Rules governing the hanging of posters and banners around campus appear to be enforced more strictly this semester, to the detriment of groups’ publicity efforts, students said.
But the rules have not changed from last year and are designed to give each campus group its share of public space to advertise, administrators said. The Universiy’s “Regulations for Student Activities and Extracurricular Activities” explain that the University “has made available appropriate space for postering and expects students to use this space and respect the inviolability of other University property. Other forms of publicity, such as banners, are not permitted on college or University gates.”
“It’s not a crackdown,” Dean of Student Affairs Marichal Gentry said. “It’s people applying the rules that we have.”
According to the Dean’s Office, the policy aims to ensure that groups with designated spaces for postering have access to them and that kiosk advertisement space around campus is fairly allocated between groups. The regulations allow only one 8.5” by 11” flyer per event to be posted on each campus bulletin board.
Aesthetics also plays a role in the postering debate. Yale Recycling Head C.J. May, who is in charge of implementing many of the postering policies, said administrators are concerned with the appearance of poster-packed bulletin boards or banners hanging from every gate.
“Yale has a great, beautiful campus,” May said. “The Dean [of Student Affairs] wants to make sure that every organization has a chance to advertise without dragging down the aesthetics of the place.”
But students said they are worried that their ability to advertise events and meetings has been hampered in comparison to last year.
After Yale College Assistant Dean Edgar Letriz sent an e-mail alerting students to the rule against putting up banners on High Street Gate, members of the dance group Rhythmic Blue said they faced a difficult decision. With a publicity banner made up and ready to go, they decided not to risk the fines mentioned in the e-mail and canceled plans to hang it from the gate.
“We honestly cannot afford to lose any money,” said RB Publicity Head Gabriele Betancourt-Martinez ’10 of the decision to forego the banner. “But that’s one of the main ways freshmen find out about events.”
Betancourt-Martinez said turnout at auditions was down markedly this year over last, and she attributed that decrease at least partly to the absence of an Old Campus banner.
Administrators have also contacted individual groups who hung banners or posters in violation of University policy. The week before the Vietnamese Student Association’s popular all-you-can-eat Pho Night, ViSA President Cecilia Ong ’09 received an e-mail from Yale College Assistant Dean Saveena Dhall.
“I wanted to let you know that Dean Letriz has informed me that a banner is hanging from one of the rooms in Trumbull College advertising Pho Night,” Dhall said in the e-mail. “This is not allowed. Please make sure that it is removed … right away.”
Ong appealed to keep the banner on the grounds that it was hanging from a ViSA member’s room, not from a gate, but her request was rebuffed.
“I understand the rationale for not wanting to give one group an unfair advantage over others,” Ong said, “But when I was a freshman and saw all these banners and flyers, I didn’t feel overwhelmed — I felt excited with all the opportunities. Yale loses some of its flavor, some of its appeal as a college, without that.”
May said administrators are considering permitting banners, but only if they can find a way to not have posters and banners detract from the campus’ visual appeal.
“One idea is to have a contest to see what is the most aesthetically pleasing way [of using banners],” said May. “Something like the slightly bent banners at Dunkin’ Donuts or a row of flags on Cross Campus could be beautiful and allow students to be more expressive.”