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Arts on view
Individual rights or public health—two different ways to look at it,” says Thomas “Pat” Oles, Skidmore’s dean of student affairs. Cigarette smoking in the residence halls has been argued from both angles in recent years, but last spring it was public health that won the vote. After a year of studies and surveys, Skidmore has banned smoking in any room of any dorm.
One concern was that smoking anywhere in a dorm affected the air everywhere in the dorm. The college commissioned air-quality testing in a few residence halls and, sure enough, second-hand smoke was detected even on no-smoking floors. But student surveys in both spring and fall indicated “about half in favor of a smoking ban and half against, with both sides very passionate,” says Oles.
Finally, with Student Government Association leaders on record in support, All College Council adopted the ban. Now, as in all other campus buildings, those wishing to smoke must step outside.
Oles notes that while Skidmore was among the first colleges to prohibit smoking in all dorms, recently many other campuses have done so. “What felt courageous turned out to be just zeitgeist,” he admits with a grin.
Issues still smoldering include the selling of cigarettes at the Skidmore Shop, the lone exemption that allows smoking in the Spa snack bar on evenings and weekends, and how far outside smokers must go before lighting up. —SR