Student Handbook: A Review of the New Changes

From the well-known Honor Code to where the bookstore stands, William Jewell College’s (WJC) Student Handbook documents many aspects of a student’s life at the College. Since the conclusion of the 2015 spring semester, Jewell has updated the Handbook to include such policies as the campus-wide smoking restrictions and allowing emotional support animals in residential areas. 

Emotional Support Animal Policy (ESA)

According to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Fair Housing Act (FHA), no individual should face discrimination based on a disability from a program receiving federal funds. These acts include the protection and defense of individuals facing housing discrimination and also applies to students of the College. With this in mind, the ESA policy has been added to the Student Handbook.

“The fair housing act tells us that students with disabilities enjoy fair and equal enjoyment of their dwelling. And so one thing that we can do for them, depending on what their disability is sometimes, is allow them to have an assistance animal,” said Missy Henry, 504 and Compliance Coordinator.

Henry began working on creating an appropriate ESA policy for Jewell’s campus during the summer of 2015. She received help from the Student Life office during the drafting process.

“It’s really a right that students have had for a while, but it’s good to outline it so that people know that they can qualify for [an ESA],” said Henry.

The process of applying for an ESA is detailed in the Handbook and includes such steps as: providing documentation for the student’s disability, how the animal aids the student and why the animal is necessary.

Macy Tush, sophomore and first-year Resident Assistant (RA), recognized the importance of a policy such as this.

“College is a difficult transition, I cannot imagine how much more difficult it would be if I had to worry about my mental health. I think this policy takes a huge weight off of some students’ shoulders,” said Tush.

For more information on the process of applying for an ESA, please see Missy Henry in Gano 200-A, visit this link or enroll in the iTunes-U course with this code: CJN-ECR-CRA.

Smoking Restriction Policy

Smoking Policy3For the 2015-2016 academic year, the campus is in a transitional period in which smoking is still allowed in designated areas outside groups of residential buildings. The College aimed to give students this year to acclimate to the new policy and provided smoking cessation support. For students, the nurse practitioner, whose office is located in the Wellness Center, is the main contact. For faculty and staff, the Human Resources office has this information as well. 

Paula Brown, nurse practitioner, explained her role in helping students who want to stop smoking.

“They’ve [the College] left it very open-ended, which I think is good. The typical role of the nurse practitioner is to prescribe medicine, but certainly there are other strategies that work. There’s over the counter things that work, there’s counseling that works. They’ve left it very open-ended; I haven’t really received any direction ‘do it this way.’ I know what the policy says and I know what I’ve done in the past in my prior practice so I’ll try to meld those things together,” said Brown.

Dr. Anne Dema, Provost of the College, commented on a main reason for the transitional period.

The big concern there, which is real, is that for employees, who are here part of the day, there is an understanding that you can go use the [smoking cessation] supports. We’ve got support through HR and through the health center, but you [faculty or staff members] can go home and…have whatever private behaviors you want to have when you’re not here, but that’s not the case for students,” said Dema.

The designated smoking areas are located somewhere near the first-year building in the central area of Jones, Melrose and Semple, on the back patio of Shumaker Hall and on a concrete block outside of the fraternity houses. 

Discussions about smoking and secondhand smoke on campus have happened continuously for some time, most notably with Student Senate approaching administration approximately five years ago with requests for smoking zones.

Senate came to the administration with a proposal to create zones for smoking. There was some dissatisfaction of coming in and out of the buildings and walking through second hand smoke. Senate wanted to do something to help control that,” said Dema.

After Senate approached administration with a proposal for smoking zones 15 feet away from doors that were in compliance with county law, the issue seemed to dissipate. However, with the completion of the Pryor Learning Commons (PLC), discussions around smoking on campus were revived.

“So this past summer, we said, you know what, the institution had been working on creating a healthier environment. We’ve got to deal with this. We had over the years several requests from the nursing students and their association to do something to better educate and support in reducing secondhand smoke. We just decided that it is time,” said Dema.

On Wednesday,  June 29 the student body received an email from Jewell Campus News stating that the campus would become smoke and tobacco free starting Aug. 1, citing that “Student Senate, student focus groups, academic department chairs, Administrative Council and the President’s Council” participated in conversations pertaining to the move to smoke and tobacco free.

Included in this email were two documents, an FAQ and an outline of the policy. The FAQ detailed the exact meaning of “smoke and tobacco free,” which includes cigarettes, chew and e-cigarettes. 

“Why smoke-free? [Because] the emergence of e-cigarettes. Smoking has been banned in our buildings, but what do you do about an e-cigarette? Most of [the] tobacco-free [part], if you read the policy statement, is linked to a health concern. What we want to do is create a healthy environment and e-cigarettes are too new. There’s not a lot out there about it being a health concern,” said Dema.

Current Student Senate cabinet worked over the summer with Student Life on the policy.

“They [Student Life] reached out to the original cabinet, so Harry’s [Harry Schwartz] cabinet, and they had communicated the same message that we did, that students weren’t going to be fans of it [a smoking restriction] and people weren’t going to support a no smoking or no tobacco policy,” said Brennan Canuteson, senior and Student Senate Vice-President.

Throughout this process, Canuteson and the rest of Senate cabinet shared survey responses collected during their campaign and personal opinions about the policy with Student Life.

“Overall they [Student Life] know student feedback does not support the policy and that Student Senate doesn’t support the policy. That was very candid throughout the entire thing,” said Canuteson.

Much of the policy emphasizes the need to respect the health of nonsmokers and the Jewell community in general. 

“Jewell is definitely not on the cutting edge here. But a lot of colleges and universities are moving towards implementing a policy like this so really truly it’s a healthy and comfortable environment for everyone,” said Shelly King, Dean of Students.

While secondhand smoke may be a health concern for students who are nonsmokers, many question the need for smoking and tobacco to be completely absent from campus.

“They [the College] truly do believe that they are doing it for the health of students and the betterment of our school community,” said Canuteson. “As much as it is easy for us to disagree with it and to be frustrated by the policy, it really is better for us to move forward as a collective unit. We’ve voiced our concerns to Student Life and there are times where we are going to be heard and there are times we are not. But at some point I think respecting the overall decision that they’ve come to is the main thing that we can do as group.”

Infographic by Kelsey Neth. 


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