Extended library hours are worth preserving

Evan Watson/The News

Our View

The staff editorial is the majority opinion of The Murray State News Editorial Board.

This year’s graduating class may be the last one that can say it remembers a time when students could prep for finals any hour of the day at Waterfeld Library.

That’s because being able to study in the wee hours of the morning is about to become a thing of the past. Forthcoming budget cuts are being blamed by the Student Government Association for the cancellation of extended library hours, which the SGA has judged as not worth the cost when lined up with other student activities and priorities funded out of the Campus Activities Board budget.

There’s a lot of blame to go around here and we have a lot of bones to pick with the parties that are ultimately responsible for the end of extended library hours at Murray State.

First and foremost, we have a bone to pick with the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Since 2008, according to the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy, the Commonwealth has slashed funding for higher education by a wopping 28 percent.

Evan Watson/The News

Evan Watson/The News

That means less funding for Murray State, higher tuition bills for you and less access or restricted access to services that students depend on. Cutting funds for education is not a winning strategy for a state with a 19.4 percent poverty rate.

The governor and members of the General Assembly should be berated by every person in this state for cutting funding year after year, for cutting this lifeline on which so many Kentuckians rely.

The?University should not escape blame here, either. The fact that education is cut year after year while the state literally burns money elsewhere (locking up drug addicts comes to mind) reflects not only on the Commonwealth, but also on the University itself.

Where are its representatives in Frankfort? Why aren’t they fighting to keep more of that funding?

We also want to take issue with the idea that anything needs to be cut in the first place. Last year’s budget review teams and the recommendations made by those teams made clear that the University isn’t exactly hurting for money, funding cuts from Frankfort notwithstanding.

The blame game can only get University officials so far before the facts (one being that the University is and has run a budget surplus) come into conflict with fiction. The University can spare the missing money that the CAB says it will need to operate Waterfield for 24 hours a day during finals week.

The SGA, which ultimately made the call to cut extended library hours, perhaps deserves the most blame for failing in its most basic mission – standing up for the interests of students.

The fact that SGA would not go to bat for students who rely on extended library hours is part of a wider problem at Murray State; that of near total student disempowerment.

Students, whom this University is supposed to house, feed and educate, have had no say in this matter.

We should no longer pretend that the SGA adequately represents the student body at Murray State.

The last SGA elections, like most SGA elections, was marked with extremely low voter turnout and few real choices. Students do not have a way to voice their discontent through the SGA so long as the SGA does not and will not act in the interest of students.

What can be done? What should be done? That’s not for us to decide.

If students want extended library hours, it is clear that at this point, they’re going to have to demand them from the administration and from SGA.

Students are going to have to make angry phone calls to their SGA representatives and to the administration.

Extended library hours are a Murray State tradition worth preserving. Students needing extra time to study should have a place to do so and they should be able to do so whenever they feel like doing so.

We don’t believe this is a controversial demand; but if students really want it, they’re going to have to fight for it.