Eshleman Library to become commercial space

The library on the seventh floor of Eshleman Hall is being turned into commercial space.
Ayon Kabir/Staff
The library on the seventh floor of Eshleman Hall is being turned into commercial space.

Eshleman Library — previously the campus’s only 24-hour study space that allowed food and drinks — will officially be turned into commercial space until Eshleman Hall’s planned demolition next fall.

The ASUC Senate unanimously approved a bill — authored by Cooperative Movement Senator Elliot Goldstein — at its meeting Wednesday night that will convert Eshleman Library, located on the seventh floor of Eshleman Hall, from Student Activity Space into Commercial Activity Space. The conversion will require groups to pay to use the space.

“We can’t afford to staff Eshleman Library anymore,” said Marilyn Stager, interim director for the ASUC Auxiliary.

Given the need to balance the ASUC Auxiliary’s budget and the current financial situation, the senate believes it is a sound policy to convert the space, according to the bill.

The ASUC Auxiliary lacked $40,000 in funds to staff the library in 2010, according to the bill. However, in its new capacity, the space is estimated to garner a net difference of $70,000 in revenue.

The building’s usage was changed to revenue-gathering space last fall in an informal agreement between the ASUC and the ASUC Auxiliary, according to the bill. Since then, the space has been managed by campus event services and has been rented out as event space. Yet the ASUC never ratified the change until Wednesday.

Since the informal agreement, registered student groups have paid $250 to use the space for four hours, while campus departments have paid $350 and public groups have paid $450.

However, despite the auxiliary’s need for funds, the senate wants to ensure that student groups are able to afford to use the space, said Independent Senator Nairi Shirinian, a member of the ASUC Finance Committee. She added that the committee hopes to meet Monday to develop a new fee waiver policy to resolve the issue.

“There aren’t as many places to hold events on campus anymore and a lot of places are inaccessible and expensive,” said Valerie Afroilan, youth membership coordinator for Pilipino Academic Student Services.

Shirinian said that the Finance Committee will more or less guarantee half-waivers for student groups, but in order to receive full waivers, they will need to demonstrate need.

“I think the half-waiver will discourage groups who really don’t need the full waiver to submit the full waivers, because it’s so much more work,” she said at the meeting.

Under the senate’s new fee waiver policy — which has yet to be officially structured — nonstudents will have to pay a full price to use the space, student groups will have a reduced rate and its usage will be free for the student government, Shirinian said.

“The old culture used to be that if you had a waiver, they’d just pass it,” said ASUC Executive Vice President Chris Alabastro in the senate meeting. “Don’t expect to just fill out a waiver and get them passed easily anymore.”

The changes have eliminated the use of the space for students to study.

“There were always a lot of students in the library, and it was cool because food was allowed, and you could study there without your stuff getting jacked,” said Afroilan.

But given the fiscal situation of the auxiliary, the senate voted that the conversion was necessary.

“It costs too much to run the space,” Shirinian said. “The senate decided that it has to be done, otherwise the room can’t be used.”

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  • MeetTheSOB

    Let’s see the Board discuss this issue for a whole 5 minutes on Friday! http://meetthesob.wordpress.com

  • RealEyes_Realize_RealLies

    Why does ASUC Aux. have the responsibility to fund libraries?
    The UC cannot fund its own libraries, what a sad sad joke.

    Le Grande is lurking in the shadows of this story.
    Is this why ASUC Aux. was put under his control?
    So that he can use ASUC as a political screen for the administration’s head first plunge into commercializing every aspect of what used to be an educational enterprise?  

    • Sup

      It’s because the library is part of the ASUC’s offering, it’s not part of the actual UC Berkeley library system.