A group of Arts and Human Sciences postgraduate students have launched a campaign to save the Postgraduate Research Centre on the second floor of the James Joyce Library.
Although the centre will remain in place, capsule the system of booking a desk in the centre has changed. The centre will no longer be exclusive to postgraduate students in Arts and Human Sciences as it is being opened up to all postgraduate students in UCD. This was a deliberate decision made by the library and opens up the 39 desk room to nearly 7,000 postgraduate students on campus.
The procedure for booking one of the 39 desks in the postgraduate research centre will be now moved online.
While postgraduate students that use the room were made aware last semester that the process for booking a desk would be moving online, students were only informed on the 26th of January that use of the room would no longer be exclusive to their disciplines. The library informed the students involved of their decision through signposts dotted outside the PRC room.
A spokesperson for the ‘Save Our PRC,’ campaign, Maeve Kelly, stated that the students Arts and Human Sciences were not consulted on the expansion of this room to all postgraduate students.
“The College of Arts & Celtic Studies and the College of Human Sciences worked with the library to build the Postgraduate Research Centre (PRC) 16 years ago and it’s consistently been such a success that most weeks up to 100 students sign up for the 39 desks available. We feel the library should be working with other disciplines to create similar spaces for postgrads and should be working to increase resources, not increase competition.”
Speaking exclusively to the College Tribune, postgraduate student and member of the campaign Conor Patrick had this to say on the issue:
“The space is already oversubscribed weekly. Especially midway through the semester, it can already be difficult to obtain a space in the PRC. This problem can only be compounded by this move.Opening up 39 desks to, potentially, 7000 postgrads serves no ones interests. Indeed, it does not even benefit those students of other disciplines now currently able to access the room; they have been offered the illusion of access to a new facility, whereas in reality, there’s no space available anyway.”
Another student also spoke to The College Tribune, voicing her concern over the new arrangement. Kristina Soden, who is studying for an an MA in the History of International Relations, questioned the decision by the library to open up the space. “If it is the aim of the university to create more research space on campus and make UCD a more agreeable place to conduct research, then surely by increasing the demand of an already over-subscribed research space is counterproductive?”
Soden also spoke about the seriousness of the ‘Save Our PRC’ campaign; “ it is difficult to animate students (and particularly postgraduates) to partake in campaigns of any sort, so the fact that so many of us are incensed by the library’s opening up the PRC to postgraduates from all disciplines shows just how vital this space is for those of us who carry out research at a desk, with books and archival resources rather than in a laboratory.”
Members of the ‘Save Our PRC’ campaign have met with library representatives in order to resolve this issue and have so far been unable to do so. The campaign was informed by library representatives that both the Students’ Union and the College principals of Human Sciences and Arts were made aware of the move before it was enacted. The group maintain that the postgraduate students affected by this move were only made aware of the change four working days before its enactment.
The College Tribune contacted UCD directly in order to ascertain why the decision was made by the library and the university to open these facilities to over 7000 postgraduate students, and a spokesman for the college had this to say:
“Access to the Postgraduate Research Centre in the James Joyce Library was opened to all UCD postgraduate students on February 6th. The situation is currently being monitored so as to identify the effect this is having on access to the centre among individual postgraduate students.”
The campaign has made it clear to The College Tribune that this is not an attack on other disciplines in UCD rather a movement to be treated fairly. “This isn’t about Human Sciences and Arts versus other disciplines. We are not against the resources enjoyed by those disciplines. This is about the university treating us as fairly as they treat everyone else. Resources are not taken off other disciplines and given to us, nor do we seek it as we have sadly accepted that the Arts and Human Sciences, that once made this university great, are now bottom of the pecking order here.”
Last night the campaign group put forward a motion to the Student’s Union Council for the postgraduate officer for UCDSU to support, lobby, and campaign at all levels of the University for the return of the Arts and Human Sciences Postgraduate Research Centre to Arts and Human Sciences exclusive use.The motion also seeks that the postgraduate officer support, lobby, and campaign at all levels of the university for the James Joyce Library to repurpose the underutilised space in the library to postgraduate research centres for other disciplines who seem to be seeking it.
The College Tribune contacted UCDSU’s postgraduate education officer, Anabel Castañeda for her response to the campaign and the new process by which the PRC room will be available to students, but she did not wish to comment on the matter.
– Lauren Tracey & Rachel Carey
The motion put forward to council on the 9th February 2015 was defeated by 2 votes. The Students’ Union Council has taken the decision for the Postgraduate Education Officer and the Students’ Union not to support the Postgraduate Arts and Human Sciences Students in their effort to regain the exclusivity of the Postgraduate Research Centre. The doctorates representative for the college of Human Sciences on the Students’ Union Council has since resigned her position in protest against the Students’ Union, stating “This action is mostly due to the conclusion I have slowly been coming to over the last few months that the SU Council is not an effective place for me to do what I stood for the council to do: fight for students’ needs.”