Clearing the air (around conditioners)

[poll id=”24″]By Rachel Cywinski

LOGOS Staff Writer

  If you’re wondering why a few “No smoking” signs are appearing near window air conditioners outside the Administration Building where outside smoking is permitted, it’s due to second-hand smoke issues.

“Recently, we have had a request for accommodation from an employee in the Administration Building who was affected by the second-hand smoke that enters the work area through the air-conditioning units,” said Sam McDaniel, director of environmental health, safety and risk management at the University of the Incarnate Word.

“At the University of the Incarnate Word, smoking is not permitted in any building,” McDaniel said. “The open area behind the Administration Building has been used in the past as a smoking area by some members of our community. Two ‘no smoking’ signs were posted in the affected area in response to the request. We respect all members of our community, both smokers and non-smokers, and work to provide a comfortable campus environment for all.”

Although only these two signs are posted in an area near the Administration Building, enough signs have been printed for all the buildings on campus at McDaniel’s request, according to UIW’s printing services.

Is this a sign of the times?

For several years, student groups asked the Student Government Association to restrict smoking on campus to designated areas. Minutes from the SGA General Assembly minutes from Sept. 16, 2009, state: “Future debates on campus? Future topic suggestions: Smoking in public areas.” Those from Oct. 21, 2009, state: “Student Concerns: Can we designate smoking areas on campus?” Minutes of Nov. 4, 2009, state: “Student Concerns Updates:  Specific smoking areas on campus will be addressed.” Minutes from an SGA-sponsored open forum of Nov. 19, 2009 list this student concern and response: “Could UIW become a mostly smoke-free campus?” In the minutes, Doug Ensley, vice president for finance and technology, is reported as saying, “We are looking at setting aside smoke-free areas.”

SGA GA minutes of Sept. 29, 2010, state: “Designated smoking area on campus: SGA conducted a survey on what students thought about smoking on campus. Out of 181 students that participated in the survey: 66 would like UIW to be a smoke-free campus, 67 would like designated smoking areas, 47 would like UIW to remain as it is now.” The minutes do not indicate how the survey was conducted. Although results indicated 74 percent of participants wanted a change, none was made at that time.

In the September 2011 Logos, reporter Danielle Reyna wrote in a front-page article: “For years, students have been requesting nonsmoking areas be established on campus, but the SGA has taken that up to university administration with no success. At an SGA Open Forum in 2009, it was announced the university was looking at setting aside smokefree areas but no changes have been made.”

SGA minutes of the Aug. 31, 2011, GA state: “Student concerns: Limiting smoking to more than (five) smoking areas on campus, due to smokers block ramps and doorways, and can harm those with disabilities.” Minutes of the Sept. 28, 2011, meeting record SGA Student Concerns liaison Gloria Park addressing: “Student concern: We will be putting ‘No smoking’ signs on handicap ramps.”

In the October 2011 Logos, Reyna had a follow-up report that read: “To accommodate the needs of these students, the SGA stated signs would be put up at each handicap accessibility ramp indicating to not block or smoke on them. However, Paul Ayala, the SGA’s adviser, said this statement was in error and took responsibility for it Oct. 12 at an SGA Student Assembly.”

SGA minutes of the Oct. 12, 2011, GA record adviser comments: “University policy does not designate any smoking and nonsmoking areas so signs will not be put up.”

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