A year ago, UC Santa Cruz administrators might not have guessed exactly how passionate students could be about studying.
They were reminded on Monday, as approximately 100 students held the second study-in of the year at the Science and Engineering Library (SEL), leading the campus to close both the Science and Engineering and McHenry libraries at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday. This came hours earlier than the usual closing time of 10 p.m.
Monday’s protest was organized in response to reductions in library hours of operation, a result of recent budget cuts. Between 2008-10 the library received a cut of approximately $1.9 million, according to budget reduction plans.
Students inside refused to leave the library until midnight, the building’s previous closing time, as dozens more rallied outside.
“The library is something that everyone can unite on. It is something that needs to be addressed. Whether you can or cannot afford the fee increases, you will be affected by library hours,” said student organizer Riley Smith.*
University Librarian Ginny Steel issued a statement on the library closure via campus-wide e-mail shortly after the libraries closed Tuesday. The e-mail stated that the additional staff presence required by the study-in resulted in the necessity to reduce hours Tuesday.
“Since [study-in participants’] action required extra library staffing, fewer people were available for tonight’s shifts at both libraries. In other words, the sit-in further reduced funds available to pay our dedicated staff to keep our libraries open,” Steel said in the e-mail.
In response, students organized a “study-out” in front of the closed SEL from 6-10 p.m. Tuesday night. Approximately 70 students gathered to study and post fliers in response to the closure and mass e-mail. Meanwhile, students who were unaware of the closure showed up to the library to study, and left when they realized they would be unable to that night.
“It’s hard to believe they would have to close five hours early after staying two hours late,” said Jeremy Levine, a second-year from Kresge College who was not involved in the protests. “It’s pretty outrageous.”
“Library policy is very clear that people are expected to leave the building when the library is closed,” said University Librarian Ginny Steel.
At 10:30 p.m. on Monday, UCPD police officers arrived on scene and told students they were in violation of the student code of conduct and subject to arrest.However, no arrests were made.
“I believe in education, and I believe that the library should be here to support us,” said one student who wished to remain anonymous. “I want to work in solidarity with [those inside], so I am going to wait.”
Reference Librarian Ken Lyons is supportive of the goals of the protests, but said students should consider a range of alternative tactics.
“There are other methods that are being overlooked, like actually being on campus-wide committees, meeting with decision makers, letter writing, even protests themselves,” Lyons said. “They could also be outside of the library and that would not have the impact on the library and library employees that being in the library does, but could make the same points.”
In attempt to open a dialog and address concerns from both sides, a discussion was held in SEL between library administration and students on Wednesday from 8-10 p.m.
“I really respect what Ginny has been doing because I know she has been working tooth and nail to get more money from the university,” said study-in participant Jade Wynne.* “Were these actions to continue, I would want to look into a way to alleviate the stress on library staff.”
Following the meeting, another study-in was held at the SEL from 10 p.m. to midnight Wednesday night. Approximately 60 students continued to study until the action ended without confrontation.
*Names have been changed