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Gazette-Times: OSU addresses litter, safety concerns caused by smoking ban

Posted October 5th, 2012 by UHDS News

[Corvallis Gazette-Times, Oct. 5, 2012] — Oregon State University officials are addressing complaints about a litter problem on the edge of campus on Southwest Western Boulevard.

Concerns surfaced last week when Corvallis councilman Mark O’Brien received an email from a resident complaining about cigarette butts and discarded coffee cups across from the International Living-Learning Center.

O’Brien, who said he also noticed the litter problem when he drove on Western Boulevard, responded to the complaint by contacting university officials in charge of a month-old campus policy that prohibits smoking on campus.

O’Brien also brought the concern before a City Council meeting last week to make other council members aware of the problem.

Lisa Hoogesteger, the director of healthy campus initiatives, responded to the concerns in an email, noting that leaders of the Smoke Free OSU initiative identified immediate “action steps” they will take to address the problem.

Steve Clark, the vice president of University Relations and Marketing identified one of those steps as the placement of a large urn at the corner of Southwest 16th Street and Southwest Western Boulevard.

“We heard people saying there are cigarette butts being dropped, and the receptacle is too small and it’s filling up,” Clark said.

Clark said the university also is working to increase how often such receptacles are maintained.

OSU has also hired a student to conduct a survey of areas known for cigarette litter issues.

“We have a student doing a sweep of those areas to determine to what extent it is a problem,” Clark said. “Really what is important here is to educate.”

O’Brien said he was pleased with OSU’s response to the complaints.

“To me, it’s all taken care of,” he said. “They did a good job.”

An additional concern regarding second-hand smoke in the area was brought to O’Brien’s attention as well. He said, however, that the ban on smoking is a university policy and not a city ordinance.

Clark said that as a result of the smoking policy, some students and staff choose to cross Western Boulevard in unmarked spots to smoke on the other side of the street, causing safety concerns. The university has marked Western Boulevard at Southwest 15th Street and Southwest 26th Street as safe places to cross.

“OSU has promised to take steps to fix it,” O’Brien said, “and they have.”

See full article by reporter Joce DeWitt and photos by Amanda Cowan.

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