Summer School Bans Smoking in Yard

Move Designed to Reduce Litter, Complaints; Students Say Move Is Annoyance

When it comes to new rules for summer school students, there are no ifs, ands or butts.

No butts was the point, in fact, behind the new prohibition against smoking by summer school students in Harvard Yard, according to Elizabeth C. Hewett, director of the Secondary School Program.

"All the smoking made such a mess--the smokers didn't even consider their butts to be trash," Hewett said. "Then there were the complaints from the residents of the dorms outside of whose windows these people would smoke."

Proctors and students have noticed that the smoking ban has been widely flouted, despite the rules and state laws.

The latest regulation augments the previous rule prohibiting smoking in Yard dorms, classrooms and other buildings, she said. The regulation is applicable to all students, though it falls more heavily on secondary school students since they live in the Yard.


The new rule was also created out of concern that many of the summer students who smoke are under 18 years old, the minimum legal age to buy cigarettes in Massachusetts.

"It is a concern," Hewett said. "Unfortunately although minors can't buy tobacco, they can smoke. It's one of the old ironies we have to deal with."

According to Dean of Students Archie C. Epps III, the College does not ordinarily enforce any rules about under-age smoking, but rather relies on the local law to make any appropriate regulations.

There is no set enforcement policy for this new rule, Hewett said, and there is no punishment for violators. Individual proctors do have some lee-way in how they address the issue, though, she said.

According to Bradford E. Miller '97, a summer school proctor who is also a Crimson editor, proctors are instructed to tell violators of the policy to stop. If the smokers refuse or cause trouble, the proctor can confiscate their IDs and send them to the dean.

Once there, Hewett said the deans will sit the students down and "have a few words with [them]."

Most offenders have been cooperative and say they just forgotten about the new rule, Miller said.

Proctors were warned about the deluge of smokers likely to be in their care, Miller said. They were advised that since many of the students would have more freedom than they had before coming here, they would often try new things, smoking being one of them.

Another proctor, Elena C. DeCoste '98, said she was advised that up to 60 percent of her students would smoke at the beginning of the summer and up to 15 percent more would start before the session was over.

Most proctors interviewed said that not that many of their students smoked but all said they noticed the trend.

"There is definitely a prevalence of carcinogenic activity among the young people here," said Jedediah S. Purdy '97, another summer school proctor.

Purdy said the smoking prohibition in the Yard has been largely effective but has in turn created pockets of smoking activity in front of the Science Center and outside the gates of the Yard.

Most students who smoke, many of whom refused to give their names, said they were annoyed by the new rule but are willing to live with it.

A significant minority of them, however, said they actually favor the new rule, explaining that they felt bad about sullying the "pristine" Yard with cigarette butts.

Others said they perceived inequities in the rules, saying they were irked that Quad residents are able to smoke there or that full-time students are ordinarily able to smoke in the Yard.

"I figure if other students can smoke there during the year, we should be able to too," said Seema N. Patel, a summer school student. "If they want to keep things clean, all they have to do is put up some nice, pretty ash trays. That'll take care of the problem.

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