Hospital zoned

All joking about hospital food aside, the Florida Hospital's cafeteria offers an unexpected treat. "Most of us are vegetarian or vegan," says Chris Vasquez of his circle of friends and acquaintances, "and the hospital is open till 2 a.m., and they only serve vegetarian food, and it's cheap. How perfect is that?"

Absolutely perfect -- except when you're not allowed inside. Vasquez, 16, has been in the cafeteria twice when he and others have been kicked out by security guards, due to what Vasquez sees as nothing more than their "punk-rock appearance." The hospital cafeteria, you see, has for a long time been a favorite place for people in their teens and 20s to eat after shows.

Two weeks ago a group of about 30 kids was told by a security guard that the hospital has set a new policy: Only people visiting patients are allowed in the cafeteria. But somebody better tell the hospital administration about this decree.

"Right now there's no policy," says hospital spokesperson Samantha Kearns, "so the cafeteria is open to the public. Obviously we hope people are going to be on good behavior -- and we're a little more sensitive to that because of the environment here."

"We have been back several times since as small groups and nothing has been said," reports Vasquez. But on Saturday, Feb. 12, three security guards again kicked out a group. "They followed us all the way out to our cars," say Vasquez, clearly indignant. "We were leaving. You could tell we were leaving."

Vasquez is gathering signatures for a petition protesting the incidents -- and the new "policy," which doesn't seem to be a real policy. You can add your name at d.i.y. records (7559 University Blvd.).

Vasquez says that he understands the need to ban people if they're loud or causing a mess. But the recent actions "seem to be targeting just younger people who 'look different,'" he notes. "They don't kick anybody else out."

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