Dear Deans Geer and Wright,
Since the move from Buttrick Hall to Central Library was announced last October, graduate students – as individuals, through our department associations, and through the carrels committee that you requested we form – have been unanimous in expressing a few basic needs for any workspace. These needs are essential not only to our own studies, but to the work we perform as TAs, RAs, and instructors of record: FERPA-compliant spaces in which to meet with our undergraduate students; lockable carrels; a basic kitchen and common lounge area; free printing of research and teaching materials; 24/7 card access to our workspace; and natural sunlight. All of this already exists in our current location on the fourth floor of Buttrick Hall: we are simply asking that you make good on your promise that any space we move into will be an improvement on – or at the very least equivalent to – our current location.
The clear and simple promise that the library would be an improvement on our current space was made again and again over the course of this process, but a recent tour of the library by the Carrels Advisory Committee left much room to doubt that our current workspace standards can be matched there.
The proposed new workspaces are, with few exceptions, windowless. Some of the proposed workspaces are small, shared offices with lockable doors; many more are carrels in the stacks and halls of the library. While the offices offer the potential for FERPA compliance in student-instructor meetings, the solid locking doors raise concerns about safety best practices for both instructors and students. The new carrels are planned to have small locking compartments but do not provide FERPA-compliant space for preparation of instructional materials or student meetings, nor adequate secure storage for each graduate student’s own materials. Additionally, they would displace the undergraduates and non-A&S graduate students who currently occupy these spaces in an already crowded library.
Our current small kitchen will be replaced with a single microwave and no fridge; in response to concerns about this, an administration representative told students to “bring a sandwich.” Our open and welcoming lounge space in Buttrick Hall will be replaced with a low-ceilinged, windowless room with support columns throughout. This proposed lounge space is two floors removed from this “kitchenette” and will not allow food. Finally, no designated, FERPA-compliant spaces to meet with our undergraduate students will be set aside.
Dean Geer was emphatic in his email and during the October town halls that a major purpose of the move was to encourage interdisciplinary collaboration among graduate programs. The proposed space will discourage such exchange. While our current location houses students from eleven programs who work side by side in a space conducive to collaboration, the new move would scatter us across four floors and replace our common space with a room so uninviting that it seems unlikely to ever be used.
But even more troubling than the clear deficiencies of the space – failings that will impede our ability to teach and do research at the highest level – is the opaque comportment of this administration. We have attempted to work in good faith throughout the feedback process that you proposed. We have repeatedly sought to schedule meetings, to express our concerns, and to offer alternative spaces that might be more adaptable to our needs.
Despite your pledges of transparency and collaboration, our representatives and their concerns have been consistently neglected since the end of fall semester. Requests for dialogue sent in January went deferred for nearly two months, a period in which we received no substantive updates regarding the plans for this project. The Central Library space is, as a result, a downgrade from our current space in numerous respects. Even this move’s one seeming improvement – the increase in capacity from the current 120 carrels to the promised 265 in the library – is an illusion, since these spaces in the library already exist and remain available for undergraduates to use (with the exception of the small lockable “offices” which pairs of graduate students will now share).
The proposed plans, as they have been described to the Carrels Advisory Committee, amount to little more than the replacement of some furniture and an increase of traffic in an already crowded library. The result will not only be a less optimal workspace for graduate education and research, but also a reduction in FERPA-compliant support for undergraduates whose education relies on graduate instructors and TAs. We find this to be unacceptable for ourselves as graduate students and for the educational community we work to support.
In light of these unaddressed concerns, we ask you to reconsider your decision to relocate our carrels until our current working standards can be met in the Central Library. We also ask you to work transparently and in good faith with our representatives on the Carrels Advisory Committee to find a solution that lives up to your promises from the fall.
1. Alex Korsunsky, Anthropology
2. Maya Krause, Anthropology
3. Kelly Swope, Philosophy
4. Sebastian Ramirez, Philosophy
5. Jesse Montgomery, English
6. Sagen Eatwell, Latin American Studies
7. Adam Merki, German, Russian, and East European Studies
8. Bárbara Navaza, Anthropology
9. Cynthia Porter, German, Russian, and East European Studies
10. Emma Banks, Anthropology
11. Gloria C. Perez-Rivera, Anthropology
12. Marta Zavaleta, Anthropology
13. Phyllis Johnson, Anthropology
14. Werner Hertzog, Anthropology
15. Kathryn Peters, Anthropology
16. Iyaxel Cotji, Anthropology
17. Kellie Cavagnaro, Anthropology
18. Nathan Frisch, Anthropology
19. Rosemary Lieske, Anthropology
20. Katerina Traut, Political Science
21. Chelsea Dyer, Anthropology
22. Sophia Clark, German, Russian, and East European Studies
23. Joseph Kuster, German, Russian, and East European Studies
24. Abigail Trozenski, German, Russian, and East European Studies
25. Amy Lynne Hill, German, Russian, and East European Studies
26. Kelsey Lowrey, German, Russian, and East European Studies
27. Boomer Trujillo, Philosophy
28. Sarah Gorman, Philosophy
29. Emerson Bodde, Philosophy
30. Sabeen Ahmed, Philosophy
31. Tempest M Henning, Philosophy
32. Derek Price, German, Russian, and East European Studies
33. Sarah DiMaggio, Philosophy
34. Julianne Adams, English
35. Kira Braham, English
36. Alex Jones, English
37. Dylan Irons, Political Science
38. Sarah DiMaggio, Philosophy
39. Juliet Larkin-Gilmore, History
40. Viviana Quintero Márquez, History
41. Hannah Ingersoll, Sociology
42. Hanna Lipkind, Philosophy
43. Carolyn Taratko, History
44. Chiedozie Michael Uhuegbu, German, Russian, and East European Studies
45. Fernanda Bretones Lane, History
46. Mary Bridges, History
47. Danielle Stubbe, History
48. Jessica Lowe, History
49. Anna Young, History
50. Milton Andre Ramos Chacon, Spanish and Portuguese
51. Andrea Vanesa López, Spanish and Portuguese
52. Danielle Dorvil, Spanish and Portuguese
53. Holly Longair, Philosophy
54. Elvira Aballí Morell, Spanish and Portuguese
55. Berna Munoz, Spanish and Portuguese
56. Cheikh Sene, Spanish and Portuguese
57. Daniel Romero Suárez, Spanish and Portuguese
58. Caroline Colquhoun, Spanish & Portuguese
59. Faith Rovenolt
60. Abir Mazumder, Computer Science
61. Terrie Spetalnick, Sociology
62. Samuel Ray, Philosophy
63. Joanna Huh, English