UC Davis students witnessed the effects of UC’s budget cuts this quarter and they don’t like what they are seeing.
Students will gather on the quad tomorrow and walk together to Shields library, which they plan to keep open all night and day for the entire weekend. The “study-in” has attracted a massive following of students and the Facebook group for the event had over 650 members as of Wednesday morning.
Students planning the event said it is meant primarily to protest the cuts being made to the library, specifically the Physical Science and Engineering Library, which the university had previously planned to close by 2011. There is currently an academic task force reviewing this decision.
“We are going to the library as a statement that we want to keep it open,” said 2009 UCD alumnus Brian Sparks. “We are a research university and it is important to have a specialized library with specific staff that knows what is going on.”
Sparks said students chose Shields library for the study-in because it is more centrally located and visible to the student body.
The event will kick off at 4 p.m. on the quad and will move to the library at 5 p.m. Three professors will be conducting “teach-ins” that evening, discussing the budget cuts and answering student questions.
Students are invited to come at any point during the weekend to use the library space and stay as long as they wish.
While none of the library staff officially endorsed the study-in, many of the staff support it and have even volunteered to stay after-hours.
“The library is one of hardest hit from budget cuts and it has been taking cuts for years, even before the budget crisis,” Sparks said. “It is already a bare-bones operation and this last round of budget cuts really hurts them, so they are very much in support of this.”
Students attending the study-in said the event primarily targets the university, whom they say is to blame for the problems with the budget.
“We don’t feel the problem is lack of funds – the UC system is one of the richest systems in world when it comes to education,” said Mark Schwartz, sophomore sociology major. “We feel the issue is how the UC system is structured and the connections it has with the state. It is absolutely out of control.”
Schwartz said the study-in is also an effort to take back a space which many students feel has been stolen from them.
“This is not a private institution and we have a right to be in that space,” he said. “We pay far too much for it not to be our space … pouring more money into a broken system is not going to help anything.”
Axel Borg, a UC Davis librarian, echoed Schwartz’s sentiment.
“The university has not made its library a priority for many years prior to the cuts,” he said. “Over 90 percent of the library budget is funded by student fees. Student fees are increasing but there has been no student library space added to the main campus since 1991. They are paying for the library but it is being taken from them.”
Sparks said he is not certain what the response from the university will be to Friday’s protest, but that administrators are aware of it.
“They could choose to close early and keep us out – we don’t really know at this point,” he said.
The UC Davis police department received news of the study-in, but had no plans for any sort of response to it as of Wednesday afternoon.
The study-in is part of a series of protests by students and will include a student and faculty strike on Mar. 4.
“There isn’t really any central leadership to any of these events,” Sparks said. “All are student organized and usually begin when someone has an idea, which other people build off of.”
As part of the lead-up into Friday’s study-in, students dropped banners off of both Wellman and Olson Halls this week, which read “We are the Crisis.”
Though the protest is aimed at the administration and not the state, every student should get involved in campus protests, Spark said.
“Even the students who believe Sacramento is the problem want to stay on campus,” he said. “According to Governor Schwarzenegger’s chief of staff, the reason he promised not to cut anymore money from higher education was because of the protests on UC campuses. Sacramento can hear us in Davis.”
ERICA LEE can be reached at email@example.com.