Letter to the editor by Blake Carey

UIS Observer Staff

The article, “A Smoking Circle,” published in the May 4 edition of the paper, misrepresented the perspective of the RA’s hosting the program as well as the overall point of the program. First, it should first be clarified that Residence Life did not provide students with tobacco products; students were required to provide their own. Secondly, the article incorrectly stated that the point of the program was “to illustrate the absurdity of campus policy.” This assertion of the program is clearly in contradiction of a statement made at the program by myself, the program organizer.

I specifically stated that the point of the program was, “to educate residents through a learn-by-doing approach as to how they will be required to follow the tobacco policy next year.” Although this statement was collected by UIS Journal Features Reporter, Cole Moriarty, it was not stated in the article. The claim that the program was intended to mock the campus tobacco policy was supported by a statement made by myself that was taken out of context. I stated, “I always abide by the campus policy, you know me.”

In the context of this statement, I had just explained the current smoking policy and the changes for next year. I then concluded with the quoted statement as a way to allude to why the current program was being held off campus. The statement was intended for comedic effect, but nonetheless demonstrated it would be a violation of campus policy to hold such a program on campus.  Furthermore, the educational component of the program was underrepresented in the article. The article presented the educational part of the program as a mere “pretext” that enabled students to smoke off campus for a residence life program.

The program did involve a social aspect, but residents did leave the program with a better understanding of the tobacco policy changes for next year. I specifically stated that the point of asking residents to come join in a smoking program off-campus was a crucial part of the learning experience as of July 1 residents will no longer be permitted to smoke on campus. I discussed the tobacco policy changes for next year in detail and explained that residents would no longer be permitted to smoke in their personal vehicles or even while driving through campus. The article was correct in stating that the program did seek to give smokers an opportunity to smoke freely off campus as well as provide residents with an experience that was atypical of most programs. However, the program was not intended to mock campus policy, but educate residents upon the current, and future, smoking policy. Misunderstandings occur from time to time and we do not attribute fault to The Journal. We welcome, and encourage, The Journal to continue to report on residence life programs in the future.


Blake Carey