SAIT warns pot smokers to butt out on campus

Up in Smoke: Keith Fletcher, a Film and Video Production student, smoking at one of SAIT’s designated smoking zones on Friday, Sept. 21, 2018. (Photo by Alex Hamilton/The Press)

This semester, SAIT is pairing a strict ban on campus consumption of marijuana with new designated smoking areas for tobacco, meant to reduce second-hand smoke.

Although marijuana is set to be legalized on Wednesday, Oct. 17, students will not be allowed to smoke it anywhere on campus, according to a SAIT spokesman. This ban includes residence buildings, which are already smoke-free.

As for medical marijuana, SAIT spokesman Chris Gerritsen said that it would continue to be monitored by Accessibility Services on a case-by-case basis.

According to Gerritsen, this policy follows the Alberta government’s Cannabis Framework.

The framework states that cannabis “will be prohibited in any place where tobacco is restricted” as well as “in or within a prescribed distance from any…school property.”

SAIT’s cannabis policy is also in line with the City of Calgary’s recent bylaw banning all public consumption. The University of Calgary and Mount Royal University have also banned consumption.

However, the provincial Cannabis Framework does not strictly include post-secondary schools in its definition. The University of Lethbridge (U of L) will have five designated spots on campus for students to smoke or vape cannabis, with the intent of harm reduction.

The U of L’s policy does not apply to its affiliated campus at Bow Valley College in Calgary. Like the other Calgary schools, Bow Valley will impose a total ban on consumption at its downtown site.

Gerritsen said that the new designated smoking areas for tobacco use were unrelated to the cannabis policy.

The zones were established after consultation with students, apprentices and SAIT employees, he said.

The zones are located outside the Campus Centre, Aldred Centre, and Clayton Carroll Automotive Centre, as well as the Thomas Riley, E.H. Crandell, and Senator Burns buildings.

SAIT’s consultation, which was conducted last school year, found that more than 50 per cent of respondents preferred designated smoking areas over a total smoke-free campus, or the old policy, which banned smoking within 10 feet of any building.

Gerritsen said there were common complaints about walking through clouds of second-hand smoke on campus.

Keith Fletcher, a first-year Film and Video Production student, said in an interview that he didn’t find the policy a problem.

“If they decide they want a clean campus, it’s fine,” said Fletcher, who was interviewed in a designed smoking area.

He said that he liked the “bit of exercise” walking to the zones would provide.

The zones also had a harm-reduction effect, said Fletcher.

“[They’re] going to encourage me to quit,” he said.

Student Sarah Arrowsmith, an ex-smoker who was vaping near a designated smoking zone, had a more negative reaction.

“I don’t think [the zones] get used as much as SAIT would like them to,” said Arrowsmith, a first-year Architectural Technologies student.

Arrowsmith believed vaping was exempt, but it is regulated the same as smoking on campus.

She added that she was doubtful the small glass enclosure outside the Senator Burns Building could accommodate the number of smokers in the vicinity.

Gerritsen said that the new smoking policies would “take some time,” but described them as a “good step forward.”

Both the cannabis ban and smoking areas will be regulated by the non-academic misconduct section of SAIT’s Student Code of Conduct.

About Alex Hamilton 3 Articles
As a news reporting and communications major in the journalism program at SAIT, Alex Hamilton is working as a writer for The Press during the 2018-19 academic year.