Photo by Lyric Otto
On Whatcom Community College’s campus, there is a perceived distinction between students, staff and instructors that divides them into smokers and non-smokers. Many students smoke cigarettes on campus, in the Syre Student Center courtyard or in the designated “smoke shacks” to the sides of buildings.
While some smokers confine themselves to the designated areas, others smoke at bus stops or on the move from class to class. Those who smoke tend to gather outside, and student William Krigbaum noted the separation between these students and those who tend to spend more time at Whatcom indoors.
Some smokers say they enjoy the social atmosphere created by smoking. “It’s a family here,” Krigbaum, a smoker, said. He estimated that a little under half the student body smokes.
Most nonsmokers said they don’t want to cause tension, but occasionally “you get the looks,” Krigbaum said.
Behdad Dehganizadeh, 22, moved to the US from Iran a year and a half ago. “It’s the best place to chat and share your experiences, your perspective,” he said of smoking circles, which is why in his three quarters at Whatcom, he has almost exclusively befriended smokers.
He compares the smoke shacks to Iran’s hookah bars, and enjoys the six-or-so minute conversations that happen there.
Tessa Jones, a Whatcom student, said that she considers smoking on campus a social event. She appreciates the smoke shacks and their atmosphere, but said sometimes the roofs leak and “there’s usually a big puddle [inside.]” Jones suggested the addition of heaters.
Sarah Miller, a non-smoking student, said she doesn’t have many friends who smoke, but that she isn’t bothered by smokers on campus. She has no complaints about the smoking situation, as long as those who do light up remain courteous to those who don’t.
“We’re good people,” said Krigbaum. “We have some bad habits, but we’re good people.”
Smoking is not permitted within 25 feet of any entrances to buildings on campus, as signs on doors proclaim.
“Smoking on campus shouldn’t be a big problem,” said student council member Lamon Allen. “Students know about the 25-foot rule and we have designated smoking areas, and most [smokers] stay in the smoke shacks or sit on the stone benches.”
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