posted 2012-09-21 18:43:03

All Smoked Out!

Hunter addresses tobacco on campus, but not much else

Lara Berlyne

Staff Writer

The new ban on smoking around Hunter College is a glaring, in-your-face policy for returning students. Never before could I remember exiting any of the buildings without being encased in a smoky haze. While the school-wide ban on tobacco diminishes the hipster-cool vibe of Urban Outfitters-clad students hardly inhaling the cigarettes they purchase for top dollar, it is truly comforting to know that at Hunter College our welfare and health is a big concern. Especially since the school barely seems to care about more pertinent issues affecting the student body.

The signs stamped across the buildings and each portion of the revolving doors say that smoking is not permitted on “campus,” but if any student ever longed for the ashy stench that used to greet them whenever they stepped outside of the stuffy, over crowded buildings, they need not venture far! On the sidewalk of the bustling New York City streets which Hunter is perched, CUNY is no longer the law, and the students could blow their fumes onto the campus, bringing nostalgia of the good old days the freshman will never experience.

Although the non-smoking campaign should be the least of the College’s concerns, it seems to be at the forefront of their wellness mission. While cigarettes may be harmful, college students have the personal choice to smoke or not, whether they are doing it to appear hip or because they’re genuinely addicted. Why is this the focus of Hunter’s improvement for the Fall 2012 semester, especially when the college has so many other flaws? These flaws include limited seating for academic programming, the fact that the school gives us little to no social opportunity, the soaring tuition costs, and the complete lack of open classes. Hunter’s role should not be in safeguarding the environment and monitoring the health of the young adults; rather, Hunter should work to pro- vide its students with more opportunities, by opening up more classes and providing more advisement.

I now find myself in a Russian language class, not because I am interested in learning it, but because all of the Spanish classes were full (shocker). Due to the lack of classes to accommodate the large student body, I was also forced into an 8 a.m. sociology course that I don’t need to take, just for the sake of being a full-time student. Other students find themselves in similar or worse predicaments, waiting around for hours on end for undesirable classes at late hours. Take them or push back graduation dates? Not such a difficult choice.

Before you’re tempted to light up your cigarette or catch a whiff of tobacco from the crowded city streets, think about which issues should be more important to both Hunter and CUNY administrators: providing a fair and well-rounded education to the masses, or the issue of diluted second-hand smoke and the physical appearance of the buildings that temporarily house thousands of students each day. We do not care about the change in the West Building third floor; we care about the classes we desperately want to enroll in. There is no choice in not smoking on Hunter College property, but students can use their mouths for more than just blowing smoke. Speak up against the appearance of healthiness instead of a well- rounded education. Let it be known that we want the academic flaws to be sorted out before the aesthetic ones. Hunter students can find their own social opportunities by banding together to promote change on the issues we care about.