Something is rotten in the county of Devon…

Escalating library fines are just the tip of the iceberg, argues Alex O’Donoghue

I have an axe to grind.

The University has collected over £200,000 in library fines over the past three years, with the figure rising year on year. This year, they are set to exceed £80,000. To me, that is reprehensible in and of itself.

The scene of the crime, your honour…

Yes, I understand that it’s annoying when some inconsiderate arse has taken a book out and not brought it back in a timely manner. To act so punitively, however, is indicative of an unpleasant trend that seems to pervade the operations of the university.

Not content with brimming their coffers with the fees of a rapidly growing number of students (whose presence, I must clarify, is welcomed, and are not in any way the target of any ire in this), they seem determined to act in the most mercenary of all possible manners when concerning these increasing numbers of fresh-faced undergrads.

Unknowing students being mugged off to the tune of hundreds of thousands

Perhaps this is understandable. Since the government reduced the funding for tertiary education, such institutions must find ways to better support themselves. Perhaps the best way to go about this is to strive to get as much out of the students as possible during their fleeting stay here. Combined with efficiency savings elsewhere, maybe they can prosper out of what appeared to be a desperate and bleak situation at the time that funding cuts were announced.

These would all be very valid justifications were Exeter struggling for cash. It isn’t, though.

The Russell Seal fitness centre was opened amid much fanfare this year, coming in a shade under £7 million. The Living Systems building is currently being constructed, and it would be a cause for great surprise (and celebration) were it to cost vastly less. The Forum opened the year before last, costing in total £48 million.

Evidence of the Uni’s shortage of cash…

Given all this, it confounds and concerns me that the university should combine such extravagance, warranted or otherwise, with such desirous glances towards the wallets and purses of our fine and upstanding undergrads. Library fines form only the tip of the iceberg.

The disciplinaries, handed out with gay abandon for such dire crimes as being three minutes late for a fire alarm, laughing at members of estate patrol as they attempted to apprehend a drunken miscreant and sliding across the forum in slippy socks late at night, all carrying the threat of a minimum £50 fine, simply reinforce the growing notion that the Uni is far more concerned with the state of its finances and the face that it presents to the world than the welfare of its students. Combine this with the unfortunate chain events surrounding Elina Desaine, who was hung out to dry by the powers that be, and one cannot help but feel disquiet.

This unfortunate individual is paying dearly for his heavy sleeping patterns

No school would get away with treating its pupils in this manner. Why should our Uni be judged any differently? They spend vast quantities on construction projects, proving beyond any recourse that they have funds to spare, yet act in the most disgracefully niggardly and avaricious manner towards their students, and when the chips are down, show them bugger all loyalty, rather choosing to cover their own interests.

It’s utterly scandalous.