Background and Context
The American Indian Student Center (AISC) and Housing and Residential Life at South Dakota State University (SDSU) understand the support of American Indian/Alaska Native students as a shared responsibility. Furthermore, we recognize smudging as a way of life for American Indian/Alaska Native people and welcome this time-honored practice on our campus. In deference to the ceremonial use of smoke, American Indian/Alaska Native students may carry out—within the privacy of their residence hall rooms—cultural practices consistent with traditional ceremonies and observances that involve the use of sacred plants. Typically, the smoke associated with this spiritual practice lasts for a brief duration of time.
The AISC serves as a designated venue where smudging and pipe ceremonies may be conducted by students, staff, faculty and community members and may possibly be used at the start/end of meetings, counseling sessions and other events and occasions including, but not limited to, pedagogy. Other campus spaces may be evaluated, in collaboration with Facilities and Services, to assess if rooms are equipped with appropriate ventilation systems.
The objective of this policy is to honor the cultural implications in the maintenance of traditions and ceremonies involving smudging and to do this in harmony with established University smoke and fire policies. Hence, the AISC and Housing and Residential Life are responsible for the administration, communication and interpretation of the smudging and pipe ceremony policy. All smudging and pipe ceremonies will be coordinated and approved by the Director of the AISC and the Director of Housing and Residential Life. Staff education to promote understanding of the importance of smudging will be a joint effort between the AISC and Housing and Residential Life.
Smudging and Pipe Ceremony Exemption Request
In order to reduce the number of inquiries regarding the smell of smoke and to considerately address those who may have allergies or other medical concerns, American Indian/Alaska Native students are required to submit a Ceremonial Use Exemption form to the Director of the AISC. The Director of the AISC will work in partnership with the Director of Housing and Residential Life to review all submitted requests, to assure the respectful governance of ceremonial smoke in residential halls. Any smudging under this policy must include a specification of the planned procedures and adhere to other university procedures and policies concerning safety on campus. American Indian/Alaska Native students are expected to resubmit the Ceremonial Use Exemption form each academic year.
Noncompliance with the smudging and pipe ceremony policy may result in the triggering of the fire alarm system that could lead to an evacuation of building occupants and/or health and safety risks to the university community.