OSU: Relocate cigarette butt receptacles, stop the littering
Published: Thursday, February 21, 2013
Updated: Thursday, February 21, 2013 00:02
Despite the trek to the edge of campus to get my fix, I appreciate the cleaner air on campus. Not walking through the stink of brands I don’t smoke makes the journey from building to building more pleasant. However, street corners around campus are now a dumping ground for the dead butts of spent cigarettes.
Walking around campus might be nicer, but walking onto it definitely isn’t.
The smoking ban on campus prohibits smoking in cars on campus as well as in “any indoor or outdoor space on the Corvallis Campus, including but not limited to parking lots, grounds, rooftops, athletic facilities, entrances and exit ways,” according to OAR 576 Division 40.
We are, however, allowed to smoke on the sidewalks bordering the exterior of the campus, for instance, on the corner of Monroe Avenue and 26th Street — where one of the few remaining cigarette butt receptacles is located.
When the ban came into effect on Sept. 1, 2012, most of the outdoor ashtrays on campus mysteriously vanished to some unknown outdoor ashtray heaven. Logically, the many now-superfluous on-campus ashtrays should have been moved to the exterior of the campus, accompanying the banished smokers. But why bring logic into it?
Instead, there are few, if any, receptacles to collect the slowly-growing mountains of filters piled on and around the trash cans along the exterior of campus. There are a few responsible smokers who attempt to combat the litter by ripping the filters off their cigarettes and throwing them away, though they still dump the remaining tobacco and paper on the ground — understandably, as throwing the whole spent cigarette away is a recipe for a trash can fire.
One solution for this increasingly disgusting problem would be to extend the ban to the other side of the street, making the litter even more of the city’s problem than it is now, and disassociating the situation from the university causing it.
Another solution would be to aggressively crack down on littering on campus, with officers lurking at the exterior intersections to ticket students rushing to class or enjoying a stress-free nicotine break between classes. The INTO OSU website informs students that littering in Oregon can mean a fine over $6,000, or even a year in prison. If every student who littered was fined $6,000, we would all be paying fines rather than tuition.
Rather than fining students who are already blowing their disposable income on cancer sticks or expanding the ban and making it someone else’s problem, why don’t we just solve it ourselves? This is a university — isn’t higher learning supposed to fix problems, not create them?
In the article “OSU addresses litter, safety concerns caused by smoking ban” in the Corvallis Gazette-Times, dated Oct. 5, 2012, Corvallis and university officials acknowledged the littering problem — after receiving complaints from residents and students — and said steps were being taken to fix the problems. Corvallis Councilman Mark O’Brien said in the article that “OSU has promised to take steps to fix it, and they have.”
I understand these things take time, but really? That was four months ago.
As a smoker, I am extremely conscious of the cigarette butts piling up around campus, because it makes me look bad — and because when my phone is acting up and I’m the only one out there, there’s not much to do but stare at the ground while I’m restoring my nicotine-to-blood ratio.
So I can say with certainty the problem has not, in fact, been fixed. I haven’t noticed any change at all, at least along the side of campus bordering Monroe Avenue.
Bring back the outdoor ashtrays that used to sit next to almost every entrance of almost every building on campus, and put one next to all the trash cans bordering the campus. Littering is a symptom of a lack of useable cigarette butt disposal units, not an act of vandalism or a conscious attempt to deface the OSU campus. Fix the underlying problem rather than try to alleviate the symptom.
Irene Drage is a senior in English. The opinions expressed in her columns do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Barometer staff. Drage can be reached at email@example.com.