Closure of the Law Library to General Detriment of Students

Published: Thu 6 Sep 2012 11:06 AM
The University of Canterbury - Closure of the Law Library to the General Detriment of Students
Hello there,
This is a story of some interest to you. We students here at UC are particularly interested in garnering some attention over it, as it is an issue which cuts to the heart of our studies and life here at the University of Canterbury. As part of the University's incessant fiscal troubles, an announcement has been made tonight that the Law Library is to be closed indefinitely next year. This affects over 1000 law students, as well as the thousands of other students at the University who must now accommodate the surplus of students in the central library. (It is expected that these law students, plus the three floors of research and material housed in the library shall attempted to be moved into one inadequate floor in the central library).
This announcement comes at the surprise of us all - there has been no student consultation by Rod Carr and the UC executive panel, despite the glaring truth that this has been a decision long in the making. The Vice Chancellor himself seems to be unmoved at the prospect of removing the heart of the entire faculty - apparently future students 'won't even know it occurred'. Students are angry and frustrated at being kept in the dark by a panel of people whose apparent role it is to advocate for student concern, and intend to fight the decision to the end.
Furthermore, there are plans to amalgamate the School of Law with the Business School here - hence becoming the College of Law and Business. Students feel this undermines the integrity of their degrees. Rod Carr believes this decision will not impact upon students' decisions to attend the university, yet there are growing numbers among us who are planning to transfer to other universities, frustrated and sickened by the general disinterest the University appears to be showing in its students.
One wonders when the cuts will end at UC - and when it's all over, what kind of University will be left behind. I implore you to take up this story, for our sake, and help us get our voices across to the dispassionate and poker-faced bureaucrats at the top. I have attached below the email circulated from our LAWSOC president, Seamus Woods, which details in more objective terms the University's decision.
Warm regards,
Hester Moore
University Of Canterbury Law Students' Society
5 September 2012
Dear Law Students (please pass this on to non-LAWSOC members)
Re: What Is Going On With Law School And The Law Library
There a number of changes taking place to the Law School and Law Library. It is the undertaking of this email to inform you what those changes are to avoid any rumours or uncertainty. This information is accurate as we have been told it. It may be subject to change but in our view that is unlikely.
What is going on
Law Building in 2013
The Law Building is to be the first of a number of university buildings to be vacated so that it can be strengthened and refurbished. The building is currently safe. The current plan is that the building, including the Law Library, will be vacated this year between the conclusion of exams and the end of the year. It will be reoccupied in about 18 months' time. Along with the now-History building (which is being refitted at the same time), the building will form part of a "Commerce-Law Precinct".
Law Library
During the remediation, the Law Library will be relocated to a floor of the Central Library Tower.
It is envisaged that this will become the permanent home of the Law Library after the remediation. The Law and Commerce staff will occupy the current Law Building, whose name will be changed. The new name is not yet known.
Alignment of Law and Commerce
The School of Law has been "aligned" with the College of Business and Economics. This means that the Law Faculty now sits within that College. Effectively, this will not change your day-to-day relationship with the School of Law, but it does have a significant impact on how the School is governed. There will still be a Dean of Law. The Pro-Vice-Chancellor of Business and Economics will be ultimately responsible for representing the School on the University Senior Management Team.
An "Alignment Steering Committee" has been set up to determine the mechanics of precisely how the new College will operate in terms of name, budgets etc. This includes both Law and Commerce representatives.
What is LAWSOC doing
The Law School staff found out about these changes two weeks ago, and LAWSOC was notified on Monday.
Vice-President Rachel Walsh and I secured a meeting with Vice-Chancellor Rod Carr this evening (Wednesday). At that meeting we represented to the Vice-Chancellor what believed would be the students' general view that a specialist Law Library should be retained within the Law/Commerce precinct following the remediation of the building. We described the fact that the Law Library is of integral importance to the Law School experience, as it is nationally. We indicated that this was an issue we anticipated our students would feel strongly about and that they would like that to be known to him.
We were told that the decision to permanently keep the Law Library in the Central Tower was "probably" final, barring only any unforeseen exigencies.
LAWSOC also represented the views of Te Putairiki (the Maori Law Students' Society) at this meeting.
It was indicated to us that LAWSOC and Te Putairiki's views will be sought and taken into account when the fit-out for the new library space is being discussed. This will fall to President-Elect Simon Inder and the Incoming Executive, who will no doubt canvass your views on the matter when appropriate.
LAWSOC is also represented by Simon Inder on the Alignment Steering Committee, which again will lend your voices to that process.
LAWSOC was notified about the alignment earlier in the year when it was at a very preliminary stage. Before we had a chance to respond or consult students, we were advised it had been taken off the table. That was the last we had heard until Monday.
What happens next
The College of Business and Economics and the School of Law are going to hold a Student Forum very soon to inform you of more details and answer your questions. The Vice-Chancellor has told us that he will attend that meeting. No date has yet been set for that meeting but we are working on it and will pass details on to you the moment the information comes to hand.
LAWSOC would also very much like to gather your opinions on the matter. We undertake to pass these on to the Vice-Chancellor, School of Law and College of Business and Economics in the hope that this may make some difference. We have deposited Opinion Feedback Forms on the LAWSOC Noticeboard and around the Library. Please do take the time to provide us with your comments and put them in the LAWSOC mailbox at Law Room 119. We will do our best.
I would like to add that Canterbury does, and will continue to have, an incredibly strong Law School. Please know that the Law Staff are right behind continuing to provide a quality legal education that will furnish us all well for the future. There is no doubt that challenges lie ahead, but keep your focus and work hard and you will grow from meeting them.
I look forward to hearing your views.
Kind regards
Seamus Woods / Rachel Walsh
President / Vice-President

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