Gum Control

The administration of Riverside Community College had decided long ago that it would be best if chewing gum were unavailable for purchase in the campus bookstore. This was in response to gum issues that plagued facilities maintenance: like gum on pavement, under desks, on walls, in restrooms, in the elevators, just about everywhere.

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By Joseph Kunkle

By Joseph Kunkle

The administration of Riverside Community College had decided long ago that it would be best if chewing gum were unavailable for purchase in the campus bookstore. This was in response to gum issues that plagued facilities maintenance: like gum on pavement, under desks, on walls, in restrooms, in the elevators, just about everywhere.

This rule banning gum, though it was on the books for years, was not being followed by the Bookstore until recently when the rule was resurrected, and the Bookstore staff was commanded to remove it from the shelves.

Anyone who has stepped in a gooey wad of gum on hot summer pavement will understand why campus administration had created this policy. I personally advocate jail time for those caught sticking their gum on the bottom of desks or spitting it out onto the ground. And for the ones who pop gum in class, they should get the firing squad.

But seriously, does banning the sale of gum on campus mean that these people won’t bring their cuds from elsewhere? I decided to have a walk around the campus and observe the gum situation for myself.

On the upper campus, I found fresh wads of gum by the Martin Luther King building 14 feet away from a trashcan. In front of the Bookstore I found some not-so-fresh gum five feet away from one. Both specimens were fresh enough to have been brought in from off campus.

I kept getting odd looks from the passersby while I photographed these tiny clumps of neglectful vandalism. Photographing filth is not my idea of a fun time, but I had a job to do.

During my wanderings, I was thinking how odd it is that the lowest elemental minority is the one that is responsible for rules that control everybody else. The margin of the student population with bad manners became so obnoxious that RCC’s administration had to make a regulation that bars everyone, good or bad, from purchasing gum on campus, and despite this rule, the wads continue to appear.

While passing through the cafeteria, I asked a maintenance guy, (He refused to give me his name for some reason), whether the bookstore policy had reduced the amount of gum deposits on fixtures and buildings. He said he has been working on campus for a long time and that he hasn’t seen any difference in the amount of gum.

He went on to say that the gum gets stuck on the tracks of the automatic doors and jams them up. He said that the campus steam cleaner is the only way to remove it from such sensitive locations, but the steam cleaner has been out of order for the last nine months. On my way out, the sliding door did show signs of gum deposits, but it still opened and closed without much difficulty, so I moved on towards Lovekin Field.On the concrete steps that lead down to Lovekin Field, I found the last fresh wad I would encounter in my search (there is a trashcan at the bottom).

There were many gum spots, like little land mines dotting the pavement, but at least I didn’t see it on the portable classrooms.

Two other things I encountered in my search were cigarette butts and litter. These items were in much larger quantities than the gum spots, and though each of these substances have their own rules on the books, there are no rules banning junk food in the Bookstore or requiring smokers to put their butts in cans instead of on the ground.

I finished my sweep and as I hoofed it back to the Viewpoints news room, I noticed thousands of gray spots on the pavement, remnants of gum wads from past decades, silent testimony to the nasty habits of former students throughout the history of RCC.

The administration created this rule, but it is not as silly and groundless as it may seem. There is a lot of gum on this campus. The rule banning gum in the bookstore is an example of the stupid rules that must be created by those in authority to try and regulate the nasty habits of a few.

The few are the squeaky wheels, but the rest of us just get greased. These are the silly rules that inevitably lead to the loss of privileges and freedoms for the rest of us.

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