UB staff sick of smoking students
‘It’s the board’s responsibility to fix this’, said Tiemen Folkers during the employee council meeting. He was involved in submitting the complaint and emphasised that staff has a right to a smoke-free work environment. ‘It’s been less of a nuisance recently, but we shouldn’t have to smell any smoke.’
The council couldn’t yet say whether the NVWA will actually discuss the complaint. If they do, the government authority could execute an unexpected inspection. If the NVWA concludes that the smoke is causing a nuisance, the RUG could be fined up to 450,000 euros.
No perfect solution
Peter van Laarhoven, who attended the meeting on behalf of the management team, acknowledged that the perfect solution hasn’t presented itself yet. According to him, the university should first make sure that the current measures are consistently carried out. It should also check whether the staff responsible have been instructed clearly.
The current anti-smoking measures consist of signs on the steps, posters on the revolving doors, and stewards who tell people off. Recently, front desk employees have started going outside to point out the smoking ban to students. Nevertheless, the students regularly ignore the ban, especially at night and on the weekends.
The council understands Van Laarhoven’s point of view, they don’t think that all current measures can be executed consistently. Front desk staff can’t just leave when it’s busy, and the stewards aren’t available every moment of every day.
The council suggested a potential new solution: installing an intercom that will enable staff to confront the smokers with their behaviour from inside the library. This option is currently being explored.
‘It’s a complex problem’, acknowledges Folkers, ‘but we’d love it if it was treated with a bit more urgency. Perhaps the university could improve its communication about the upcoming measures and give people better opportunity to submit their complaints.’