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May 4, 2015

Faculty asked to remove items from walls and doors

By Melanie Morris

A mix-up of policies in the Music and Communication building has caused a week of confusion.

Every year, the Facilities Management team goes through each building on campus and performs mechanical repairs. Lights and exit signs are checked to make sure they’re working, ceiling tiles are assessed and the doors and walls are checked to see if they need cleaned and painted.

Shehadeh Abdelkarim, the director of Facilities Management, said the team has found that the papers and posters frequently taped on the walls and doors of these buildings has poorly affected the paint quality and appearance of the walls.

“Folks have all these clippings on the walls and in some areas they have put several up and taken them down so they have residue of tape on the walls,” he said.

The team sent out a message to the administration and staff of each building, informing them that all papers on the doors and walls must come down.

“We can’t really do our job to maintain the doors and the halls with all of these things in place,” Abdelkarim said.

The complication occurred when faculty in the Communication building received this memo from Facilities Management at the same time as another memo regarding the Expressive Activity Policy.

According to Jeff Karem, chairperson of the University Faculty Affairs Committee, the Expressive Activity Policy was proposed this semester and hasn’t been approved yet as it is open for campus comment until April 30.

The policy addresses the free exchange of ideas and fostering free speech while maintaining an appropriate and safe environment.

Several staff members have responded with letters voicing their opinions on the policy, but many seem to think this policy directly relates to what the Facilities Management team is trying to do.

“It does address our need and some of the things in there relate to what we face in facilities,” Abdelkarim said. “But that’s a university policy that’s being considered and has nothing to do with facilities.”

Kevin Ziegler, the university spokesperson, said he felt the confusion arose because the message from Facilities Management was too brief. He said they didn’t explain their purpose, which made it seem like they wanted everything taken down in reference to the Expressive Activity Policy.

“They’re just asking them to keep it clean,” he said. “It has nothing to do with what they [the staff and faculty] post, there’s nothing that they’re trying to limit, it’s just simple maintenance.”

Once the cleaning and painting has been completed, Abdelkarim said they’ve proposed an idea to keep the walls maintained. He told the administration that if faculty and staff members purchase a bulletin board themselves, his staff would install the board on or next to their door for them.

“People decide to hang things up and don’t know where things are and end up having a hole in the wall,” he said. The uniform, professional installation by his staff will ensure safety and consistency.

George Ray, director of the School of Communication, said the school is currently seeking clarification on precisely what the policy is and doesn’t have anything definitive to say on the matter.

He said faculty are issued door cards at the beginning of each semester, used to post classes and office hours. Abdelkarim said the issue remains the same as far as needing bulletin boards to post them, but there are plastic holders that can be placed on the doors for these announcements.

Prior to the announcement, one faculty member found that the papers on the walls near his office had been moved and placed on his door without a warning. Communication Professor Gary Pettey contacted Communication Office Coordinator Rashelle Baker when he noticed, who then found out about the request from Facilities Management.