SUSU are serving their own egos before students

A Library you can use anytime! So what’s the issue?


As the university plans to develop a 24/7 library throughout the academic year, our VP Education and VP Welfare have voiced their concerns to the use of £84,000 on this project without any degree of student consultation. However, is this really necessary?

One thing that can be said is that our university looks outdated not having a library that is open 24/7. The first university to trial a 24/7 library was the University of Bath in 1996; when most second years were born!

Since then, the number of universities offering 24/7 libraries across the UK has risen dramatically. One study into universities that offered 24/7 libraries found that, while the general proportion among the world was 8.5%, among those from the UK, 24% offered a 24/7 library. Universities such as Leeds, UEA, Sheffield and Edinburgh have all adopted a 24/7 library to meet the demands of students. Even Southampton Solent University is developing plans to enact a 24/7 library!

So why has our Student’s Union taken such a negative approach against the plan? They claim it is not the nature of the plans but the fact that it was done without student consultation; that SUSU was only informed about the plan after it was being placed into practice. It seems somewhat ironic, however, that the body which has previously supported the establishment of a 24 hour library during exam periods is opposing the extension of this.

You can see the reasons SUSU is concerned about the policy here. These issues , on the most part, are vague and illogical. ‘The plan does not properly consider the welfare or safety of students’ is one of their main concerns. However, in what way does it not do that? The library is not unstaffed, security personnel are present throughout the library’s open period. Do the books suddenly come to life at night and start attacking students? Is Hartley haunted? To make such broad generalisations without a particular focus on what aspects of student welfare are affected seems almost as vague as the pledges on Ed Miliband’s stone plaque.

Another reason is that ‘sufficient cleaning of Hartley Library facilities will not be possible’. That is conjecture and is insufficient as an argument. If this was an issue, then how have so many universities managed to successfully operate a 24/7 library? The University of Bath has been running one for nineteen years and there is no evidence provided to suggest an issue with cleaning at that institution. The nature of a 24 hour facility is that the area would be cleaned at off-peak times. The cleaning would be no less extensive than when the library is closed after midnight.

When scrolling down the list you find the reasons become increasingly tedious. The reason that ‘there is a lack of access to adequate food and drink facilities during the extended opening hours’. Firstly, there are water fountains: so there are adequate drink facilities. There are not adequate food facilities: that is a very good point, but we must remember, this is a library, not a restaurant. Even then, this point is undermined by the fact that SUSU supported the use of a 24/7 library during exams despite this ‘lack of access to adequate food and drink facilities’. If any of you did use the 24/7 library in exams, you would be all too familiar with the countless boxes of Domino’s Pizza found in the bins. While those facilities are not provided by the library, it is an adequate substitute.

The one area in which I can concede that SUSU’s concern is genuine, is over the issue of the Safety Bus. Though this can be achieved through consultation with the university and does not require a referendum to gain more funding for the Safety Bus to operate. Am I not correct in assuming that SUSU were recently able to save money by removing the Portswood Safety Bus? While this would not extensively cover the costs of the new safety bus service, should it not make it a more manageable situation?

It is clear that the focus which SUSU has on their stance to this 24/7 library is the fact that they were not consulted first. That there is a need for the students to have a say in every single little thing that goes on in this university and that if we do not then it is a scandal in the making. The reality is that if we continue to waste time debating over whether we should have a referendum, which will probably, as usual, see a limited proportion of students contribute in voting, rather than actually working with the university to ensure a beneficial result with a 24/7 library. Our focus should be more on how the university plans to accommodate for growing numbers of students in the long-term instead of simply attempting to slow the process of modernisation down by debating about whether we should have a referendum on a policy already being passed.