In the normal course of events, I think it is fine if students want to bring a drink or a snack with them to my class. Most of the time I don’t notice, and if I don’t notice, then why should I care? While my students (I hope) don’t need a venti starbucks to stay awake in Business Associations, I was a student once too and sometimes coffee does help focus one’s concentration. I find this to be the case at conferences that I attend – it’s just a fact of life that sometimes if you’re sitting in the same seat for two hours, it’s helpful to have something to munch on to sustain blood sugar levels.
Interestingly, two years ago, when I taught in Pacific-McGeorge’s evening division, I had several students tell me that they were observing Ramadan and that they hoped to be able to break their fast during class. I readily agreed, with the caveat that they should be considerate of those around them (I also thanked them for asking permission and told them they had good manners). Another year, I had a student who wasn’t observing any holiday (to my knowledge), but who was eating a three or four course meal from the cafeteria every night throughout class. While I didn’t really care, (because he was quiet), his seatmates right around him minded the smell of the food. In response to their complaints that he was being rude, I asked them to address it to him directly first, and then come back to me (ah, yes, the pleasures of being an authority figure) if it was still problematic. These efforts at self help apparently worked, since I never heard about the matter again.
But I guess what I’m asking is, at any point is there a line where it becomes appropriate for the instructor to discuss such a matter with a student? Right now I have some students (I actually have lots of students; this semester I’m teaching a Business Associations class with 95 students as well as a seminar, so this shouldn’t give too much away), who have been eating loud foods in class. For example, crunchy apples (think the three or four or their equivalent in slices – eaten one after another), crunchy chips, or small foods that seem to be in a loud crinkly wrapper, one after another.
So when does it become appropriate to say something? We might be able to find some etiquette guidance by comparing class to the movies; this online article provides some guidelines about what foods to avoid in a theater, lest you disturb your fellow audience members. (A colleague noted that the line depends on whether the student has brought enough for her). I suppose that segues into the question of whether it is appropriate for an instructor to eat or drink during a class? (Other than cough drops and water). Thoughts?