University Life Council
Minutes of Meeting
Sumedha Tagare, Kathy Lowery,
Jim Doellefeld, Karen Brown,
Guest: William Hedberg (Provost’s Office)
Meeting commenced at
Bill Hedberg – Smoking on Academic Podium –
Bill Hedberg provided background information on a situation regarding smoking on the academic podium. He also stated that he wanted to initiate discussion regarding adjustments to the smoking policy and was not requesting to change it.
There are several occupants in the Social Sciences building, including several faculty members, who have acute sensitivities to air quality. It appears that the northwest corner of the podium is the problem-area.
The current strategy is to designate areas where you do not want smoking to take place. The area has been distinctly marked with a multitude of “no smoking” signs.
B. Hedberg explained that the vents that take in air are
near the northwest corner of the podium. Additionally, this is the time of year
that causes people to stand closer to the door while smoking thus resulting in
a chimney effect. The goal is to create a “designated smoking area” in the
northwest corner to help alleviate some of the effects on the affected
individuals in the social science building.
The northwest area on the University campus is currently marked with picnic tables but the atmospheric conditions are a bit unpredictable so for now, the short-term goal is to gauge human behavior and see what happens. Advisory notices have been distributed (copies were given to ULC members) regarding the designated smoking areas. B. Hedberg hopes that if the request is made that individuals smoke only in those areas, then they will comply. He asked the ULC members if there were any other suggestions or ideas.
ULC members discussed other problem areas. Some members mentioned that the entrances to the Science Library seem to attract a lot of dirt and trash and suggested that putting signs up indicating exactly where you can smoke would be easier than hoping people would be able to estimate the ‘legal’ amount of feet they were supposed to be away from the building (as stated in University policy).
Another question raised was in regards to signage and if it was very clear and visible. B. Hedberg responded that there are actually standards for “no smoking” signage and the University is fabricating signs to meet those standards. He also stated that the signs are everywhere.
Committee members suggested that permanently marking the ground (floor) to indicate the number of feet you were from the building might be helpful. Karen Brown said that in order to be fair and in turn get people to comply, it should be very obvious where you are allowed to stand. Bill Hedberg said that architecturally the squares on the podium area 10 feet by 10 feet and therefore if the rule is that you must be “10 feet away” from building entrances and open windows, you could walk one square out and be in compliance but the northwest corner area needs to be treated a bit differently because of the heightened sensitivities of individuals in the building.
Jennifer Stromer-Galley said that the intake vents look like benches so if you are standing ten feet away, it puts you up against the vents. B. Hedberg explained that the vents J. Stromer-Galley referred to are actually outtake vents. A suggestion was made to actually mark the area where the intake vents are located so that people would not stand there, but B. Hedberg, along with other committee members, pointed out that marking the intake vents would raise other concerns and issues.
Candace Merbler said that she believes signage is a problem. Around the library area, the staff know to walk away from the building, but sometimes students don’t realize they aren’t supposed to stand by the doors/windows. She suggested moving the ash trays away from the building and advertising to students and staff via a marketing/advertising campaign to make them aware of the policies.
B. Hedberg said that the different approach experiment in the northwest corner will help determine if human behavior can be adjusted. He agreed that the ash trays create a dilemma because you want trays near the doors so people have a place to dispose of their cigarettes before coming into a building but also get people to keep their distance. Once the atmospheric conditions are more clearly determined, the ash trays in the problem-area will be bolted to the concrete.
Committee Reports –
Committee Reports will be distributed to everyone for review
prior to ULC meetings. Reports can be sent to
At the January 20 meeting, the primary topic was a discussion on how to increase faculty/staff attendance at athletic events. Committee members discussed the men’s upcoming basketball games and that attendance over the winter intersession was high – averaging about 1200-1500 people in attendance.
Ad hoc Benefits Committee
The Committee met on January 7. In addition to the ad hoc committee
members, John Marino, Vice President for Professionals for United University
Professions (UUP) and Candace Merbler,
Religious Holidays – 2:
She also referred to two draft bills, written by committee member Dan Smith, for submission to the Senate:
Committee members discussed the bills and issues surrounding the suspension of religious holidays including questions about the percentage of UAlbany students who are Muslim and the policy of other campuses on suspension of classes during religious holidays.
Also discussed was the New York State Education Law allowing
students to miss classes for religious holidays without being penalized.
Roslyn Jefferson pointed out that there was a lot of
negative response from faculty and asked if there were any letters from faculty
members who had a more positive position regarding the suspension of classes
during religious holidays. Chair
Karen Brown said that people whose interest is religion will most likely be pro-suspension of classes while others who feel that academics is a priority will most likely be against it. She asked what the students’ position was and Chair Moore said that at the open forum regarding suspension of classes for religious holidays, many student leaders did not attend.
Sumedha Tagare said that her constituency, graduate students, want a compromise and be allowed to make up work. Joanne Razzano said that most non-degree students didn’t know why classes were suspended on January 21.
Bill Reese said that being in a class doesn’t necessarily
equate to an education (i.e.
Another committee member stated that he had dealt with a similar situation at a boarding school he taught at that had an annual three week vacation in March. Although the vacation was disruptive, it was a tradition and the teachers at the school found a way around it. He emphasized that whatever criteria was adopted, that the University should be aware of the pedagogical issues.
Jennifer Stromer-Galley said that whatever decision was made it would be publicized and thus the distinctions should be clear. If the University recognizes some religions but not others then there is the possibility of the University appearing unjust and as a state institution, the University should not recognize any religious holidays. She stated that faculty should excuse students without penalty and the law regarding that should be made very clear.
M. Christakis said that if the question was whether students were happy to get the day off then the answer would most likely be a resounding yes. Bill Hedberg asked if not recognizing the holidays would actually solve the academic departments’ problem as they would still have to recognize NYS Law and allow students the day off if requested. Committee members agreed that assuming the departments are aware of the law is not enough and it would have to be made more well-known and understood.
New Business –
Roslyn Jefferson announced that there are Alcoholic Anonymous (AA) meetings on campus now and the first meeting is January 27. It is open to the public and was created with the needs of students in mind (students don’t have cars so it might be easier to get to a meeting on campus).
Bill Reese inquired about the visitor parking situation and if the parking policy B. Hedberg had discussed at an earlier ULC meeting was being employed with the AA meetings since people from off-campus might be visiting the University to attend the meeting. B. Hedberg said that the AA parking is consistent with that strategy.
Sumedha Tagare asked if graduate students could have their student identification cards marked as “graduate student” because the Graduate Student Organization facilities are for graduate students only and it has been difficult to decipher who is a graduate student and who is not since ID cards are only labeled as “student”. Vice President Kathy Lowery said she would look into this.
Next meeting will be February 16 at and location TBD.
Meeting was adjourned at