This past week, after the University of California (UC) Berkeley administration announced plans to close the Anthropology Library, dozens of UC Berkeley students and some faculty occupied it. They stayed overnight from Wednesday to Friday. During the day, students and faculty held teach-ins and spoke at an open mic about the importance of the Anthropology Library.
The Anthropology Library is not the only library on the administration’s chopping block. The Mathematics and Physics-Astronomy libraries, according to the university’s new plan, will both be closed down in the next two years. Other branch libraries on campus are going to have their hours reduced and staff cut.
Why is the UC Berkeley administration implementing these austerity measures? The administration claims that it simply does not have the money to keep all of the libraries fully open. But this is simply wrong. The university has plenty of money. The administration has already spent millions of dollars attempting to destroy People’s Park. They have spent over four million dollars per year for six years for a football coach, for a total of $28.5 million. And that doesn’t count performance bonuses. Also, the salary of UC Berkeley’s Chancellor, Carol Christ, is over 500 thousand dollars.
And how much would it cost per year to keep all of these libraries at full service (not just the Anthropology Library)? It would take 5 million dollars a year. In other words, for a bit more than the price of a football coach, UC Berkeley could keep every single library open, without any cuts.
What these library closures reflect is not any lack of money on the part of the university; it’s the warped values of the university administration. The UC administration apparently does not want to run an educational institution, they want to run a business. That means cutting as many so-called unnecessary costs as possible-including vital student services.
Students, faculty, and staff who care about education must absolutely support this organizing against the closure of the Anthropology Library. Unfortunately, it’s just one battle in the fight against all of the university’s austerity and cost-cutting measures.