Photo: RMIT University on Instagram (@rmituniversity).
RMIT University Student Union (RUSU) expressed concerns regarding the proposal to reduce information desk frontline staff and advocated Equitable Learning Services (ELS) remaining alongside other key wellbeing groups through a memo addressed to the Vice Chancellor.
About 500 students voiced their concerns regarding library staff and online chat services cuts proposed last month.
“I cannot express how much I love our library. I am grateful for the resources and the staff who are available to help us," an RMIT student said in the memo.
“The library played a major role in my decision to study at RMIT.”
RUSU President Daniel Hoogstra discussed the proposal of a new “Library Connect” to replace expert advice from qualified librarians.
“I think the idea of Library Connect is that it's essentially going to be replacing library staff with casual students that are paid less to do the same job, and that would be a kind of triage service,” he said.
RUSU considers that moving ELS under the umbrella of library services would be incongruous.
It would not reflect key components of its role within the university.
ELS plays a fundamental role in upholding the rights of students with disabilities (including psychosocial disabilities and long-term illness) in accordance with equal opportunity and disability legislation.
In the memo, RUSU said the proposed organisational structure may lead to under-resourcing of a critical function supporting students with disabilities and/or mental health conditions as the library also faces significant cuts.
“This is about mental health and providing support to people with a disability, so we've advocated for it to either stay as part of the student group in well-being or in some kind of student services or student equity capacity in the new structure that they've proposed,” President Hoogstra said.
He said the country is effectively going through a mental health crisis when it comes to young people, as mental health services are incredibly underfunded.
“It is really important that when we're going through such a period of change, we make sure that RMIT is still providing those essential services to students at a time when they need it the most,” he said.