Smoking at SCAD: An asthmatic's nightmare
On Sept. 29, Eduardo Evia, a third year graphic design major from Mérida, Mexico, stood in front of Arnold Hall’s brick facade smoking a Marlboro menthol. Unlike many students, Evia usually smokes about 50 feet from any SCAD building’s entrance—30 feet further than the required distance.
Aldine Armstead, assistant to the chair of writing and building manager at Arnold Hall, said she is disappointed with the amount of students who don’t obey SCAD’s policy concerning smoking. She recognized that enforcement of the rule is lacking, as she is one of few who cracks down on students. “Every so often when I notice it [students smoking too close to the entrance], I walk out and I say, ‘would you please move 20 feet away from the building? No smoking in front of the building.’ So I’m pretty much it. And if security is here, they usually ask. They’re [students] not allowed to smoke in front, but very few of them pay attention to that little sign.”
Evia seemed to think that security enforcing the rule was wishful thinking as he said, “I know for a fact that [Armstead] has asthma so she goes out and tells people to move further away, but if she’s not there, nobody cares.”
Evia described the cigarette disposal stations at SCAD’s Arnold Hall as inadequate, besides a single smoking pole—there used to be two, according to Armstead, but one was stolen. Evia said, “They do not have any [cigarette disposal stations]. Usually people just either throw them in the street or on the sidewalk or just put them on the [edge of the] garbage can.”
When asked how he feels about the distance minimum of 20 feet from the nearest entrance to a SCAD building, Evia acknowledged the health concerns and vouched for the rule. “I understand it because the smoke could carry inside or people don’t want to smell smoke, like asthmatics, but I feel like it’s still too close to the door. We should have a designated smoking area.”
Armstead agreed and was very interested in creating a more defined area for smokers, as the smoke often drifts indoors. “I wish that it was down at the corner and that there was a square painted in the sidewalk that said ‘all smokers here,’ I really do,” said Armstead. “And there are many of us who feel that way. There are students who come into this building, they have serious health issues like asthma or other repertory illnesses and so I think it’s dangerous. The 20 feet, to me, it does nothing.”
The issue of smoking at SCAD’s Savannah campus has become an immediate problem to both smokers and those with health problems. “It’s terrible here. I think about it all the time,” said Armstead.
Melissa Meyers, SCAD environmental health and safety manager, declined to be interviewed for this article.
Security Officer Turns Therapist
3 a.m. marks mid-shift for Security Officer Chiquita West. She checks the gate and pushes the rolling desk chair through the doorway of the security booth at the Barnard Village entrance. With a kicking start and a sweeping hand to push back her curls, West smiles wide, passing along infectious laughter, as the plastic wheels of her chair roll past the parked cars. She explains that rolling through the parking lot is a way to pass the time on a slow night.
West seems to be a favorite of many students, perhaps due to her kid-at-heart personality. Originally from Hinesville, Georgia, she explains she’s relatively new to SCAD’s Security team run by Allied Barton. “I was a military brat so I just moved here a year and a half ago from Augusta, Georgia,” she said. When asked about her upbringing, West describes herself as “country hood”—“If you tell my cousins ‘redneck’ is a white term, they’ll show you what country hood is.”
It seems natural that West trained at the police academy. She explained that her nerves became overwhelming when she graduated. “I went to the police academy and then...I was kind of scared. I backed off from joining right away so I said let me dip my toes in security,” she said. She also mentioned a more personal reason for abandoning the police force.
While she was studying at the police academy, West was interested in specializing in cases of child abuse. She looked into adoption to give her two biological daughters a younger sister. In Augusta, West found an infant in need of adoption and took her in. For three months, the child lived with West and her daughters in order to see if the adoption would be comfortable—a sort of “trial run.” As predicted, things went smoothly and West’s bond with the infant grew rapidly.
When the trial run finished, West dropped the toddler off at her uncle’s so the biological parents could pick her up. West later learned the baby never left the uncle’s home. “The uncle actually killed her,” she said. Before the biological parents were able to find a way back to Augusta, the child’s uncle beat her to death.
West mentioned she tends to carry that weight around with her although she tries not to. “It was too traumatic,” West said.
West’s innate motherly instincts seem to trickle down from her personal life to her job, which appears to be beneficial. Often working weekend nights, West sees the students at their most sleep-deprived and heartbroken moments. “One guy actually broke down crying and I wasn’t sure if I could hug him,” she said. The student, who West has gotten to know and describes as a “sweetheart,” was debating quitting school because of a failed relationship.
“And I was like, ‘who did you come to school for? Did you come for her or yourself?’” West said the student argued her logic, but she continued to encourage him. “I was like, ‘no, listen to what you’re saying. You can [finish school].’ I felt bad for him. I don’t like leaving people sad,” West said.
West explains she doesn’t mind playing therapist for SCAD students. “They come to me for their problems so I don’t mind listening all night,” she said. It was only as the sun began to rise that I realized I, too, had been indulging in a therapy session with Officer West, spending two hours outside her security booth venting about my latest stresses.
West hopes to join the Savannah State University police force soon, bidding SCAD students and the Allied Barton company adieu, to face her fears and start the career she wants.