Students find comradery on “Smoker’s Corner” 5

By Jared Huhta

Keirsh Cochran smokes his pipe on "smoker's corner." (Photo by Jessi Emmert)

Sophomore Jarit Smith opens his drawer, and sorts through various items before he finds what he’s looking for. After grabbing his lighter, Smith taps the bottom of the pack, squeezing the tobacco together. He pulls out a single cigarette, carefully tucking it in the palm of his hand before heading outside.

After a brief walk, he joins a group of about eight students on the corner of North Avenue and Campus Street — “Smoker’s Corner.”

Smoker’s Corner, located across the street from Wright Hall, is a popular spot for HU’s smokers. The small corner is barely a few feet from campus, but technically qualifies as off-campus, so students can light up there without violating HU’s tobacco-free policy.

“I respect them for honoring that and choosing not to smoke on campus,” Nathan Geer, Wright Hall resident director, said.

Students say Smoker’s Corner is about more than just following the tobacco policy, though. Sophomore Josh Doolan said the corner is also a place he enjoys to hang out.

“It is the best experience off-campus,” he said. “It’s probably the most common one people have.”

“The best philosophical conversations I’ve had have been while I’m at Smoker’s Corner,” Freshman Chrystal Montoya said.

“It’s Huntington’s version of the water cooler,” Rusty Boone, a junior, said.
The weather doesn’t seem to deter smokers from the corner either, Geer said.

“I’ve seen them out there in the rain,” he said. “Those are the days that I feel bad.”

While no official records have been kept, some students who smoke on the corner believe there are more students using the corner than previous years, while others haven’t noticed any significant increase. They say there’s an average of three to five students on the corner at a time, while they estimate that the same 25 students use the area.

“I feel like there are more smokers here than last year,” junior Keirsh Cochran said. “It’s become a social thing.”

Smith said he believes there are a lot more smokers on campus than those who frequent the corner.

“When I was a freshman, I didn’t want anyone to know I smoked,” he said. “I would go for a walk and go off-campus and smoke. I imagine it’s like that now. Some freshmen don’t want people to know they smoke.”

Smoker’s Corner is worn from years of HU students’ use. No grass exists on the strip of land anymore, but plenty of cigarette butts and cigarette packs litter the ground. The corner is in front of a fenced-off garden,owned by John Truck, who has given students full-permission to smoke there.

According to HU’s 2011-2012 Student Handbook, “The use of tobacco is not permitted on campus and includes streets, sidewalks or properties contiguous to the university.” But since Smoker’s Corner is owned by John Truck, who allows smokers, it is permitted.

“He’s kind of been accommodating the students as long as they take care of the property and clean up after themselves,” Jesse Brown, associate dean of student development, said. “He’s never said anything about it.”

Brown himself has cleaned up smoker’s corner. He wants to be a “good neighbor” to the residents around campus.

“That’s my concern and the university’s concern,” he said.

Some smokers who use the corner acknowledge the corner is dirty.

“We’ve actually all been giving consideration in picking this up shortly, if we ever actually get a game plan,” Doolan said.

“We’re going to clean them up when we have time basically,” Smith said.
The corner does have a student-owned buttbin where they can place their cigarette butts. It’s chained to the fence, and the key to the lock is passed down to a new student every year who has the responsibility of cleaning the bin.

Charles Brady, a former HU professor who has lived near the corner since 1997, said he doesn’t appreciate the litter.

“We have complained to the college about it because my wife spends her time picking up cigarette butts,” Brady said, pointing to the various buts around his feet. “We said that over where the volleyball courts are, they should put a table…for the kids to sit down and put a can for the butts. That would be a good thing, that’s college property. This is private property over here.”

A move like this, however, would contradict HU’s tobacco-free policy.

According to the handbook, “The use of any tobacco products on-campus and at all university-sponsored events is prohibited.”

“We couldn’t put anything [at Smoker’s Corner] that the university had purchased because then we would be calling that our property,” Geer said.
“As soon as they’ve taken furniture from Wright lounge, we immediately have to go and bring it back because that’s not our property.”

There have been other times when neighbors have called the school, complaining about student smokers on their property. In these cases, the students were told by administration to find another place to smoke off-campus. Brown said it’s the same situation as a student illegally parking on private property.

“We would never tell anyone where they can smoke,” he said. “We would inform students where they can’t smoke.”

Despite complaints, Geer said he doesn’t see the school ever allowing students to smoke on-campus, for financial reasons.

