A protest has been planned by UCD students in action against the reduction in library hours and the locking out of students who have not yet paid their registration fees. The students plan to march from the Student Centre at 1pm on Thursday October 18th to the library to register complaint at the decision to close the library on Sunday until week eight of the semester and demand that the same does not occur in semester two. They will also issue complaints at the treatment of those who cannot pay their fees as not all grant money has been issued.
A public meeting was held last Thursday, the 11th, in the Fitzgerald Chamber, which was aimed at mobilising students against the library cuts. The meeting was well-attended and garnered Union support from Campaigns & Communications Officer Paddy Guiney, as well UCDSU Education Officer Shane Comer who described the decision as coming “out of left-field”.
The library as a whole is a prominent issue for the Students’ Union this year with Comer placing part of the blame in this situation on “the Library Users’ Committee [having] fallen apart” and a lack of discourse and discussion with student representatives generally. The unexpected closure is something which it has taken awhile to react to but that has had more to do with the “slow, bureaucratic, drawn-out process” that was involved in acquiring the relevant facts and figures necessary to back-up any campaign in the area.
The University initially justified the decision as being influenced by student use on this seventh day where demand was relatively reduced. On a regular weekday, excluding exam periods, the library is used by an average of just over 4,000 students. This increases to over 5,500 during the busier months when study is much and deadlines loom. For a Sunday, the numbers vary from approximately 250 in the early months of September and January to 600 within four weeks with the potential to peak at over 2,000.
Other access issues as regards the library are currently also being dealt with by the Union. Due to external issues, which have affected Universities across the country, grants being administered by the new SUSI system have, in large part, suffered from a failure in efficient processing.
While this is not an issue that restricts itself to the library, it does mean that affected students have been excluded from entering the libraries and cannot checkout books or utilise any other essential services. Acknowledging the fact he is “extremely dissatisfied, extremely disheartened and just annoyed at the performance of SUSI” overall, Comer is proactively working with the University to ensure that students in receipt of grants are not penalised for external factors beyond their control. It is Comer’s goal to have full opening hours reinstated when classes resume in January.