Students vote on smoking ban

By Tammy Sholer

Whether or not smoking should be banned in the lower lounge of NIU’s Memorial Library will be the basis of a student survey conducted by the Student Association Academic Affairs Committee.

David Baum, SA Academic Affairs adviser, said the survey is an informational poll to find out students’ opinions on the issue and is not a referendum to convert the smoking area.

Baum said there will be a table set up on the main floor in the library from 4 to 10 p.m. tonight. He said the poll is informal and students will be able to voice their opinion with a simple yes or no vote.

e said one duty of the Academic Affairs Committee is to sit on the Library Advisory Committee where an academic affairs delegate discovered there have been complaints about the smoke in the library’s lower lounge.

“There have been student-written complaints about the smoke,” confirmed Beth Titus, associate professor for university libraries who is in charge of library policies. She said the survey might or might not result in the banning of the smoking area.

Whether the survey shows that students favor or oppose banning the smoking area, the Academic Affairs Committee will recommend the result to the Library Advisory Committee, which then will review the results and take the appropriate action, Baum said.

Titus said library policies are reviewed through the university administration, but because this issue affects the public, the library senate also will review the situation. In addition, a broad discussion of banning smoking will take place before there are any policy changes, she said.

“Currently, the lounge is half smoking and half non-smoking, but this does not work because smoke fills the entire room,” Baum said.

Alternative solutions to banning the smoking area have been looked into, such as making another whole room just for smoking, but the library does not have the space, he said.

Titus said she is in charge of the library’s policies, and she is looking into smoking policies in general. She said the smoking issue is not only for public areas, but also for private areas. The staff lounges also are being considered for conversion to non-smoking areas, she said.

Th Academic Affairs Committee has not looked into the litigation of banning the smoking area, Baum said, but there are other areas in the library where students are not permitted to smoke.

“For obvious reasons, smoking is not permitted in the book areas or the stairways,” Titus said. This is because smoking in these areas is a fire hazard, she said.

Titus said banning smoking in the library is connected with NIU’s Internal Facilities Environmental Committee’s recent review of a policy that would ban smoking in public.

There was an open forum held Feb. 19 by the Environmental Task Force on Air Quality, which helped to show the high concerns students have about smoking, said Jon Dalton, vice president for Student Affairs.