Senate discusses outdoor smoking policy, faculty diversity

Members referred proposals to change Stanford's outdoor smoking policy to a committee for further consideration. They also heard a presentation on the university's progress toward hiring more women and minorities.

The Faculty Senate decided yesterday to refer proposals to make Stanford a smoke-free campus to a committee, which will be asked to propose other ways to reduce outdoor smoking without making smokers leave the core campus to light up.

Keith Humphreys

Keith Humphreys, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, presented two smoke-free campus proposals. (Image credit: L.A. Cicero)

The senate considered two smoke-free campus proposals presented by Keith Humphreys, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, at the March 5 meeting: One would have prohibited outdoor smoking except at single-family residences of faculty and staff, and at four designated places along Campus Drive. The second proposal would have banned outdoor smoking on the core campus only, using Campus Drive as the boundary line.

Under Stanford’s current Smoke-Free Environment policy, smoking is prohibited in enclosed buildings and facilities, and during indoor and outdoor campus events.

Opponents of the proposals, including Provost John Etchemendy, said the small number of people who smoke on campus are considerate and respectful, and do everything they can to prevent others from breathing secondhand smoke.

Etchemendy said less than 2 percent of the Stanford community smoke, well below the national average of 20 percent. He said there is no evidence that outdoor smoking has had a negative effect on health on campus.

Opponents said requiring smokers to travel to designated places on Campus Drive to smoke would place too big of a burden on their shoulders.

While smoking is prohibited inside student residences, students are allowed to smoke 30 feet away from doors and open windows. Opponents of the proposals before the senate said if students were required to travel to Campus Drive to smoke, they would smoke in their dorm rooms instead.

Speaking in favor of the proposals, Julie Parsonnet, professor of health research and policy and of medicine–infectious diseases, and a resident fellow in Robinson House, said smoking – both inside and outside the dorm – has been the biggest issue of contention in the dorm during the last two years. When students smoke outside on hot days, the smoke floats through open windows, she said, even if the smokers are standing the required 30 feet away from the dorm.

Another proponent of the proposals said the senate should take into consideration that certain populations are more vulnerable to the health effects of tobacco smoke, including women and people with respiratory conditions, such as asthma.

Diversifying the faculty

At the beginning of her presentation, Diversifying the Faculty at Stanford and Beyond, Karen Cook, vice provost for faculty diversity and development, said progress “has been slow and somewhat uneven,” and varies across schools and departments.

(left to right) Patricia Gumport and Karen Cook

Karen Cook, vice provost for faculty diversity and development, gave a presentation titled Diversifying the Faculty at Stanford and Beyond. (Image credit: L.A. Cicero)

“I also want you to know that small numbers make a very big difference, so all the effort we put into increasing diversity of the faculty pays off at the local and university level,” she said.

Cook, who also is a professor of sociology, used more than a dozen charts to show the distribution of faculty by gender and race/ethnicity, presenting data on the distribution by school, line and rank, and by STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields.

Between 2004 and 2014, the total number of Stanford faculty increased from 1,778 to 2,118.

During that same time period, the number of female faculty members increased from 408 to 545. In 2004, women comprised 22.9 percent of the faculty, compared with 27.2 percent in 2014.

Between 2004 and 2014, the total number of minority faculty increased from 304 to 500. In 2004, minorities comprised 17.1 percent of the Stanford faculty, compared with 23.6 percent in 2014.

Between 2004 and 2014, the number of underrepresented minority faculty (black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, and American Indian/Alaska Native) rose from 108 to 130. Their percentage of the faculty remained unchanged at 6.1 percent.

Cook also discussed the university’s programs to recruit and retain a diverse faculty, including the Faculty Development Initiative, which hired 12 faculty members between 2008 and 2015 to help expand the research and teaching mission of the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity.

The full minutes of the March 5 meeting, including the question-and-answer sessions that followed the presentations, will be available later on the Faculty Senate website.