Trash talk

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Autumn Brown/The News

The staff editorial is the majority opinion of The Murray State News Editorial Board

Murray State University has a bad case of litterbugs, and it’s going to take a lot more than a can of Raid to fix the problem.

Paper, water bottles and takeout boxes often find themselves strewn across university property, set adrift in a moment of callous carelessness, often by someone who just really needed to make it to class on time.

We, as students, are fully functioning adults who are spending thousands of dollars to be on this campus, so the time for lectures on personal responsibility and taking care of the environment should be in the past – yet, here we are.

A piece of trash here and there might not seem like much, but it adds up quickly, and if you’re not part of the solution, you’re a part of the problem.

Simple changes in student behavior can have a huge impact on how parents, alumni and visitors perceive the campus community – and it can only reflect positively on us all if the landscaping stays debris free.

But it would be unfair to implicate student behavior as the sole problem.

What’s the first thing you will look for if you need to get rid of trash? More often than not, a trash can. Unfortunately, there seems to be a metal shortage, because along most walkways across campus, trash bins are few and far between. Recycling bins are even more scarce if you’re not in one of the facilities.

Even if you can hunt one down, it’s not uncommon to find it overflowing (the bins by Stubblefield Gate are notable repeat offenders).

Several decades-old facilities are in need of serious upkeep and the campus landscaping pales in comparison to other colleges across the Commonwealth. The addition of a sufficient amount of trash and recycling bins is a simple, and less costly, upgrade comparatively.

If the administration and student body can meet somewhere between personal responsibility and practical bin placement, the grass would be much greener.

Unfortunately, everyday debris is only one of the issues. The other: cigarettes.

Despite Murray State operating under the pretense of being a “smoke free” campus, no one seems to be deterred from lighting up seemingly anywhere outside. This is the direct result of a lax tobacco and smoking policy that does little in the way of keeping the grounds and air clean.

According to the Murray State Tobacco Policy, “The use of all tobacco products is prohibited on all property that is owned, operated, leased, occupied, or controlled by the University…”

Another document, Tobacco Free Locations, contradicts this: “no smoking within 25 feet from building openings and major air intake vents…”

The latter of the two has become rule of thumb for staff and students. But with vague consequences and little in the way of enforcement, there’s not much to stop anyone from smoking where they please.

Most baffling of all is the “removal of signage and ashtrays” as of March 15, 2015. This was an irresponsible move on the university’s part, and we are all reaping the consequences.

Some may have noticed buckets of sand that appeared in the common smoking areas last semester. Assuming they were for cigarette butt disposal, they failed to become anything more than mosquito breeding grounds after a good rain.

If the littering continues, the university must take a stand: no smoking on campus or provide ways to properly dispose of the waste.

A clean campus should be a priority for everyone. But for a positive change to take place, both the student body and university administrators must be committed to accepting blame for the issues at hand and work together to make the Racer legacy something we can all be proud of.

Keep it classy, not trashy.