College Policy is up in Smoke

John Ferrara, El Vaquero Sports Editor

California community colleges were given the authority to impose fines for violations of their campus smoking policies as of January. However, Glendale College is still unable to issue tickets due to uncertainties in how they will be administered.

“The problem with laws sometimes is that they pass them but don’t come up with a procedure … and so that’s what we’re trying to determine. How do we issue the tickets and who issues the tickets?” said Ron Nakasone, executive vice president of administrative services.

The administration is currently considering two options on how to administer the citations. One is to issue the tickets through the city of Glendale, but the more likely option is processing them internally, similar to parking tickets.

College Police Chief Gary Montecuollo is currently in charge of writing a draft that will be presented to the Administrative Regulations committee, which will outline how the tickets are administered.

From there his draft will go through a process of two separate readings by Administrative Affairs, which will allow for changes to be made to the draft. Once ready, the draft will be sent to the Board of Trustees for ultimate approval.

“My job is to design the policy regarding enforcement. … We will follow the current system, which is to provide warnings, formally or informally and to cite for littering,” said Montecuollo.

If tickets are eventually administered, which are not to exceed $100, the resulting funds will be allocated, but not limited, to the college police department, education, promotion of the policy, and tobacco cessation treatment options.

“It would definitely benefit the school, and could probably fund some of the cadets and officers,” said Nakasone.

Campus police officers are currently able to issue warnings to those caught smoking outside the seven designated areas.

One officer, who chose to remain anonymous, admitted he’s never issued a warning.
Montecuollo however, says he has personally given many warnings and has found those receiving the warnings to be cooperative in relocating to the proper areas.

The designated smoking areas were instituted following a student survey in 2008, the results of which showed most students would prefer a smoke-free environment. Despite the majority vote, those in favor of smoking made up a large enough percentage to sway the administration into compromising on designated areas.

In fall 2009, a student government survey found that only 37 percent of students thought having non-smoking areas on campus was effective.

ASGCC is currently working on a new student survey that will that will focus on the possibility of a smoke-free campus environment.

“We’re going to Facebook it, were going to send it to the students, and we’re going to be outside recruiting students to take the quick survey to see what they want,” said student government Vice President of Administration Lucy Agazaryan.

Many smokers, like music major Hasanna Jackson, aren’t happy with the areas.

“I feel they’ve sequestered us off like animals,” said Jackson, while gesturing to a “do not feed the squirrels” sign located adjacent to the designated smoking sign.

The areas have become a bit of a cultural hangout for smokers, each spot with its own vibe.

Area five, located outside the auditorium is composed mostly of music majors. Live music, card playing, and lively conversation take place as they make the best of a less-than-ideal situation, creating an environment that feels more like a hipster prison than a designated smoking zone.

One problem that Nakasone has noticed about the smoking sections is that while large parts of the campus remains smoke-free, the designated spots create a dense area of fumes that are especially harsh on the senses.

“Before, if people were walking around, it kind of dissipated and wasn’t as strong,” said Nakasone, who would support a smoke-free campus policy if enough students become involved in the process. “If we’re going to do it I think it would be a more student-driven process.”

Santa Monica Community College, College of the Canyons and Pasadena City College all have smoke-free campuses.

“Why not us,” said Agazaryan.

Anyone that witnesses students smoking outside of the designated areas can call the campus police for assistance.

“Absent an emergency call, if somebody says ‘I see smokers here can you address it?’ we’ll send officers there everytime,” said Montecuollo.

Students interested in having their voices heard on the issue, can have the topic placed on the agenda at the board of trustees meetings held every third Monday of the month in Kreider Hall at 5 p.m.