Smoking ban blues: positive side of ban outweighed by questionable implementation effects

Sarah Lawrence students and smokers Agatha Monasterios-Ramirez '17, Nachi Conde-Farley '14, and Colleen O'Connor '15 pose for Ellie Brumbaum '17.

Sarah Lawrence students and smokers Agatha Monasterios-Ramirez '17, Nachi Conde-Farley '14, and Colleen O'Connor '15 pose for Ellie Brumbaum '17.

I was asked to write this piece for The Phoenix because I have been fairly outspoken against the implementation of a smoke-free-campus policy. I will admit, however, that the idea is not one I utterly oppose. Though I’ve been tasked with taking up arms against the policy, I will endeavor to shine some light on why I also think that it is very important that such a policy is actually put in place. That said, the implementation and implications of the policy are where the most crucial, inexcusable trouble lies.

I am not, nor have I ever been, a smoker. In fact, I have had a life-long struggle with asthma. Furthermore, it is hard to argue against the Surgeon General when it comes to preserving a healthy set of lungs. The worrisome part of the policy however, lies in the consequential logistic drawbacks.

The simple fact that campus rules prohibit smoking will not stop students. While a long-term cultural shift would certainly take place, the students who were used to smoking on campus would most likely continue to do so, meaning that for a couple of years, smoking would be occurring on campus without the consent of the administration. Without the lawns and sidewalks of the campus open, it is within imagination that smoking would be pushed into dorm rooms and the public streets in campus’ vicinity. Students’ safety would be jeopardized both by letting lit cigarettes into buildings and by forcing them (the smokers) onto public streets. With the fire department showing up to campus what seems like several times a week, the last thing SLC needs is a tinderbox like Hill House or one of the Old Dorms going up in flames. Adding that to the tumultuous history of students walking on Kimball Ave. in the middle of the night, it becomes clear that the ban will ultimately endanger students.

The reasons to switch to a smoke-free campus remain numerous. The smoke-free policy around buildings has done little to relieve the amount of second hand smoke, the campus is littered with cigarette butts, and, as we all know, the practice is generally unhealthy. Already, smoking cessation programs offered at Health Services and other means have been put in place to alleviate the problem. If we are trying to turn Sarah Lawrence into a smoke free campus, then the measures that are being proposed are certainly not enough.

As the policy rolls out over the next few years, we will see whether bringing an immediate halt to smoking was really the best option. I unquestionably want a healthier campus. That being said, it is also important that we all acknowledge that the next few years of smoking under the smoking ban will not be stellar, especially for students’ health and safety. Fire trucks might visit the campus more often, and we might have a few not-so-friendly encounters with passing cars. Hopefully, the health goals for the long term won’t compromise the immediate. 

by Owen Marks '15
omarks@gm.slc.edu

photos by Ellie Brumbaum '17
ebrumbaum@gm.slc.edu

 

SLC Phoenix

The Phoenix is a non-profit, student-run publication representing the voices and opinions of Sarah Lawrence College community members. Our print edition publishes bi-weekly on Tuesdays, and our online edition is updated multiple times per week. Anyone may attend our open meetings at 9:00 PM on Wednesday nights in the North Room of the Pub.

Registration system creates unnecessary anxiety, needs re-thinking

photo by Ed Richardson

photo by Ed Richardson

Natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes or blizzards, reveal the inefficiencies of the systems they impact. Our very own little snowstorms over the past few weeks have shown the weaknesses of our own institution, and in particular, our registration process.

After several hours of interviews and deliberation over course selections that had been cut short by the start of our Odyssey with winter, a short extension was added to the registration period to compensate for school closings. Unfortunately, this left students and faculty pressed in terms of cobbling together a new interview schedule and deciding upon potential class schedules. Now, weeks later, everyone has signed up for their classes and is hard at work. However, organizational problems related to our hectic registration process have been a reoccurring issue, the snow simply aggravated the situation.  

With the added stress from the registration process, students complained of the long lines at the library and the outdated method of registration and transfer of transcripts. Students are concerned about the inability to electronically send future employers and institutions a copy of their transcripts and evaluations. Students are concerned that our institution is falling behind the technological standards set by other universities. As with many aspects of our school, we can only hope that the small subsets can keep up with the rest of the world’s institutions as we move forward into the 21st century.

While I would never claim to have the administrative or technical acumen that is required to remedy these issues, the first step to addressing a problem is to admit that there is one. Numerous students and faculty have been complaining of the outdated registration process long before these snowy months. I have witnessed several students in the past week complaining about internships that only accept electronic transcripts and the inability to provide hard copies. I have once attempted to manually scan and send in my transcript, but was met with questions about the void statements that littered the form.

None of these issues are terrible or apocalyptic in that of themselves. The office of the registrar has helped aid many students, myself included, in applying for jobs and schools. The current process of the registrar, however, creates extra loops and twists that often seem archaic and unnecessary. The question remains; what can we do move things along?

The primary idea that has been put forward by students and faculty alike is a movement to an online course registration system. The new system would allow just as much, (if not more) time for professor-student interaction, and less time rushing to file forms and wait in line at the library. By giving an open registration period, and then allowing students to complete the process on their own time. As a result, a large amount of time could be saved and spent on better things. 

The lack of e-transcripts is perhaps the more worrying of the two problems. While, until fairly recently, many institutions were willing to accept mail copies, it is now clear that the world is moving towards only accepting transcripts submitted online. Sarah Lawrence College does not give us the resources to fill in the online requisites. Offering e-transcripts would be a valuable asset for students applying to internships, jobs, and graduate programs.

The implementation of such programs would certainly require man-hours and money, both of which the school seems hard-pressed to find. If Sarah Lawrence wishes to keep up with the times, it has to make adjustments to the rest of the world. In addition, to secure the interviewing process that the college holds so dear, it has to head towards a smoother, more efficient registration process. 

by Owen Marks '15
omarks@gm.slc.edu

SLC Phoenix

The Phoenix is a non-profit, student-run publication representing the voices and opinions of Sarah Lawrence College community members. Our print edition publishes bi-weekly on Tuesdays, and our online edition is updated multiple times per week. Anyone may attend our open meetings at 9:00 PM on Wednesday nights in the North Room of the Pub.