Smoking Space Separates IEP from Undergraduates

Correction ran February 6 on page 6:

Last week, I wrote an editorial that broke just about every rule for good journalism and for good writing. First of all, I would like to correct the errors in my article.

First, my thesis was entirely wrong. The smoking area behind Rose Lawn is not for IEP students. In fact, the IEP director, Kathleen Ropp has requested the spot be removed multiple times. I also implied that any perceived isolation between EMU was a result of University policies.

I still believe that the cigarette butt receptacle behind North Lawn should be removed, but I recognize that it is not there because of the IEP program.

I now fully recognize that EMU and IEP have many different programs that are aimed at getting undergrad student and IEP students together and that any separation is due more to individual choice than it is to university policy.

Finally, at one point in my article I made the suggestion that the fictional smoking policy was somehow racist.

This was not helpful as commentary and I fully realize that accusations of racism should not be treated so lightly.

I apologize for not doing my homework on this article and apologize to anybody that I offended with my ludicrous accusation of racism.

As editor I have an obligation to research my stories and I did not meet that obligation. 

-David Yoder, Co-Editor In Chief

The Intensive English Program (IEP) has a smoking area and it makes no sense.

The area is located in the parking lot directly behind Roselawn and allows students of the IEP program to have a convenient and hassle free spot to smoke without having to leave campus.

All this sounds fine until you think about it for about a second and realize that the same convenience is denied to undergraduate students.

The reasons for the undergraduate smoking ban are sound and obvious. Not having to walk through cigarette smoke to reach a class contributes to a pleasing campus environment and not being able to smoke outside the dorms provides a small reason to quit a damaging habit. Most of all, EMU asserts that by agreeing to behaviors that are not allowed on campus, we create a single unified culture.

I see no good argument for why this reasoning should not lead to an on campus smoking ban for IEP students. The most common argument that I have heard in favor of the IEP smoking area is that smoking is part of some cultures and that we need to respect this cultural practice.

This seems less than convincing to me. It is easy to believe that smoking could be a cultural practice for many undergraduate students as well. However, even if an undergraduate student is part of a family or region in which smoking is a regular part of life, they are still not allowed to express this part of their culture while on campus.

In my mind, this has always been because part of living in a community like EMU was the creation of a single campus culture. No matter where we come from, we are supposed to submerge some part of our old culture in an attempt to create a campus culture that respects all students.

Apparently, this same desire to create a positive campus culture does not extend to the IEP program. In the eyes of the people making the rules, they are different enough to warrant their own rules.

Which brings me to my next point, that the IEP smoking area is an example of being so open minded that it is actually a little racist. EMU undergraduate students are expected to exercise some responsibility in following campus rules, and choosing an appropriate place and time for actions forbidden on campus, no matter where we come from, no matter who we are, we all have to follow the rules. Clearly, whoever designate an IEP smoking area does not believe that IEP students can exercise the same discretion.

The subtext of this is a little troubling; it implies that unlike undergraduate students, IEP students are not up to the challenge of following campus rules.

Furthermore, by providing a place on campus for students to smoke and giving the action the protective label of a cultural practice, EMU is giving tacit approval to a detrimental and harmful habit. Despite the fact that smoking cigarettes causes just as much lung cancer when used by somebody from the Middle East or South East Asia.

Finally, the smoking area only further divides two programs that are already too divided. It is possible to get through the EMU undergraduate program without talking to an IEP student. I believe that greater communication between undergraduates and IEP students would enrich campus life.

However, communication is only made more difficult by policies that drive a wedge between the two programs. Practices that confer special privileges, like the smoking area, on IEP students only exaggerate the differences between undergraduates and those in the IEP.

By giving us all consistent regulations and a common campus culture, we can shrink the gap between these two programs and create a stronger community. However, if these programs continue to operate by principles that assume undergraduates and IEP students are fundamentally different, the divide will only grow wider.

-David Yoder, Co-Editor In Chief


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