DEAR HARRIETTE: I am a college professor who teaches a 2 1/2-hour course once a week. The length of the course obviously gets tedious, but it is only once a week. I have been having a problem with a student, "Caleb," who decides to eat a full meal during class. He comes in with a meatball sub, chips and a huge drink to wash this all down with.
I have spoken to Caleb outside of class and mentioned how his loud eating habits disrupt the class. He told me he didn't see anything in my syllabus prohibiting it, so he sees no reason to stop. How can I ask the class to put up with Caleb's munching for the rest of this semester? -- Loud Chewing, Silver Spring, Maryland
DEAR LOUD CHEWING: Schedule a meeting with Caleb to get a better sense of what's going on with him. Chances are, if he is eating during your class, it is probably because he hasn't had a moment to eat before then. Find out what he does right before your class begins. Perhaps you can invite him to come to your office and eat before class or go to a common area at school to eat in advance.
Point out that his behavior is disruptive to the class, and you want to figure out a way to take care of everyone. If he refuses to stop eating -- and there are no college rules that you can enforce to stop him -- require that he sit on the last row by an open window (if there is one) or by the door.
Rather than asking your other students to endure him, show them through your actions that you are doing your best to remedy the problem.