Students protest Library hours through sit out
Published: Friday, August 30, 2013
Updated: Friday, August 30, 2013 08:08
University Police officers Sgt. Martin King and Cpt. Mike Klingebiel approach the crowd.
"We're going to have an officer come by every hour to check on things," King said. "As long as there aren't any problems, you guys are free to stay. You have my phone number in case you need anything."
Students thank King and continue their conversations.
Klingebiel has put King, the shift commander, in charge of the protest for the evening.
"The overall objective is to allow the individuals to express themselves, in a safe manner, which does not disrupt or occupy the structure which is closed," Klingebiel said. "That's basically it. They can get their point across, the university is sensitive to this issue, and I know the students and the university are working together to come to some sort of resolution."
The goal of the night, Klingebiel said, is to allow students to use the outside space surrounding the library peacefully.
"So you guys are protesting higher pay raises for police?" King asked students.
"I've heard a rumor that people think at 1 a.m. people are going to be arrested for trespassing," he said. "I wanted to let you guys know that you're safe ... as long as you guys keep doing what you're doing university police supports free speech... We just don't want to see anything like destruction."
King said the library staff told him students are free to use the electrical outlets attached to the library. Students applaud King as he wishes them good luck and walks back toward his squad car.
A student walks around asking others if they would like free water. A plethora of conversations take place outside the building. Some students sound determined to make change happen.
"The news will be here at 4 a.m., and I really encourage you to stick around," a student says to the crowd. "If you need to nap, go back to your dorms or your cars or whatever, and come back at 4. They're going to need people to interview."
Library Services Manager Scott Ryan took a break from helping close the Library for the night to take a look out front.
“I just want to get a picture of this real quick,” he said as he pulled out his smartphone.
Library staff were made aware of the plans for a protest through Facebook, and called UP to ensure the site remained safe throughout the night. Ryan said he is here to make sure the library closed without problem, and said he was sure that it would be a peaceful protest.
The computers and lights in the library stay on throughout the night despite the building’s closure, Ryan said.
“As far as I’m aware, the only additional cost to keeping the library open (extended hours) is paying the staff,” he said.
Ryan said he is supportive of the student’s cause, and hopes the extended hours are eventually restored.
“Our stats show that we get hundreds of students every night,” Ryan said. “I definitely think we should be funding something like this, the overnight hours, I mean. The students feel that way too. That’s why they’re out here.”
Danny Brookes, a sophomore majoring in environmental science and policy, takes out a set of glow in the dark juggling balls and puts on a show for his friends. He said he is vice president of Objects in Motion, a club at USF, and is at the protest to support his friends, who use the library late at night regularly.
"For me personally, I didn't use the library much last year, that's just me," he said. "I know a lot my friends were in the library until late in the morning, and so it's important to them."
Brookes said he isn't sure how long he plans to stay out here, due to an 8:30 a.m. class and a plan to drive the Gainesville the next day.
"I could see where if I needed to print something out and forgot about it, so it would be convenient if the library was open," Brookes said. "I can see why (my friends) are so passionate about seeing the library open longer, but I'm really just here to support friends."
The crowd has dwindled a little bit. About 50 students remain outside. Brookes continues to juggle, and teaches another student some tricks, as others continue their conversations and studying.
"You have to keep focus without looking at any specific one," Brookes tells the other student.
Warmke walks around greeting students and answering questions they have about why the hours were cut.