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SOAS Alumni Rally Against Library Cuts

Disclaimer:The SOAS Spirit believes in providing the SOAS community with a platform to voice their thoughts, and given the depth of concern surrounding the library restructuring we at the Spirit are compelled to accurately reflect the sentiment of the SOAS body. To that end we have elected to run this letter, however this letter is not indicative of the newspaper opting for any particular stance. The Spirit must remain as a neutral conduit for the SOAS community to interact with.

Dear Valerie,

We write as concerned alumni, former Co-Presidents and trustees to express our outrage and opposition to the planned cuts to SOAS’ library. The loss of a quarter of the library’s current staff would clearly have a devastating impact on the service available to students, staff and visiting researchers. We are particularly appalled that staff have been informed that their jobs at risk just weeks before the Winter break and are required to respond to a consultation about their future over this period.

The proposed cuts would have disastrous consequences across all areas of the library operations from daily student support to the long-term development of SOAS’ collection. Half of all Subject Librarians (including those supporting collections in Anthropology, Ancient Near East, Art History, Economics, Finance, Gender, History, Jewish studies, Linguistics, Literature, Management, Migration, Politics, Religion, and Sociology), as well as key posts in the Library’s Customer Services (including the entire evening/weekend team), Bibliographic Services (cataloguing staff), Electronic Services, and Archives & Special Collections would be lost. This would fundamentally diminish the quality of a resource that is so treasured by the SOAS community.

It is particularly perverse that these cuts will fall exclusively on the five lowest paid grades, while the number of highly-paid managers will, in fact, increase. We also note that, in the most recently published figures, the highest paid individual at SOAS is paid a grossly excessive salary of £230,240. It is surely the case that reducing excessive management costs and the burden of highly paid individuals should be a priority over cutting frontline student services.

The library is a resource that is highly valued by the entire SOAS community. It is devastating that SOAS management have determined to make it the focus for deep cuts. Students deserve a well resourced library, staffed by experienced and responsive professionals, not a moribund collection run by a skeleton staff, with a top-heavy management structure. It is inevitable that these cuts will be detrimental to students’ education and to SOAS’ ability to recruit at a time when it faces such dire financial circumstances. We insist that these proposals are abandoned and urge you to produce a balanced approach to resolving the School’s current financial difficulties.

We have copied this letter to the Board of Trustees.

Yours sincerely,

Tom King Co-President Welfare and Campaigns, 2015-16

David East Co-President Democracy and Education, 2013-14

Hannah Slydel Co-President Democracy and Education, 2015-16

Georgie Robertson Co-President Welfare and Campaigns 2014-15

Harrison Lanigan-Coyte Co-President Finance and Communications 2012-13

Keiko Ono Co-President Sports and Societies 2012-13

Arianna Tassinari Co-President Welfare and Education 2011-2012

Nisha Phillipps Co-President Democracy and Education 2017-18

David Leone Suber Co-President Democracy and Education 2014-15

Kabir Joshi Co-President Events and Activities 2014-15

Dimitri Cautain Co-President Welfare and Campaigns 2017-18

Halimo Hussain Co-President Equality and Liberation 2017-18

Ali Khan Co-President Finance and Communications 2011-12

Mohamed-Zain Dada Co-President Events and Activities 2015-16

Clare Solomon Co-President Finance and Communications 2006-08

Milaad Rajai Co-President Welfare and Education 2010-11

Ali Ahmed Habib Co-President Democracy and Education 2016-17

Sebilio Uribe Co-President Finance and Communications 2009-11

Jasper Kain Co-President Sports and Societies 2010-11

Alex Fulton Co-President Welfare and Education 2012-2013

Mehdi Baraka Co-President Activities and Events 2017-18

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