Thursday, January 5, 2012

PLU seeks more input on tobacco policy, stands by June 1 deadline

By Courtney Donlin, News Editor

The Pacific Lutheran community will have another opportunity to offer opinions about the upcoming tobacco-free policy before it is implemented on campus June 1.

Photo by eddie.welker on Flickr. CC-BY-SA

The voluntary compliance period scheduled to begin in February will be used instead for education and information, according to an email sent to the PLU community by the Tobacco-Free Task Force Dec. 9.

Executive Director of Residential Life and Tobacco-Free Task Force member Tom Huelsbeck said the removal of the voluntary period in February should allow for more clarity and conversation about the policy change. Huelsbeck said he thought some people on campus were “caught off-guard” by the tobacco-free policy.

Director of Human Resources Teri Phillips also said some community members may have been surprised by the decision to become tobacco-free.

“To some people, there wasn’t enough time [for input],” Phillips said. “I think we’ll end up with a better outcome in the long run by slowing down the process.”

Phillips, who is also a member of the Tobacco-Free Task Force, said the plan for the university is still to become tobacco-free June 1.

“I think this time frame allows for honoring community input into the policy development,” Phillips said.

Since the announcement of the policy change, the task force hosted two forums open to the PLU community.

During the Nov. 10 forum, students said they felt under-represented by the new policy prohibiting tobacco use on campus. ASPLU Senator junior Ian Metz said in a previous interview with a Mast staff member he felt “tobacco users are being singled out.”

“I understand why some people may have felt singled out, but the intent is still to focus on being as healthy a place as we can be,” Huelsbeck said. “By allowing for more conversation, we’ll end up with a good solid plan and it will be more of a community-involved process.”

At the Nov. 14 forum, some attendees presented civil rights as an issue. Professor of English Jim Albrecht said at the forum that smokers will continue to smoke regardless of PLU’s tobacco use policy.

Two additional forums are scheduled for Jan. 10 from 12:30-1:30 p.m. in University Center 201 and Jan. 12 from 10-11 a.m. in Hauge 219. Huelsbeck said more forums will occur in February when spring semester begins.