For half a week on campus, the glass walls at the library’s entrance were adorned with posters bearing the shaky handwriting of university-educated millennials, asking that the library stay open for 24 hours.
Framed with NYU violet and the Library Committee logo, the posters began with, “We need a 24-hour library because…” and invited students to finish the sentence. Answers ranged from concerns about seniors’ capstone projects to sarcastic quips — “otherwise we partay [sic]” — to comparisons between NYU Abu Dhabi and Ivy League universities: “I came to this university over Ivy League institutions, and British universities … [which] have 24/7 facilities. Don’t make me regret this. I love you NYUAD!”
Halfway through the week, the posters were taken down as an investigation began. It is unclear whether the campaign was conducted through official channels, who exactly had taken the posters down and whether the posters should have been taken down in the first place. The campaign was initiated by the student-run Library Committee and ongoing investigations involve the Committee as well as Student Government.
While information about the investigation has not been released, the Student Government Executive Board wrote a statement for The Gazelle: “The Executive Board supports the removal of the posters because proper channels were not followed in the placement thereof. We are committed to cooperating with the library in expanding hours of operation for students to access the library. Further, we are confident that steps are already underway to extend library hours.”
Student Government Officer of Communications Olivia Bergen said that the Library Committee acted without the permission of library staff.
“The Library Committee asked the library staff whether they could start this campaign and the library said no and they did it anyway, so that was not going through the proper channels,” said Bergen.
It is unclear whether or not the Library staff supported the campaign. The NYUAD Library Facebook
page posted twice about the campaign on 1 and 2 Mar. The first post reads, “The Student Library Committee, on behalf of the Student Government, is advocating for a 24/7 ... library. How do you feel about the topic?” and includes a picture of campaign posters. At press time, the posts are still on the Facebook page.
The minutes of a meeting between the student-run Library Committee and library staff on 22 Jan. 2015 shows that the library staff were generally not in favor of opening the library for 24 hours because of logistical reasons, such as funding. A staff member pointed out that Saadiyat’s library is open 101 hours per week, as opposed to 72 hours at NYU Abu Dhabi’s former temporary Downtown Campus. Staff members brainstormed other options for after-hours study areas.
Toward the end of the meeting, the minutes read: “All agree a social project to hear voices about how important a 24/7 library is to them would help in making a case to increase funding.” The minutes do not explicitly state whether library staff gave permission for the campaign or not.
Further, there is no policy that requires the Library Committee to secure permission from library staff to initiate a student-interest campaign.
“If [they] hadn’t asked for permission and did it anyway… I don’t know if that would be against any policy, but it wouldn't have been very tactful,” said Bergen. “If they’re looking to make change on a library issue right outside of the library, that’s something you should consult with the Library staff.”
Bergen said that the campaign might also be in violation of Saadiyat campus’ poster policy. However, Bergen added that the poster policy is still undergoing work and is not publicly established. In the past, restrictions on placing posters around campus or residential areas have caused concern
and NYUAD’s policy defaulted to that of NYU New York, which requires approval before posters can be placed in open areas.
Director of Public Affairs and Community Relations Greg Bruno emphasized that the campaign was not a protest.
“We don’t see a protest, but a free expression of student ideas and aspirations. We are in the process of considering the students’ requests but will need more time to come to a determination,” wrote Bruno to The Gazelle.
Library Committee members and Library staff declined to comment. Library Committee member Rosy Tahan explained that she could not comment while investigations were ongoing.