The SRC has written an open letter to the Principal, Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli, urging the University to reinstate out-of-hours services at the Wolfson Medical School building. Currently, the building is only open for students to access Monday to Friday between 8am and 5pm. Despite this, the University still advertises the building as a 24-hour service.
The letter notes: “The SRC Advice Centre has been approached by a number of medical students who are extremely unhappy with the ongoing lack of out-of-hours access. Many of these students are currently attending full-time placements during which they are often working on unpredictable hospital shift patterns, meaning they are unable to access the building and specifically the Walton library which is situated within the building.” There is also significant support for the measure with 98% of 600 medical students, surveyed by the SRC MVLS convenor, in favour of the measure.
The SRC have escalated the demand to the Principal after “approach[ing] the Head of the Medical School on this issue a number of times in the last academic year but [we] have unfortunately been unable to negotiate any amendment to the building’s opening hours”.
One Glasgow medical student commented: “I don’t understand why there has been such a problem returning to pre-pandemic opening hours. When the library was open 24/7 before, it didn’t need many staff – at most points there was only a single security guard in, who was usually not present in the early hours of the morning. Even if the medical school tried to make a case for saving electricity, it wouldn’t stand – the lights still remain on around the clock!
“On a serious note, having a library that is open much later is crucial for students who attend placement Monday to Friday, 9-5pm. How are we supposed to study outwith placement hours in a building that closes, at present, at 6pm? And while the JMS and Main Library exist, it can be hugely difficult finding a desk. The Wolfson Library pre-Covid provided a perfect environment where medics could consult one another on learning resources, whilst also ensuring we had time outwith placement hours to study.
“The Medical School hit back after our society, MedChir, reached out about this. They asked us what makes us any different from other students, and why we can’t use the main University library instead. But in all other aspects of our teaching, we are constantly told how different we are from the other students in the standards that are expected of us. It’s not at all a case of ‘us v them’ – but realistically we do have different studying hours available to us, due to the nature of hospital placement. The main library is busy enough as it is. It’s simply not feasible to shut down a whole other facility long term.”
In a statement given to The Glasgow Guardian, SRC President Ella McCabe said: “The decision to escalate the issue stems from our concern that there has been a lack of responsiveness to the issue as vocalised by medical students, and ourselves, and we feel there is an unwillingness to appreciate the felt impact this is having on students’ learning experiences.
“As students are increasingly being asked by the University to come back on to campus with more in-person teaching, we believe it is only fair that the facilities on campus reflect this, and reducing the opening hours of a central study facility feels counterintuitive to this request.”
The SRC President added that when the same issue was raised in 2012, the SRC successfully campaigned against it, and that she hopes senior management will once again listen and respond in the same way.
The Glasgow Guardian has contacted the medical school for a response.