AU grad student on smoking: ‘no ifs, ands or butts’
President Neil Kerwin might find 1,000 cigarette butts on his doorstep soon.
The butts are a present from Noah Jacobs, a graduate film student who has been advocating for the enforcement of smoke-free areas on campus since last year.
Jacobs is now collecting cigarette butts in hopes of drawing more attention to the lack of enforcement.
Jacobs began collecting cigarette butts last week outside of Mary Graydon Center and already has between 400 and 500 butts. He said he collected 207 butts in a single day. Once he hits 1,000 he says he will deliver them to the President’s Office Building.
Currently, students are asked not to smoke within 25 feet of buildings on campus where signs are posted.
But enforcement of these areas continues to be a source of confusion.
Punishments for smoking in these areas can result in Student Conduct Code penalties, according to Director of Sustainability Chris O’Brien.
Current enforcement is student-to-student, according to Vice President of Campus Life Gail Hanson. No disciplinary action has been taken.
O’Brien said the lack of enforcement is due to the culture on campus and would improve if enough people discouraged smoking.
Jacobs says smokers just laugh in his face when he asks them to stop smoking in supposed smoke-free areas.
“I believe it undermines the integrity of the University to have a policy printed on doors that you don’t enforce,” Jacobs said.
Hanson said the few people who do not stop smoking in front of smoke-free areas are disturbing everyone else.
“I’m just sorry we have people in our community who are that inconsiderate,” she said.
O’Brien wrote a draft of a new smoking policy over a year ago.
The policy asks for a smoke-free campus within three years as part of AU’s carbon-neutral objective by 2020.
The administration will look at the policy later this spring, Hanson said.
Public Safety Chief Michael McNair said Public Safety does not have the resources to enforce a smoking policy.
“They spent $600,000 on a ‘wonk’ campaign, but can’t extend the minimal resources to enforce smoking areas?” Jacobs said.
For now, Jacobs continues to collect the cigarettes, waiting to hit the 1,000-butt mark.
“I’ll be gone in May,” Jacobs said. “I don’t want to have to pass a torch on.”