Cigarette butts pose beautification problem on campus

A graduate student smokes outside Tate Page Hall on Monday. “The ongoing issue of trash being deposited in the smoking area of Tate Page Hall is worsening,” Director of Military Student Services Tonya Archey said in an email. “We must take steps to educate the students who are responsible for this.” Shaban Athuman/HERALD

Hannah Shaffer

WKU will be phasing out smoking on campus within the next three years, but currently, cigarette butts are a continuing problem.

According to the WKU Student Handbook, smoking is only allowed in “clearly-marked designated smoking areas.”

According to the handbook, “Once you are done smoking, please throw your cigarette butts in the ashtray.”

However, this rule is often ignored, especially outside Tate Page Hall.

The increased cigarette butts on the ground outside Tate Page led to an email chain voicing complaints. Emails were sent among the faculty and staff who work or have offices in Tate Page and among those on the staff council.

Communications support specialist Clint Barber, a former smoker himself, feels a lack of ashtrays on campus is not the problem.

“It all comes down to respect,” Barber said. “Respect and pride for your campus that so many work so hard to make beautiful.”

Tonya Archey, the director of the Military Student Services Team, agreed that the problem isn’t a lack of ashtrays.

“The problem we have at TPH isn’t a lack of ash trays,” Archey said. “We’ve asked the same students time and time again to use the proper receptacle for their litter.”

Barber feels a change can only occur when people start holding their peers accountable, “stop being scared to speak out” and “are not afraid of offending someone when they throw trash down in front of us.”

Barber remembers putting cigarette butts in his pocket when he smoked until he could dispose of them properly. Some students, however, do not follow this example.

“Perhaps the students involved don’t realize that littering is illegal in every state in the United States,” Archey said. “They should be told this, and hopefully their carelessness will stop.”

Wendi Kelley, an administrative assistant in for the University College, said this problem isn’t new on WKU’s campus.

“This has been a constant and consistent battle we have fought for years,” Kelley said.

Though smoking is prohibited on campus outside designated zones, some students smoke outside buildings and do not always dispose of the cigarette butts correctly.

“You could put an urn or trashcan every 10 feet, and there would still be litter on the ground,” Barber said. “The fact that there is no place to put your garbage that is convenient does not give one the right to put it wherever they please or make it any less of a crime.”