UC Berkeley Young Democratic Socialists of America, or Cal YDSA, hosted a town hall in the George and Mary Foster Anthropology Library on Wednesday to get perspectives from students in the anthropology, physics and math departments on the upcoming library closures.
Present at the town hall were a variety of students ranging from undergraduate to doctoral, as well as faculty member Junko Habu, a professor of Anthropology. According to the panelists, members of administration were invited, but none chose to attend.
One concern shared by the panel was rising tuition costs despite losing these resources.
“I think every incoming class is going to be paying 6% more indefinitely, so we’re paying more and more for less and less,” said Cal YDSA facilitator and former Daily Cal staffer David Villani at the town hall.
Sixth year Ph.D. anthropology student Caylee Hong also expressed her exasperation over the university’s lack of transparency.
“There’s been this guise of transparency,” Hong said at the town hall.“If people remember February 23rd, the university emailed about this library and about the long term space plan, but it doesn’t really mention anything about libraries. Go all the way to the bottom of the email, that’s where they talk about these mergers of libraries.”
Villani alleged that he and other students have tried to attend community outreach events that were presented by the university as opportunities to highlight student voices, but even after showing signed petitions and expressing their arguments they were still ignored.
Also affected by these closures are student library employees.
“Right now they’re pissed off at wages, not getting extra money for late night shifts, and us constantly being understaffed … there’s a lot of discontent within library staff and library student workers against these closures,” said library employee and former Daily Cal staffer Aidan Byrne-Sarno at the town hall.
Due to the budget cuts the libraries have faced, Byrne-Sarno pointed out that the three main results have been understaffing, undertraining and low pay.
Byrne-Sarno also asserted his fears of what closing these libraries would do to the staff.
“We’re already understaffed. We already really do not have enough people to effectively do our jobs most of the time and we’re constantly scrambling for coverage,” Byrne-Sarno said at the town hall.“Having even more people come to an already understaffed library strikes me as a really terrible and ridiculous idea.”
Another panelist present was second year ASUC candidate, Amyrah Doty, who provided insight on the ASUC’s involvements in the closure.
Doty commented on the ASUC unanimous vote on behalf of preserving the library that took place last week, but argued that, despite ASUC support, the administration is the only group who can act on it.
Reflecting on a meeting with Chancellor Carol Christ and ASUC President Chaka Tellem, Doty said that Christ has been hesitant to act and is doubtful of student interest in the preservation of libraries.
When asked about a solution, Doty suggested that students should continue to hold town halls and other organizing events.
“It is absolutely hypocritical that this university that is predicated upon research, upon innovation, is ensuring that the people who are in certain majors … are barred from accessing the very materials they need to undergo the research that gives UC Berkeley that prestige to begin with,” Doty said at the town hall.