Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 5
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Library shuts doors during crunch

Library shuts doors during crunch | WheelerStudents expressed anger, confusion and even profanity on Thursday, Oct. 9, as Penrose Library, typically open 24 hours a day with the exception of major school breaks, erroneously closed 10 p.m.

Many students studying for midterms or writing papers due Friday, the day before the annual fall four-day weekend, were left stranded with only Maxey Hall and their dorm rooms to turn to for evening academic solace.

ASWC President senior Elliot Okantey was writing a paper when he heard the library was closing.

“I thought it was a joke at first,” Okantey said. “This is the Thursday night before four-day… Students have papers, exams and projects due, often the very next day, and this night is critical to the way that students’ semesters go. This is one of the worst nights for [the library] to close at 10 p.m.”

Senior Kaston Griffin “thought it was a ridiculous idea” for the library to close so early.

“It was absurd. I came [to the library] and got a 15 minute warning. I didn’t get an e-mail about it or anything,” he said.

Sophomore Peter Zipparo also found it strange that no e-mail was issued ahead of time.

“I was surprised that they would not even announce [its closing] ahead of time. It seems like it was a last-minute decision,” Zipparo said. “I have an exam tomorrow. I was in the middle of a study session and we had to stop.”

“I am extremely frustrated because it’s not four-day yet,” senior Jen Doane said on Thursday. “I have two tests tomorrow and there are a lot of people that are with me. It’s especially frustrating because they didn’t give us any notice at all.”

Other students seemed more bewildered than annoyed that the library decided to close on a weekday night.
“I’m confused because it’s not yet the weekend,” first-year Zach Ellenbogen said. “I can understand why they would close it early for four-day, but it’s not four-day yet.”

Some students tried to hypothesize over why the library would close its doors early.

“What I’ve been told is that this is a decision that comes from very high up,” Okantey said. “They began the four-day schedule a day too early. It seems like it’d be hard to do, but they found a way to do that.”

As ASWC President, Okantey believed that he had reached an understanding with the administration over notifying students when services as important as the library’s would be unavailable.

“This was handled the absolute wrong way,” Okantey said. “First, we have to let [the administration] know that this is unacceptable. Second, let them know that we’re upset… There are a lot of ‘This is bullshit’ written in [the library’s] suggestion box.”

“I don’t know if it’s to cut back money,” Griffin said. “But the amount of money the administration could save just from not staffing people for 8 more hours must be really minimal.”

“I think the staff was going to go on a retreat,” Zipparo said in jest. “I have my own conspiracy theories.”

The bulk of students went back to their dorms to finish their work while a few groups of students relocated to Maxey Hall, which is open 24 hours a day.

This reporter, along with Pioneer Photography Editor senior Brett Axelrod, went to the president’s house to ask President George Bridges about the library’s abrupt closure.

President Bridges was unaware that the library was closing its doors on Thursday and said that its academic break hours should not have taken effect until Friday evening.

In an effort to find out who ordered the library’s closure, Bridges phoned several people, including College Librarian Dalia Corkrum, who came to the president’s house that night.

Like Bridges, Corkrum was unaware that the library had closed prematurely. She said she did not give any orders to close the library at 10 p.m. on Thursday night and that there must have been a “huge misunderstanding” between the library staff about when academic break hours were to begin.

Bridges asked the Pioneer staff who had notified him of the closure about the depth of student concern over the library’s closure. After speaking with many students before and after the library closed its doors, they were able to assure Bridges that student inerest would best be served if the president ordered the library to reopen.

This reporter and Axelrod cited frustration and confusion among the student body over the library’s closure the night before many would have to take tests and turn in papers. In response,   Bridges decided to reopen the library, realizing that Thursday night was essential to students’ academic performance.

At 10:50 p.m., Bridges sent a campus-wide e-mail stating that “the library was closed mistakenly… at 10 p.m.” and that it would reopen by 11:15 p.m.

Upon reopening, the library saw much less traffic than it had earlier that night, but by midnight many students had returned to the long night of studying.

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