FM students expelled for smoking

JOHNSTOWN – Six students have been dismissed from Fulton-Montgomery Community College as a result of smoking in their campus dormitories, and college President Dustin Swanger said the same thing will happen to other students who smoke in the buildings.

The dismissals follow two dormitory fires, including one at the Campus View Student Housing’s Raiders Hall around 2:30 a.m. Sunday.

The college said the Berkshire Fire Department responded to the Sunday fire, which was limited to a trash pail in a suite. However, a sprinkler in the suite extinguished the fire, damaging the suite and five other suites.

The fire was caused by a student smoking in his room, Swanger said.

He said the student was dismissed from the college after the fire.

Most of the water was cleaned up after the college put dehumidifiers in the rooms.

Swanger said one student had to be placed into a new residence because of the damage. The other students have since returned to their suites.

Raiders Hall sustained an estimated $30,000 in damages, but Swanger said insurance will cover most of the cost. He said the college won’t hold the student who was smoking responsible for any of the damages.

After the Sunday fire, Swanger issued a directive “that anyone caught smoking or any evidence of students smoking in their rooms would result in immediate dismissal from the college,” Swanger said. “After I gave that directive, the Residential Life personnel and Public Safety went room by room explaining the directive and put a sign in the suite with the directive on it.”

However, he said, on Monday, another fire caused by smoking occurred in Montgomery Hall.

He said some students were smoking in their bathroom with a towel across the bottom of the door and a hot ash hit the towel, causing it to catch on fire. Luckily, he said, the students were able to get the towel into the bathtub and put it out before the sprinkler system activated, but the smoke alarm went off.

A student was dismissed from the college as a result of that fire, Swanger said.

Four other students have been dismissed because they were smoking in violation of the directive, Swanger said.

He declined to provide students’ names.

Swanger said the college has a disciplinary point system in which each campus offense is tallied until the number of points reaches 10, resulting in student dismissal.

However, he said, the point system wasn’t adequately addressing the problem of students smoking in dorms.

“Apparently, that message wasn’t working, so I’m taking more severe action,” he said, referring to the new directive.