Earlier Monday, December 5th, UCSD students had forced open the doors of one of the shuttered libraries on campus and many of them pushed inside to claim the space in order to study for final exams. The library had been closed earlier by administrators during the summer, one of three the university closed in response to drastic cuts in funding from the state. Usually, it been left open 24/7 during finals week.
And the students had given the administration until 11 a.m. this morning to respond to their demand that the library be opened for studying during finals week. When there was no word from the Administration, one group of students came from inside and opened the doors for those outside.
By early afternoon, the administrators agreed to students demands and declared that the library would remain open for studying purposes.
Initially, campus police had blocked the entrance to the library – formally known as the CLICS Library (Center for Library and Instructional Computing Services), – while about 50 students gathered there at 7 a.m. in a protest of its closure. Reportedly, some time between 10 and 11 am, administrators then pulled the University cops from the scene in an effort to avoid any repetition of what had transpired at other campuses during protests, notably at UC Berkeley and UC Davis.
Although one source said the students were attempting to avoid the use of the word “occupy” as they didn’t want to be associated with the anti-Wall Street movement, in that all they really wanted was additional space to study. Yet, with blankets and books, the students did camp outside the library. One student told NBC News:
“It’s not like we just want to go in there and party.We just want to study for our finals.”
One of the participants, Samer Naji, vice president of external affairs for the Associated Students, told the San Diego U-T:
“This library was always a 24-hour library during finals. It’s two stories with a ton of study space. Student took it upon ourselves that we were going to reclaim the space. We’re paying tuition through the roof and they blow money all over the place.”
A University spokesperson, Jeff Gattas, told the media that administrators were on their way to open the library’s doors when students did it on their own.
Ironically, this is the same library that students took over during the 1980’s anti-apartheid movement, re-naming it the “Winnie Mandela Library”.
In another move to offset the apparent imbalance of space for finals studying, administrators agreed to open Geisel Library for around the clock studying this week. They also shuffled space around to make room for 700 more students.
Gary Matthews, a vice chancellor who oversees campus police, told the U-T:
We asked (the police) to leave so we wouldn’t have any interactions. I think since the events at UC Davis, UC Berkeley, Penn State and Syracuse, everyone is reassessing responses, and the need to respond, and our duty to protect property and make sure everyone is safe.
UCSD is also overlooking the “forced” entry to the library by the students. Meanwhile, the students have been up to now, overlooking how the libraries at UCSD received a $3 million cut for the 2011-12 school year. Last summer, the La Jolla campus had closed three libraries : the Medical Center Library (April 2011); the Center for Library & Instructional Computing Services (CLICS); and the International Relations & Pacific Studies (IR/PS) Library.
The U-T reported that “administrators and students agreed to meet later today to discuss details of safety and sanitation in the building.”