Too Little, Too Late

Sometimes, wasting your time on a futile goal earns you a pat on the back and a “good try, slugger.” Other times, it earns you the ambivalence of 20,000 peers

Nearly two months after the university announced plans to close several UCSD libraries, Muir College Council Chair Jessie Rosales assembled a task force was assembled to save CLICS.

The group’s most feasible option seems to be proposing a referendum that, if passed, would not go into effect until a year after the apparently beloved study space is scheduled to be shut down. Although the task force means well, the gap between now and when any work would become visible is far too long.  Good intentions aside — it is now Week Nine and CLICS is scheduled to close immediately after finals.

And the good news doesn’t stop there; according to university librarian Brian Schottlaender, the current $3-million cut to the library budget is the best-case scenario (using the word “best” loosely) — this means that, believe it or not, we’re lucky the university is closing a whopping five libraries and not doing worse.  In the face of such grim realities, there’s little room for Rosales’s impromptu task force — no matter how earnest — to save the day.

It’s refreshing that someone is taking action beyond yet another “KEEP CLICS OPEN” Facebook group, and Rosales is making a noble effort. He’s narrowed the focus of his task force to one library rather than attempting to save all of them, refocused attention onto the library crisis, a fate most students have already accepted and has even recruited 15 members. The task force hopes to present its proposals — including proposals to turn CLICS into a “student-run space“ (think co-op but with books instead of food and marijuana) and create an $8 quarterly student fee  — to the Academic Affairs department by summer.

But this can’t make up for a lack of planning and feasible options, as Rosales’s efforts are ultimately a bad case of “too little, too late.”

As nice as it is to think that students would voluntarily work at CLICS to keep it open, labor-free alternatives like Price Center, Perks Cafe and even the dorm study lounges are — despite being slightly louder — cost-free, accessible alternatives.

Even if there was enough student interest, volunteers wouldn’t even be qualified to be interim librarians for the year, seeing as UCSD does not offer a Masters in Library Science.

Though student libraries are often essential to study (and for the truly downtrodden, eat and sleep), this can be done at plenty of other spaces on campus. The original point of libraries, lest we forget, is to check out books, and librarians are in charge of this data organization — a skill even the most studious coed is unlikely to have.

As for a referendum, the time gap between now and 2012 elections is just too big. During the year-long gap between the closing of the libraries and the actual referendum (if it passes), students will have no choice but to find alternative study spaces which they will get used to, ultimately making Team CLICS obsolete. And let’s be honest, students rarely, if ever, support fee increases.

The $8 per-student per-quarter fee is not worth it. Students outwardly oppose additional fees tacked onto their tuitions and, with the year-long gap between now and the far-fetched possibility that CLICS will reopen, students will find other options. Asking students to care about an abandoned building for a year is ridiculous, seeing as UCSD students have enough trouble staying in a relationship for that long (ahem, Triton Eye).

The Department of Academic Affairs — the university division the task force must answer to — has already informed Rosales that it believes saving CLICS is not feasible.

Rosales has called this reaction a “slap in the face,” but the university, after enduring millions in crippling budget cuts, is simply being realistic.

Although it would be ideal to keep what’s left of our libraries from becoming overcrowded, the convoluted nature of university bureaucracy has proven itself unresponsive to many student proposals, especially those with bad timing and half-baked ideas.

It’s nice to see fellow students showing some sort of an emotional attachment to our campus and it’s even more exciting that they are trying to prioritize our education, but good thoughts won’t bridge a $3-million budget gap.

Nice try, task force, but it looks like CLICS is gone for good. It’s time to fight at the source by lobbying for more state funding. In the meanwhile, we should probably settle for finding a new location to chug Red Bulls and write papers.