputy News Editor Max Reyes did not edit this article.