“When you’re a smoke-free campus, there are major insurance cuts the campus gets,” he said. “That’s not a fiscally wise move. You’re not going to gain a lot of students that would offset the loss of insurance cuts by being a smoking campus.”

“For students who attend Huntington and smoke, it can be inconvenient for them,” Brown said. “But I don’t think that’s unique to Huntington. That’s pretty general for a lot of campuses.”

Most students aren’t complaining about not having a place to smoke on campus, Doolan said.

“I have no problem with the corner, actually,” Doolan said. “If the corner wasn’t here, we’d be like ‘Dude, we need a place!’ It’s just a place we associate with ‘Oh, we’re going to come out here and hang out with people.’”

“A chair would be nice, though,” Cochran said.

5 thoughts on “Students find comradery on “Smoker’s Corner”

  1. Reply Jennifer Faull May 4,2012 10:51 pm

    I’m not sure if I am more shocked or more disappointed by this article. As a parent of an incoming Freshman to HU this fall, I am very surprised at the lack of respect the “Smoker’s Corner” participants show for: (1) The environment. (Note: In Pennsylvania dropping butts on the ground is considered littering – a punishable offense with fines up to $300.00) (2) Their fellow students. I’m sure that the “Smoker’s Corner” students do not realize that some individuals, including my daughter, carry a gene that predisposes them to significant lung damage with the number one offender being cigarette smoke. (Need more info on that?? See Perhaps Huntington’s no tobacco policy is not just a financial decision but one that considers the wellbeing of the entire student body. Believe it or not, sometimes it is not all about money. (3) Their fellow citizens. Why should Prof. Brady’s wife have to pick up after these students? Maybe, and this is purely speculation, she is embarrassed about the lack of sense being displayed by the students at the University where her husband served faithfully. Personally, I’m embarrassed, and we have only just begun our relationship with HU.

  2. Reply Keirsh Cochran May 7,2012 11:57 pm

    Ms. Faull- I am at first appalled by your close-mindedness on this issue. I look forward to your daughter seeing the world outside of the sheltered box she grew up in under you. I pray she does not bring your attitude of disrespect to this campus. It is your intolerance and bigotry that hinders the church from completing it’s mission. To address your points. 1) Huntington University is in Indiana. Not Pennsylvania. The corner has been cleaned up. The students on the corner do clean it up periodically. Read the article 2) I doubt that your daughter is more affected by some second hand smoke across the street from campus than she is the millions of harmful pollutants in the air from cars, unless you are suggesting we stop driving too. If the University made the campus tobacco-free for the students well- being, they should probably ban junk food as well huh? 3) I am embarassed by you. Choose your words more wisely. Don’t make it hard for your daughter. We will accept her with open arms and loving hearts. Don’t ruin her four years here with your ignorance.

  3. Reply Jennifer Faull May 10,2012 9:04 am

    Mr. Cochran
    Finally something we can agree on! You are correct in your observation of the miserable failure the body of Christ has experienced in our calling to be salt and light and the LORD’s commandments to love Him and love others. I humbly and freely admit my part in that, and by His grace I am being transformed daily into the image of Jesus Christ, His Son and my Savior, who embodied the unconditional love of God.

    While we as a family do advocate for the Biblical concept of “sheltering”- as described in Psalms 17 and 91 and many other portions of Scripture, your assumption and critique of our parenting style is absurd. You would realize this if you truly knew me. My family, church, coworkers and friends would find that statement very amusing indeed. Please keep in mind that stereotyping is a sure sign of a form of “sheltering” in itself.

    I am very interested in your perspective on the “Smoker’s Corner”, and I hope that someday I will bump into you on campus, and we can sit down and have a levelheaded dialogue where I can hear your passion and you can hear the truth about who I am (and what Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency is for that matter). I’ll know where to find you, and you’ll recognize me…I’ll be the one in the long skirt, bun and tennis shoes walking three paces behind my tie-sport coat-comb-over-adorned husband.

  4. Reply Keirsh Cochran May 10,2012 4:38 pm

    My assumption of your parenting style was a reflection of your absurd assumption of the people who attend smokers corner. Contrary to popular belief, you may find me in a classroom, radio/t.v. studio, or library. The meeting should be an enlightening experience for us both. Feel free to contact me when you are on campus and I will swipe for you in the hub and we can chat over some pasta.

  5. Reply Jennifer Faull May 10,2012 5:33 pm

    Deal! Have a good summer break.

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