Students studying chemical dependency put their studies to work.
By Kyle R. Cotton
The smokers’ corner at Belknap and Dewey places at the United Methodist Student Center has been a problem since this college implemented a no-smoking policy in fall 2005.
This spring the Human Services Club has decided to be a solution.
Human services freshman Chris Lopez, who serves as president of the Human Services Club, said, “We heard about the problem last semester and we decided that we would clean up the area on a weekly basis.”
The members of the club who helped with the cleanup on Jan. 30 were shocked to see how messy the corner was.
Human services sophomore Britney Cutka said, “I’ve never seen so many cigarette butts in my life.”
Lopez said smokers should be more respectful of the area and to the people at the Methodist Student Center.
In addition to helping clean up the corner, Lopez also brought a receptacle for disposal of butts.
He said, “Smokers aren’t going to quit overnight, so I’ve talked to the staff who are usually out here smoking to encourage the students to use the receptacle.”
All the members who were cleaning up are studying to become licensed chemical dependency counselors.
Lopez said, “This is our opportunity to help educate people while helping clean up our campus.”
Anthropology sophomore Alex Ruiz, who is president of the United Methodist Student Organization, said, “They did an amazing job and people seem to be gravitating to the receptacle.”
Ruiz added, “Until the smoker’s designated area happens this is a good middle point for us since we’ve been cleaning up the area ourselves.”
Ruiz added that UMSO did surveys recently that showed among the more than 350 respondents, who according to Ruiz were not smokers, rated the smokers’ corner the third most important issue on campus behind “NSA: Is privacy worth the price of freedom” and “gun laws/campus carry.”
“Surveys are done over the course of the semester at each hot potato discussion,” he said. “While I don’t know each of them by name, I see them (smokers) every day.”
Lopez said he talked to student trustee Jacob Wong who told them that because of the district’s push to make this a no–smoking campus, any attempt to designate a smoking area would be shut down.
Wong later said at one point, President Robert Vela was looking into a possible solution.
As for the smokers, one group said that they were happy with the cleanup and they support keeping the area clean.
Lopez said that this was the only location the club knew of where smokers congregate, but if other students brought it to their attention they would try to help out if it fit into their schedules.
Lopez said volunteers are welcome to help with the cleanup every Friday. “We welcome all the help we can get, and I encourage people to get in contact with me if they are interested in helping us out.”
Potential volunteers can call Lopez at 210-849-9038, or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.