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Smoke-Free Policy Proposed
for UConn's Residence Halls
By Richard Veilleux
College campuses across the country offer students a range of choices in housing options, including the opportunity to choose a smoke-free residence hall or, at least, a smoke-free floor in a dormitory.
UConn is going one better.
Starting with the fall 2002 semester, nearly half of UConn's residence halls will be smoke-free, says Carole Henry, executive director of housing and food services. And, starting in the fall 2003 semester, all residence halls will be smoke-free.
Henry says the move makes sense from the standpoint of fire safety and, especially, health.
"We've asked members of the Residence Hall Association for advice on a non-smoking policy for the last three years and, interestingly, most students don't seem to have a problem with it," Henry says. "Initially, we thought students might be up in arms about the proposal, but we're not seeing that. They're very supportive."
Currently, Henry says, all rooms in Northwest Campus and in the Hilltop Suites are smoke-free, and there are a few floors of other complexes that offer students the ability to live in a smoke-free environment.
Starting in September 2002, that list will be expanded to include Hale Hall, the north tower of McMahon, seven buildings on North Campus, Building B in South Campus, Brock Hall in Alumni Quad, the south tower of Buckley Hall, Holcomb Hall in
East Campus, and half of the Towers Residence Hall complex.
All other residence halls will be added in September 2003.
Housing officials began investigating the idea several years ago and, when a state representative last year worked to pass legislation making all residence halls in the state smoke-free, UConn officials redoubled their efforts. The legislation ultimately failed, but is expected to be discussed again this year.
Regardless of whether it is passed this time, says Vicky Triponey, vice chancellor for student affairs, "we believe we should be moving in this direction, even without legislative mandates."
To accommodate the change, Henry says, residence hall assistants will be advising students that the change is coming and the University will install more and better receptacles outside residence halls as the ban approaches.
Henry says surveys indicate that only 4 percent of undergraduate and 7 percent of graduate students say they smoke and, last year, only 176 undergraduates identified themselves as smokers on housing applications. Although officials believe both those numbers are suspect for a variety of reasons, they do believe the numbers are not large.
Henry says most of the residence halls to be designated smoke free in 2002-03 are either entirely or primarily freshman housing, and this is expected to help establish a culture on campus of non-smoking residence halls.
Should legislation pass during the current session of the General Assembly banning smoking in residence halls state-wide, Henry says all residence halls at UConn will become smoke-free this semester.