The Smoker’s Arch

-Bethani Thomas, Opinions Editor

“Enter here to increase in stature, knowledge, and wisdom,” reads the entrance to our school. Then upon exiting, we are encouraged to, “Leave here and share [our] culture with all mankind.” What inspiring words to take to heart as we step out of the premises of our campus and go into Clinton, then outside of Mississippi, and even to the rest of the World. But, before we go to all the grand places to share our culture, we must first walk through cigarette smoke and step around Styrofoam cups, cigarette boxes, and hundreds of cigarette butts stomped into the ground.

I am not about to write this article against people who smoke. I don’t care that people smoke, but why at the entering/exiting walkway of our school and why has this trendy smoking place also become an area to litter?

We are a smoke-free campus, and I am proud of that aspect of MC. I realize that for some this is more of a struggle than a blessing, and so it has become a habit of said some to step barely off of the school’s boundaries and lean against the brick wall to enjoy a cigarette or two. This, I am not proud of, and here are a few reasons why.

The entryway to our school is a monument declaring the hopes and inspirations this academy holds for each one of its students. It is a physical declaration of the standards that Mississippi College encourages for those who step onto its campus. When I see the cups, cigarette boxes, and other filth thrown around that area, as well as the place where grass has ceased to grow because of the many feet that have stood there, I cringe my teeth. I think it is paradoxical that this archway is meant to be an inspiration to those entering and exiting this campus, yet is such an eye sore to passers-by.

Again I feel the urge to proclaim that the people in and of themselves are not the eyesores, but the location of this routine congregation. The “smoker’s arch” has got to be moved, or, at least a trashcan should be provided. Which brings me to my next point.

People can smoke. That is not my problem. Nor does smoking imply that one has not gained “stature, knowledge, and wisdom” and is not sharing their “culture with all mankind.” But, I ask, is it habit that causes smokers to leave their leftovers on the ground, or is there some underlying statement being made by those who thoughtlessly drop these and extinguish them in the dirt? I realize that cigarettes are, indeed, lit with fire, and therefore are hot to the touch and that this might be the reason they are difficult to carry to the trashcan that is literally 15 steps from the archway. So I repeat, if the location of this hourly session is not changed, I would ask that some form of trash/cigarette dispenser be placed at the archway.

Our school is not perfect. It has its flaws and drawbacks. I do, though, consider it a strong symbol of academic excellence, and I know that the board of directors along with our professors strive to make it a place of distinction. For this reason I hope to see a change regarding the entryway so that this small facet of our school might also assert the value that lies within.

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