The cigarette that sparked a fire in Branford College last Thursday also shed light on a disciplinary ambiguity, which was the result of overlapping rules from the Council of Masters, the Undergraduate Regulations and the State of Connecticut.
As of Monday night, the Council of Masters’ Web page displayed a policy permitting upperclassmen to smoke in their suites if all the suite’s residents agree to allow smoking. But the Yale College Undergraduate Regulations ban smoking in all undergraduate residences, including the residential colleges, Old Campus and Swing Space. The regulation is in line with a Connecticut statute that took effect in 2003, banning smoking in any public or private dormitory.
Yale College Dean Mary Miller said the posted regulations had not been updated and do not reflect Yale College policy.
“Any discrepancy is in fact a discrepancy, and we are bound by Connecticut State statute,” she said. “The Undergraduate Regulations already spell out the correct rules.”
Miller also declined to comment on “a disciplinary matter that may be under investigation.”
Judith Krauss, Silliman College Master and former chair of the Council of Masters, also said the posted policy was outdated.
“We follow Undergraduate Regulations when it comes to all of the thing that really require the same set of rules,” Master Krauss said. When asked why the Web site had not been updated, Krauss said the “simple answer is that staff haven’t been looking at the Web site and keeping it updated.”
Branford College Master Steven Smith did not respond to requests for comment on the posted regulations.
“There is a Connecticut statute that Yale follows that bans all smoking in student residence halls,” Marichal Gentry, Dean of Student Affairs, said in an e-mail. “My colleagues state that perhaps there remains an old brochure or perhaps outdated information posted on a particular college Web site that gives the impression that the Council of Masters permits smoking in the residence halls.”
Dean Gentry said the policy on the Council of Masters Web page was probably outdated information that had not been updated since 2005.
The Executive Committee, Yale College’s primary disciplinary body, may ban students who violate the Undergraduate Regulations from living on campus, according to the Regulations. Jonathan Holloway, Calhoun College master and chair of the Council of Masters, declined to comment on whether smoking in a college room might be grounds for barring a student from living in his or her residential college or using its facilities.
“That depends on context,” Holloway said. “I couldn’t comment on another college master.”
Still, Smith said Thursday night it is the University’s responsibility to determine whether disciplinary actions are necessary.
Students in the affected Branford suite did not respond to e-mail requests for comment.
The New Haven Fire Marshal could not be reached for comment Monday. Yale Police Department officials also say they cannot comment on the ongoing investigation into what caused the fire in the suite.