Smoking policy change raises questions among StepUp students

Kristian Evans, Senior News Editor

In the wake of an announced change in the smoking policy on campus, concerns have been raised on how it will impact certain communities on campus, specifically the StepUp program. In an email sent out by President Pribbenow last week, a change in the number of public smoking spots will eliminate smoking completely from the quad area and from in front of the Kennedy Center main entrance.

The change was described as “one step in our larger consideration of becoming a smoke-free campus” came as a surprise to some campus groups. Students from the StepUp program were caught off guard that the move came without consultation of students in the program, some of whom smoke regularly.

   The smoking area adjacent to Oren Gateway Center where StepUp students room, is not on the list of areas to be eliminated in this most recent policy change, but the move towards a smoke-free campus still drew the attention of members of the group. Alexa Anderson, a senior in the StepUp program, commented, “Many times having things such as nicotine and caffeine can help a person get sober from the substances that ruin relationships and families and can kill you much quicker, especially in the beginning.” StepUp program director Tamarah Gehlen could not be reached for comment on the policy change.

   Anderson also stated that the spots have served as a way to connect new members of the StepUp program with the support network of established group members. “They’ve become sort of a ‘hangout spot’ for the community ­— whether you smoke or not. It gives us an opportunity to see people from the StepUp community that you might not see in your classes or living space.” The idea to move to a smoke-free campus by 2021 would supposedly include an elimination of these areas that serve as both an outlet for students in recovery and a space that the StepUp program values.

    However, details for the exact plan beyond the elimination of the Kennedy Center and Quad smoking areas are not detailed in the email. The email does add that these changes have come “as many institutions in our region and across the country have become smoke-free.” Augsburg students wishing to join a task force formed by the president on the issue or to provide comments can reach out to VP and Chief Strategy Officer Leif Anderson at for more information.

This article first appeared in the Friday, September 21 edition of The Echo.