UW-Stout Chancellor Charles W. Sorensen is fed up with smokers violating campus policy of a smoke-free campus. On April 10, he issued an e-mail memo, also posted on Facebook, to all students and employees about compliance with the policy.
In his letter, he said violations of the policy have prompted students to complain to him.
“I am told that individuals violate the policy because there are no penalties and no enforcement,” he said.
UW-Stout is the only four-year school in the UW System with a tobacco ban. The smoke-free policy was implemented in 2010, but without penalties for those who violate it. Student referendums supporting a smoke-free campus were the impetus for the policy.
In his letter, Sorensen said, “I believe very strongly in the policy and believe it will lead to a much healthier campus. This is a health issue, an important health issue, and I urge everyone to honor this policy.”
He reaffirmed his support for the policy and need for compliance adding, “...those who choose to violate it are making life difficult for everyone else.”
According to Neal Peterson, UW-Stout student body president, student reaction to enforcement through fines is mixed, even though most students are in favor of the smoking ban.
While voluntary compliance is the chancellor’s preference, on Friday, university officials met with legal counsel about issuing fines and/or sanctions. Doug Mell, executive director of communications and external relations, issued this comment: “We had a good conversation about our options and will be considering how to proceed in the next few weeks. No decisions were made because we have to consult with the chancellor.”
How they proceed will also have to take into consideration public sidewalks adjacent to the campus which are not part of university property.