Skip to Navigation
University of Pittsburgh
Print This Page Print this pages

June 14, 2007

Proposal to expand no-smoking policy tabled

Faculty Assembly members passed a resolution last week that would ban smoking within 15 feet of main building entrances across campus if it garnered the support of Senate Council, the University’s primary shared governance group.

But absent a quorum at this week’s Senate Council meeting, the resolution was tabled until September. (Faculty Assembly and Senate Council will not meet in July or August.)

The resolution, which was sponsored by the University Senate benefits and welfare committee, in part states: “Despite Commonwealth Court’s recent invalidation of the Allegheny County smoking ban, signs should be posted with due haste because the University should take a leadership role in discouraging smoking and promoting health both on campus and in the community, as befits an institution of its nature and size.”

Benefits and welfare chair Patricia Weiss, who introduced the resolution, noted that UPMC, beginning July 1, and Carnegie Mellon, among others, voluntarily have banned or restricted outdoor smoking.

Both Chancellor Mark Nordenberg and Provost James Maher voiced support for the resolution’s main goal. “I am very sympathetic to the objective,” Nordenberg said. “This is serious business, and you are right that we should be a leader.”

But Nordenberg also stated concerns over the resolution’s call to post no-smoking signs immediately without proper input from “professionals and preservationists, who [are responsible] for the University’s campus preservation and beautification efforts. When I first read this resolution, I thought it was mainly about signage.” It also is not clear to him that signage alone is an effective deterrent, he added.

Maher suggested that the resolution’s approach be reviewed over the summer by the benefits and welfare committee and chancellor’s designees, “to use that time to develop a solution that would lead to the goal. We are in agreement with the intent of the resolution, but I suggest we table it until September.”

In 1991, Pitt banned smoking in all University vehicles and inside its owned and leased buildings, including off-campus housing facilities. But Policy 04-05-03 does not stipulate distance from doorways.

In other Assembly developments:

• At the June 5 Assembly meeting, the Senate elections committee announced newly elected Faculty Assembly members for the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA) and the School of Medicine. Those schools required run-off voting due to ties.

(For the list of previously announced winners from other Pitt units, see May 3 University Times.)

Faculty Assembly members ordinarily serve three-year terms. However, because the number of medical school Assembly members recently was increased from four to nine, the seven open spots are staggered in length of service.

The following medical school faculty were elected to Faculty Assembly: for three-year terms, Carey Balaban, Anthony Bauer and Adeel Butt; for two-year terms, Thomas Smitherman and Adele Towers, and for one-year terms, Russell Delude and Mark Sanders.

The newly elected GSPIA Assembly member is Phyllis Coontz.

• John Close, co-chair of the Senate computer usage committee, reported that some internet service providers (ISPs) sometimes block Pitt’s email domain. “One faculty member said that she got less than stellar [teaching evaluations] for not answering her students’ email,” Close said. “The problem was her email responses were blocked by the students’ ISP.”

Close said he avoids the ISP problem by insisting that his students send course-related email via their Pitt accounts.

Pitt’s Computing Services and Systems Development (CSSD) is working with major ISPs to correct the problem, Close said.

CSSD also is looking into purchasing software that would allow the University to send text message-based emergency messages to members of the Pitt community who opt in to the messaging service, Close said.

• Theresa Donegan, chair of the Senate student affairs committee, reported that Pitt’s administration will not be pursuing mandatory medical insurance for students, about 25 percent of whom currently are not insured.

Student Health Service offers some discount rates and has been giving out prescription samples to students who don’t have coverage, Donegan said. “But there will be a [federal] ban on that in the near future.”

In addition, one plank of Gov. Ed Rendell’s proposed health care reform legislation would require students to be insured, something that puts a heavy financial burden on students from lower-income backgrounds, Donegan said. “We should be thinking through these issues now in preparation for that, in case it goes through,” she said.

• Assembly members agreed that Pitt’s web site often is not user-friendly and the home page’s search engine is inadequate. They recommended that the computer usage committee develop recommendations for improving Pitt’s web site utility.

—Peter Hart

Leave a Reply