EDITORIAL: Rules won’t help noise

The Daily Kent Stater reported on Thursday that Student Advancement Sen. Preston Mitchum has teamed up with the dean of Libraries and Media Services to control noise in the university library. Having complete silence in any library is a nice ideal.

However, it is just that – an ideal.

Most students can remember librarians and other library employees shushing talking, music and other noise within the confines of book shelves and computer labs. It is common. People will talk where they are not supposed to.

It is commendable that Mitchum wants to respond to numerous noise complaints he has received from students. Certainly, any senator who listens to his or her constituents is stepping in the right direction.

However, this editorial board thinks the problem is not going to be solved by more rules and more designated study areas on certain floors. As Barbara Schloman, associate dean of Libraries and Media Services, said the first and fifth floors already are designated for quiet study. Currently, students also can find sections suitable for individual study on any floor of the library.

The problem is not that there are no places designated for quiet studying. The problem is that people do not listen.

Enforcement becomes an issue when people attempt to decrease the noise levels in libraries. Librarians can only do so much when it comes to shushing and posting signs. Students don’t mind floor designations as much as they should.

Mitchum should have presented a method of enforcing his plans when he introduced them. Because he did not, this editorial board is unimpressed and unconvinced he will accomplish much, if anything. Simply put, if one doesn’t have ways of forcing students to abide by existing rules – let alone any new rules – he or she is not going to get anything done.

We, as an editorial board, tend to agree with Barbara Schloman, associate dean of Libraries and Media Services. In Thursday’s story, she was quoted as saying, “We have no interest in becoming policemen. Administration wants to set up guidelines, but it ultimately comes down to students respecting the needs of others.”

It is the truth. If students are trying to study and they cannot because so-and-so is talking on his cell phone at the next table, it becomes their responsibility to get up and politely say, “Shhh.”

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.