UPDATED: 2:30 a.m.
Students are protesting to restore 24/5 hours by sitting outside the USF Library.
About 10-12 protestors are setting up shop outside the exit. They come equipped with a blanket, a water cooler, power strips and study materials.
University Police has sent an officer over to keep an eye on the area. The officer approaches the group and begins asking them questions.
“So what’s the game plan?” he asks the group.
Melissa Garzon, a sophomore majoring in sociology, is the ring leader to for this protest, and explains to the officer what their cause is and why they’re choosing to sit outside all night.
The officer seems more intrigued.
“So it’s Student Government (SG) who doesn’t want to fund the hours?” he asked.
Student Body President William Warmke met with Provost Ralph Wilcox and library officials this afternoon to discuss the options available to them in funding the library’s extended hours.
“Nothing tangible came from the meeting,” Warmke said.
The meeting was called after Warmke requested to meet with the Provost to discuss funding options. The Library hours were cut from its 24/5 operational hours as the university implemented spending reductions and no longer had the funds to keep up the costs. Wilcox had said the hours, initially proposed by SG, were intended to be funded by SG, but SG never funded the initiative.
A proposal was brought to SG this spring to allocate partial funding for extended Library hours from SG’s $14.1 million Activity and Service (A&S) fees budget, something each student pays into.
Warmke said SG didn’t think student fees should pay for a service that is at the core of academics, something he said he felt tuition should already cover.
The survey SG conducted to gauge opinion has been taken by more than 1,700 students, Warmke said. More than 95 percent of survey takers said they felt the library’s extended hours was an essential part to student success.
The fourth question on the survey asked students if they agreed with the university cutting the library’s hours, and placing their tuition dollars into a reserve account to be used for future spending.
Warmke said 90 percent of survey takers did not agree.
There’s about 25 people on the first floor, some playing on computers, others getting in some last minute studying. It’s the first week of classes, so not that many people have homework at this point of the semester.
Like clockwork, the loud speaker begins ushering students out of the library.
“Attention library patrons. The USF Library is now closed. Please collect your belongings and proceed to the first floor main entrance. Thank you.”
Not many students get up, but some get annoyed with the repetitive reminder to leave and pack up their things. The baristas in Starbucks shuffle chairs around as they clean up the coffee shop. A University Police officer is walking around the lobby and speaks with a library official.
“Thanks for coming by to help us,” the official tells him. “We really appreciate it.”
A library official scans the first floor as UP stands guard. Everyone’s starting to give up on blocking out the loud speaker’s requests, and they make their way toward the exit.
About eight people remain in the library.
Outside the library, about 75 people are sitting with blankets and bottles of water. A photographer walks around snapping photos of students, who are discussing what brought them all here in the first place — the library’s closure in two minutes.
“They’re spending money on flavored condoms, but they can’t afford to keep the library open?” one student casually asks his friends. 1234