Hours extended, scantrons rescinded

With the start of the 2011 fall semester, the Oakland University library announced changes that will both delight and disappoint students. For starters, the library will be open 24 hours a day from Sunday though Thursday, and on Friday and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m.

This change was effected after substantial effort of Oakland University Student Congress, who has worked for years on the matter. This year will serve as a trial run, where overall use of the facility’s new hours will determine whether the 24-hour library remains a permanent offering to students.

Ben Eveslage, student body president, and Brett McIsaac, the student services director, both played a role in pushing the agenda on the pilot 24-hour program.

A Welcome Change

“Every person I’ve talked to, including the assistant dean of the library and the President, is very confident in the program,” Eveslage said. “And, with the opening of the medical school, a 24-hour facility became an even larger necessity.”

One recurring issue that the OUSC faces is keeping food services open along with the library. Having food and drink options available to students during the extended hours would be a boon to the 24/5 schedule this semester.

“If the food services will not stay open 24-hours, then we will push for healthier vending options and coffee machines,” Eveslage said.

While OUSC has had the longest running influence on backing the idea of an all-hours library, the success of the 24-hour Wayne State library also offered a positive indicator for the creation of one at Oakland . The opening reportedly increased the quality of student life as well as student involvement on campus. Also, the success of the OUSC Exam Cram, which kept the OU library open until 2 AM during exam week, has made the need for a 24-hour facility even more apparent.

OUSC assures students that late-night security will not be an issue. An OUPD escort service has always been an option at OU, and in the past year security has developed an extensive camera monitoring system.

The hope is that more student activity will be extended to the library, and all necessities, such as food, coffee and Internet service will be available to students there.

Scantron Setback

While the Oakland University Student Congress had a huge hand in stretching library hours, they have made other changes as well. The OUSC will no longer offer scantrons in their office or in the library.

“Providing free scantrons to students was originally an idea to bring students into the student congress office,” said McIsaac. “Students were expecting the scantrons as a sole service of OUSC.”

He said that OUSC would spend three to four thousand dollars a semester on scantrons, which could be money better spent.

“This is not the best way to spend OU student’s money,” McIsaac said. Not all students, however, share McIsaac’s opinion on the recent change in library services.

“That’s not a trade that I would have made,” sophomore Greg Grierson said. “I would much rather have free scantrons on campus than have the library open in the middle of the night.”

Grierson, a physical therapy major, reasoned that since money is tight for many, the last thing a college student needs is another expense. Although the new library hours will be beneficial for some, students like Grierson argue that the change puts more stress on student’s wallets.

“The only time I really use the library regularly is during finals week, when the hours are extended (during Exam Cram) anyway,” he said. “I don’t think the switch was necessary.”

Signs will be posted to assure that students buy their own scantrons, and professors are to warn their students to purchase scantrons at the start of the semester. Eveslage speaks of a proposal submitted to the bookstore and the library to purchase scantron vending machines so scantrons are readily available to students, even if the library and bookstore are closed.

“The biggest need is that students have access to scantrons,” Eveslage said. “The biggest cost of a scantron to students is not having it available to them when they need one.”

While the OUSC still believes that providing scantrons should be a service of the University, no other organization has come forward and presented plans to join in funding the service, so obtaining scantrons is now the responsibility of students for the time being.

“Students have gotten accustomed to receiving scantrons for free, when the original purpose was to increase involvement in student congress,” McIsaac said. Despite the inconvenience of having to purchase scantrons as a minor financial setback, many students stand to benefit from the Kresge Library’s extended hours this school year.

The changes implemented in the library are intended to make for a more cohesive studying environment. The library modifications are another attempt to make campus more accessible and more accommodating to OU’s students. Whether that attempt is a successful one remains to be seen.