After a year of promoting the Dunhill smoking awareness campaign and informing students that a change was possible, if it be their will, the Fresno City College Associated Student Government found that the student body voted to support designated smoking areas on campus. ”I feel that it gives an opportunity for the smokers to get their rights,” said ASG Senator Stefanie Sorondo, who headed the smoking campaign.
The elections which took place on April 26 to 28 were held online through a polling software website called Votenet Solutions. Students were able to log in and vote via information provided in their email by the College Activities office. Along with electing the next ASG administrations, students were presented with the option of changing the smoking rule or leaving it as it is.
Throughout the year, ASG focused on bringing attention to the students about the matter, set up information booths about the possible change; they surveyed students and held two debates, one in December 2010 and another in March 2011.
Sorondo said that people who voted on Votenet were more focused on the ASG election than on a change in policy.
“I think it’s a positive thing for Fresno City College because people should have the right to breathe fresh air,” said first year FCC student Chelsea Anderson. “It’s inconsiderate when people just light one right next to you.”
Second year graphics communication major, Alex Jofre, held a different viewpoint. “It’s going to be high school all over again,” said Jofre.
However, some students interviewed spoke positively about the decision. “I’m ok with it even if I’m a smoker,” said first year psychology/pre-med major, Madeline Dana. “I think it’s respectful for people who smoke to smoke in designated areas.”
At the moment, there is no direct rule concerning smoking on campus which means that state law AB 846 which requires that smoking is prohibited within 20 feet of main entrances, exits, and windows of any public building. While this is a set rule, students still felt that smokers on campus were not honoring this. Consequently, they lodged complaints with ASG.
“It’s been an ongoing issue for years,” said ASG President, Rebecca Ashjian. She also stated that when the current administration continued to receive complaints about the issue, they decided to bring the issue up to the student body and let them decide what the rule will be. FCC students had the option to change the rule or leave it as it is.
The options included completely banning smoking on campus, leaving the rule alone (AB 846), or restricting smoking to designated areas like in parking lots.
The current ASG administration was not the first to bring this issue up to the students. Ashjian said that they were just “finish[ing] what was left from what other ASGs tried to accomplish.”
In 2004, the ASG administration presented the student body with this decision. FCC Students then also voted in favor of designated areas for smoking. Ashjian said, however, that “they never took it up” due to changes in administrations. The decision was lost in the transition and was forgotten about.
The current ASG will do things differently. They will be spending the last few weeks in office preparing the next administration to advance the students’ wishes concerning the smoking campaign.
“We have to inform them on what’s going on and pass on what we collected over the year,” said Ashjian. From there, the next ASG will move forward with what this administration started and what the students voted on.
Ashjian said that “the next administration has to draft up the smoking policy,” which involves compiling all the rules and consequences that will go with having a designated area on campus. From there, it’ll be sent to other constituent groups for approval.
“They have a different direction,” said Sorondo, “and hopefully it leads to the same place our direction led to.”
A major concern about the policy is keeping it enforced. While Sorondo said that designated areas are the best decision, she also feels that the enforcement will be a big issue the ASG will have to cover. Ultimately, the police academy would decide how to enforce this decision. ASG’s job would be “to go to the police academy and discuss with them procedures to follow if the new smoking rules are violated.”
However, FCC student Jofre feels it’s “going to be problematic because nobody wants to be told what to do.”
As ASG members discussed in the March debate, part of enforcement would fall under responsibility of the student body.
“This is what the students voted for, and now the students must be responsible for what they chose,” said Sorondo. “Please throw away your cigarette butts. Don’t litter the campus. Respect non-smokers and non-smoking areas.”