OP-ED Butt Out!
By Nathaniel Cheatham
Editor in Chief
Smoking on Campus is Hot Topic. The thought of the first drag of a cigarette during that 10 minute window between classes is enough to get a smoker to brave the elements. We know it’s bad for our health, but we are free to make our own choices about our body. In the dead of winter, we can be seen adding extra layers on in the hallway before opening the exit door and entering the hostile world outside.
As a current smoker, who does want to quit, I can be found outside on campus taking a few drags before escaping the cold. Most times it’s when I have little time to spare. I’ll be honest: I don’t adhere to the designated smoking sections on campus because they do not fit my needs, especially when the weather is cold and wet.
The topic of smoking on campus seems to be a hot button issue. Non-smoking members of our community wish smokers would leave campus to do their devious deeds, while smokers on campus want to maintain their privilege. I don’t think that Manchester Community College will become a smoke-free campus any time soon, especially with college officials like President Gena Glickman and MCC Police Master Sgt. Mike Davis among the smoking community.
But I do think that we can come to a compromise.
The corner near the library, right by the LRC exit, is the most controversial of places smokers congregate. For one thing, it is not a designated smoking area. That is a few feet down the sidewalk, near a bench. But smokers like the area closer to the building because it’s sheltered from the elements and close to the entrance. But non-smokers get upset because smoke can sometimes seep inside or they may have to walk through a cloud on their way from one the GPA to the LRC.
Campus police and faculty will often tell someone to leave that area if they are caught smoking there and cigarette butts do litter the walkway.
There are other areas on campus where smokers congregate that don’t cause any issues. There is an area about 100 feet behind the LRC exit, along the perimeter of the library which provides shelter and keeps the smoke away from other community members. There is a butt collector located there now, but the area is not an official smoking area. For students to follow the school smoking rules they must only smoke in designated smoking areas.
The current smoking areas are positioned away from any shelter. The seating area near the West parking lot, and the area between the LRC and the GPA building, walking towards the Manchester Bicentennial Bandshell are both designated shopping areas. There is also a smoking area outside the Cougar Cafe that is used by faculty and students that isn’t posted, but is included among the three approved smoking areas on campus.
But these are hardly convenient options when the weather is bad, which it is much of winter, spring and fall. For example, the designated smoking area between the GPA and the LRC is located at the end of the wind tunnel that is formed down the center of campus. On a nice, warm day the area can be pleasant and I frequent the table and seating area there. But once any sort of weather comes around, it becomes very difficult to enjoy a smoke break there.
The idea isn’t that MCC should bend to the will of members of the community with a dirty habit, but to make it easier for us to stay within the school rules. I’m not suggesting the school break ground on anything special. Just put up a couple of signs in areas that keep smokers sheltered and keep the smoke away from those who do not wish to be near it. Then enforce the rules, and it should keep everyone happy.
There also is a Support of Smokers club on campus that has in the past worked on issues for smokers on campus. If interested in joining the SOS club, contact the SGA President Brian Nwafor at SGA President Brian Nwafor at firstname.lastname@example.org.