First, they came for the smoking urns.
Joining the ranks of approximately 826 other colleges and universities in the U.S., the University of South Dakota’s smoke-free campus policy will be out in full force Jan. 9 — posters, decals and all.
With the bright red smoking urns being removed, students will return to a USD campus littered with posters and handouts reminding students of the campus’ smoke-free change and access to information for the Quitline, said senior Alissa VanMeeteren, Student Government Association president.
Policy 2.043, as it’s cataloged, was formally passed by the Executive Committee Dec. 3, but not before discussion was had about two aspects of the ban: the extent of the campus’ property and an included reference to the American Indian Religious Freedom Act.
Working with a city attorney, USD officials procured a map highlighting the university’s property to see whether or not their jurisdiction included sidewalks around the outer rim of the campus. What they found was that USD’s recognized property actually extended halfway through the street, sidewalks included, said Tena Haraldson, the university’s director of communications and media relations.
The second issue addressed in review of the smoking ban was first brought up by Tiospaye President Warren Peterson during a SGA meeting, and brought attention to the rights allotted in the American Indian Religious Act, which has been in place since 1978 and enacted to allow “the freedom to worship through ceremonials and traditional rites,” according to USD Native Student Services brochure.
The burning of sacred plants like tobacco is used for prayer, protection, respect and healing, and is normally used as an offering for ceremonial assistance, said Gene Thin Elk, Native Student Services director.
“Up to that point (that the Act was passed), the Native Americans in the United States could be prosecuted for our ceremonies,” Thin Elk said.
To comply with the Act, the smoke-free policy language, provided on the USD website, said “no smoking policy would not apply to ceremonial and traditional rites” in regards to those included in the federal policy.
With clarification, the Executive Committee approved the policy, and its procedures, which included that enforcement would be a “shared responsibility of everyone.”
There are no fines currently in place, but Diane Zak, USD’s director of Human Resources, who wrote the policy said it also included that violation of the policy could result in some form of disciplinary or corrective action.
“If a student sees that one of their professors is continually breaking the policy by smoking on campus, and they don’t want to confront them in person, they can report them to a supervisor or the chair of that professor’s department,” Zak said.
President James Abbott said with the policy passed and to be enacted when students return, he does not think there will be much pushback from students, staff and faculty on campus.
“When people were no longer allowed to smoke in campus buildings, they didn’t,” Abbott said. “This transition shouldn’t be that different.”