Commons Campaign-Smoking on UNL’s Campus
By: Nate Clark, Garrett McKay, Zach Kenney, & Sam Wyrick
When we first set up our commons campaign, our proposal was dismal and we honestly did not put as much effort into it as we should have. After completing our campaign, we realized how helpful a great project proposal could have been in planning our campaign, both in understanding our rhetorical situation but also in the planning of the actual implementation. What follows, is essentially a combination of our improved original project proposal, and what our project proposal would look like for how we had to adjust our project.
Tobacco use, particularly smoking, has extremely harmful effects on the users, individuals around the users, and the community as a whole. After initial contact with faculty and students we found that there seems to be a disconnect in the communication of specifically where individuals are allowed to smoke and where smokers are required to dispose of cigarette waste. The safety and concern of students is obviously extremely important, a lot of thought goes into protecting students now, but we can’t ignore the long-term harmful effects of second-hand smoke.
Our main focus is the University of Nebraska-Lincoln students, specifically students who smoke. We also plan on utilizing the resources available to us as students and members of the community of Lincoln. We plan to conduct interviews with relevant administration in order to gain valuable insight into how we can work to solve this problem.
We recognize that we are just students and our influence can only go so far. Likely, administration has concrete reasoning for their policies on campus smoking. Also, we are attempting to influence smoking, which is a habit that is formed out of an addiction so we recognize that it can be challenge.
We initially thought we would have a chance at getting UNL to be an entirely smoke-free campus but since then, we’ve realized that is out of reach. Our main opportunity is to create an environment where those who smoke do so in the designated areas and have access to cigarette waste receptacles that they will actually use.
Because the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has such a large population of students and faculty, and based on our survey, most non-smoking individuals have likely had some sort of negative experience with smoking in non-smoking areas of campus. We originally set out to ban smoking on the campus as a whole, or have a few designated spots throughout campus, but after running into a few administrative blocks we decided that an appeal to the smokers of UNL would be a better option. By creating signs encouraging them to smoke and throw away their cigarette waste in the designated receptacles we would appeal to their sense of the commons and help to remind them to smoke where they are supposed to.
Hope to Achieve
Our goal is to limit the amount of cigarette waste that is put in places it shouldn’t be on campus and also to encourage smokers to smoke where they are allowed to. We also want to gather the opinions of students and faculty alike on this matter to provide administration with the proof that there is a need for something to be done about the smoking on campus. Faculty and students both will have great input about what can be improved or changed about the University’s polices on smoking.
How is it/Inventive Creative
Up until we started this project most of us had not known that a good portion of US college campuses ban tobacco-use entirely, we would guess that most UNL students and faculty probably do not realize that either. All four of us agree that throughout their experience as students here at UNL we have never seen consistent efforts to enforce the smoking policies, but more importantly we’ve never seen signs or encouragements of any sort that appeal to the conscience of smokers to only smoke where they are supposed to and to properly dispose of their cigarette waste.
Our goal is to give our audience enough information that they understand where we are coming from and what we are trying to accomplish to do this we will navigate in the context of “narratio.” The key is not just listing off a bunch of the facts we have (our survey results which show the common desire to influence the smoking on campus, the legal grounds for non-smoking in designated areas, etc.) but to tell a story with the signs we create and the people we interact with. The other aspect we will look at is what we believe are the weaknesses in the campus smoking policy and how we propose these could be changed, operating within the “refutatio.”
One stylistic device that we think has worked very well in the fight against tobacco use has been the “point of view” stylistic device. The narrator, in this case, often former smokers afflicted with the permanent damage caused by tobacco use, tell their story in a first person powerful way. We will use this stylistic device to influence administration. Also, we will use “hypophora” to put questions on our posters that will raise questions like, “Did you know this is a smoke-free zone? Well it is! This will hopefully get smokers and non-smokers attention and spark the viewer’s curiosity.
How will it be memorable
We hope that this will be a memorable campaign in that it will change the way we as a commons view smoking on UNL’s campus. We want non-smokers to be aware of the fact that there are in fact many areas of campus that are smoke-free zones. We want smokers to be aware of where they are not supposed to smoke and that they should be throwing their cigarette waste in the proper receptacles.
