Last February 31, it was announced that DLSU will allocate a portion behind the Faculty Center to building and establishing a faculty-exclusive smoking area. This was announced at the school’s annual Christmas party by newly appointed head of architectural design, Philippe Chua-Bole. The area is expected to be inaugurated come April 2020.
In an interview with The LaSallian, Chua-Bole confessed that the plans for the area have gone through several revisions, but was finally approved over the Christmas break. “Smoking is one of the cornerstones this prestigious university is built on, I believe,” Chua-Bole proudly exclaimed. “Therefore, if we were really going to dedicate a portion of the campus to such an integral part of our culture, it couldn’t be anything less than perfect.”
Big ball of fun
Chua-Bole went on to explain that several pitches for the area’s design were made and shut down before approval. Rejected concepts included oxygen mask vending machines that pumped out cigarette smoke, a smoke tank people could stick e-cigarettes into for a communal smoking experience, and a smoke sauna.
The final concept that was settled on was that of a massive hamster ball-esque area, where smoking can be done in peace. This is what members of the University can look forward to come the turn of the year. Containing the smoke inside the balls would drastically lessen exposure to second-hand smoking, not to mention save the environment. It is an innovation that is in character with the green-spirited University.
“I think it will be quite the spectacle,” said Melborrow Layeets, project head for the new smoking area, when asked what he thought of the new project. “Imagine seeing that area filled up with smoke. Considering the amount of faculty that sneak off to go take a hit every now and then. Once the smoking area is put up, we and the students will have a massive black ball to look at.”
“We may even consider adding a second area to the mix,” said Vergenia Slimm, the project’s lead scientist for air filtration, building off of Layeets’ words. “That way, we will have a pair of massive black balls to feast our eyes on. I can think of no better sight to see to uphold our Lasallian values and beliefs.”
Professor Karl Marcs from the Psychology department is a staple at Castro. Usually at noon, he traverses the distance from his class in St. Joseph Hall to the famed smoking spot. He can be found surrounded by a murky grey haze, speaking to no one.
“I like the air of mystery that smoking lends me,” he said, then professed that he is not a fan of the new plans for the smoking area.
“It’s just that, it’ll ruin the look! Why should the smokers be confined and hidden from view as if we are their shame? I’ve had enough of the discrimination against us smokers.” He gave an exasperated sigh, “I swear, I was born in the wrong decade. Why couldn’t I have been born in the Mad Men era?”
However, other professors like Professor Gustobols Eberiday of the Political Sciences department are supportive of the proposed smoking area.
“I love balls!” exclaimed Eberiday, who went on to say that he loves everything about the idea, “The faculty deserves this. You have no idea the amount of stress we go through every day.” Even then, at just the mere mention of stress, his hands twitched for the cigarette box laying across him.
A few still moments passed, and whatever internal debate he had in his head was quickly resolved as he grabbed the said box and plucked out one cigarette. Lighting up, he continued, “I just feel like this is one big win for labor rights. Finally, the voices of the teachers are being heard.”
Smoke gets in your eyes
Given the continual surge of the smoker population, it is most definite that this clever plan to open the smoking area for the faculty allows not just convenience but may actually kill stereotypes against teachers who smoke.
Without question, Ms. Towbacow de Castro, an academic officer under the College of Liberal Arts, attests to this. “I am already a middle-aged woman who still finds the sweet stench of Marlboro more fragrant than my perfume,” she said enthused.
She also says that lunch hours always serve as a moment for her to let loose while huffing and puffing that fresh white stick. “Castro street has always been my go-to. I think they named it after me,” she said with a snicker.
“But sometimes I can still see students looking at me strangely as if I’m an outsider,” she added. Although de Castro is not new to these nitpicking stares, she still feels unwelcome sometimes. She shared, “It feels demeaning to be honest. I try to engage in small talk with them to ease the tension like ‘Hey, dude. Yeah, I smoke too, you know.’”
So when the plan for a smoking area finally pushed through, faculty members felt ratified. “Now it feels more fair, and everyone in the student body will see that their teachers are as badass as they are. We’re all so happy about it,” de Castro said with tears of joy, almost as if she got smoke in her eyes.
Equating smoke to inclusivity
The newly-unveiled plans speak volumes about the University’s daring willingness to make the campus an inclusive space for everyone—including long-suffering smokers who’ve dealt with their fair share of judgment and malice.
But this is just the beginning. Chua-Bole shared future plans for new smoking areas that will be open to the students. “Recognizing the day-to-day struggles of smokers is the least we could do; opening even more smoking areas is just one of the steps to DLSU achieving true progress.”
With an eye on the (slightly hazy) horizon, the administration hopes that the soon-to-be-erected balls would come to signify something greater: unity. After all, what could unite Lasallians better than smoking and balls?