smoker section by jay

There is major controversy about this place. Some people are for it, some people are against it, and some people honestly don’t care. This place sprouts seeds of controversy as it has been here for quite a long time. What is this place? The Smoker Section, which is located near school campus. Students clash with each other (not literally) out in the hallways, in the cafeteria and on social media. Why would people care about it? Why would people want to tamper with it? The smoker section has been there as long as Mark can remember. There have been discussions about removing it multiple times. All of them have failed, but why are people so passionate about it again?

As people may have remembered, I took a survey around coors on March 19th to see what the student body had to think about it. A total of 136 students took this survey. About 26% of the respondents  wanted to move the smoker section to a different location. Their reasonings are that removing it would just create an unsafe environment for the students who do smoke and it would be not much of a nuisance since the smell wouldn’t drift in through the rear doors. Also so that the students would stop banging on the doors or leaving the doors open. About 13% of the student body who took the survey said that they want to remove it so that people would stop smoking and that having one in the first place makes the school look bad. Approximately 61% of the survey participants thinks that the smoker section should remain where it is. They argue that where it is makes it easier for teachers to see where they are and it’s a strong community.

Many students had questions about where we would move it. The students that I talked to had no idea. Some people argued that if we move it farther from the school then the students would be put in more danger.  Also if we moved it across the street then we would be smoking on private property. Other students argue that if we move it further, students who smoke will be discouraged to smoke during school hours and smoke during their own time or maybe gradually stop smoking. By moving it somewhere that can’t be seen near Nova it could improve the reputation of Nova but doing that would mean the teachers cannot see what is going on around there and not be able to shoo off the strange adults that come near there sometimes.

Another problem that was mentioned many times was a safety issue. I hung out in the smoker’s section during a committee block one day to see what it’s like and to gather directly what the smokers think about the smoker section. During that time a stranger came up and asked if we were smoking. Those students were able to shoo them off, but other students are concerned of their safety. The students that were with me explained that strangers do come there occasionally and sometimes threaten the students, but most of the time they are able to shoo them off or a teacher comes up to them and tells them to leave or will call the police on them. Another safety concerns that students have is that people bang on the doors to let people in and sometimes a non-Nova student comes in without checking into the office or sometimes someone will prop the door open and a strange adult will come into the school. Sometimes these people are harmless but there is always the risk of a dangerous person coming in.

The students from the smoker section’s big argument about not moving it is that they have a small supportive community. They keep track of each other and make sure that they’re making good decisions; they keep each other out of trouble, like protecting each other from strangers. A few people had the concern that the smoker section promotes smoking, but the smoker section students said that they try to get non-smokers to never start smoking since it is a very addictive habit. One person in their written response mentioned that the smoker section gives them bad vibes and they feel threatened when they are around it.

Some teachers say that the smoker section is causing the students to skip class. The smoker section students I talked to disagree. They say that because it’s so close to the school, it's easier to get to class and if a teacher sees them skipping then they can go remind them to get to class.  Teaches say that it is the students’ responsibility to go to class and even on the ALE form (the form that we sign in the beginning of the year in order to sign up for classes) it says that it is the student's responsibility to meet all the “rules and regulation governing the actions of all public school students. This includes, not limited to, Attendance, meeting course requirements…” (ALE Form)

In the Washington State Law 28A.210.310 [ 1997 c 9 § 1; 1989 c 233 § 6. ] it mentions that smoking on school campus is prohibited and the school board must write a rule about it. (we’re also required to have a no smoking sign in the school but I don’t see that anywhere.) The Seattle school rules says it is up to the principal to discipline the student. Mark says that United Nova can come up with rules regarding the smoker section. Approximately half students and teachers who responded to the survey, really want rules surrounding the smoker section. Even some smokers want rules surrounding the smoker section.

If you have any ideas about what we should do about the smoker section or to implement any rules to the current smoker section, I highly encourage you to visit United Nova on Wednesdays at committee time in the lab room 120, and get shit done! United Nova is working to  create smoker section norms because of feedback received after the consent day discussions.