Volume 96, Issue 87
Friday, March 14, 2003

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Drinking at the periodicals

By Anthony Lafratta
Gazette Staff

Western libraries have eased restrictions on drinking, but there's a chance the new policy isn't permanent.

On Feb. 10, D.B. Weldon Library initiated a trial policy which allows students to consume lidded beverages in the library. At the end of April the effectiveness of the policy will be evaluated.

"The garbage situation has been building over the years," said Weldon's director, Claire Callaghan, concerning the mounting issue of food and drink consumption in Western's libraries.

Although fines of $55 can be issued by staff for violations, Callaghan claimed they were not being effectively enforced.

Callaghan believes the allowance of lidded beverages and Weldon's recent garbage awareness campaign will change students' mind-sets.

"Staff will now speak to students who are eating and alert them that this isn't the place to eat," Callaghan said. "We're finding that it's easier to approach students [since the new policy started] and they seem to be more receptive to the issue."

Wendy Kennedy, associate university librarian for Library Information Technology Services, receives reports from Western's libraries and has recognized that old food and drink policies are simply not working.

"We're looking into a policy from which we could get the co-operation of [library] users," Kennedy said. "We'd like to have a publicity campaign to make users more considerate and we need to come up with a different way of dealing with enforcement, which is likely to happen, but our recommendations haven't been sent to the Board of Governors yet."

Students have their own opinions on the trial policy implemented at Weldon – as well as in regards to the deterrence fines which still persist.

"I had no idea [about the fines]," said first-year international and comparative studies student Michael Wiseman. "I think it's a great way of getting people's attention, but $55 isn't a small amount of money for students – I'd rather see more garbage cans and a bigger area to eat."

Second-year mathematics student Stacey Wong praised the new lidded drink policy, but was uneasy over the use of fines.

"People still [drink in the library] anyway, so it's a good idea that they're accepting it," Wong said. "No one pays attention to the fines, so there are probably better ways of solving the problem – there's a girl right [over] there with a muffin."

"People are going to drink either way, so they should just allow us to," said third-year kinesiology student Lisa Purdy. "I was ticketed in December [and] I would want to avoid another embarrassing situation like that again."

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2002 THE GAZETTE