24/5 hours to be restored at USF Library, funding to be determined

After various discussions between members of Student Government (SG), Academic Affairs and USF administration, the university announced Thursday the Library’s hours would be restored to being open 24 hours, 5 days a week — possibly as soon as next week.

Interim Vice President for Student Affairs Tom Miller and student body President William Warmke announced the decision outside the Library Thursday afternoon, as students continued to sign letters to be sent to USF President Judy Genshaft as to why the hours should be restored.

Extended hours had been cut since the start of the semester due to a debate between Academic Affairs and Student Government as to who should fund the $136,000 required to keep the Library open for extended hours.

Miller, said the resolution process was taking too long and administrators decided they had to do something now.

“We think supporting Student Success might be the most important thing that we can do,” Miller said. “There’s no evidence that directly ties this to success in student studies, but it’s intuitive that it makes a difference for them, and we should do it.”

Miller said the money to fund the extended hours has not been found yet, but that it would come from Academic Affairs.

“We will (find it),” he said. “We’re committed to the money. We don’t know exactly where it’s coming from — some E&G (Education and General) fund within Academic Affairs would be the source for it, and we’ll have to make a real reduction somewhere for it.”

Miller said Provost Ralph Wilcox is hopeful the hours can be restored sometime next week, but an official date has not yet been announced.

The solution, Miller said, is a temporary one and a long-term agreement will have to be reached in the meantime — a solution that could potentially include student-paid Activity and Service (A&S) fees in the future, something Warmke had initially said Student Government was opposed to using to fund Library hours.

“This gets us through the year,” Miller said. “We have a possibility supported by Will (Warmke) that there may be some creative solution going forward that would be more of a recurring nature. He wants to represent this to student leadership to see if it becomes feasible. I don’t think under these circumstances that we’re going to go through this again.”

Warmke said the tide was turned in the negotiation process by the timing.

“As we continue further into the semester and the students needs become more apparent, I think Student Government and administration agreed that it needed to be addressed immediately,” he said.

Warmke said the announcement is a step in the right direction.

“Now that the hours are restored, it gives us time to meet with university officials and find other entities that maybe an A&S (Activity & Service) fee could cover,” Warmke said. “On behalf of Student Government, we understand the financial crisis that all universities in the system are facing — budget cuts and things like that. We want to do anything we can to help, as long as it is within our realm.”

Warmke said SG could begin covering services that are currently state-funded by an Education and General (E&G) revenue pool with A&S fees, in order to free E&G dollars to cover the Library’s extended hours.

Eli Zucker, a junior majoring criminology and political science, said he didn’t hear about the announcement until he walked up to the Library.

Zucker created a petition last week on causes.org that demanded the hours be restored. The petition was signed by 1,636 at time of publication.

“If they are actually changing the hours back that’s great,” Zucker said. “Maybe they are putting student success over getting these expensive guests to come here. That’s all money you (could) put towards keeping this place open.”

Melissa Garzon, a sophomore majoring in sociology and the creator the “Library Sit-Out” and “Letters to Judy” events, was in tears when she heard the news this afternoon.“I ran out of class to come back to the event, and I have all these people saying a rumor that 24/5 is back,” Garzon said. “And they just announced that it’s temporary, but it’s still a start and I’m just really proud of everyone who came to the sit-out, who helped organized, who wrote letters and I cannot find the exact words to express everything right now.”

As of this morning, Garzon said they had collected approximately 145 letters and the number continued to grow throughout the afternoon. Garzon said the students involved with the “Letters to Judy” event still plan to deliver the letters to USF President Judy Genshaft tomorrow afternoon. 12