Photo: Reginald James/TheBlackHour.com
By Reginald James
Students are no longer allowed to hang out in the lobby area of the Laney College theater building due to disruptive behavior, faculty said.
Jim Cave, the stage and production supervisor of the Theater Department said he’s dealt with unruly student behavior since the start of the semester.
|"People (are) dancing, playing music, making beats, table dancing. This ain't BET.|
“People (are) dancing, playing music, making beats, table dancing,” theater student Jaiden Phoenix said, speaking of the students’ behavior. “This ain’t BET.”
Cave ended up getting into “shouting matches” after repeatedly asking students to “quiet down,” but they would comply.
Phoenix recounted the disrespectful attitude shown towards Cave when he approached students.
“I watched him go out there and ask them to quiet down, but by the time he leaves, they doing what they do,” Phoenix said.
|"If you’re quietly studying, you’re okay. But if you’re loud, eating and drinking, you’ll have to leave"|
Dep. Charles Brown
He acknowledges that his initial approach to the students was not as “level-headed” as it could’ve been, suggesting that the irritation of his requests being repeatedly ignored affected his approach.
“Can’t nobody stop them, they gone do what they do,” Phoenix lamented. “But, they gone do it outside.”
A sign reading, “The Theatre Lobby is temporarily off limits to all students” was hastily posted on the windows of the theater lobby. The Peralta Police immediately reinforced the rule.
“If you’re quietly studying, you’re okay,” said Peralta Police Deputy Charles Brown shortly after forcing about eight students out of the lobby on Feb. 23. “But if you’re loud, eating and drinking, you’ll have to leave.” Now, only theater students are being allowed to gather in the lobby.
|The Theater Lobby is temporarily off limits to all students.|
First-semester student Ryan Walker said he and his classmates flock to the theater lobby because the Student Center is overcrowded. He said people hang out in the lobby to avoid the weather while waiting for rides or for the next BART train or AC Transit bus to come. “We came in here to get away from the weather,” Walker said. “If you don’t want people to hang out, why are there seats in there?”
|"We came in here to get away from the weather. If you don’t want people to hang out, why are there seats in there?"|
Cave sympathizes with the students’ need for a place to socialize, but wants them to do it elsewhere if they don’t behave differently.
Cave said student’s behavior in the lobby area has been an issue, on and off, for at least five years; however, because new students come each semester, the issue keeps reoccurring. In the lobby, there are no posters that indicate what conduct is acceptable in the lobby.
English major Chelsey Crow and three of her classmates went into the theater lobby on March 2 but, to her surprise, was asked to leave by Dep. Brown.
|"It’s not like there’s a lot of places to go. The cafeteria’s really small.|
Walker and other students noted that the majority of the students who gathered in the theater lobby were Black, and felt they were being discriminated against, suggesting that other students wouldn't be treated similarly. Hhowever, Crow and her friends are white.
"I kick them all out,” Brown said in response to the suggestion that Black students are discriminated against, “no color about it.”
|"If we can establish a respectful relationship and if the lobby can be used in a way that it should be used, I don’t have a problem with students here"|
“If we can establish a respectful relationship and if the lobby can be used in a way that it should be used, I don’t have a problem with students here,” Cave said. “That means quiet, no cell phones, no food, no eating and no sitting on the steps over there by the elevator.”
Even theater Arts students are getting used to the rules being enforced. Ernie “DJ Ego” Rocker was eating ice cream in the theater when Cave had to tell him to go outside to eat.
“Set a good example for the other students,” Cave scolded. Moments later, another theater student Kelaisha Birdlong entered the lobby with her own ice cream.
“No food in the theater,” Rocker informed her.