MSA considers new library fee to address reduced hours

Senate hopes to put out a survey gauging student interest and willingness to pay, then craft the new fee based on responses.

Students voted last year to “fail the fee” that would have charged students to maintain campus libraries. However, many students were less than pleased to learn that Ellis Library would no longer be open 24 hours, five days a week.

Since the announcement, two students have spoken out in response to the cut hours: Shahrukh Naseer created a GoFundMe campaign, and Gabriella Martinez created a petition on Change.org. After discussing the reaction, the Missouri Students Association is considering creating a new fee proposal different from last year’s, which was criticized for its high cost.

The initial proposed fee would have charged $5 per credit hour and increased by $2 every year until it reached $15 per credit hour by 2022. If the fee had passed, it would have not only allowed the library to be available 24 hours, but it would also have provided for the renovation of Ellis, staffing, modern technology and easier access to online resources.

The fee received a vote of 46 percent in favor. It would have required a vote of 60 percent to pass.

“No one really expected this surge of support to come out [of] this Change.org petition,” MSA Senate Speaker Mark McDaniel said.

In a joint Student Affairs and Academic Affairs committee meeting Tuesday night, senators discussed potential solutions to the issue. MSA plans to implement a survey to assess which library services are most important to students and how much they are willing to pay. The proposed fee would be based on the survey responses.

Academic Affairs committee member Taylor Tutin estimated it would cost about $90,000 to keep the library open 24 hours during the week, which would likely be a flat fee of $3 per student.

“If that’s all the students want, that’s what the fee would look like,” Tutin said.

Budget Committee member and Social Media and Technologies Coordinator Riley de Leon said the results of the survey would then go to the Budget Committee, which would be responsible for proposing the actual fee.

Student Affairs Chairman Trevor Mandy said the committees hoped to get the survey up in two to three weeks. If the fee is proposed, it will appear on the Senate election ballot in November as a referendum.

“I think we’re just trying to expedite things as soon as possible, because there’s a desire now, and students have a lot going on,” Tutin said. “I think if we wait too long… we’ve got like squirrel brains, you know, as soon as something else shiny comes along we’re like, ‘ooooh.’”

Tutin also acknowledged some hesitance to propose another fee so soon after the last one’s failure.

“Two failed fees in two years, that looks terrible,” she said.

If the fee ends up on the ballot, it would potentially appear alongside two other discussed referendums: one to determine the future of the Craft Studio if a new location for the auxiliary isn’t found, and the other to correct a contradiction in the MSA Constitution caused by the association’s last referendum.

Fiona Murphy contributed to this report.

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