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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

New library policy raises questions

The UA Main Library’s new policy of only UA students after 9 p.m., effective Aug. 22, has raised questions about its role in the Tucson community.

There is a wide misconception among students that the rule has gone into effect as a result of a “homeless” issue, said Robyn Huff-Eibl, team leader for the UA Main Library. Huff-Eibl said the policy is not in response to a homeless issue, but actually an adjustment to budget cuts.

The library’s first commitment is to UA students, staff and faculty, Huff-Eibl said, and the rule simply allows the staff more availability to assist the UA community. Huff-Eibl also said students need to be more cautious with their assumptions that certain individuals fall under the category of “homeless.”

“We have received complaints from UA students about the homeless, but it is important to understand that some who are being categorized as ‘homeless’ are actual enrolled UA students,” Huff-Eibl said.

Jared Smith, a psychology junior, said that although the new 9 p.m. rule is helpful, the library should have a separate floor dedicated entirely to UA students.

“Sometimes I’ll be trying to use the computers and there will be people who aren’t students using the computers,” Smith said.
However, as Huff-Eibl pointed out, many UA students are guilty of assuming non-traditional UA students to be either homeless or outside of the UA community.

Daren Sax, 52, who is homeless, said he understands the logic behind the new policy, and that he uses the computers primarily to surf the web and job search, but will often leave the library between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. when it’s busy with students.

“I feel for them because they’re actually working pretty hard,” Sax said.

Even though the policy makes sense from and the UA’s stand point, it’s been tough on the homeless, Sax said.

“I know a few homeless guys here that I’m friends with, they kind of hide stuff because they stay here and sleep in here,” Sax said.

Tucson’s scorching heat is another reason why the homeless use the library during the day, and when temperatures start dropping they’ll stay out more, Sax said.

Michael Llantino, a business sophomore, said that despite the library’s diverse users, he doesn’t feel personally bothered by the homeless or non-traditional UA students.

“(Homelessness) is definitely a prevalent thing around campus,” Llantino said. “It doesn’t go unnoticed, especially down in the ILC (Manuel T. Pacheco Integrated Learning Center) or even in the library. But the UA library is also a public area, they don’t cause problems, they do what we’re doing, they sit to themselves and read.”

Sgt. Juan Alvarez, public information officer for the University of Arizona Police Department, said that the homeless population around or on campus hasn’t been an overwhelming issue and that the UA is open to the public.

While the library isn’t intended to house the homeless or provide a bed for anyone, its exclusive policy does bring attention to the issue.

“We tell them they can’t sleep on University (Boulevard) and Fourth (Avenue), we push them out of the parks, but we don’t provide them with enough shelters or provide them with incentives to participate in jobs programs,” said Michael Polakowski, associate professor in the School of Government and Public Policy. “I guess our perspective is if you keep pushing them (out) sooner or later they’ll get tired of being pushed.”

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