Tower Smokers Feeling the Heat
Student Resident Smokers Targeted
October 15, 2004 2:30 PM
Candice Orr rushes to finish her cigarette as she walks towards Mary Park Hall.
Orr is one of the many residents on campus who can receive penalties for smoking within the resident community if caught. Since SF State became a smoke-free campus this past August, students who reside on campus and violate the no-smoking policy are the only group on campus subjected to penalties.
Frank Johnson, 18, also lives in the dorms and is upset with how resident smokers are treated. “It’s screwed,” said Johnson. “I like living here otherwise.”
According to a number of student residents, the resident assistants, or RA’s, are encouraged to issue “write-ups,” or Incident Reports, which details the student’s offense and possible sanctions. If a resident assistant decides to file the report, it is done electronically and a hard copy is printed for the student and up to seven administrators within the Housing and Residential Services. Resident assistants can also opt to give verbal warnings instead of the write-ups.
For the past 11 years, SF State has been moving towards a smoke-free campus. In 1993, former Gov. Pete Wilson signed and issued Executive Order W-42-93, which banned smoking in any state-owned or leased buildings. Last August, President Robert Corrigan issued University Executive Order #03-31, which prohibited smoking 20 to 30 ft. from any campus buildings. That same month, the campus bookstore ended the sale of any tobacco products. This year, the Academic Senate on campus approved a resolution for a smoke-free campus.
“Resident assistants have been reminding residents who smoke on campus that we are now a smoke-free University and smoking is only allowed in designated areas,” said Cumia in an e-mailed statement. “There are several of those around the housing community.”
Students who have been written up can choose to go through an informal review, which is the Judicial Review Board, or J-Board, where fellow peers handle the violations. According to Jennifer Chau, who is a member of J-Board, there are approximately 30 students from the dormitories and towers on the board. Chau’s duties include giving “sanctions that are reasonable.
Prior to moving to SF State, students are required to sign a “living agreement contract” with the Housing and Residential Services, said Chau, which helps explain why resident students are obliged to follow agreed standards. While filling out the contract, students are also asked if they prefer living with a smoker or non-smoker.
Johnson resides in Mary Park Hall and is a smoker. “We get warned a lot,” said Johnson, who sat on the block of Lake Merced Drive and State Drive, which is a designated smoking area for the residents.
According to Johnson, the resident director of Mary Park Hall, Kate Humpharies almost made him and his friends pick cigarette butts up as form of sanction. Johnson also claims he had to go online and finish an educational test on smoking.
“Modules. [You] go online for 30 minutes and there’s different stuff like community respect or smoking,” added Johnson. "You have to complete and read the test about why smoking is bad for you, it’ll kill you."
“Everyone’s learned not to smoke outside, “ said Johnson.
Most of the resident assistants contacted by the [X]press have refused to speak to any press without approval from a supervisor. Many staff administrators as well could not speak to the press as well without consent from Cumia. A few R.A’s declined to provide their names, for fear of being reprimanded, but did speak about management’s need for “uniformity.”
“All R.A.’s need to write people up because we don’t want to create the bad or good R.A.,” said one R.A. who declined to provide their name. “It’s fucked up, but consistent.”
Until recently, residents in the towers have been given the option to smoke on Font Blvd., State Dr. or by the conference center, which is a long walk and can be dangerous late at night. The smoking designated area on State Drive was created for the freshmen and sophomore students living by Mary Park Hall and Mary Ward Hall last week. Previously, there were only seven designated smoking areas on campus, which many students saw as an inconvenience.
According to Orr, who smokes on State Dr., she chooses that area versus Lake Merced or Font Blvd for safety issues. “There’s no lighting out by Lake Merced,” said Orr.
“Bullshit, it’s dangerous to tell people addicted to cigarettes [to go far],” said one R.A. “You [can] get mugged.”
Narges Gadizi, 22, regularly smokes outside the Malcolm X plaza. According to Gadizi, she has never been stopped by campus authorities and doesn’t think it’s fair for students living on campus to be singled out.
“That’s ridiculous,” said Gadizi. “It’s saying they’re young, they can’t be trusted. I understand if it’s inside, but outside, wow.”
John Sebastian, 21, also smokes outside Malcolm X. He agrees with Gadizi’s thoughts. “That’s unfair and it sucks because I was about to live there,” laughed Sebastian. “We’re all adults, we know it’s bad, we know about lung cancer, emphysema. But, it’s still my choice,” added Sebastian.
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