Dear UMKC Roos,
I wanted to share my joy at a new discovery on campus. I’ll give you a hint: it has to do with our smoke-free campus.
UMKC has been smoke-free since August 1, 2014, but — thankfully — it hasn’t taken away this special little treat. And no, it’s not the fragrant clouds that still drift from the lips of smokers that are missing. I’m sure the ban has changed them from dense fog to light cloud coverage.
No, my joy is found in the humblest corners of grass and concrete and take the shape of cigarette confetti. On my way to class, it brings a smile to my lips to think of the fun parties that must have taken place. The confetti arrays of butts are as dense as if the toxic version of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade marched through. Empty cigarette boxes strewn about hint at the wonderful presents they must have contained, and I love imagining the smiles they must have brought to the faces of the emphysema-stricken, nicotine-deprived students and staff. I’m sure the reason the boxes had tumbled to the ground was the excitement – that, or the shakes from withdrawal.
I actually bumped into another admirer of the party detritus who said she had been documenting the state of the area for over a year without any results. I share her pain; to see the leftovers of a cigarette parade for over a year without the university making any changes to the schedule so that the parade can be attended by all is heartbreaking.
It’s even a win-win situation. As the toxins and chemicals leach into the soil or are ingested by a wayward woodland creature, we are helping local wildlife get their nicotine fix. It’s really not fair how the squirrels are allowed to live on campus with us but not attend classes or purchase their own cigarettes, but their rights will have to wait until I have figured out a catchy chant.
Anyway, before the ban, instead of this celebratory scene, we would have only been greeted by sand-filled, dirty urns that end up looking like a tobacco graveyard with little butt memorials to mark the slow death of lung cells. Is there anything more depressing? Not only do these small sand pits remind us of the nostalgic days of playground sandboxes where you were never sure if you were going to find buried treasure, toy, or just cat poop, but then they go and make it too small to even become a peaceful Zen garden.
No, gone are the days of depressing lawn ornaments. Now we have parades! If only they would take down the no-smoking signs so the rest of us would know when and where the parade route is and join in. Until then, you can find me on the concrete stairs behind Manheim and Royall, surrounded by the cigarette confetti and empty cartons, waiting for the next parade. If you know of another toxic parade route, proudly share your pictures on any and all social media. Be sure to tag UMKC because I’m sure they will want to see how much joy their campus policies bring us students.