By Catherine Threlkeld | LSU student
Judith Sylvester hoisted two-gallon Ziploc bags packed with cigarette butts, and thrust them out toward the students in LSU's Journalism Building. The stench of tobacco smoke was discernable from several feet away.
As students murmured, "that's so gross," Sylvester announced the cigarettes were gathered within one hour in front of LSU's Middleton Library.
Sylvester is an LSU mass communication professor and the driving force in the fight for a smoke-free and tobacco-free LSU campus. Supporters of this movement gathered in the Holliday Forum in the Journalism Building to sign a petition for a smoke-free campus and to watch a live web cast of the University of Michigan's Tobacco-free College Campus Initiative.
Mary Sue Coleman, chancellor of the smoke-free University of Michigan, advised University advocacy groups on how to eliminate tobacco from campus. Coleman, who spoke via a webcast, said a critical factor is for faculty and students to make a concerted effort that brings together all voices and all concerns of the campus community.
"When we made the decision to go smoke-free, we were very deliberate and very methodical," Coleman said.
Sylvester said she has been battling with LSU administrators for years to make campus smoke-free. The bottom line, she said, is to start changing the campus culture. "Every time we've hit the administration with this it's ‘how are you going to enforce it and how are you going to pay for it?'"
LSU junior Michael Alford said he doesn't smoke all the time, but when he does, it's to relieve stress. Alford said a smoke-free campus "would really suck. I'll bet a lot of faculty don't like it because I totally see professors smoking all the time."
However, broadcast journalism sophomore Bene Vincent,Sylvester's work-study, assistant, is passionate about making LSU smoke-free because of the health hazard of second-hand smoke.
The current campus smoking policy requires people to smoke 25 feet away from the entrance to any campus building. Vincent said she avoids Middleton Library and the LSU Student Union because there are so many smokers.
"It's frustrating. I do get annoyed when I walk around campus and there are smokers. We have a beautiful campus and I want to keep that as much as possible."