OPINION: New Union hours a band-aid solution to shorter Hale hours

Students utilize the new space inside the first floor of the K-State Student Union on Sept. 27, 2016. The Union is now open 24 hours. (Evert Nelson | The Collegian)

In total honesty, I was completely prepared to criticize Kansas State for cutting Hale Library’s hours then turning around and giving students access to the K-State Student Union all night Sunday through Thursday. I initially thought it was outrageous!

But after talking with Bill Smirga, executive director of the Union, I realized it actually makes quite a bit a sense while working for both the students and K-State.

Union is not state funded

The budget cuts Hale experienced, leading to the cut hours, did not affect the Union. The Union’s budget stayed intact since it comes from student privilege fees, according to the Your Union website. And though it’s not a perfect solution, staying open is making the best of a less-than-ideal situation.

For instance, there aren’t nearly as many computers in the Union, but there will still be a space for students to bring their personal laptops, study and have access to printers. For those who don’t have laptops, there are still some public computers located around campus up for use – though I understand the frustration that comes with having an extremely limited access to technology.

One thing the Union simply can’t replace is the printing resources available in Hale. All the books and periodicals located in the library can’t exactly be moved to the Union, but K-State is doing what it can to at least try to fill the hole the early closure of Hale left for students.

Union is open anyways

Smirga made sure it was clear to everyone that the all-night access to the Union is really not much more than simply keeping the doors unlocked. The late-night custodial staff is there anyways to clean without the 8,000 students who trample through the Union during the day getting in the way.

The custodial staff is getting trained to make sure things still run smoothly on their end with the students hanging out at night. Since the new hours took effect last Sunday, only about 30 students each night have really taken advantage of the new open space to study, Smirga said.

I’d imagine that number will go up as more students hear about the change and cause a certain amount of strain between the custodians trying to do their jobs and students trying to work on that caffeine-fueled, all-night study session. It will probably just take some time to get used to working around each other, though, and most likely wouldn’t be a huge issue.

Union runs on these hours every semester already

Each semester during dead week and finals, K-State opens the Union all night, Smirga said. It’s the same hours then as it is now – only now it’s all semester. Somehow, that put everything into perspective for me.

Keeping the Union open all night is not the same as keeping Hale open, but it helps.

“(Students) are getting more resources without paying extra,” Smirga said to the Union Governing Board on Sept. 16, according to a Collegian article by Kaitlyn Alanis.

This isn’t necessarily true, since the earlier closing of Hale limits access to the computers and print resources, but the Union will help as a band-aid solution while K-State can try to figure out how to keep the library open again.

Hi everyone! I'm a senior in journalism and cultural anthropology. My favorite things are storytelling, coffee and meeting new people. In that order.