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August 4,
2003

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Currents--University of Rochester newspaper

Student proposal 'kicks butt'

Freshman housing goes smoke free this fall

No smoking girls Tiffany Siu '04, graduate student Catherine Vladutiu, Mary LeBrun '04, and Kira Epstein '04 (left to right) provided information to University students about secondhand smoke and the effects of tobacco use as part of the national Kick Butts Day campaign on April 2.

Thanks to the persistent work of four undergraduates, the University now joins a growing number of schools across the country to make residence halls smoke free. The new policy, which is scheduled to be enacted in two phases over the next two years, expands smoke-free areas to include all individual private rooms in freshman housing beginning this fall. The second phase will take effect in 2004 when all remaining undergraduate housing will adopt the smoke-free policy.

Mary LeBrun '04, Kira Epstein '04, Avril Little '04, and Tiffany Siu '04 presented a proposal for a smoking ban in April to the Deans' Advisory Committee, offering research to suggest that an overwhelming majority of Rochester students would prefer smoke-free undergraduate housing. The proposal also outlined steps the University can take to educate students on the dangers of smoking and to provide services to help students kick the habit.

The proposal, which is supported by College administration, Residential Life, and University Health Service, among others, was adopted as policy over the summer.

"We were all amazed that the policy was enacted so quickly and pleased the administration was so responsive to our concerns on this issue," says Epstein. "I think the research we presented clearly shows that many students are concerned about the health effects of secondhand smoke in residence halls, not to mention the fire risk posed by smoking in dorm rooms. And certainly the fact that other peer institutions are beginning to address the issue and adopt similar policies made it important for the University to take a leadership role on the issue."

The students developed the proposal as part of Action for Health, a class administered by the School of Nursing and the Health and Society major and taught by instructor Noelle Andrus. In the class, students are divided into groups for team projects that address real-life issues in the community. Linda Dudman, associate director for health education at University Health Service, along with graduate student Katherine Valdutiu, worked with the student group to research the issue, collect data, identify benchmarks, and develop the proposal.

"This project was the perfect example of identifying all the pieces and then putting them together to accomplish a goal," says Dudman. "It was really incredible to see the students take this leadership role and work with the administration, residential life, and other students to make the case for smoke-free housing."

To further promote the issue, the participating students have formed Students in College Against Tobacco at the University, a group whose mission is to advocate on behalf of other students regarding issues and concerns related to personal tobacco use and secondhand smoke. In addition to creating smoke-free living environments, the group plans to raise campus awareness about the dangers of personal tobacco use and secondhand smoke and to provide resources for students who want to quit smoking.

With fall just around the corner, the staff of the University publication Currents produces a special edition designed for undergraduates at Rochester. Inside Student Currents you will find profiles of exciting events taking place in the coming year, as well as news from the College and the Eastman School of Music. There's also important information for the fall, announcements, and a collection of stories that just begin to explore the opportunities awaiting you at Rochester.



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