By Erica L’Huillier
INDIANA — Colin P. Zinda, 22, an IUP math major, is a pack-a-day smoker. People give him angry looks when he smokes on campus. He’s not bothered.
“I haven’t let it affect my smoking,” he said in a March 25 interview outside his apartment with a Marlboro in hand. “I can feed the addiction whether you like it or not.”
Zinda’s open-air smoking is breaking no rules. A Nov. 4, 2003, IUP Student Congress split vote banned smoking inside the last 12 residence hall floors on campus, according to The Penn.
Since then, the campus smoking policy has remained as stated on the Office of Housing and Residence Life Web-site: “Smoking is prohibited in all residential facilities.”
But during the spring 2008 semester, the IUP Residence Hall Association, representing all student-run residence-hall councils on campus, acknowledged complaints from smokers and non-smokers alike. A committee of six students was drafting a proposal to address complaints about smoking outside residence halls.
The main concerns are smokers standing near entrances to university buildings, smokers littering the ground with cigarette butts and smokers and non-smokers disrespecting each other, according to a March 21 draft.
The draft supports a provision for designated areas for smokers and non-smokers, marked by large metal signs.
IUP marketing major Quincy L. Tarvin, 20, is on the committee. She is also the president of Whitmyre Residence Hall Council. She described the proposal for designated spaces for smokers.
“Smoker huts seem to be the solution,” Tarvin said in an April 3 interview in her Whitmyre Hall dorm room.
Five roofed huts capable of sheltering at least 10 people would be “placed strategically around campus to meet the needs of the residential population,” according to the committee’s draft proposal. The committee also recommended installing heat lamps inside the structures.
Tarvin said the Residence Hall Association executive board reviewed the proposal April 17, after which she and three other students made minor revisions. The proposal was submitted to the IUP Office of Housing and Residence Life and at the end of May was awaiting OHRL approval, said committee member and Fine Arts student Joseph T. O’Brien in a May 30 email.
“It’s not a smoking ban, it’s not even associated with that,” Tarvin said. “It’s how to address concerns of smokers and nonsmokers alike outside each residence hall.”
Political science/pre-law major James Vamboi, 19, is president of IUP Ignite and a member of Pennsylvania Students Working Against Tobacco (PA-SWAT). The two groups collaborate but have different goals in the anti-tobacco movement, the Elkin Hall resident said in an April 4 interview.
IUP Ignite aims to change all relevant legislation, to designate more public areas as non-smoking and to raise awareness of tobacco’s effects on health. PA-SWAT is a statewide, college-campus-based group with goals similar to that of IUP Ignite, but PA-SWAT is primarily geared toward preventing tobacco use.
“I understand smokers are addicted, and I don’t want to take away their freedoms,” said Vamboi. “But the rights of the non-smoker should come before the rights of the smoker.”
Vamboi, an Elkin Hall resident who is not on the RHA committee, said he would prefer a smoke-free campus but would settle for the designated smoking areas.
English major and occasional smoker, Brittany Means, 19, said she questioned the motives of people who are adamantly against tobacco use.
“Only a few loud voices are being heard – those who hate it when gangly art students walk by the gym smoking as they’re inside sweating their butts off in hopes of shedding a few pounds,” Means said in an April 10 telephone interview. “Revenge is no reason for the repeal of liberties.”
Zinda, a senior, said he started smoking during his freshman year at IUP despite knowing the health risks and social stigma.
“It feels good, and it’s something that’s just for me,” Zinda said in an April 10 interview in his apartment.
Erica L’Huillier, a junior majoring in journalism, is from Oil City.
Sidebar: Fast Facts
For More Information, please contact:
Joseph T. O’Brien
IUP Residence Hall Association
4807 Crimson Hawks
Indiana, PA 15705-4807
Christine M. Smith
IUP Residence Hall Association
Secretary for Director
IUP Office of Housing and Residence Life
Clark Hall, Room B31
1090 South Drive
Indiana, PA 15705
106 Pratt Hall
James M. Vamboi