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April 15, 2010


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Student here.

First, when someone sitting between me and the front of the room smacks their food, crinkles their wrappers, or crunches their potato chips, I sometimes cannot hear the professor speak. Definitely not an educational experience mentioned in the admissions brochure.

Second, I don't appreciate it when a person in a previous class has filled my workspace with crumbs, spilt coffee, gobs, goop, or sluge. Come to think of it this isn't necessarily limited to foodstuffs, but that seems to be the biggest problem.

So, yeah. From a student's perspective eatig can be disruptive and detrimental to the classroom.

Patrick S. O'Donnell

Teacher's perspective: I don't allow eating in my classroom. When allowed to eat in the classroom, students leave crumbs, wrappers, and so on, in short, a mess, which a janitor must clean up later, and with cutbacks in maintenance I'm sure those cleaning up have other pressing duties. And the students who follow them at the desks don't appreciate it (see the other Patrick above). I myself never eat in class and only take a sip of water if I get a tickle in my throat or have a cough, etc. I do allow drinks (non-alcoholic) in the classroom but I ask the student to be very careful and make sure they clean up after themselves (alas, some students have grown accustomed to others picking up after them).

Eric Fink

Back when I was in grad school, I was a TA for a professor ("Terry") who had notoriously odd personal habits. Once, when we had a guest speaker (a faculty member from another department), Terry sat behind the speaker, munching on a baked potato as if it were an apple. When the guest noticed this, he paused for a moment, then related an example of cultural relativism (which he attributed to the great Anthropologist Marshall Sahlins): "If, at a suburban barbecue party, the host were to roast a whole hog on a spit, you'd probably think that was pretty neat; but if the host were to roast a whole dog on a spit, you'd probably think that was disgusting. Now, Terry, if you were eating a Milky Way bar, I wouldn't have said anything."

Personally, I've never had an issue with a student eating in class. If they do it, they're generally discrete enough that it doesn't create a distraction. But, thus far, nobody has ever tried roasting a whole animal, dog or hog, in class.

Miriam A. Cherry

That's a great story, Eric!


Another student here. I'm sensitive to food sounds. I realize that I am far more inclined than most to find the sound of someone eating massively annoying/repulsive. I've been known to relocate in the library if someone sneaks in a snack and busts it out in my presence, even if it's a quiet food. So, from the perspective of an admittedly overly-sensitive grouch, I would hope that a professor would never allow eating during class, if for no other reason than it would lessen the chances of me running screaming from the room.

Miriam A. Cherry

Astrid, You may be very sensitive to this type of noise! It's only when it gets noisy that I'm thinking it's an issue...

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