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Opinion

Professor wants butts out of eyesight

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February 7, 2008

Serving as head coach of the UW-River Falls swimming and diving team (yes, there is a pool here on campus), one of the most important aspects of my job is recruiting. I try to get every recruit I contact to come to campus, look around and meet the team. Over the six years I have been here, I have learned the best ways to show off this campus. One of the areas I try to avoid is the courtyard between May and Prucha.

One might ask why I avoid this particular area of campus. In taking a close look, especially as you enter the back side of May into the Nelson lobby,  something is revealed that has become a campus embarrassment: BUTTS.  Thousands and thousands of BUTTS (and no, I don’t mean the kind that indicates our student body is sunbathing nude)!

Many of the smokers who reside, work or visit this campus have turned many of the doorways around campus into their own trash cans. This eyesore has taken over just about every building on campus. The powers that be had the insight to put BUTT receptacles near many of these areas, BUTT it doesn’t seem to be helping much.

I am going to admit to being a rabid anti-smoking advocate. If I had my way, the tobacco farmers would be offered incentives to plow under their crop and start growing hemp, which, I’m told, is one of the most efficient forms of ethanol. For the sake of brevity I’ll avoid going into the usual rants about health, cost and standing outside a doorway in miserable weather. Suffice it to say that I lost my father to smoking and my mother’s health suffered from it as well.

Last year, after seeing a female co-ed throw her BUTT down on the grass near the UC, I made some inquiries about the consequences of doing this on campus. I was informed that this action constitutes littering and can result in a fine of almost $200. In California, my home state, if you are caught throwing a cigarette down in an area with a high risk of wildfire, you can be fined thousands of dollars and jailed for a lengthy term, and woe unto you if you cause death or property damage.

I would like to propose some possible solutions to this problem:

  1. Make UWRF a non-smoking campus: no tobacco products of any kind allowed on campus grounds. This is my personal favorite and one that has lots of support.
  2. Start issuing citations randomly to smokers who toss their BUTTS onto campus grounds.
  3. Smokers who contribute to this blight could develop a conscience and stop inflicting their disgusting habit on the rest of us.

The third solution listed seems to be one that would be the easiest on everyone involved. Unfortunately, there will always be those special people who don’t care about the environment, the rest of us, or anything other than their own selfish desires. There’s nothing quite like the indignation a smoker can exhibit when confronted about the habit.

In conclusion, I’d like to say how proud I am of this campus and the student body in general. River Falls is my home and I derive great joy in taking a stroll across campus, especially in the spring, summer and fall (still haven’t learned to appreciate sub-zero temperatures). I’m trying to aleviate the BUTT problem in town by joining a group known affectionately as the BUTT-pickers, who go out in the mornings and sweep up along Main Street. Perhaps you smokers here on campus could do that as well.  Either that, or a swift kick in the BUTT!

Bill Henderson is the head coach of swimming and diving at UWRF and serves as the athletic department’s equipment manager. He received his bachelor’s degree in journalism and his master’s in physical education from Sacramento State in California.