The Bakersfield College student body and staff has voted for banning smoking and all tobacco products on campus.
2,680 students voted for a tobacco free campus, while 2,190 voted for designated-smoking areas. 154 staff members voted for a tobacco free campus. 67 staff members voted for the designated-smoking areas.
However, this information will not mean an immediate ban.
“It most likely won’t go into effect until the next academic school year, which would be fall 2013,” said Nick Acosta, general counsel for Student Government Association. “That gives us time to plan and get everything ready.”
Acosta was a part of the B-COUGH initiative at BC, a group who proposed the ban.
He helped explain the numerous processes it will take before the ban is fully enforceable.
“You have to go to the shared governance, that means the Administration Council, Academic Senate, CSA ,CCA [ both staff union organizations],” said Acosta. “That is our way of making sure that every employee of Bakersfield College who will be affected by this has a chance to voice their opinion.”
He elaborated more on the course of the decision.
“The process of presenting it to the shared governance is such: a meeting to present it, and then the next meeting it would be voted on,” said Acosta.
“Each group will basically have two meetings, one to talk about it, and one to vote it. After the shared governance has been hit, then it goes to the college president, and that is the final say.”
“We have had discussions as a committee as to the best locations, [while] still making sure we are within the state law,” said Acosta. “We are looking at trying to make it convenient, like near the parking lot entrances and exits [while] staying within those boundaries.”
Acosta was confident that this time around it would be enforceable. In the past other smoking bans quickly fell into disarray. Acosta stated that ticketing would go into effect whatever the policy turns out to be. Thanks to a senate bill, AB 795, colleges can levy fines from zero to 99 dollars against smoking.
“We are thinking about a tier system with escalating fines, the first time might be a warning,” he said. “When it first goes into effect, the first couple of weeks students won’t know. One of the main things is that AB 795 is going to give us the ability to have some teeth with it.”
Acosta gave reasons as to why this smoking ban would last.
“I have talked to Sgt. Counts and a security officer on our council and asked them what do you need to enforce this,” said Acosta.
“One thing they said was that they needed a quicker process to fill out these tickets.”
He cited ideas of a streamlined ticket to help this process.
This included talks with the business office to pay said tickets.
As to whether this policy will create a fracture on the campus Acosta said, “I am hoping not. I hope this resolves it. We knew people wanted some form of change, it’s obvious there is a change that needs to happen. The vote was their chance to say what kind of change it is.”