When Buntrock Commons opened more than a decade ago, the people who designed the building never could have anticipated that Operation Backpacks Off The Floor BOTF would need to be implemented.
On Nov. 14, Director of Student Activities and Buntrock Commons Kris Vatter sent an email to the entire student body, pleading for students to stop the habit of leaving backpacks and coats all over the walking path into Stav Hall and to help find a BOTF solution.
“The trouble is all this stuff on the floor is a hazard. It’s mainly about accessibility. Students on crutches, folks in wheelchairs and with limited mobility have a hard time navigating during peak dining times,” Vatter wrote.
In addition to the dangers from the lack of accessibility, she explained that the cluttered space is also a concern for any cases of fire and emergency evacuation.
In an interview, Vatter said that Operation BOTF is long overdue. “This is a perpetual problem,” she said.
The third floor of Buntrock Commons was designed with the anticipation that everyone would take the back path that goes past the east cubbies before entering Stav Hall, yet people immediately began the trend of walking past the tabling area, bypassing the space that was originally meant for storing belongings during meals.
Although this problem has existed since the opening of the building, recent escalations have caused drastic measures to be taken. After one of the custodians witnessed a guest who was eating in the King’s Room trip while walking across the third floor, Vatter realized that a solution must be found to prevent future injuries.
In the email Vatter sent to the student body, she announced that the student who can think of the best solution to fix the backpack problem will win an iPad.
“It’s that big of a deal and there has GOT to be a great idea out there,” she wrote.
Students seem to be in agreement that a solution to this competition will make dining experiences less of a hassle.
“I can see how the backpacks and coats on the floor pose a problem for students, and I think a contest is a good idea because it will provoke good thoughts about how to better the situation,” Mitchell Cervenka ’16 said.
Maxine Carlson ’15 added, “If there was a solution for where to put our backpacks that was actually on everyone’s way to the Caf, I would use them, and I think other people would as well.” Carlson elaborated, explaining that the convenience of dropping one’s things in front of Stav Hall has become such a widespread issue.
The contest ended on Nov. 30, after 115 submissions had been received. Vatter said that a committee of three senators from Student Government Association SGA and two student building staff will work in the upcoming weeks and throughout interim in order to determine if a feasible solution is among the entries.
“The idea must be innovative and cost-effective,” Vatter said.
Once the top ideas are identified, Vatter will meet with other staff members who work in the facility in order to determine a plan for implementation. Although the BOTF committee has not yet analyzed the proposed ideas, Vatter said there are already a few standouts. She is hopeful that an answer to the problem will be found.
“We have to make a long term solution,” Vatter said.
Regardless of the fact that a permanent solution has not been agreed upon yet, Vatter said that there has already been improvement after the contest opened. More students have used the cubbies rather than throwing their belongings in the pathway because now more people understand the severity of the problem.
“That’s a great start,” she said.