Campus Life Editor
This article is also available in print: Quaker Campus, Volume 19 – Issue 6, dated Nov. 17, 2021, on the Whittier College campus.
In a recent Associated Students of Whittier College Senate meeting, a student representative proposed an increase in funding for Wardman Library to hire more students and increase their hours.
As one of the highest employers of students on campus, the Library relies on two avenues to pay student staff: work-study awards and exception funding. David McCaslin, the director of the Library, explained that, because of the effects of the pandemic on the budget, exception funding was not given to on-campus units. The Library then had to rely solely on work-study awards. Those awards can be exhausted quickly during an academic year. Reducing the Library hours led to less student staffing hours in order to stretch out the student work-study awards.
In the past, the Library would stay open until midnight, with student staff running the library from 9 p.m. to close, with no full-time professional staff. McCaslin stated, “Because of the mask guidelines, we did not feel it would be fair for two student staff to be able to monitor the whole library building on mask compliance. We also felt it might put the student staff in an awkward position to confront peers on mask-wearing (or lack of).” During the first few weeks of returning to campus, the library struggled to enforce mask wearing, especially on the upper floors. The amount of students in the Library from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. was severely reduced, reinforcing the belief that extended hours were not necessary this semester.
Students across campus have expressed their concerns about the need for spaces during this turbulent time. When the ASWC student representative reached out to McCaslin about their concerns over student morale, the library reiterated that they are dedicated to assisting the needs of the Whittier College community. McCaslin said, concerning the morale of students, “The Library is always sympathetic to the student experience on campus and wants to be a part of their success, so we expressed our willingness to come up with a compromise. The ASWC [representative] offered his assistance in getting additional funding to help with student staffing and, in turn, I stated the Library would be willing to extend hours, but we would need Campus Safety to guarantee [ . . . ] frequent walkthroughs of the building to help reinforce the mask guideline.” Through these subsequent conversations, a compromise was reached. The Library would extend hours from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m., but only for the main floor. Campus Safety would commit to doing frequent walkthroughs, and the Library would accept ASWC’s assistance with student staff funding. Senate recently approved $2,000 for Library funding to be used for student employment for the Fall 2021 Semester.
If the Library receives more funding, they would prefer to use the funding to assist the current students who would be working the increased hours. In the event the Library is able to return to its previous state, they will have to hire additional student staff. The support is coming from the overwhelming student opinion that the Library is necessary for student life and morale.
Featured Photo: Courtesy of Sage Amdahl