Needed: Clean Air On Campus

“Earth, Energy, Environment.” We are all familiar with Mines’ motto, which signifies the matrix of focus within the degrees that the school offers. While many of the students at our school are exceptional at deriving value from the matrix, there are still many changes that we can make to bring the values of our motto to life on campus. I was made aware of one of these possible changes while participating in a program at the University of California school system this past summer.

While on campus, the first thing that struck me as different from the Mines’ campus were the signs and banners that filled the empty space on the light poles around campus. These posters advocated two important campus ideals for the University of California: an anti-rape culture and the fact that the school is now a non-smoking university.

It wasn’t until I returned to Mines and walked out of Marquez directly into a cloud of smoke that I realized that regulations for the air commons on campus are a blessing. In California, I had both gotten used to the guarantee of clean air while walking out of buildings and the general culture of a non-smoking campus that was promoted by both the signs and the people that attended the university.

On top of that, it surprised me how proud the students on campus were of these rules and the resulting change in environment. I decided to sit down and try to take a look into what the smoking laws on Mines’ campus were to find out both what they were and why this culture was missing from Mines.

As I began my research, I realized that the regulations for smoking on campus were confusing and underdefined. On one guest information page, a very firm “there is no smoking on the Mines campus” can be found.

On the Residence Life FAQ page, however, the following is found: “smoking is not allowed in any building on campus. Smoking outside the Residence Halls needs to be a reasonable distance from entry ways, windows, and ventilation systems (typical rule of thumb, 50 feet from building).”

It is hard to say what the actual rules about smoking on campus are. I believe that this is a good opportunity as a campus to speak up and fully embody our motto. I suggest that we join the 1,577 university campuses that are smoke-free, the 1079 that are tobacco free, and the 710 that prohibit the use of e-cigarettes anywhere on campus.

These policies not only protect the air commons on campus, but also serve as a support system for users who are trying to quit. Furthermore, this regulation would curb the number of new smokers on campus by creating a cultural norm of a smoke-free environment, while having the additional effect of forming healthier spaces for students to interact.

To a point, it appalls me that we have not tackled smoking regulations on campus yet. Mines was recently ranked as the #1 engineering college in the U.S., and the article stated that “one of the focuses of the school is the responsible use of Earth’s resources,” yet we do nothing to protect the resource of the air around us as a campus.

Luckily, it is not too late to make a change and protect the resource of air on campus. As a school that values the Earth, we should move to pass regulations in order to live what we believe. We should hang up signs around campus that display our values in practice.

Even though this may seem like a small step in the right direction, Mines should begin by adopting these regulations and be proud in becoming a leader in protecting the environment that we live and work in.

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