Groups win honors for throwing away cigarette butts on campus

Carrie Scully

Credit: Beth Rankin

Beta Alpha Psi and the Accounting Association recently swept the competition and took first place at the Beta Alpha Psi Midwest Regional meeting in Chicago for its “Butt Sweep Saturday” project, which cleaned up 12,150 cigarette butts around the Kent State campus last semester.

The project was sponsored by the Ohio Collegiate Tobacco Prevention Initiative and designed to find how much time and money was spent on cleaning up butts on campus.

Up against eight other schools, the team conquered first place in the community service category.

“For us, this was an awareness project,” said Don McFall, Beta Alpha Psi adviser. “Our intent was to bring attention to a problem and offer possible solutions.”

The project was not an anti-smoking project, but it’s intended to bring about a change and a cleaner university, said Mary Cowx, project presenter and senior accounting major.

“The most important thing we learned was the amount of money the university spends on cleaning up butts,” she said.

The group estimated the university spends 5,200 hours or $70,200 per year cleaning up butts across campus. That’s equivalent to four million cigarettes smoked by students on campus within a year.

The team cleaned up cigarettes around the main parts of campus, excluding residence halls. Bob Gross, project presenter and senior accounting major, said he was once guilty of throwing cigarette butts on campus but will never be found doing so again.

“I was forced to confront the problem,” Gross said. “Now I put (cigarette butts) in a garbage can or an ash tray.”

After the project was complete, the team came up with proposals for a “butt” cleaner campus. Ideas included “ban the butts,” which would implement a university-wide smoking ban; designated “butt huts,” which would assign specific disposal area for butts; and “adopt a butt,” which would encourage other student organizations to adopt a building to “butt sweep.”

Gross said the project helped to set the precedent for other area universities that now want to follow in Kent State’s footsteps.

“A lot of other universities expressed interest and want to apply the same methodology at their school,” Gross said.

The local chapter will next present the project at the Beta Alpha Psi national meeting in San Francisco in August.

The team will be giving its “Butt Sweep Saturday” presentation at the next accounting meeting at 4:45 p.m. Thursday in the College of Business Administration Building, room 210.

Contact College of Business Administration reporter Carrie Scully at [email protected].