Op-Ed: Library lock outs are unnecessary


Over the past few weeks, I have witnessed and been subject to an increasingly disturbing set of circumstances at Gelman Library. Students who forget their GWorld card or whose otherwise-valid card does not swipe correctly at Gelman are denied admittance without further consideration.

The problem of cards not swiping confronted me last Friday afternoon while on my way to class. I have since learned from the GWorld office that the cause of cards not working at Gelman is that students who move off campus or to halls without swipe-machines at their entrances, never automatically have their card activated for “common areas” (e.g. Gelman, Smith Center, etc.).

People who are in this situation or who forget their cards are subject to one of two possible reactions by Gelman staff at the entrance desk. The first possibility: they are helped by the staff member at the front desk, who looks up their ID in Banner – the University’s master student data system – to find if the person is a student and admits them. While this scenario may seem as likely as George W. Bush finishing a sentence, I have been so enviably assisted before.

The second possible reaction is quite disturbing. After my swiping failure, I was turned away and told by the manager on duty, Marcus Branch, that while he could look me up in Banner, he “didn’t feel like it.” This was at 5 p.m. on a Friday, and while I informed Mr. Branch that I had a class meeting, he simply suggested that I contact the GWorld office on Monday. When Gelman staff became tired of my persistence and unwillingness to simply skip my meeting, Mr. Branch called UPD. Ten officers showed up like it was a Dunkin’ Doughnuts.

Gelman is not a prison, and the library administration needs to realize that this is a school charged with learning. I realize Mr. Branch and others are simply following procedure, but measures must be created to allow for students who have issues swiping while trying to enter a library; denial of access is an abhorrent treatment.

While the following may be unseemly, it is worth mentioning: as students we pay tuition, we pay the “voluntary library gift” and we support every activity and employee at Gelman. For Gelman staff to turn around and block our access because of University computer glitches is absolutely unacceptable.

I urge Gelman Library to reexamine its policy and allow the staff at the front desk – who rarely seem all that busy – to use some system of student status verification if students are having trouble entering.

My fellow students and I are not interested in excuses or explanations of security or property protection on Gelman’s behalf; we are interested in results. Maybe GW’s slip from the first tier of colleges and universities is less a result of massive oversights by senior administration and more a result of the wide array of small issues and problems that make so many little things we do here a hassle.

-The writer is a sophomore majoring in international business and information systems.

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