Despite backlash last spring quarter regarding Langson Library and Starbucks staying open 24 hours for midterms week, UCI student workers support the upcoming shift to 24 hours for week 10 and finals week, saying that the policy is fair to workers and beneficial for students as a whole.
UCI’s Langson Library will be open 24 hours during week 10 and finals week for students to be able to maximize their studying potential and use resources on campus. The Gateway Study Center, the Starbucks on campus, and the Cross-Cultural Center will also be open 24 hours during finals week.
The 24-hour policy also affects the student workers at Langson, Gateway, and Starbucks who work lengthy overnight shifts to ensure that fellow students on campus get to have this opportunity.
According to Kristine Ferry, the head of the Access Services at the UC Irvine Libraries, this 24 hours policy for Langson Library began two years ago in the fall quarter of 2013. The Gateway Study Center had already implemented this policy years ago, but due to overcrowding at the center, the Langson Library was also opened 24 hours to ensure more space for students who wanted to study past the usual 11 p.m. closing time.
In the Access Services Department, there are approximately 90 student workers at the Gateway Student Center, Langson and Ayala Science Libraries. These workers’ jobs vary from putting books away, working at the front desk, delivering books to faculty, and working in the multimedia center.
Although the 24 hours policy can be taxing for student workers, they are notified of the policy ahead of time.
According to Ferry, “For students who work at the Gateway Study Center, before they’re hired, they’re told that they’re going to be expected to contribute to that 24 hour period. So they know before they even accept the job or not.”
Kong Vang, a fourth year, has worked at the Langson Library for four years now as a front desk student worker. Vang says that the 24 hour finals week policy is likely permanent, as student workers were able to adjust well to the policy after it was implemented.
“At first it was fairly difficult because it was something new to everyone, so nobody knew the way around this 24 hour service thing,” said Vang. “And we were just testing the waters to see what it was like before we actually implemented it permanently so as of right now we’re actually doing it most likely every year now.”
Although student workers are strongly advised to take on some hours during the 24 hours shifts, it is not required of them. Most workers try to take up at least one overnight shift, however, library supervisors are on hand to cover hours that student workers cannot.
Vang worked through his first overnight shift his sophomore year, when he worked from 9 pm to 7 am. He explained that workers are given breaks in between long hours, so he only worked from 9 pm till 11 pm, and then from 2 am till 7 am.
The 24 hours policy is said to be extremely popular amongst students, with many sleeping overnight during their studying.
“Students bring their sleeping bags, toothbrushes, everything; it’s like a little campsite upstairs if you go up there,” Vang said.
At Langson Library, the schedule is set up before the start of a quarter and workers send in their availability ahead of time. Four-hour shifts are considered average for student workers, and they currently earn the minimum wage of $9 an hour. By January of next year, the wage will increase to $10 an hour for students depending on their individual job skills and positions.
Despite the long hours during the 2 weeks, Vang views the 24 hours policy as a supportive for studying students.
“I think on the entire student body it’s a positive impact. The students who work here, they do put in a lot of effort,” he said. “They are giving up their sleep as well as their study time so they can be here for other students.”
This year, during the 2 weeks of being open 24 hours, the Langson Library will also be implementing a new policy where students must have their UC ID on hand after 11 pm. This policy will also take place at Ayala Science Library after 11 pm during finals week and at Gateway Student Center after 11 pm during 10th week and finals week.