CCSC: Health Services Isn’t Listening to You

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A mild Sunday night meeting started off with some great news: the Bacchanal College Days T-shirts had been universally praised and were in high demand.  In true Columbia form, however, the only leftovers are extra-large.  And speaking of Bacchanal, the Campus Life Committee had originally wanted to have a pre-concert festival was originally planned for Saturday, but were told that it “needed to be silent.”  George Krebs offered no further explanation other than that they had actually been considering a mime show.

The majority of the meeting was spent on familiar topics: meal plans and substance policies.  After last week’s hullaballoo, the upper class meal plan is no longer part of the Ferris Booth proposal.  Those optional meal plans have already been adjusted by increasing the number of meals in most plans and adding “free meals” to each plan. In order to save the struggling venue, however, both sides are still pushing for John Jay-style swipe access.  Breakfast would be priced from $6-7, lunch from $8-9, and dinner from $10-11.  It would be a continuous swipe system (much like the system John Jay will transition to by 2010) and no, the food won’t go down in quality, though portions may be reduced. Curses!

As far as alcohol policy is concerned, George Krebs and Adil Ahmed woefully acknowledged that the administration is getting stricter by the minute.  The events that allow alcohol, such as Lerner Pub and First Friday, are grandfathered in from better times.  But even with those special cases, leftovers from Lerner Pub had to be poured out after the party (“blasphemy,” noted Robyn Burgess).  For next year, alcohol may be saved until the next Pub event, but with strict accountability for every single container involved.

The most heated discussion came, predictably, with the new tobacco policy.  It is an initiative of Health Services, with the help of VP of Student Auxiliary Services Scott Wright and Chief of Administration Michael Novielli.  The proposed plan is simple: smoking will be banned within the university gates, no exceptions.  Health Services argue that it’s not fair that Barnard and Teachers’ College are smoke-free while their bigger neighbor isn’t.  In addition, “statistics” show that campuses that ban smoking have an overall lower number of smokers.

Ahmed said enforcement will be “mostly through signage,” prompting laughter around the room.  Health Services is not considering the inconvenience to smokers or employees, such as the additional time it may take to leave campus for a cigarette break, because their focus is on health and safety (and cigarette breaks are not part of Columbia employee contracts).  Other council members raised concerns that the signage would be a waste of money if the ban were not properly enforced and that we’d simply be pushing the problem outside our gates instead of dealing with it with cessation programs.  Ahmed responded that the university has been engaging local bars and restaurants in “negotiations” over where the smokers will go, and Burgess informally proposed a summer recess trial run to see if the signs work.

In a straw poll, all but two of the council members were against the ban.  Wright and Novielli might come to next week’s meeting to make presentations, but it’s doubtful that they’ll be able to change any minds.


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  1. Fact Checking  

    From the first sentence, College Days shirts (not the Bacchanal shirts) were in high demand. This refers to the silver on blue shirts that are around campus with the Admit One ticket on the back.

    The Campus Life Committee was not behind hosting an event prior to the concert on Saturday. George Krebs along with other individuals from the council were pushing for this program

  2. more fact checks  

    There is a website for feedback http://www.columbia.edu/cu/studentservices/docs/smoking/index.html

    and upcoming open forums... I support the proposal and think they are really making an effort to gather our input

  3. What does  

    a continuous swipe system for John Jay mean?

  4. yeahy  

    what does it mean yo?

  5. I don't know...  

    But has anyone walked through Barnard recently? Smoke free is definitely something it is not, despite signage. There are designated smoking areas on campus and people generally ignore them and just smoke wherever they feel like it.

  6. tc student  

    Teachers College is hardly smoke-free. Sure, the admin removed the ashtray from the front steps but this hasn't stopped smokers from continuing to stand at the door to welcome us with their smoke.

  7. nonetheless  

    I do believe this policy will make a significant difference in discouraging smoking on campus, and encouraging people to quit.

  8. negotiations?  

    Bloomberg banned bars and restaurants from smoking. Why would they be negotiating with them?

    And the smoke-free campus can't happen. They'll just pile at the gate.

  9. thankyoufornotsmoking  

    I don't think Bloomberg cared so much about the bars smoking as he did about the people smoking inside of them.

    But do I agree with you, signs won't do anything except be a reminder to welcome visitors at the gate with your cigarette butts. I think it's a little odd that the NY Clean Indoor Air act prohibits smoking on preschool, elementary and secondary school grounds and buildings and inside all private and public college buildings--but if you're in high school or outside on a college campus they figure you're screwed anyway. Maybe if the administration change the rules a bunch of times, smokers will get really annoyed and...smoke twice as much.

  10. Mark Twain  

    Is it the university's place to encourage people to quit smoking? This is less of a question of smoking and more of a bigger-picture question of personal freedom and privilege vs. Big Brother.

    For the record, I do not smoke.

    • me too  

      I don't smoke, and I agree. it's their choice.

      Also, on the topic of self injury, i was told for the first time ever that you're not allowed on the tall parts surrounding Low steps. "It's too dangerous," says public safety. Bollocks.

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