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Volunteers clean UT of littered cigarette butts

On April 19, 2012

As onlookers cheered, Danielle Rose chased after a student smoking in Centennial Mall.

The junior communication major caught up with him and reminded him of the designated smoking areas around campus, which then he threw away his cigarette in a nearby garbage can.

Rose was one of the 137 volunteers from 34 organizations who participated in the RESPECT UT Clean-up Day on Tuesday in order to raise awareness about UT’s current tobacco policy.

Students wearing shirts reading “Butt Patrol” gathered in Centennial Mall for registration at 10 a.m. and spread around campus to clean up cigarette butts, where they gathered about 15 pounds total.

The event was coordinated by the Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Prevention Committee and encouraged students to come together to clean up campus.

Alexis Blavos, director of the ATOD Prevention Committee, said this event helps smokers realize other people are cleaning up after them.

Blavos said throwing cigarette butts on the ground shows disrespect for everyone on campus.

“Everyone talks about how beautiful our campus is,” Blavos said. “They say they love our campus yet they throw trash on the ground.”

Some of the students continued to smoke after being approached by volunteers.

Blavos said she understands smoking is a culture here at UT.

“Cultures don’t change overnight,” said Blavos. “We know it takes time.”

Rose said this clean-up was important to her because she feels students ought to respect those who do not smoke.

Similarly, Benjamin Wolkiewicz, a graduate student studying criminal justice, saw this event as a way to give back to the community. Wolkiewicz said he is a smoker and he believes it is his responsibility to help clean up trash he might have left himself.

Wolkiewicz said they would like to see more events similar to Tuesday’s occurring as often as once a month.

Blavos said the ATOD Prevention Committee is funding another event like this for the next academic year.

It was the ATOD Prevention Committee which initially surveyed students in 2010 about the tobacco policy. The survey results showed a significant amount of students did not like that the policy had no smoking restrictions.

ATOD wrote and advocated for the current new tobacco policy which has been in effect since the beginning of this academic year.

The Litterbugz, which was founded by Jeffrey Schlekie, was one of the organizations present Tuesday. Schlekie’s vision for Toledo is that one day it may be transformed into a cleaner city.

Schlekie said he believes events in which students actively clean and raise awareness are what will bring change.

“Littered areas make people mad,” he said. “It’s your home. People live here.”

Schlekie said he thinks if residents clean the area, it will make them more comfortable and bring out positive attitudes.

The policy can be found on ATOD Prevention’s website.

Litterbugz will have another event on April 28 called the Glass City Clean Up, where volunteers will pick up trash throughout the city. To learn more visit www.thelitterbugz.org.

 

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