Though a compromise on the tobacco ban needs to be reached between smokers and administrators, leaving cigarette butts and garbage strewn down LBJ Drive with no enforcement is not the correct option.
The length of LBJ Drive from The Quad to University Drive has become one of the grimiest, most littered areas of an otherwise well-maintained campus that prides itself on beautification and environmental friendliness. The road’s unusually high concentration of garbage can be blamed at least partly on the campus-wide tobacco ban and its ambiguous application to that particular area.
The most offensive stretch of LBJ Drive, located just beyond the vehicle gateway, is less than a block from Nueces, the’s office building. However, it is questionable whether the area is subject to the ban. The dirtiest spots appear between a few religious buildings not considered part of the on-campus area.
Smokers, especially those living in nearby residence halls, have capitalized on this ambiguity by gathering on the ledges around the road to light up, eat lunch and socialize. The area’s lack of trashcans, coupled with smokers’ laziness, has led to the current litter situation. Though smoking is the root of the problem, to-go boxes, chip bags and soda bottles contribute as much if not more to the road’s unsightliness as cigarette butts. The inconvenience of the tobacco ban does not excuse littering. However, the situation begs the question as to what the university was expecting would happen when it removed every ashtray on campus.
The UPD and smokers may distinguish between on- and off-campus locations, but litter does not. LBJ Drive is one of only three gated entrances to campus. The entrance will likely be used much more when construction of the adjacent parking garage and performing arts center is completed.
When construction is complete, residents, spectators and guests of the university will see that area of campus even more than they already do. Preventing it from becoming an eyesore makes sense for everyone involved. If the university does not yet have the authority to maintain a trashcan there, an agreement with the city or owners of the religious buildings to allow it needs to be reached immediately. Whether the litter is technically on campus or not, it reflects poorly on the university.
A single additional trashcan in the vicinity would help the problem immensely. The smokers in question are being inconsiderate to their surroundings, but they are likely more lazy than intentionally destructive. An ashtray would help as well. The current implementation of the tobacco policy has prompted the removal of all ashtrays and eliminated designated smoking areas from campus. The policy essentially denies that anyone would ever smoke on or near campus, which is an assumption that is obviously proving false. Placing a trashcan on LBJ Drive with an ashtray attached to the top would provide a much-needed compromise. The action would keep the ban everywhere on campus while acknowledging some students do in fact smoke and are willing to walk slightly off campus to do so.
The university cannot hope to maintain an image of environmental stewardship when one of its main entrances is covered in garbage. It is time for administrators to recognize that whether students should smoke or not, they do, and the evidence is piling up and stinking.