Olga Steen and Lisalotte van der Tas have been working in the university library for a while now. In previous years, there were students who caused problems, but they have never experienced anything as bad as this academic year. How? The duo is at a loss. 'I am surprised and don't get it. What is going on?', Steen, head of Operations & Learning Services, wonders.
Almost every week, they get complaining students at the desk. Students who have come to the library to study in peace and quiet, but do not get around to it. Silence not respected in a designated room, fellow students vaping (electric smoking, ed.) in the library as if it were the most normal thing in the world and politically tinged slogans written on walls in project rooms.
'The vaping we don't understand. Smoking has not been allowed inside for decades. On campus, smoking is not even allowed outside, and then some students think you can just vape inside here,' says Steen, who points out that the library calls in security if a student is caught vaping. 'Students come to the library because they have a guarantee of silence here, but a small group is increasingly reluctant to comply. Terribly annoying,' adds Van der Tas - Learning Centre team leader.
The duo is particularly annoyed by the consequences of misconduct. Project rooms - hugely popular among students - with defaced walls have to be locked for weeks until a painter repairs the walls. And non-compliance with house rules means students increasingly have to address each other. 'As a library, we are neutral. Everyone is welcome here, as long as you follow the rules. Almost everyone does. Last year we even recorded a nice visitor record. It's a shame that one per cent ruins it for that huge group of students,' said Steen.
The university library is in close contact with security to reach a solution. Students caught vaping risk an official warning. Steen and Van der Tas especially hope that calm will return in the short term. 'We are discussing with various parties at UT what we can do. An information campaign might help, in which we make our house rules clear again. At the same time, it is ridiculous that we have to inform students that you cannot smoke inside,' Steen concludes.