Though Ohio State has gone tobacco-free, students planning to live on campus for the 2014-15 academic year will still be asked whether they smoke.
Students who plan to live on campus have to complete a housing contract with OSU, where they can indicate their roommate preferences and answer questions about their own living habits.
One of the questions asks whether a student smokes, which Toni Greenslade-Smith, the director of Housing Administration in the Office of Student Life, said is an attempt to separate smokers from nonsmokers.
“As a rule, we do not assign (a) smoker and nonsmoker to the same room,” Greenslade-Smith said in an email. “We have a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ question, ‘Do you smoke?’ which will help us to assign nonsmokers with nonsmokers and smokers with smokers.”
Abi Green, a third-year in political science, said she agrees with that policy.
“It is OK to ask, because it make more sense to put two smokers in a room together as supposed to a smoker and nonsmoker,” Green said.
Others, though, don’t think it makes sense to keep the question when smoking isn’t supposed to be an option on campus anymore.
“If you cannot smoke anywhere, why have the option to pick if you smoke or not?” said Todd Packard, a second-year in engineering.
Kristen Bjerke, a second-year in psychology, said as an occasional smoker, she thinks she marked on her housing request before freshman year that she was a nonsmoker, and as a result, she was assigned to a roommate who was a nonsmoker.
“Usually I go outside (to smoke),” she said. She added that she used to “run down the stairs to go … have a cigarette” because there was no tobacco-free policy at the time.
The campus-wide tobacco ban went into effect Jan. 1 in order to promote healthier life choices among students, faculty, staff and guests of OSU. The campus-wide ban was announced in 2013, and was set to take effect Aug. 1. In August, however, university officials said the ban would not be enforced until 2014. The ban includes cigarettes, tobacco chew, snuff and e-cigarettes.
Student Life spokesman Dave Isaacs said in an email that students were not allowed to smoke in the residence halls even before the ban went into place.
“Nothing changes in the housing contract. Students can still request to be assigned with a smoker, or a nonsmoker, but they aren’t, and haven’t been, allowed to smoke in the building,” Isaacs said. “Now the policy (is) campus-wide, but that doesn’t change anything for the residence halls.”
Frank Atkinson, a first-year in business, said he thinks people are still going to smoke on campus.
“I really do not think (the ban) changes anything,” Atkinson said.
Atkinson said it is important for students to have the option to declare if they are a smoker or nonsmoker, because it could help individuals decide if they would be a good match.
Greenslade-Smith agreed that even with the ban, the question is necessary in the housing contract.
“We know that there are students who continue to smoke and while they cannot do it on campus, they may still have the smell of smoke on their clothes,” Greenslade-Smith said.
Bjerke said it’s good to give students the option if they’re strongly against the smell of smoke.
“If it really bothers someone … they should have the option to live with nonsmokers,” Bjerke said.