The steps on University Circle and the “Marlboro tree” by the Student Union parking garage have one thing in common: that they have become popular social spot for smokers.
“Marlboro tree” was littered with a pound and a half of cigarette butts and cigarette cartridges.
Many of the university’s employees were not open for interviews because they were afraid that they were going to get in trouble if it had gotten back to their boss. The fear of getting in trouble for doing something completely legal and off campus caused many people to hide behind the tree away from facing the university’s campus.
Karri Freeman and Belle Smith both work at the Student Union at Baja Fresh and they were open to being interviewed. They said they both have been smoking cigarettes for nearly 30 years. They said they enjoy having their smoke breaks to break free from the sometimes, overwhelming Student Union. They said their smoke breaks are 15 minutes long.
Smith feels that if the university were to offer a closer place for employees to smoke it would enhance productivity. Smith and Freeman said that they have to spend most of their 15-minute break just to go to the tree to smoke, and many employees go over on their break time because they can’t make it back in time.
“It sucks coming out in the rain and snow to smoke,” Smith said when asked how she felt about having to go off campus to smoke. “I work hard for my money and I should be able to spend it how I like.”
Smith said she spends her hard earned money on cigarettes, but she hardly gets enough time to smoke them because she has to travel so far on her breaks to smoke them.
“I feel like a second class citizen,” Freeman said when she was asked about having to go off campus to smoke.
“Marlboro tree” use to have a sign posted on it that read, “No Smoking.” The lot next to the smoking spot use to be owned by a Nazarene Chapel. When OSU bought the lot, the portion beside the road became public property and the sign was taken down.
Twenty-year-old, Abraham Basurto, a foreign exchange student from Mexico City said that he has smoked cigarettes for a year, and he visits the smoking spot on University Circle three or four times a week with his friends to socialize and to smoke his cigarettes.
When Basurto was asked about how he felt about the university making him go off campus to smoke and how OSU’s smoking policies differentiated from his college campus in Mexico City he said that they both had good policies, but he liked OSU’s better. He said that in Mexico City they had assigned smoking areas on campus.
“I think that what they are doing about no smoking on campus is great,” Basurto said. “It’s not healthy for the people who don’t smoke to be breathing all of the smoke.”
Basurto said it was frustrating to come to the smoking spot and to see the trash piled at his feet.
“It’s very dirty,” Basurto said. “People don’t really care about this spot. So, it’s awful to come here and look at all of the trash when they can go to the trash can and put all their stuff in there.”
Jacob Ketring, a 20-year-old, has smoked cigarettes for seven years. He said that he smokes cigarettes because it gives him something to rely on to make him feel better. He said that walking off campus to smoke sucks for him but he respects the rule for everyone’s well-being.
“Walk off campus,” Ketring said. “Smoking is dirty and people who don’t smoke shouldn’t have to deal with the odor and health risks. Maybe walking will benefit you and will show you the negative impacts it may have on your body.”
Yizhe Peng, a foreign exchange student from China said he walks all the way from the residence hall, Iba to University Circle to smoke his cigarettes. He said that he is actually trying to quit smoking because it is a lot cleaner for the environment. He said that since he was raised in a traditional Chinese home when he comes to the littered smoking spot he is disgusted and uncomfortable. Peng said that he thinks that it is disrespectful to leave your trash there when there are trash cans all over campus.
“It is very annoying to come here and see all of this trash,” Peng said.