Students create petition to increase Ellis Library hours

A student petition created Wednesday to reinstate Ellis Library hours that run 24 hours and 5 days a week, which they provided students last year, now has more than 2,000 signatures.

Ellis Library currently closes at midnight from Sunday to Thursday, and at 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday because of budget cuts. The petition was created by senior Gabriella Martinez.

To preempt the change in hours, last year, Matt Gaunt, director of advancement for MU Libraries, proposed a library fee that would provide $13 million in funding each year at its peak. The idea was to implement a fee per credit hour, beginning at $5 and increasing by $2 each year so that by the year 2022, students would be paying an additional $15 per credit hour. After a student referendum, the proposal failed with 54 percent of students who voted voting against it.

Many students said there was a communication error between the advertisement of the policy and the actual consequences of not approving it. Sophomore Edward McKinley said he blew off the library fee proposal because he viewed it as the university charging more money. He said he felt like the consequence of not voting for the proposal “was a footnote.”

“[The proposal] could’ve been communicated more effectively,” McKinley said.

Junior Shahrukh Naseer agreed. He said that while trying to gather support, many students “didn’t know what the vote was for” or “how it would affect them.” Only now, when the library is closed during what students consider crucial studying hours, do they regret not voting in favor of the proposal, Naseer said.

Martinez said she believes the libraries should be better funded.

“The University of Missouri is an ACADEMIC institution and the library, of all places, should be one of the main amenities the university should be funding,” Martinez wrote in an email. “This is a great school with multiple amenities, so the university shouldn't have to raise tuition rates to keep the school library open.”

Martinez, Naseer and McKinley all said they voted ‘yes’ on the library fee.

McKinley said it’s difficult to concentrate when his alternative study area lacks the environment of the library.

“I’m actually in here right now doing homework, and outside there’s loud music,” McKinley said. “It’s easier to go to Ellis, [where] everyone around you is studying.”

Martinez and Naseer decided to make it their priority to expand the library’s hours again: Martinez started the petition, and Naseer created a GoFundMe webpage.

Martinez said in an email that she decided to create the petition after realizing she had only one more hour left in Ellis before the building closed, but she still had hours worth of studying to do.