by James Hearne
As you ascend the stairs, you can see them. Whether they are playing Magic: The Gathering, or making out, the people who hang out on the second floor of Syre Student Center are not easily missed. For some students and faculty, this is becoming a problem.
“Hey let’s get a hackey sack circle going,” said one young man. No sooner said than done, and two people were kicking a hackey sack back and forth, laughing and roughhousing. A young couple is making out on one of the seats. Trash, including shards of tortilla chips, empty energy drink cans, and empty food containers cover the floor. At around 7 pm, it’s still there.
Kris Baier, Director of Student Life, says that he has received numerous complaints about a range of things, from uncontrolled litter to inappropriate displays of affection. Near the end of last quarter, a town-hall style meeting style was held to discuss the situation, and also try to come up with a student-led solution . In particular, the balcony, overlooking the Syre auditorium was closed after reports of furniture being broken, trash being thrown down, and generally unsafe behavior. Baier, says that the balcony will remain closed, until proper use could be assured.
Not all of the people who use the student center are actually students of Whatcom. Many are friends and romantic partners of students. With regards to non-students, Baier is understanding, but firm, saying that cleanliness should be an issue for anyone who uses the space.
“This is a really friendly campus,” Baier said. “But the facilities are for student use.” Facilities such as the computer lab, and the library are strictly students only, he said, adding that non-students are welcome to use be at Syre, as long as they do not create a disturbance. If they do, they are asked to leave. Baier said that this policy has never had to be enforced.
Not everyone “hanging-out” in Syre is a troublemaker. Janette Barton, a student at Whatcom, laments that the people that she spends time with are being lumped in with some of those causing a disturbance.
“They need to make it a place for adults,” Barton said. She added that she and her friends enjoy playing a quiet game of Magic: The Gathering, a fantasy trading card game, and says that it can be hard with all the disturbances. She expressed her wish that the administration would take a more hardline approach with those who misbehave.
Laura Hansen, the new president of the ASWCC, said that the general student council is trying to make the solution more student-led.
“We invited some people we knew hung out on that area, and told them the concerns.” Hansen said. “We are not trying to target anyone.”
John Laigaie, executive vice-president of the Associated Students, says that he and other members of the student council are taking an approach that is less about making rules and more about guidelines. Posters, which are being finalized, will be put up around campus, and particularly in the spots that have gotten the most complaints.