Catherine Couretas

“We want this building to be in great condition for many generations of Miami (University) students,” said Alan Oak, assistant dean for external relations of the Farmer School of Business (FSB), about the school’s newly constructed building.

But were students expecting strict guidelines such as not being allowed to snack in classrooms?

Worry began when students started speculating university policy did not allow for food in the classroom and harsh reprimand awaited those who broke this rule.

FSB Dean Roger Jenkins sent e-mails to both students and faculty during the latter part of the fall 2009 semester, asking for respect for the building. One e-mail stated, “the ban on food and drink in the classroom is a university policy and a violation of that policy is a code 2 violation of the student code of conduct.”

Susan Vaughn, director of ethics and student conflict resolution, however, said her office has no jurisdiction over food in the classroom.

“We’re unfamiliar with that policy,” Vaughn said. “There is nothing in the Code of Conduct that, I guess, restricts where you can have food.”

Because of student concern about minimal space available to eat in the FSB, Oak said changes have been made for the spring semester.

“Beginning this semester, food and drink may be consumed in all non-capeted spaces,” Oak said. “We will still restrict the presence of food and drink in the classrooms, the library and any area that’s carpeted.”

Oak said in dealing with this policy, the focus is not on punishment for students but rather “working out ways to get things done.”

“We’ve added tables, moved some benches around and are increasing the number of trash receptacles with better labeling, which are on their way,” Oak said.

Oak added students began sitting on the main stairs to eat because there was nowhere else for them to go. To ease the problem, Oak said the outdoor tables that arrived just as snow began to fall in Oxford will be placed indoors and more indoor tables will be ordered.

“I think this is going to work, certainly, better than the arrangement we had,” Oak said.

Part of the reason behind the restrictions on food in the FSB is due to the expensive materials used in the construction of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-certified building, a ranking earned by the number of green initiatives carried out during construction.

According to Jenny Callison, director of communications for the FSB, there would be a substantial cost to replace these materials.

John Seibert, senior project architect and manager, said the cost to work toward LEED certification on the building added 1 to 2 percent of the total project amount, or about $500,000 to $1 million.

“Some materials end up costing a bit more,” Seibert said. “The savings are in reduced heating, cooling, water use, etc., and this reduced energy use pays for itself in five to 10 years.”

Callison agreed.

“The cost of the carpet is $25 to $35 per square foot,” Callison said. “Also, because Miami is being very fearful about staffing levels, we have a very minimum level of custodial help which makes it very hard. We have been trying to get more people to abide by the rules because it’s really a situation our housekeeping staff has trouble keeping up with.”

Greg Vaughn, director of building and special services, said six custodians are assigned to the building, although they originally hoped for 13. He said the largest problem this staff sees is when food is taken into carpeted areas.

“People being what they are tend to sneak the occasional cup of coffee or snack into classrooms and unfortunately it causes problems,” Greg Vaughn said.

Oak said student workers have been hired to help maintain the entire building. Part of their job is to be on the lookout for students with food in restricted areas, which includes carpeted areas and areas faculty may not visit regularly, such as the reading room.

“Student workers are interested in how the whole building looks,” Oak said.

He added students should be aware of the policy and want to keep the building looking its best.

“We would expect them not to take food and drink into the classrooms,” Oak said, of both students and faculty. “It’s important for all of us to keep the building looking good, both in terms of spills and picking up after ourselves.