February 2, 2016
By Marty Carlino and Melissa Rohman
According to documents obtained from Dominican’s Student Government Association (SGA), Dominican University officials are planning to ban all tobacco products anywhere on university property as soon as August 2016. The ban was originally planned to start in January of 2017.
The ban will affect faculty and staff as well as students. Electronic cigarettes and vapor products will also be banned. Authorities have yet to determine penalties for violators.
Some university officials have declined to comment on the smoking ban, as it has not yet been publicly announced.
President Donna Carroll weighed in on the issue.
“Everybody will be sensitive to those individuals who are smokers,” said Carroll. “It’s a challenge. It’s not a decision that we can make overnight, it’s one that we need to announce, give people time to prepare and provide training.”
Dominican plans to spread the word via fliers and signs around campus to ensure everyone affected begins to transition into the new policies. Talks of a tobacco free campus have been in the works for over a year. The Illinois Smoke Free Campus Act was signed in August 2014, making all public colleges and universities tobacco free. President Carroll insists Dominican is “late in the game.”
“There has been a long study and community plan to go for a non-smoking campus,” said Carroll. “Most of the campuses in Illinois are leaning towards being smoke free…we’re late in the game. I’m in support of it. I think it’s a responsible step and I think the implementation is responsibly staged. It will be a healthier campus climate and it will be a institutional statement about our commitment to healthy living.”
President Carroll is especially conscious of the ELS students at Dominican. “There has been a lot of conversation with ELS students. What they are telling us is that they don’t mind, as long as they have the time to put in a statement about smoking in their recruitment materials. It becomes important to specify that this is one additional criteria associated with studying at Dominican,” said President Carroll.
According to SGA documents, this policy would affect any person who, at any point in time, is physically located on Dominican’s Main or Priory campus.
Currently, students, faculty and staff are permitted to smoke at designated areas on campus such as outside the sliding doors near Cyber Cafe. The Office of Risk Management estimates that 17 percent of students at Dominican use tobacco products.
“This will be a challenge due to the number of current faculty, staff and students who smoke,” said President Carroll. “The roll out of the plan provides them with time to adjust.”
Although the President’s Cabinet has approved the deal, SGA leaders want their voices heard.
“The smoke ban is still up for debate,” said Will Schuneman, SGA president. “It’s up for discussion at our next meeting. If anyone wants to come and voice their opinions, we highly recommend it.”
SGA will hold its next meeting, Monday, Feb. 8 at 5 p.m. in Power 101. All are welcome.