Medium of delivery
Initially, we bit off more than we could chew and wanted to attempt to get administration to ban smoking in general, or designate one or two zones on campus where smoking is allowed. After discussing with administration we learned that this would not be possible so instead we are focusing on awareness towards on campus smoking and what is and is not allowed through these methods:
· Posters that show where smoking is not allowed
· Posters to put up in common smoke-free zones where we witness smoking
· Posters to put on waste receptacles to encourage use
Division of Labor
Gather information from faculty/administration, main contact person
Designed and placed posters in main areas
Gather information about UNL smoking policies, create survey
Develop understanding of rhetorical situation and what the best rhetorical canons would be
Explanation of our Commons Campaign
When we first set out to develop our commons campaign, we knew that we wanted to somehow focus on the smoking on UNL’s campus. To gauge where we would head in the future, we looked first at the past and we found that for about as long as smoking has been around people have been making a causal connection between smoking and declining health. It wasn’t until the 1960’s that scientists concluded the severity of the situation. With the discovery of how lethal smoking truly is, a boom of thousands of different campaigns to raise awareness, movements to limit the sale and consumption, and legislation were put into place all to fight the damage smoking cigarettes does. Still, today one out of every five deaths in the United States is related to smoking. With all the facts and information we have at hand on smoking, there still seems to be a disconnect on what we know and what we do when it comes to smoking.
To us, one of the most relevant examples of this disconnect exists on UNL’s campus. To a point, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is a Tobacco-Free campus. “Tobacco-free,” however, really only restricts smoking in a few ways, it is not allowed in any facilities or vehicles owned by the university. In front of campus buildings and throughout the campus grounds smoking is still allowed. We had researched and found that this is actually not the norm, there are many college campuses that are tobacco-free in their entirety, which means smoking, or any use of tobacco, is not allowed anywhere on the campus. There are literally hundreds of colleges in the United States that have entirely prohibited the use of tobacco in and on every aspect of their campuses.
All this being said, we set out to tackle smoking on campus with the large idea of trying to get the administration to change their policy and set up a few designated zones where smoking was allowed but banning it everywhere else on campus. Well, we bit off more than we could chew. We began by contacting many members of UNL faculty in many different departments to begin to get a handle on who we could talk to and how to influence the school to change their policy. With no luck, we reached out to the Nebraska Health Center, the planning and construction facilities, the UNL fire marshal, and three faculty within the administration. Not one of them could give us any valuable input into why we have the smoking policies we do and how we could change them. After a long search and a lot of phone calls, we got in touch with Emily Casper, the UNL landscape architect who gave us extremely valuable information but also essentially told us we would have no luck getting administration to reconsider the current smoking policy. She told us that smoking is banned in all buildings, smoking by any day-care centers has to be at least 50 feet away and any smoking near a “LEED” building (which is an environmentally sustainable building) has to be at least 25 feet away. She also informed us that the official policy is, “Use of tobacco products on the grounds of any UNL site is allowed as long as such use is not within close proximity (defined as within 10 feet) of any building perimeter.” She then told us that many groups in the past had tried to influence the current smoking policies with little luck and that she herself had been a big voice in the attempt.
With that, we realized that we had little to no hope in changing the policy as a whole so instead we decided to focus on two things we know that we could influence: 1) smoking in these designated “non-smoking” areas outside LEED buildings which are: the International Quilt Center and Museum, Jacki Gaughan Multicultural Center, Ken Morrison Life Sciences Research Center, and Barkley Memorial Center and we would focus on the smoking in front child care centers and other common spots where we have seen smoking within the “10 feet of buildings.” And, 2) we thought it would be a decent idea to figure out why people don’t throw away their cigarette butts in the ash-trays and onto the ground instead.
The first thing we did was develop a survey to understand where individuals were violating the smoking policy the most. The survey first informed the individual participating of UNL’s smoking policy about smoking within 10 feet of the buildings and then asked in what area of campus did they say this was most violated.
We sent out roughly 120 surveys and had a response rate of 60% participants or 72 responses (mostly because it was one quick question.) The three areas that had the most violations were in the commons areas surrounding, 1) Love Library, 2) Hamilton Hall, and 3) The Union. We developed a map with the areas we decided to place posters that would appeal to the conscience of the smoker violating the smoking policy of that area. The yellow blob is the only LEED building on UNL’s campus which has the 25 feet smoking policy and three black circles are where our survey said students had noticed the largest violations of the 10 feet smoking policy:
The posters we put up were immediately taken down, which we expected, but we put them up three times during the semester, hoping that it would have some impact.
In our correspondence with Emily Casper, we also found out that UNL’s city campus has 95 ash urns available for use. So we set out to put signs on as many of the ash urns as we could with signs like these:
ReflectionOverall, what we originally set out to do was just too much for us to accomplish. We ran into restrictions set up by the administration that would not allow us to proceed and we didn’t have a clear understanding of what we were supposed to do for this project. Instead, we were able to adjust our commons campaign into somewhat of a targeted campaign and hopefully influence the smoking on campus.