Classroom etiquette goes a long way

By Hayley Devitt

It seems that every day some students seem to forget a very basic thing that should never be forgotten: classroom etiquette.

At the beginning of a semester, a class’s instructor will go over a list of guidelines and expectations for each of the students to follow. They are always basically the same rules, but what about rules from the students to each other? In every class, it seems there are little things people say and do that grate on each other’s nerves, but perhaps they are unconsciously done.

To bring some of these complaints to light, I have compiled top tips to maintain classroom etiquette. These would be behaviors to avoid, things that disturb, distract, disgust and annoy in the learning environment.

• Do not bring your smelly food to class. While I encourage most in-class snacking, be aware of any odors your meal gives off that might disturb a classmate.

Perhaps you have witnessed the guy or gal next to you bringing a full-course meal into the lecture hall and proceeding to eat it in front of everyone. That’s cool, but what may be appetizing to one could be horribly distracting and academically discouraging to another, especially if the dish is something vile like hot tuna fish steaming from a turn in the microwave.

Therefore, here is a good rule of thumb: If the meal you brought needs to be microwaved, consume it before entering the classroom and keep those free radicals to yourself.

• The thing that gets many a student’s goat is the feet of the person behind his or her on the back of the chair. Granted, in my case as long as you do not step on any of my personal property I do not care if you do this. All the same, if someone seems annoyed, uncomfortable or explicitly told you to take your feet off the seat, please do so and remember not to do it again. As I’ve said before, courtesy goes a long way with strangers.

• Another big annoyance is running your mouth with nothing particular or even relevant to say. Although I have been guilty once or twice of talking in a critique as a way to stay awake, we all need to keep what we contribute clear and to the point. A class discussion can be kind of like writing a collaborative essay; anything that strays off topic needs to go. Going off on tangents to try and eat up class time is a junior high tactic, and when somebody pulls their “intelligent” thoughts out of nowhere, time seems to drag by more slowly.

• Personally, my biggest pet peeve in college classrooms is excessive talk and packing-up noise while the teacher is speaking. Not only is it rude, important announcements and instructions often get muffled and lost in the din. It makes me ashamed to report that this base behavior still exists after high school.

This might seem like a bunch of rules, but what it really boils down to is being respectful of your fellow students and the instructor. Then again, if your goal is to get one someone’s nerves, by all means ignore these steps.