Following criticism from the student body about inadequate opening hours, UCC’s Students’ Union has been engaged in a series of sit in protests in the Boole Library. These protests began on Sunday, the evening before exams started, and will continue this evening.
The protest consists of SU members, along with any willing students, staying in the library past the set opening hours and has been accompanied by a social media blitz.
In addition to the sit-in, the social media aspect of the campaign has included numerous retweets of students displeased by the opening hours in the run up to and during UCC’s first set of Winter examinations, using the slogan #LetUsStudy. In addition, the UCCSU has social media to highlight the disparity between UCC library’s opening hours and those of other college libraries.
Having sat-in until 7pm on Sunday, just over an hour after the library closing time, SU talks with the university failed to reach a mutually satisfactory conclusion the following day. In a press release on the protests, the SU noted that; “After talks on Monday, the University refused to extend opening hours or give any guarantee of increased opening hours for next term, leading to a further sit-in last night.” As such, the protests are set to continue, with 150 students staying late on Monday night.
In a recent interview with the Express, Professor Paul Giller, the UCC Registrar and Senior Vice-President for Academic Affairs, admitted to being surprised by the uptake in library usage. He noted that plans had to be made to make library hours more like those in the lead up to the summer exams, however these plans have been considered inadequate by the Union.
In an online statement today, the Library noted that they had increased opening times by 100 hours in Semester 1: “UCC Library made adjustments to Opening Hours to align with Semesterisation based on evidence on usage/ demand in pre-exams periods and exam periods. The pattern of use in peak times demanded early opening, more Sunday opening and extended Saturday opening.”
By comparison, Trinity College operate a 24-hour study hall, DCU library opens from 8.30am to 2am and UCD’s largest library opens from 7am to midnight during exam periods. UCC’s Boole Library opens from 8am to 21.15pm, with a 5.45pm closing time the Sunday before exams sparking the protests.
Mark Stanton, UCCSU President highlighted the nature of student grievances: “This morning the college gym opened at 7am and closed at 10pm, the Library opened at 8am and closed at 9.15pm. While sports and physical activity are a massively important part of students’ lives, at the end of the day we’re all here to study, we need to get our priorities straight!”
Shortly before the third sit-in was due to begin, the UCCSU announced via its Facebook page that it had been told that the University hopes to have a solution in place by tomorrow, Wednesday December 10th. In the interim, the SU has arranged additional study space for the first week of exams in Booles 1, 5 and 6 until 1.45am.