ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — Memorial University business students are being asked to keep their studies family friendly after a custodian recently walked in on two people having early morning relations in a study room.
"That space is for learning and working," business administration school dean Wilfred Zerbe said in an interview Thursday, "and it's not really appropriate or fair for our custodial staff to come upon that kind of behaviour."
Associate dean Larry Bauer stated in a recent email the students were "apparently having sex" in one of the faculty's many study rooms about two weeks ago. Enforcement officers will now be closely monitoring the areas, he added.
The incident prompted a flurry of emails to all business students, faculty and staff, including one from Zerbe, who assured them the executive will be debriefed on it to ensure everyone knows how to maintain a "healthy and productive" environment.
It was just the second time in four years that a staff member had walked in on students engaged in an "activity of a more personal nature" in a so-called study room, he said.
Zerbe said he didn't want to overstate the seriousness of the incident, adding that he was surprised by the attention it has received.
"We elected to remind students that that kind of behaviour was not appropriate," he said from his office in St. John's, N.L. "It raises questions of safety and decorum."
Zerbe offered few details on what took place, but said the pair were thought to be business students and that they were not sanctioned in any way.
Bauer said empty beer and liquor bottles have also been found in the business building, and a student was reportedly smoking marijuana outside one of the entrances.
"This type of behaviour does not just represent 'youthful foolishness,'" he said in the email to faculty. "It could have very real consequences for our students, our staff and faculty, and our reputation."
However, Zerbe said he doubts the students' sexual antics will sully the reputation of the business administration program and its roughly 2,000 students.
"I hardly think that a couple of incidents like this really speaks to anything," he said. "There are much more important issues in higher education in Newfoundland and Labrador than this one."
When asked whether the university's response to an incident involving young people having sex on campus at the end of term was itself appropriate, Zerbe acknowledged there was a question of proportionality.
"This was just a reminder. There was no discipline involved, so I think people are reacting to the potential here rather than what actually happened," he said. "It's not our interest to prosecute students."
In another email, a spokeswoman for the school said they sometimes have to remind students that study rooms are not to be used for personal purposes, adding that violations of university policies will be handled by the school and that illegal activities will be reported to the police.
— By Alison Auld in Halifax
The Canadian Press