Be nice at the Info Commons

By Nicole Kobie

Ever get frustrated in the Information Commons by messy eaters, loud talkers and ringing cell phones? If so, a new Students’ Code of Conduct is being created just for you.

The code was designed by Students’ Academic Assembly and the Library, in response to many complaints at the Information Commons main desk.

According to Head of Information Commons Susan Beatty, the two biggest concerns are long waits for computers and difficulty booking convenient workroom times. Next are complaints about computer usage such as use of e-mail, playing computer games and viewing pornography.

"The use of PCs in the Commons is for academic purposes," said Beatty. "We cannot, nor do we want to, determine the purpose of the user’s e-mail."

Students’ Union Vice President Academic Rosie Nagra agreed, adding some courses require using computers in ways usually considered recreational.

"Some courses require students to play games for a number of reasons," said Nagra. "Some courses have a sexual content to them, so you have to look up certain things."

For these reasons, the code will instead deal with issues like respect for other students’ right to work.

"A lot of people don’t realize that the Information Commons is a place where you can actively work. Some people think it’s like a library, that it should be quiet," said Nagra.

However, noise is actually a selling feature for some. When other universities tour the Information Commons, the "buzz level" and high activity are viewed favourably.

"We don’t want to get the noise down, and we don’t want it to be a patrolled area," said Nagra. "It’s something students have to respect–it’s a working area, and noise levels are ok."

But the code may be used to encourage "good conduct" and respectful behaviour throughout the library. "As it’s students who came up with the policy, I would hope they find it more credible than if Darlene [Warren, Information Commons Staff] and a bunch of middle age women [Information Commons staff] wrote it," said Nagra.

The code will not be regulatory and is not enforceable. Signs will be posted as reminders to encourage students to act responsibly.

"Enforcement would become self-enforcement through self-regulation and self-discipline–based on the respect of others and respect of place," said Beatty.

For example, cell phones will not be banned outright. Instead, signs that reinforce the Information Commons philosophy of use and user expectations have already been posted. Rather than creating more rules, the code will essentially be a series of requests to students that they respect the Information Commons and the Library.

"We’re not looking to change anything," explained Nagra. "It’s kinda hard to explain it well enough, but they [the Library] just wanted to address a lot of complaints they get. There’s a lot of confusion about what the area is there for."

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