The Oracle

Relying on goodwill

Is Hamline’s Public Safety enforcement lacking?

Chloe McElmury, Senior Columnist

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Ashtrays are long gone and the once smoke-congested areas of campus have been cleared. Although we’re almost five months into Hamline’s “Share the Air” campaign, I’ve still spotted a rogue vape user or cigarette smoker defying this policy. However, I’ve also witnessed people smoking on the outermost sidewalks of campus, obviously respecting the policy.

It seems that much of the enforcement from Public Safety relies on the goodwill of campus for compliance.In an article published earlier this year, “A tobacco-free tomorrow dawns on campus,” Hussein Rajput was quoted stating “his belief that as knowledge of the ban grows in the Hamline community, the majority of tobacco users will abide by it.” I’ve heard that the most Public Safety can do is ask you to stop. On the “Share the Air” Hamline website, the University claims that visitors who violate this policy will be asked to leave. What about students? Collin Graham, a senior, explained that he felt most smokers were respectful about smoking in their designated areas.

“I have been stopped once by Public Safety, and they told me not to vape, but really I, like most, will just stop for that minute and continue when we’re away from watchful eyes,” Graham said.

Graham mentioned how since the ashtrays are now gone, there’s really nowhere for violators to dispose of their cigarettes. Obviously this is trying to deter smoking, but where are all those cigarette butts ending up?

“Now we don’t have the ashtrays and don’t have a trash place for our waste, other than the ground,” Graham said. Graham has opted to embrace vaping more often, as it’s a bit more subtle for on-campus use.

Hussein Rajput (on behalf of the Tobacco-Free Campus Committee), finally responded to some questions about the enforcement of the policy after almost a month.

Rajput said that “the first year of enforcement of this policy is primarily information-based, with the goal of making everyone aware of the policy and the physical locations to which it applies.” This has been used in other institutions who’ve adopted similar changes. Rajput further explained that as time passes and a simple lack of awareness isn’t enough of an excuse, the enforcement of policy will “become more robust” and those who disregard the policy will go through either conduct processes or for visitors, be asked to leave campus.

While Rajput referred to the enforcement of the smoking ban as a “light touch,” the same “light touch” seems to be applied to a not so new rule about parking at Hamline. I touched on this two years ago in my article, “Hamline’s rising parking crisis” and it seems illegal parkers and the availability of spots hasn’t changed.

Out of Fall 2018’s total Bachelor student enrollment (2,069), only 38 percent live on campus. Therefore, it’s safe to say the majority of Pipers are commuter students. Commuter students have to get to class somehow; although we’re in a great location for multiple transit options, many students are probably driving to class.

Public Safety offers parking permits for $199 a year to students. However, if you are a parking permit holder on campus, I’m sure you’re aware that — as stated on the Hamline Public Safety website — “a permit does not guarantee you are parking space.”

As a commuter student who pays for a parking permit, it’s endlessly frustrating to constantly be greeted by full parking lots at Hamline. I can remember one occasion a few weeks ago, when I had just arrived onto campus. There were a few other cars, along with myself, circling The Heights parking lot, in desperate search of a spot. Inching along at 2mph, we all kept driving around, hoping for the miracle of an empty spot. I searched for over 10 minutes, luckily I had left home early enough to account for my search efforts. I once parked behind someone who had recently gotten into their car, and waited for them to leave. Creepy, I know, but I was willing to be patient.

I emailed Public Safety and Melinda Heikkinen on Oct. 19 about the amount of parking spaces at Hamline, and the amount of student spaces in lots B, C and E, but never received a response.

There is the question of whether Public Safety are giving out too many parking passes. I reached out to Public Safety to ask how many student parking spots there are at Hamline but haven’t heard back by publication date.

As one student to another, I know it’s convenient to park in the lots, but if you don’t have a permit, please park on the street. We don’t want to give Hamline any more money than we already do, but something’s got to give. Maybe our next step is creating another parking lot, but I’m not sure how well that would go over either. As for smoking, I’m interested to see how this issue will continue to evolve once Hamline students who witnessed the policy change leave campus. If students never knew any different, will they still be as quick to be rulebreakers?

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Relying on goodwill