October 12, 2018 6:22 pm

Durham College, UOIT ban smoking on campus; Trent still updating its policy

Starting Monday, two schools will be saying no to on-campus smoking as marijuana becomes legal across the country on Wednesday. Jasmine Pazzano reports.

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Two of Durham Region’s post-secondary schools are now implementing a no-smoking rule as marijuana becomes legalized across the country on Wednesday.

Officials from the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) and Durham College said in a dual effort starting Monday, the schools will be banning all students, faculty and visitors from smoking and vaping of any type — including tobacco and marijuana — on campus and at student residences.

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The only exceptions to this rule, the schools say, is the traditional burning of substances that form part of Indigenous culture as well as smoking marijuana for medicinal purposes.

“The health and safety of our university community is paramount,” said Jamie Bruno, the assistant vice-president of human resources at UOIT, which shares the north Oshawa campus with Durham College.

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The change comes as the college has introduced a new part-time-studies program, cannabis industry specialization, but the school’s chief administrative officer says its courses have nothing to do with the institution’s smoking policies.

“Our program is to teach students and to give them skills and knowledge on how to become successful in a new industry,” said Scott Blakey. “That is… the outcome of their learning experiences but [it] is not putting them in an unhealthy environment.”

Many students, like Rosa Nguyen, say they are behind the schools’ new policy.

“I totally agree with that because smoking is not good for your health,” said Nguyen, a first-year practical nursing student at Durham College.

Tysor Phillips, who is also a practical nursing student in her first year, says the move will likely make her school a safer place to be. “Smoking weed… you’re not supposed to be driving as well, so it would stop a lot of that because I know a lot of people who commute here,” said the Durham College student.

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Both schools’ former policy allowed people to smoke tobacco in designated areas of campus. Sara Fudge, a student at Durham College who says she regularly smokes tobacco, says it’s “not really fair” that the schools are now banning smoking entirely.

“For students who come out and want to de-stress from all their working and school or from tests… they just have no place to go,” said Fudge, who is studying contemporary web design.

Durham College business and marketing student Christian Lavender agrees, saying of the new policy, “I think it’s a bit harsh.”

Bruno and Blakey say the new rule is just an interim policy, as they will be working toward finalizing a permanent one by January 2019.

Meanwhile, the remaining post-secondary school in the region, Trent University Durham GTA, says it is still working on updating its smoking policy.

Smoking and vaping of tobacco, it says in a statement to Global News, is allowed within the constraints of its current policy: not in buildings or Trent vehicles, nine metres from buildings and 20 metres from sports fields and children’s playing areas.

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