Corbin Rooks is smoking by the new black ash cans outside the entrance to the Innovation Village Apartments.
As he chain smokes four cigarettes, he flicks them into the grass or crushes them into the sidewalk crack under his foot.
Rooks, a junior business major, has no idea this is one of 20 areas he can smoke on campus without risking expulsion.
As of Aug. 6, FAU’s Policies and Procedures Committee strengthened the smoking ban so students could be expelled for smoking outside designated areas.
“It’s right, nonsmokers have the right to not be around smokers,” Rooks says. “As long as you give me my area, I’m good.”
Two years ago, FAU created designated-smoking areas and banned smoking elsewhere on campus. When the new smoking policy started on Jan. 2, 2010 — the same year University of Florida went smoke-free — there was no punishment for students caught smoking outside the designated areas and no enforcement from administrators.
Now it’s different.
With the new smoking policy, there are a few alternatives to expulsion like warnings and suspensions. But before any of those alternatives are considered, someone must file a complaint against a student caught smoking outside a designated area (see sidebar).
Even before the new policy and possible expulsion, students and non-students alike violated the policy in front of administrators, professors and even FAU police officers without repercussions.
But the smoking policies have been enforced on non-students.
C.J. Phelps and Eric Johnson, the co-managers of Hookah Hut, began setting up a hookah at a table outside Einstein Bros Bagels last spring — neither one is a student.
Phelps and Johnson moved their hookah 10 feet away from the table, to the smoking area between the S.E. Wimberly Library and Einstein’s after Associate Dean of Students Terry Mena took notice of them. “We build customer relationships,” Phelps says. “It’s perfectly legal.”
“A lot of FAU kids are into this,” Johnson says. “We’ve had teachers tell us they like it. We want people to have fun.”
Mena then asked Phelps and Johnson how they felt, if they were students, and then threatened to call FAU police if they didn’t move, according to Phelps. Then Mena walked away without another word.
“He came up to us with a bad attitude, interrupted our customer pitch,” Phelps says. “We just picked it up and walked over here.”
Mena could not be reached for comment about the incident as of press time.
No FAU student has been reported, investigated, charged, expelled or punished in any way for violating the smoking policy as of press time, according to Dean of Students Corey King.
“The students will go through the student code of conduct process,” King wrote in an email.
Mike Thompson, a senior exercise science major who’s smoked for 17 years, thinks the revised policy is absurd.
“Expulsion for getting caught outside [a smoking area] is retarded,” Thompson says as he finishes his cigarette in the smoking area between the S.E. Wimberly Library and Einstein Bros Bagels. “I’ll write to [FAU President Mary Jane] Saunders.”
Thompson also believes the faculty responsible for updating the policy should let students vote on it. When the university polled the student body in spring 2009, 1,376 voters supported limiting smokers to designated smoking zones, while 1,172 supported a smoke-free university.
Student Government Chief Justice Nicholas Scalice — a nonsmoker who sits on the Policies and Procedures Committee — favors the smoking areas, but not a smoke-free university.
“That’s a fair compromise, a nice middle of the road approach,” Scalice says.
Outside IVA, Corbin Rooks finishes smoking and is ready to go back to his dorm.
“Where do you draw the line? Yeah we all share the same air,” Rooks says. “If you’re going to make it legal to smoke, then it should be legal anywhere.”
“Hootin’, huffin’ and puffin’” (You don’t say)
Students respond to the new smoking policy.
“I don’t think it’s right, there’s already enough laws and regulations. You just need to not worry about other people.”
Major: Art Education
“I think it’s a great idea, smoking is disgusting. People in this generation should already know better.”
“I think the faculty should let the student body vote on it … I’ve tried quitting, the only thing that’s going to make me quit is if my wife gets pregnant again.”
*** Puff, puff, process ***
Before an FAU student is expelled for violating the new smoking policy, the following steps in the Code of Conduct must be followed, according to Dean of Students Corey King.
- A complaint is filed with FAU PD against a student for allegedly violating the policy.
- An investigation is then conducted by the dean of students when they determine the policy has been violated.
- When the investigation is not dismissed or settled informally, the dean of students presents formal charges to the student.
- Once charges are issued, a Student Conduct Conference is scheduled.
- When the student denies responsibility for violating the policy at the Student Conduct Conference, formal hearing charges can be issued for a Student Conduct Board (or hearing officer) hearing.
- Then the Student Conduct Board (2 students, 1 faculty member, and an optional 1 faculty/administrator) determines if the student is “Responsible” or “Not Responsible” for the charges brought against them.
- Then the dean of students determines proper sanctions against the student.
- Consequences include warning, probation, community service, termination (if the student is a Resident Assistant or other university employee), withholding the student’s degree, suspension or expulsion.
- If a student is expelled, he or she is able to appeal the expulsion.
- Then the vice president of student affairs (VPSA) decides if their appeal warrants reopening the hearing, starting a new hearing, or upholding the decision made in the last hearing.
- When the VPSA decides to uphold the expulsion, a student can only appeal the decision further by taking their case to an external court.