By Joesph Conrad, Contributer
As the new school year gets underway, students living on-campus are returning to find a new emphasis by university housing. After last year’s dorm fire in Scott Village, residents should expect strict enforcement of the university’s tobacco policy.
University of Nebraska at Omaha housing policy forbids smoking beyond five feet away from a smoking receptacle. In the past, residents breaking that rule would simply be redirected to the smoking receptacles. This year, residents can expect to hear far fewer warnings in an effort by the university to prevent a repeat of last year’s events.
“This year residents received one warning, and that was during their building meeting. If we catch any residents smoking not within five feet of the smoking receptacle, they are automatically written up.”
Second year Resident Assistant Abbey Young said.
Being written up for such an offense comes with a hefty $250 fine.
Stricter enforcement of the policy has been emphasized to resident assistants by the university, which could prove to put RA’s in a difficult position. Resident assistants take on many roles as they try to help residents adjust to campus, resolve disputes and promote involvement all while enforcing the housing contract residents sign.
It can be difficult for RA’s to build trusting relationships and maintain the respect necessary for the position.
As Young points out, “sometimes it can be hard to set that boundary.” The change in the enforcement of tobacco could be even more difficult than enforcing most policies as most students were unaware of the change before school started.
Even with the stricter enforcement of tobacco in university housing, the popularity of on-campus housing remains high. Wait lists for on-campus housing are longer than ever as UNO continues its transition from a commuter school to a more traditional campus.
The tobacco policy has done little to deter incoming freshman students.
“I just think they’re trying to look out for our safety, and they want us to succeed,” Freshman Bridgid Maloney said.
The freedom and convenience of university housing continues to attract a growing number of students despite tighter enforcement. With growing popularity, it seems UNO’s biggest housing priority is the safety of its students.