Kathy Lan/The Daily Evergreen
A graduate student petitioned the ASWSU senate to create a Services and Activities Fee to prevent the closure of two WSU libraries.
Brian Koepke, a graduate student in organic agriculture and food systems also studying integrated plant sciences, was a featured guest Wednesday night at the meeting. Koepke presented to the senators about the May closure of the Architecture and Fischer Agricultural Sciences libraries. He asked for a $20 Services and Activities (S&A) Fee per student.
“Closing these libraries means that the books and other resources from these libraries have to be moved to Holland and Terrell and Owen,” Koepke said, “and also 18,000 students here will be packed into the remaining libraries.”
The space required for the materials from the Architecture and Fischer Agricultural Sciences libraries will reduce study areas in the remaining libraries, he said.
“I’m really here to argue for support in keeping these libraries open to better the WSU community,” Koepke said. “Going to libraries is as much a student activity as going to the (Student Recreation Center).”
The specific resources available for students studying architecture or agricultural sciences create a connection between students that frequent those libraries, he said.
“Also a library is a place where students find much of the same spiritual and mental growth that is found through (recreation) center activities and beyond, really,” he said.
Koepke said after talking with administration, if the libraries were going to be saved they would have to be saved by the students. Currently, a student petition created by Koepke has more than 350 signatures.
The dean of libraries was unavailable for comment as of press time.
When Koepke finished his speech and asked for senate support, Vice President Amanda Spalding said the senate could not act upon his request because a bill or resolution had not been written to address the library issue. Spalding said the senate would need more information to be able to move forward.
After the meeting, District 10 Sen. Alex Smith explained how Koepke could get funding to save the libraries.
“An increase in fees for library concerns will be an administrative fee,” Smith said, “and that’s something the administration will have to pass on to the students. As far as my knowledge goes, that’s not jurisdiction that S&A has.”
If the senate wants to write a bill or resolution they will first gather more facts, Smith said. The administration likes to see figures, costs, estimates and how an issue affects students. If the library issue is affecting a large amount of the student population then the university will most likely look at it. The administration needs numbers and data to understand the impact of the closure, he said.
“From my understanding it’s a cost issue,” Smith said, “and when I talked to some of the administrators about it, it came down to ‘OK we feel that not enough students are using the libraries to justify the amount of money we’re putting into them. So why not give them the same services for the students that are going to the Holland and Terrell?’”
Smith said he does not agree with this approach but due to economic hardship, the university is forced to do things that students will not like.
District 8 Sen. Rossetti Celis said she does not know how she feels about the issue due to the lack of data.
“Would it be sustainable to add in more seating in a library that everyone uses compared to spending a lot of money keeping libraries that aren’t as easily accessible because of distance or just those kind of issues?” Celis said.
Celis said she is not sure if she would want to pay a $20 fee to keep libraries open if tuition and other fees continue to increase due to the economy.
“I feel like with today, I use the library system on a regular basis and go online,” Celis said. “ … you can go online to look for articles and journals. So I feel like as far as extra resources go, that’s not exactly going to go away.”