Only a few tobacco use incidents have been reported at the University of Maine at Presque Isle for the Fall Semester. It was the first semester that the campus was officially tobacco free. So how’s that been going for UMPI so far, and what’s it like for a Residence Assistant to enforce the policy on his peers?
In October, the campus started enforcing the Tobacco Free policy. Faculty and staff, campus security, and resident assistants have been tasked with enforcing the rules. The overall goal is to promote a healthy lifestyle……. but there are smokers.
Jim Stepp is the Dean of Students at UMPI, he says, ”at this point there’s only been one second warning, there have been a few first warnings, the way the process is set up is that there are a couple of warnings first, then sanctions kick in after a third offense.”
Stepp says those few incidents occurred outside of the buildings and dorms. The students who were in violation claimed they either weren’t aware of the policy or said it was too cold to walk across the street. But rules are rules, and someone has to enforce them.
Amos Ward is an RA at Emerson Hall, he says, ” I have had to approach some people, standing you know just on campus so we just ask them politely to go across the road, if it’s a problem we keep watching for them.”
But sometimes approaching someone to tell them they can’t do what they’re doing, isn’t easy.
Ward, ”sometimes people – they don’t understand why we’re trying to – why we’re enforcing these rules, but um they get heated about it but eventually they do understand and they do comply.”
Gaining compliance can be difficult in a heated discussion. Amos tells us that in some of his incidents, people tended to argue about their rights.
Ward says, ”people say it’s their right to smoke, they pay to go here, they should be able to have a cigarette or even cigars when they want.”
As an RA, Amos says it hasn’t been too bad enforcing the tobacco free policy. He believes the campus and the UMaine system has done well with the guidelines and the overall agenda.
Ward, ”That’s what’s it’s all about is getting the campus healthy and having our residents and faculty and staff healthy.”