U can build campus community quietly

At least Coffman Memorial Union has tried to be considerate this year. It started with a polite letter to faculty members in buildings near Coffman warning that there would be a concert during the noon hour on the first day of classes. When that concert ran a full hour long, a public apology for the inconvenience from Maggie Towle, Coffman Union director, appeared in the Daily. Yet intolerably loud noise levels around Northrop Mall have been a problem for years and will not be solved by mere pleasantries.
Trucks and buses driving down Washington Avenue have always been a nuisance to classes meeting in buildings near the street. The University should not aggravate the problem by endorsing noise producing events nearby. The recent concert was only the latest in an ongoing trend. Bands, amplified greek-organizing events and Radio-K live broadcasts have been near weekly occurrences over the past few years when the weather is warm. Even harsh Minnesota winters do not cool the decibel producing mayhem. The green Surge mountain of snow that Coca-Cola built to kick off sales of their new product offered not only noise, as students were encouraged to race to the top by Coke representatives yelling into amplifiers, but also an unsightly green mass of sludge that remained until spring thaw two years ago.
Not every event is sponsored by the University, though. Earlier this week, classes were entertained by the band “Eddie Mac” playing a promotional performance for everyone around Northrop Mall. Past music has ranged from jazz to Latin to rock. With so much variety, eventually students taking philosophy, journalism or math classes will hear something they like, even if they cannot hear their instructors.
Towle pinpointed the problem as “the challenge of trying to build community and school spirit while also respecting the academic mission of teaching and research.” The University is first and foremost a place of learning. Students pay tuition to be taught, not entertained. Having a strong campus community is valuable to the educational enterprise and the financial well-being of the University, but disrupting the learning process is not the way to build such community; it only harms it.
The University should institute policies that ban loud gatherings from the areas surrounding class buildings during the day. There are other areas of campus that can easily accommodate such events, behind Coffman instead of in front, for example. It does not matter how much Coke paid the University for the privilege of a market monopoly; it has bought our business, not the right to interfere with students trying to learn. Any new policies must also apply to non-University sanctioned groups. If local bands want to promote themselves, they can do it somewhere less disruptive.
Should implementing such changes prove too difficult for the University, the least it could do is include soundproofing in the budgets of upcoming Ford and Murphy Hall renovations. Students deserve an environment conducive to learning, not one in which they are just another target market being bombarded with promotions and advertising.