The Library (I can never bring myself to call it the Hazel McCallion Academic Learning Centre) announced this Friday that it would resume the 24/5 schedule that it abandoned less than a month ago (see the article on the cover page). We can once again study in the library as late as we wish. (Not that I or anyone I know ever stayed there after 8 p.m.) More importantly, we don’t have to bow our heads in embarrassment when UTSC or St. George students boast about the hours of their libraries.
So, we got what we wanted. We’ll never know whether we got thanks to the UTMSU campaign, or The Medium’s coverage, or the students who told the Principal during the town hall event on October 2 that they were against the reduced hours, or to the Provosts Office suddenly coming up with the necessary cash. I like to think it was because of our coverage, but of course it was most likely a combination of all of the above.
Two conclusions can be drawn from this unexpected turnaround. Firstly, students have power—more than they think. There is, however, a caveat to this power: It needs to be used wisely. In the case of the Library’s new hours, students not only had a reasonable goal, but also fought for it in a mature way—never mind those who booed a fellow student when she dared wonder aloud whether maybe UTM had a point about cancelling the 24/5 service.
Other than that shameful bout, there were no T-shirts depicting a raised middle finger or inviting the library to screw itself. Such gimmicks may be good for publicity; they may stir up the masses, but they sure don’t invite respectful, intelligent debate.
The second conclusion is not so easy to arrive at, perhaps because of its implications: that other UTM services may suffer because of funds that were allocated to the Library so that it would remain open. UTMSU President Joey Santiago assures us that this wont happen. But how can we be so sure?
After all, U of T President Naylor himself asked which services students were willing to sacrifice in order to keep the library open 24/5.
If indeed no services get cut, then one question arises: why did UTM change the library hours in the first place if money was not a problem? On the other hand, if money was a problem, how was the Provosts Office suddenly able to extend the hours back to what they were before? I find it hard to believe that the students’ protests had nothing to do with the old hours being reinstated.
All that matters for now is that the library is back to its regular hours. It would be foolish take it for granted. We cried when something was taken away. Let’s use it now that it is given back.