Group works to devise new postering policy
By Reuven M. Lerner
Students and administrators have formed a client group to create a new Institute postering policy. Undergraduate Association Vice President Andrew Strehle '91, a member of the client group, said that the new rules will probably take effect by next semester.
Strehle said that the committee is being formed in response to a call from the MIT administration for stricter enforcement of the current postering policy. According to Austin Petzke, operations supervisor for Building Services, the current policy forbids postering any part of the Institute other than bulletin boards. Petzke added that this policy is enforced every day by custodians, who "have instructions to remove posters" from unauthorized places.
Administrators and custodians tolerated the posters until this past year's UA elections, when candidates postered most available surfaces in the main buildings, according to Association of Student Activities President Bill Robert '90. He added that this prompted some administrators to look into alternate forms of campus advertising.
Petzke said that when posters are removed, they "usually damage the paint surface." He added that custodians spend great amounts of time removing posters, and that "time is the major problem."
Victoria Sirianni, an interior designer and space planner for Physical Plant, said that the present number bulletin boards was "adequate," but that she was not sure "how well they are used." She suggested that a possible solution would involve "graphics, maybe with computers and audiovisual [techniques] to get the message across more creatively."
Some students like the posters in the Infinite Corridor, according to Strehle, since they give MIT a "more human" atmosphere. However, he added, students also realize that the present postering system wastes a great deal of student time. It also wastes an estimated $30,000 per year of Physical Plant's money. Strehle admitted that it would probably save money to take posters down less often than is done now.
Strehle said that a new postering policy including fines was originally supposed to go into effect yesterday. Robert felt that fines are still a possibility, but that they would depend on how much bulletin board space the Institute eventually gave activities. Robert praised some administration officials as having fought for student involvement in making the final decision.
Sirianni said that MIT could learn from other schools' postering policies. Robert agreed with this idea, noting that other universities do not poster as much as MIT does. When MIT activities poster other campuses, the other schools often complain about the excessive number of posters.
Some alternatives to postering have already been put in place. The "daily board" in Lobby 7 will be cleared each weekday, "so that people can see what's going on that day," Robert said. He added that the daily board will work in conjunction with a weekly calendar, the details of which still have to be worked out.
Several people suggested adding bulletin boards to the main lobbies and hallways. Robert said that the client group will probably add them to key locations in the Institute. Sirianni said that there used to be tubes mounted on the walls, onto which students could place their notices. Placing those tubes in strategic locations could be an "ideal" solution, she added. Other ideas included putting small cards on the tables in dining halls, and printing tray liners for cafeteria trays, Robert said.
Strehle noted that each of the solutions to postering that have been offered so far have had "at least one major problem." He said that the client group will decide if there will be any fines, and to whom the money will go once it is collected. He added that it was ridiculous for the UA Finance Board to give money to organizations which would eventually use that money in postering fines.
Robert said that although ASA allocates bulletin boards to groups, they are rarely used to announce events. It is "hard to say" if posters are more effective than bulletin boards, he noted, since many groups use them due to lack of manpower.
Both Robert and Strehle felt that student input was important to the success of the client group. Robert said that the postering policy will be at the "top of the agenda" at the next ASA general meeting. He added that he has "tried to represent students" by "asking not to have fines [in the policy]," and by asking the administration not to cut postering off suddenly. Postering will not stop overnight, he noted, and the client group will make sure that changes occur at a reasonable pace.