October 26, 2011

Mayer: no backpacks policy

The piles of backpacks at the doors of the Hard Knox Café and the Oak Room may soon begin to disappear.

Earlier this month, Student Senate passed a resolution against the no bags policy, and it was removed with cooperation from Director of Dining Services Helmut Mayer.

“The thing about [the no bags policy] is, first, it was a big change from before. It’s inconvenient for a lot of students. Whether or not you take a bag, it creates a lot of clutter in the area. A lot of students didn’t like it,” senior President of Student Senate Gordon Barratt said. “The policy was imposed without really discussing it with anybody. That’s one thing that angered a lot of people.”

Despite the initial upset at its implementation, the policy did have purpose.

“[There were] two reasons,” Mayer said. “One: the opportunity to fill [bags] up while in the cafeteria. The other one— equally important, I think—we kept seeing people falling over bags. If you look at other [Associated Colleges of the Midwest], I would say half of them have the same policy.”

Out of these reasons, theft is perhaps the more serious problem. According to Mayer, there are at least five to seven incidents a week, out of which maybe two are caught. Hence, it became very important to address this issue, particularly when Student Senate met with Dining Services to discuss the removal of the no bags policy.

“I said to Senate, if you come up with something, if you recognize that this is going on and make some noise about it and discourage some of the people doing it, then I’ll rescind the policy,” Mayer said. “And that’s what we did.”

The successful removal of the policy marks a fight won by Student Senate.

“We are going to publicize it more,” Barratt said. “We’re proud of it. This is our first big achievement of the year.”

Publicizing the updated policy on backpacks will indeed be necessary. Many students continue to hang up their bags even though it is no longer required.

Although students may see the functionality of such a policy, many may be pleased to hear that it has been rescinded.

“I know Helmut says we should be like every other university, but this is Knox, and I really think that one of the cool things about Knox is that we don’t identify as every other university,” sophomore Annaliese Lengerich said. “Why should we have to follow suit if things were working out before?”

Some students expressed a desire to be trusted.

“We’re in college. The college should treat us like adults and not like we’re back in high school again,” sophomore Jess Ranard said.

The inconvenience of the no bags policy is another point against it.

“[The Caf was] incredibly cluttered and it’s oftentimes difficult to find my stuff,” freshman Susannah Lodge-Rigal said. “I’m glad people now have the freedom to choose where to place their bags.”

Chelsea Embree
Chelsea Embree is a senior majoring in creative writing and minoring in art history. She previously served as co-mosaic editor and as an arts and features reporter for TKS. During the summer of 2013, she served as a content intern at The St. Louis Beacon. Chelsea has studied under former Random House copy chief Sean Mills and taught writing as a teaching assistant for First-Year Preceptorial. An avid blogger, she has written extensively about youth in St. Louis and maintains a lively poetry and nonfiction blog on Tumblr. She is also the director of communications for Mortar Board and co-president of Terpsichore Dance Collective.

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