Residents in neighborhoods near campus and businesses in the Village generally don’t think any serious trouble will result from a higher smoking population caused by the campus tobacco ban starting this fall.
Roger McConnell, associate professor of music performance, has lived in the neighborhood west of the Arts and Journalism building for 44 years, and agrees with the trustees’ decision to ban tobacco.
“I think it’s a step in the right direction,” he said. “I support it.”
Matt Bailey is a board member in the neighborhood association and said he’s been informed that other communities facing tobacco bans haven’t had many problems with people being pushed into neighborhoods.
“I wouldn’t say there’s much of an uproar from our neighborhood at this point, but if it becomes an issue we’ll squawk about it,” he said.
He said the main concern of the neighborhood is the closing of the gate on Euclid Avenue near LaFollette Complex to dissuade smokers from going into the neighborhood.
Bailey said many university staff members used that gate to get to campus and will need to find a new route, but Ball State wasn’t compromising.
“We worked really hard on the Euclid gate issue and pretty much got stonewalled by the university and ignored,” he said. “I would say we’re a little frustrated and not really sure of the proper way to engage the university in a conversation.”
Gary Burdine has been a manager at The Locker Room for two and a half years and doesn’t think the ban will affect the bar or the Village very much.
“We’ve allowed smoking on our patio ever since we’ve opened, and we’ve never been smoking in the building,” he said. “I don’t think it will have too much impact on us in particular.”
He said there might be a few more cigarette butts, but the Village does a good job cleaning the streets.
“I don’t think it will come to the point that people won’t come to the Village just because there’s smoking outside,” he said.
Bailey also felt that litter might be a problem, but easily fixed.
“I love the ban — all for it,” he said. “I’m willing to tolerate some negativity to the neighborhood to do what’s right for the health of the university community, so personally it doesn’t bother me.”
Kay Bales, vice president of student affairs and dean of students, said the ban will hopefully be a positive change outside the university.
“We hope that those who choose to smoke will continue to be as respectful off campus as they have been on-campus in our designated smoking areas,” she said.
McConnell said he has seen smokers walk through his neighborhood, but doesn’t think they will cause much trouble.
“It is a public street, and they’re entitled to take walks and use the sidewalks,” he said. “I would hope that they wouldn’t litter. Would I say that we should legislate against them for walking down the street? No.”
Fred Curts, a Ball State graduate and staff member, has lived in the neighborhood with McConnell for 20 years, and has also seen smokers, mainly staff, walk past his house.
“I haven’t seen [problems with smokers] so far, but that’s a possibility,” he said.
Bales said the university has contacted neighborhoods, although Bailey said there hasn’t been much communication.
“Actually, the university has responded to neighbors who brought their concerns to our attention,” she said.
Communication is still a concern for Bailey.
“I’m in favor of the ban, and I just hope the university responds if issues arise as a result of their own policy and maybe they’d like to roll out the red with the neighborhood a little bit.” he said.