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Double Espressos in Mugar

New library policies: mugs in, smoking farther out


Anant Shukla (CAS’10) (foreground), surrounded by Greek organization friends, helped change the drinks policy at Mugar Memorial Library. Photo by Kalman Zabarsky

No need to sneak into Mugar behind another student, clandestine coffee mug in hand, or hide that soda can from the “red coats.”

But smokers, watch where you light up.

New University policies allowing visitors to bring covered drinks into Mugar Memorial Library and forcing smokers to stay away from the library entrance were unanimously passed by the Student Union late last month.

University officials worked closely with students in hammering out policy details and are pleased with the results. “Like many issues, it just takes the right student at the right time to raise it in the right manner,” says John Battaglino, executive director of student activities.

Anant Shukla (CAS’10), a Student Union senator (and avid coffee drinker), wrote the guidelines, collaborating with officials and ushering it through student government. This and the recent printing policy shift, Shukla says, prove that “the administration is listening to the students.”

The battle over banning drinks from Mugar is years old, pitting library officials seeking to protect the University’s multimillion-dollar investment in the building’s books, archival material, and equipment against students looking for a caffeine fix to help study for an exam or write a paper. Result: students got more and more creative sneaking in drinks.

The policy shift signals that BU is catching up with the times. “The culture that we see for most students is a laptop, a cup of coffee, and an iPod,” says University librarian Bob Hudson, who worked with Shukla.

While University officials prefer spill-proof, sustainable mugs, disposable paper cups will be allowed. “The whole University is talking sustainability,” Hudson says. “And we’re a big place.”

Although the University’s sustainability office, sustainability@bu, did not work on the new policies, it supports the push for mugs.

“Switching to a reusable coffee mug and using five less disposable cups a week will reduce your carbon dioxide emissions by 1.25 pounds per week,” says Susan Chaityn Lebovits, communications specialist at sustainability@bu.

Not all areas within the library will be open to drink-toters. The Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center is off limits, Hudson says.

Mugar security also will now be less tolerant of smokers standing in front of the doors or on the stairs. The new policy calls for the installation of No Smoking signs outside the entrance and the creation of a no-smoking perimeter to keep second-hand smoke at bay.

Battaglino says Mugar’s perimeter will be based on a city ordinance that requires smokers to stand 25 feet away from entryways. “We’ll try to do the right thing for both constituencies,” he says. “We want to make sure the smokers’ rights are respected as well.”

Shukla recommended that the Dean of Students Office fund a designated smoking area opposite Mugar. “I don’t want it to be seen as me disenfranchising smokers from a choice they have made,” he says.

Without committing to that idea, Battaglino says that University officials “are going to find the right solution.”

Hudson acknowledges that enforcing a no-smoking perimeter could present a special challenge, but says he’ll educate his all-student security staff on how best to deal with the new policy.

“I don’t want to be sending staff on steps and shooing people away,” he says.

Mark Belzowski (CAS’10), president of the student group BU Cigar Aficionado Society, calls sending security staff to patrol Mugar steps “a waste of resources.” Signs and perimeters, he says, usually encourage “a motley crew of smokers” to plant themselves nearby in protest.

“I don’t think it’s going to be effective,” Belzowski says. While conceding that “some smoke does travel into lobbies of buildings,” he thinks “it’s a fair price to pay” for forcing smokers outdoors.

Bring your own reusable, spill-proof mug to Mugar Memorial Library on Wednesday, March 24, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and receive free coffee.

Leslie Friday can be reached at lfriday@bu.edu; follow her on Twitter @lesliefriday.


9 Comments on Double Espressos in Mugar

  • Anonymous on 03.15.2010 at 9:12 am

    RE: “he thinks it’s a fair price to pay for forcing smokers outdoors”.

    Sorry, Belzowski, I would rather not pay the price at all. When the price includes cancer, that is.

    So smokers, move as far away as possible please.

  • Anonymous on 03.15.2010 at 3:51 pm

    Why is it that everyone feels the need to bag on smokers? It is a personal choice and we have done our best to accommodate those who don’t smoke by moving our activities out doors. But both governments and schools are restricting even outside locations often forcing smokers into areas that are uncovered from the elements. Though to the many who don’t smoke this may seem to be a reasonable request but, I’m tired, and i think i speak for many others who smoke, of dealing with ridiculous restrictions such as this. Boston weather is often extremely harsh as we all know and even as it stands BU has failed to provide adequate places for people to go outside and smoke. Stop your complaining and grow up! People are not going to die simply by passing a group of smokers.

  • Anonymous on 03.15.2010 at 7:39 pm

    RE: Why is it that everyone

    While I am all for equal rights, I don’t think that it’s fair that I have to breathe in your second hand smoke every time I decide to go study at Mugar. I have had 2 grandparents die from complications due to smoking and I have made the personal choice to not smoke. While I respect your decision to light up, it doesn’t mean that I have to suffer the harsh and sometimes deadly effects of your decisions. I think that maybe creating a covered area away from the doors where people can smoke is a great idea, that way non-smokers don’t have to feel like they need to hold their breath every time they walk outside and smokers don’t have to worry about getting wet when it rains.

  • Anonymous on 03.16.2010 at 10:14 am

    Fondly thinking of Metcalf where yesterday a girl (black umbrella with colorful small dotted pattern) lit up her cigarette in the building’s main vestibule.
    Whoever you are, and I hope you heard me the first time I said it, you are OBNOXIOUS!

  • Anonymous on 03.17.2010 at 10:31 am

    As an asthmatic, passing even small amounts of second-hand smoke affects my ability to breathe. So while you may not think it is a big deal, I, nor anyone else, should have to deal with it /especially/ around academic buildings including the library. While smoking is a choice for you and you are bringing medical complications on yourself, I didn’t chose to be an asthmatic nor to deal with it daily. So please, kindly keep your smoke away from the rest of us who have to put up with it.

  • Lydia on 03.19.2010 at 12:01 am

    NO Smoking Allowed

    Bravo to getting rid of smokers from in front of Mugar Library. I have enough of breathing in the polluted air whenever I go visit the library. Now please continue to encourage people to kick their habit of smoking throughout campus. We have ENOUGH of smelling second-hand smoke, so something must be done immediately. It’s time for change and I sure am looking forward to that day.

  • Anonymous on 03.23.2010 at 10:39 am

    Smokers area

    Give the smokers an area next to the trees to the right of the steps. Someplace next to the fountain. Make sure its covered from the elements and is not a cheap shack, toss in some benches and a trash barrel/ashtray, and you should be fine.

    I find the smokers I know hate those sort of things, but if you make it appealing enough they will use the facility for its intention.

  • Anonymous on 03.23.2010 at 4:56 pm

    Smoke Shelters

    Smoke shelters are used all over the UK to give an opportunity to those unfortunate enough to smoke to have one of the recurring demands of those poor victims of second-hand inhalation: comfort.


  • Anonymous on 03.24.2010 at 9:32 am

    Why are we bagging on smokers for cancer when that evil sun is still shinning above us? The risk of second hand smoke is well studied, however I haven’t heard of any mice exams on second smoke that test it by injecting 1/20th of a cigarette of smoke 4 times a month.

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