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.