Mansfield’s Governing Body has banned smoking in college and Magdalen’s Health and Safety Committee is considering the same move.
Mansfield’s Bursar, Allan Dodd, sent an email to all Mansfield students saying: “Please be aware that, following a Governing Body decision on 2nd October, smoking is no longer permitted within the College grounds. This is with immediate effect.”
A student immediately emailed back, asking: “Is there any way we can appeal this decision and is there any reason that this action has been taken?”.
Dodd responded: “As for the reason, the unanimous view of GB was that smoking should be deterred on grounds of health and the unattractive nature of smokers’ detritus.”
The Bursar added: “It is also worth pointing out that with the new terrace we have a space that has to be non-smoking as it opens into an eating area, and it is therefore increasingly difficult to set boundaries for smoking and non-smoking areas, so we prefer now to restrict smoking to public areas outside the College.”
One Mansfield student told the OxStu: “I understand that smoking can cause issues but a ban is just draconian. I resent the lack of student consultation beforehand”. The OxStu understands a survey of JCR opinion might lead to a JCR motion calling for Mansfield to reconsider its decision.
Magdalen’s JCR President sent out a copy of the letter he received from the Home Bursar which stated the Health and Safety Committee is considering “a complete smoking ban on the College premises”.
The letter identifies a number of problems caused by smoking: passive smoke getting back into college buildings from external smoking areas, the unpleasant smell of smoke for those around, and the mess created by butts and subsequent blockages in drains.
The letter also cites inequality with different college, inequality between uniformed and non-uniformed staff and the lack of approved staff smoking areas as reasons to restrict smoking in college.
The Bursar emphasised that a final decision has not yet been made and that the college will consult the student body.
Student reaction has been mixed. Will Forrest, a second-year Magdalen PPEist, commented: “It’s just a really bizarre idea – during exams I bet some students smoke well more than 20 a day.
“If the ban passes they’ll be running in and out of Magdalen. For a college so concerned with our academic performance it really is biting off your nose to… well for no good reason at all to be honest”.
However, one Magdalen third-year disagreed, stating: “Smoking is an unhealthy, dirty habit that has health ramifications for fellow members of the college community. It should hardly come as a surprise to smokers that their actions should be regulated by college”.
Fabian Apel, JCR President, told the OxStu: “The College has entered initial consultation with all Common Rooms and staff to discuss the current smoking policy.
“This has become necessary primarily because of problems with the disposal of cigarette butts on the College grounds.
“In discussions so far, a ban has not been advocated by any party; so I am very optimistic that all stakeholders within the College can find an intermediate solution.”
Many colleges restrict where students can smoke but thus far Mansfield is one of the few to have fully banned it.