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I must share with you how upsetting it is for the chair of your department to walk into classrooms under my supervision and discover untold numbers of drink containers and snack wrappers littering the floor. It is even upsetting to see wastebaskets filled to overflowing with what seems to be party supplies. This morning I was asking myself why this is such a problem and came to the realization that there may be two complementary causes at work:  

Cause 1. The students in your class cannot distinguish between a college classroom and a theater at the multiplex. They are perfectly comfortable taking sodas and snacks into the theater and they seem to think it is perfectly acceptable to do the same thing in school. You must disabuse them of this notion. What happens in a theater is entertainment and what happens in your room should be education. It is totally inappropriate and unprofessional for anyone, including you, to eat or drink in the classroom. This leads to spills and detritus that spoil the academic environment.  
If people drink a sufficient amount of liquid before they enter the classroom they are perfectly capable of lasting 75 minutes without seriously dehydrating. Sipping water continuously is only appropriate for people in a sauna or who have kidney disease. The leaving of debris is antisocial and uncivilized. It is also discourteous to those who share the space after we leave. Trash does not look good to anyone entering a classroom and sets a very bad tone. What does not smell good to us smells great to insects and rodents. What happens every day in Shepard Hall reminds me of the people who drive up my road in Connecticut and throw garbage out their car window figuring that the world is their garbage dump and someone else will pick it up––which usually turns out to be me.  

Cause 2. The faculty does not make it their business to stop people from bringing food and beverage to the classroom. Let’s face it, it takes a bit of guts to tell a student to please finish their coffee outside the room, and, when someone begins snacking while the class in progress they are being most impolite and should be asked to leave the room. Trust me, if you put your foot down at the first occurrence, no one will do it again.  

Most importantly, we do not eat and drink in class because it disrespects the educational process. Let us honor the place in which we live and work by keeping it clean.  

Stephen Jablonsky