Volume 12, Number 9 January 7, 2005

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Plan aims to save walls from unsightly posters

A clean-up campaign is underway on campus, aimed at the poster-clad walls of U of S buildings.

For the past year a committee of 20 administrative assistants, Facilities Management Division (FMD) staff, students and others has been working on solutions to what many perceive as the growing problem of posters littering the walls of the ‘public’ areas of University buildings. The signs flog everything from textbooks, typing services and housing, to travel, concerts and a host of items for sale.

Cheryl Sedgewick

Cheryl Sedgewick

Two members of the committee say its work is now bearing fruit, with action already being taken and a proposed new policy going to the University’s Board of Governors early this year.

Cheryl Sedgewick, FMD’s Assistant Manager of Room Scheduling & Analysis, and Steve McLeod, the College of Arts & Science’s IT & Facilities Projects Manager, say the proliferation of posters taped or stapled indiscriminately through hallways has caused problems not only of appearance, but also of expensive damage to walls, cabinets and doors, and even potential violations of safety and fire codes with posters placed on doorways or windows.

Steve McLeod

Steve McLeod

“We’ve had concerns raised a number of times about the appearance of our public spaces,” McLeod says. “People might have wondered when they walked near the Arts & Science elevators if they were entering a building or a bus stop.”

He says “it’s not only an eyesore with posters everywhere, but the damage has been a consideration. With tape and staples being used, we’ve had expensive wood ruined.”

Sedgewick says that by late-November the committee had developed a number of solutions that it believes will clean up campus walls while still providing students and others with ample means of getting their messages to people.

She and McLeod say a new policy going for approval to the Board of Governors – and already set to be used as a “business practice” starting Jan. 15 – asks each college, department or unit to assume responsibility for approving and stamping all posters. The posters can only go up on authorized bulletin boards or surfaces, and the units are charged with taking down unauthorized or outdated posters.

Sedgewick says this approach is being “welcomed” by colleges and departments.

She and McLeod say the committee isn’t trying to squelch people’s opportunities to communicate. For that reason, they say, 22 large new bulletin boards were installed by FMD in buildings across campus in early December, and more will be put up in the future. These “information stations” and existing bulletin boards will provide space for the display of posters approved by departments.

Sedgewick and McLeod say the next while will be a period of educating students and staff about the new procedures.

Beyond these measures, they say they want to work with the U of S Students’ Union (USSU) and those operating the University’s new PAWS intranet portal, to explore ways of starting new online advertising systems for things like housing and used textbooks. They reason that this will help the sellers and buyers of goods and services, and should also cut down on the amount of postering aimed at campus walls.

Rather than seeing these new rules as infringing on students’ ability to advertise and communicate, USSU officials support them.

“I don’t think this is going to be harmful to students in any way,” says Kim Stranden, Vice-President of Student Issues.

And Jeff MacDonald, Vice-President of Operations & Finance, says, “I think it’s great. Aesthetically and for damage reasons, it’s important.”

The new U of S rules won’t apply to walls in Place Riel and the Tunnel, which are owned by USSU. But MacDonald notes that the USSU has banned posters from the walls of Upper and Lower Place Riel for years “to protect the space”. Postering is allowed on bulletin boards in the Tunnel, however, and often spills over onto the walls there.

MacDonald says USSU is also encouraging PAWS and my.usask online service to start an online used textbook registry.

For more information, contact communications.office@usask.ca

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