CHRISTIAN CARRION — Staff Writer
It’s caused fires in several states in recent years, it poses dangers to humans and animals alike and it’s the most frequent source of litter by humans in the world. Now, this burning problem has many Southern students and faculty members fuming mad.
“We hate cigarette butts,” said Robert Sheeley, associate vice president of capital budgeting and facilities operations at Southern. “People have to walk through second-hand smoke to get into our buildings. And not only is it a health hazard, but it’s unattractive.”
Marilyn Peluse is a freshman who said she also finds the amount of smoking and smoking-related litter on campus to be “disgusting.”
“Cigarette butts and trash in general make the campus look dirty and unkempt,” Peluse said. “I’d have to say I see more cigarette butts on the walkway between Engleman Hall and the student center than anywhere else.”
“State agencies have a strict no-smoking policy,” said Sheeley. “In order for that to happen here, though, we need a way to enforce it.”
That’s why Sheeley, in cooperation with Chief Joseph Dooley, of the campus police department, has ordered 50 “no-smoking” signs that will be placed outside the entrances of Southern’s buildings and other non-smoking areas, with another 250 to be ordered in the coming months.
“Once these signs are up, then we can legally enforce this policy,” Sheeley said.
The news of this crackdown on smoking and cigarette butt litter has been met with mixed reactions by students.
“Why even bother? It won’t work,” said Mike Cipressi, a senior. “If you tell people they can’t smoke in certain places, it’s just going to force them to smoke somewhere else, whether that be in their dorm or one of the bathrooms.”
Cipressi, a non-smoker, said he doesn’t believe the efforts to reduce smoking on campus will cause people to stop.
“Realistically, people are still going to smoke,” Cipressi said. “They’re going to smoke, someone is going to yell at them and fine them or something, and everyone’s going to get angry.”
“I’m a smoker and I don’t necessarily mind the idea of this,” Sara Pestalozzi, a sophomore majoring in English, said. “I don’t think non-smokers should have to be bothered by our smoke cloud. I just wish they would give us a place where we can smoke, instead of banning us from everywhere. Give me somewhere with a roof from the rain, and maybe a bench for when I’m lazy, and I’m content.”
While the enforcement’s main purpose is to cut down on litter and second-hand smoke, Sheeley said he hopes their efforts will, in fact, stop people from smoking altogether.
“People have asked me, you know, ‘Why not put ash trays outside of the buildings for people to put their butts in?'” Sheeley said. “Why? That would discourage the litter, sure, but why would we continue to encourage smokers to smoke? I refuse to do it.”
Despite the amount of litter and smoke on the academic side of campus, however, Sheeley said the gazebos on the residence side, which are designated smoking areas, have been very effective in reducing pollution in that area.
“They’re not the greatest-looking things in the world,” Sheeley said, “but they serve their purpose well. We have plans to clean them up.”