A quiet hiss breaks the early morning silence as the end of a cigarette is flicked into the waters of Burton’s Pond. For the student walking to class, it is barely worth a thought, but for the ducks, it represents something else entirely; it means they can finally get their fix.
Student witnesses on campus have reported lousy behaviour from ducks over the summer, including shakiness, apparent irritability, and aggression. Despite living in a high-activity environment, the ducks of Burton’s Pond have generally been calm, fondly looked-upon members of the Memorial University community. This reputation has made them prime candidates for their position as the mascot of Burton’s Pond apartments – the calmer, independent living environment sought by some students. The inconsistencies in their behaviour have been a cause for puzzlement among many. Still, following a statement by the Memorial University administration last Friday, we now have a proposed reason for these behaviours. That reason? Nicotine withdrawals.
It is a well-known fact that many students use some form of nicotine. Whether that form is vaping, cigarettes, or even gum, where students are present, nicotine will also be. This has rarely presented a problem for other non-student residents of the campus. However, following the sudden outflow of students at the end of the Spring Intersession, very few people have been walking the path surrounding Burton’s Pond–leading to a lack of cigarette butts and vape cartridges flicked into the water and surrounding grass. Being forced to quit cold turkey, or “cold-duck,” has left residents of the pond feeling blue.
University staff are currently looking into how anti-nicotine ads can be visible to ducks and students. Other potential solutions in the duck rehabilitation program include attaching transdermal nicotine patches to a select number of rocks and convincing mothers to stop complaining about their children being hissed by the ducks who break into the on-campus daycare facility. The ducks feel judged.
Input from the ducks will be considered once their interviews are translated by the Linguistics undergrads later this month.