By Augustine Ugalde, Jr.
It has been about a year since ELAC decided that enough was enough in regards to smoking cigarettes on campus.
Falling short of banning the practice of smoking on campus altogether, the powers that be chose to designate three areas and only three areas on campus where smoking would be allowed.
Because of the construction of the latest parking facility at the northeast corner of campus, that number has been reduced to two.
The location of those areas are irrelevant though, since most smokers either do not know where the designated smoking areas are, or have simply chosen to disregard the dictate and smoke wherever they please.
The Associated Student Union reported last week that it has approached the campus Sheriff’s department about enforcing the rule, but was met with an unreceptive response.
According to the ASU, the Sheriff’s initial response was that the department was too busy to write citations to smokers on campus, which is disturbing in itself, but, apparently, there is more.
The department has backed-off their original response that the lack of resources is the reason for their inaction to now claiming that smoking areas are only available on the west side of campus.
This is apparently unfair to many east-side smokers; bless their smoke-encrusted hearts.
This suggests that it would be inappropriate to cite smokers who apparently have the right to contaminate the air we breathe on the east side of campus.
However, the illegal practice of smoking on campus, other than in designated areas, is not limited to the east side of campus.
These scofflaws smoke wherever they damn please on campus.
What the Sheriff’s department has apparently forgotten is that this is not a new issue and it is no longer open to debate.
The people of California have spoken; so have the people of the greater Los Angeles area and its businesses, restaurants and schools.
Looking at this situation through this lens begs the question of why is the campus Sheriff’s department reacting in such a way?
Is it because of their concerns about smoker’s rights, or because of lack of personnel?
The last time I checked, we live in a democracy where the will of the many supersede the needs of the few.
The students, staff, faculty and administration at ELAC have spoken and their message is, no smoking on campus, except in designated areas.
Once that ruling went into effect, it then became the duty of the campus Sheriff’s to carry out that order, not to make excuses as to why it cannot be done.
The crime rate at ELAC has been steadily dropping for the past decade, so could this just be a convenient excuse to not cite smokers?
A quick scan of the Jean Clery crime statistics show that in January 2010, the department recorded incidents on campus on 10 individual days.
Excluding student, visitor and staff injuries, found properties and traffic collisions, the department responded to one call of vandalism, three student incidents, one petty theft, one grand theft auto and a vehicle burglary.
The department averaged approximately 15 days of activity per month in 2010.
Draw your own conclusions.
This commentary is not to suggest that the department form a task-force of cadets whose sole purpose is to seek-out and ticket smokers; nothing quite so elaborate is necessary.
But when a smoker is blatantly ignoring the mandate on open campus grounds, fouling the air with their second-hand, lung-killing exhaust, would it be too much to ask for a little help here?
It would take all of 10 – 15 minutes to stop, cite and send the violator on their way.
If keeping track of these scofflaws is an issue, I’m sure that there would be a host of student volunteers that would be willing to help with this task.
I would be willing to volunteer just to be able to walk through campus without having to inhale some “rebel’s” second hand smoke and breathe some clean air for a change.
It is time for something to be done to enforce this law; without enforcement, the law is moot, as are our voices.