SIUC not alone in poster policy

By Gus Bode

Other universities have similar restrictions with little enforcement

Other Illinois universities that have rules similar to SIUC’s poster policy forbidding chalk and restricts posting random flyer advertisements say they do not actively enforce it because it is not a problem on their campuses.

Roughly two weeks ago, SIUC revived an old policy in an effort to clean up what it considered a sloppy campus. The policy prohibits using sidewalks as an advertising medium and restricts posters to specific areas on campus.

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Diane Nece, an employee at Northern Illinois University who deals with the institution’s posting policy, said NIU has strict rules about where and what flyers it allows to be posted, but there is little punishment for violators. At NIU, commercial advertisers like businesses are not allowed to put flyers up, but it does allow students to publicize their groups on the sidewalks as long as the area can be in direct contact with rain.

“We don’t want to set them up to fail, but there has to be some guidelines,” Nece said. “Really, there is not a lot of teeth to it. We’re not going to break your knee caps, but we will probably make our own hot list for blatant poster infractions.”

Nece said mostly administrators end up scrutinizing cases individually to determine the consequence.

At the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, there are very few restrictions, where flyers are put up at will. The university even gives its organizations chalk to advertise with and it is paid for through student fees.

At Eastern Illinois University, there are no strict rules for posting because the administration does not believe it is problematic for the campus.

Sue Ellen Johnson, an employee at Northwestern University, said the institution has had a policy in place since 2001 that gives a seven-page list of do’s and dont’s, but ever since it began enforcing those rules, they have not had any violators. At Northwestern, students are also allowed to advertise their clubs with chalk in areas that come in contact with rain, but for those who market their club elsewhere, they will face a $250 fine.

“The policy is more like a threat and the groups are usually just warned,” Johnson said.

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Johnson also said at Northwestern, the real problem is the large amount of flyers that cover campus.

Cathy Hagler, executive director for administration at SIUC, said the emphasis of the University’s policy also focuses mainly on cutting down the amount of flyers on campus.

Hagler said the bulk of the problem stems from flyers being put up on the new pedestrian bridge over U.S. Highway 51, which she says can cost up to $60 an hour just to remove the signs from the Plexiglas.

Students like Esteban Delvalle, a junior from Chicago studying painting, are having problems finding places to advertise with the new policy. Delvalle, a show promoter for Hanger 9, complained that the bulletin boards that are provided are too cluttered to be effective. Delvalle said if the University insists on enforcing this policy, it needs to create a larger area for advertisements.

Hagler also said that since the administration announced the resurrection of the decade-old policy, the amount of flyers on campus has gone down dramatically. The administration has also created a grace period before organizations begin seeing charges. RSOs have until April 1 before any fees are charged.

After April 1, the Physical Plant, which will clean up each incident, has been asked to log each occurrence and then pass it on to Hagler, who then passes the charges down to the office of Student Development.

Katherine Sermersheim, director of Student Development, said in order to make sure organizations are not wrongly accused, punishments might have to be given on a case-by-case basis. Hagler said the University is not currently considering revising the policy to include any provisions like the other universities, and any revisions would have to take place in the Office of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management.

Nece at NIU said her office has a copy of each flyer that is posted and that helps ensure the punishments are correct. Sermersheim also receives a list of the charges in detail, which she reviews before doling out fines.

“Our campus continues to enhance and beautify and we have an opportunity to keep those things new and nice,” Sermersheim said. “You are a product of your environment.”

Reporter Andrea Zimmermann can be reached at [email protected]

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