25 Years Ago
From their founding through the early 1930s, smoking was prohibited at both the Northfield Seminary and the Mount Hermon School. Students pledged to refrain from the habit even during vacations, and a single offense resulted in dismissal. As smoking became more widespread and socially acceptable, the rules regarding smoking were gradually relaxed. First, the penalty was reduced from expulsion to suspension, the young poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti being one of the earliest to benefit from the rule change. Later, Mount Hermon seniors were allowed to smoke in a lounge – popularly called “The Blue Cloud” – in what is now the music building. The strictures at Northfield remained tougher, with no smoking allowed on campus. Through the 1960s girls traveling to and from school were only permitted to smoke on trains and buses which were traveling north of Brattleboro or south of Greenfield. At the merger of the schools in the fall of 1971 smoking was extended to allow any student with written parental permission to smoke within specially designated areas on campus. By the early 1990s, with the risks of smoking and the dangers second-hand smoke well-documented, and with prohibitions against obtaining tobacco by those under 18 now law, school rules changed again.
from The Bridge, vol. XXIV, no. 4, p. 1; December 11, 1992.
NMH Smoking Policy: No Butts About It
As the 1992-93 academic school year got underway, and abundance of changes affecting the NMH community were introduced. Among the changes implemented was the third phase of the infamous Smoking Policy. This phase had been a long time coming. Those who chose to light up would be forced to extinguish their habit.
A committee was established to assemble an effective non-smoking policy. The committee assembled was composed of faculty, administrators, students and health officials. The purpose of the policy was to eventually make NMH smoke free. A three year plan was put into effect in 1990. In the first year, all of the student body was allowed to smoke. Then in the second year the phasing out began and only juniors and seniors with parental permission were allowed to smoke in designated areas. Finally, during the 1992-1993 school year the final phase of the policy was put into effect and no one except faculty and staff, in designated areas or in their own homes, are permitted to smoke.
The student response has been mixed. However, for all of the complaints, the policy’s effect has been felt. Currently no students are on D.P. (Disciplinary Probation) as of now due to a violation of the smoking policy. Smoking and non-smoking students alike seem to have greeted this change in policy with heated feelings. As one former nicotine addict states, “If people think that this change policy has curbed the use of tobacco, they are living in a fantasy world.” One non-smoking faculty member declared, “I don’t object to smoking, but I feel we need to protect our kids.” A nearby student pipes up upon hearing this faculty statement and states, “That’s an exemplary point!”