More than 100 students plan to bring blankets and power strips and sit outside the USF Tampa Library at midnight – the time the Library has been closing since its 24/5 hours were reduced due to a lack of funding – to prove the building’s resources are still valued to many students, even late into the night.
When the changed hours were announced the weekend before classes started, students began sharing their frustrations online.
Forms of action, including a petition that gathered more than 1,400 signatures and a survey by Student Government (SG) which will be presented to the Provost this afternoon, sparked due to complaints, but some students are choosing to continue their studies at the Library whether they’re in the building or not.
Melissa Garzon, a sophomore majoring in sociology and a frequent patron of the Library, created the event page on Facebook, “USF Library Sit-Out,” and encouraged students to spread the word.
“We’d be inside the library if it were open right now,” Garzon said. “So we’re going to sit in front of it.”
Garzon said she often finds herself studying until 3 a.m.
“When the speaker comes on at 11:45 p.m. and tells us to leave, it’s been a huge inconvenience,” Garzon said. “I was there last night, trying to print out my syllabus, and the speaker announced that the Library was closed. I was like ‘Really? It’s not even midnight yet.'”
Garzon said other options for late night studying aren’t as appealing as the Library.
“We can improvise and use dorm room pods and the dining halls on campus, but it’s not the same,” Garzon said. “It doesn’t have the same equipment, the lighting, the resources, the printers or anything like that.”
While Garzon plans with others to sit outside the library, SG has been gathering feedback to present to administration this afternoon to come to a solution about funding the library’s extended hours.
Student body President William Warmke said more than 1,200 students had taken the survey as of Wednesday evening and more than 95 percent of respondents said they thought 24/5 hours were essential to student success.
“The support for the extended hours at the library has been overwhelming,” Warmke said.
Throughout the week, Warmke said he met with students to explain the situation and hear feedback and has spoken with other state universities’ student governments to compare library hours.
Warmke is meeting with USF Provost Ralph Wilcox and library officials this afternoon to discuss options available to reinstate the extended library hours.
SG’s proposal, he said, is to request the use of money being placed in the university’s reserves, so students paying tuition and fees now will get to use resources their money is paying for.
“I think our main proposal is that the university is putting all this money into reserves for future spending, and we just don’t think that’s really committed to student success because the students are enrolled now,” Warmke said. “So what we would like to see is that money in reserves be allocated back into the library hours.”
While SG has not officially endorsed the sit-out, Warmke said he is supportive of students for taking action and having their voice heard about the issue.
Earlier this week, Wilcox said the university could no longer afford to fund the extended hours, something he said was initially brought upon through an SG project that SG was expected to fund.
Earlier this spring, SG rejected a proposal to allocate Activity and Service fees, which each student pays, to fund the extended hours, stating Academic Affairs should fund them.
Sue-tanya Crosbourne, a sophomore majoring in accounting, said she uses the library regularly, where she studies with Starbucks drinks.
“It’s not fair to tell students we need to pay (to fund the Library’s extended hours),” Crosbourne said. “What are we paying for? I think it’s important students come out (to the sit-out). Someone needs to tell them that this isn’t OK.”
– Additional reporting by Roberto Roldan