Students protest cut hours with library study-in

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Brianna Campbell / The Collegian

Students took over the Henry Madden Library at California State University, Fresno on Friday night to push the administration to extend library hours.

Ninety-four students, along with several staff and faculty members, remained inside of the library after it closed at 5 p.m. Students who were present said they planned to stay inside the library for 24 hours.

Organizers of the event, who spoke to The Collegian anonymously, said current library hours were inadequate and showed the administration’s lack of shared governance.

Administrators present at the library included the dean of student affairs, Carolyn Coon, Ph.D.; the associate library dean, David Tyckoson, the library dean, Peter McDonald; and the director of University Communications, Shirley Armbruster. After the library’s closing, the administrators sat inside the first floor of the library as more than 20 students, parents and community members watched from the outside.

Police officers were also present during the sit-in, according to official reports. Police are generally present whenever students occupy the library, according to Armbruster. The administration was careful to make the distinction between operational hours and the study-in, Armbruster said, so police had to be present.

Supporters of the sit-in who were left outside brought foldout chairs, food and drinks as they waited to be let in. At approximately 6 p.m., a chant of “si se puede” erupted among the crowd outside, as students participating in the sit-in on the inside made their way to the bottom floor of the library.

McDonald, the library dean, then addressed the students inside of the library and said that no one who was outside the library would be allowed inside, according to a Collegian reporter inside. McDonald also reportedly said that students who were already inside the library would be allowed to stay as long as they remained quiet and studied.

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Lennell Freeman, a 19-year-old sophomore, arrived at the library after it closed because he had a late class.

“I’m hopeful that I will be let in,” said Freeman, who arrived on his Razor scooter with two pillows and his book bag. “I plan to stay the night as soon as I get up there.”

Freeman camped outside despite the rain. He said that he would remain optimistic.

The Henry Madden Library, the largest library in the CSU system, is open to the public six days a week. Eleven CSU campuses have libraries that are open seven days a week.

Carl Box, 21, said he hopes that the sit-in will get administrators to open the library seven days a week and extend its hours.

“I go to the library to do research all the time,” said Box, who was denied entry to the library by police officers and administrators at around 5:45 p.m. “We need more time, and I think this is a good cause to do so.”

CSU officials closed libraries on Saturdays and reduced hours of operation this year to save money, a measure that each on-campus department had to carry out to contend with budget reductions, according to Armbruster.

McDonald made the call to cut the library hours in response to the larger cuts that were made to the CSU system.

According to McDonald, the library’s collection took a $400,000 hit, the operational budget was slashed $166,000 and the student employee budget was reduced by $260,000. The student employee budget, McDonald said, is used as the primary source of funding to keep the library open later.

The CSU is currently facing the largest budget deficit in its history, contending with a $364 million budget gap. Fresno State, likewise, is faced with bridging a $44.6 million budget gap.

Staff writer Thaddeus Miller contributed to this report.

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