For those of you who don’t know me very well, I like to read a lot. Like, a lot.
I don’t brag when I claim that picking up a good novel is my equivalent to your solid Netflix all-nighter, or your Mountain Dew-intensified XBox coma.
Though just like any other dutiful binge-booking student, I find it immensely difficult to navigate the treacherous terrain of balancing my love for Mordecai Richler with, well, the life of being a student. As each semester begins, and I pay homage to the library while imploring myself to “make more time to read this term,” I find my personal reading goals held hostage by a demanding social life, textbooks, papers, you know — the usual.
Soon those library books I vow to read within the ridiculously short lending period I’m given stack up in a reluctant corner of my house; I become busy, sometimes a little forgetful, and quite suddenly I discover an unobtrusive email from the SFU library claiming I owe at least $40 in overdue book fees. Right — after having borrowed 10 books from the library (a small feat, honestly), at $1 per item, per day, a simple four-day overdue charge racks up to a whopping $40.
Before I dread lugging back a large bag of novels that expose me for the nerd that I am, I consider all those tireless students locked away in their rooms with mountain-high library materials. Completing theses and research projects they meant to finish three weeks ago, their library due dates edge past, unnoticed in the musty shadows.
My point being: the overdue fines offered by the SFU library are far too expensive for a practically destitute student population. Yes, I can understand that the fines charged at our library are pretty much a normal rate you’d find at any library outside of an academic environment, and that such high fees are to encourage us to ‘be responsible’ and bring our borrowed materials back on time. However, student life can be hectic; this is a no-brainer. Amongst a cluttered schedule, it’s easy to forget, or not find the time to travel to a campus library.
And, in many poor students’ case, it can be difficult to even scrounge up enough money to pay for the fines.
Because of this, SFU fines should be half as much as they are now. A good alternative would be to offer all year-round the semesterly “Food for Fines” initiative that the library typically offers for three weeks. For those who are unaware, this campaign allows students to deliver one non-perishable food item for every $2 charged. In the end, this alternative is considerably less expensive than doling out the original fortune I was charged with.
Considering the fact that all my ‘food fines’ would be going straight to an extremely good cause, especially in light of the numerous students who are forced to use a food bank every semester (the far cheaper alternative to the SFSS’s new Nester’s Food Voucher program) I’d gladly trade my exorbitant fees for the extra time it takes to visit the grocery store and load up on Mr. Noodles.
Let’s give students’ wallets and pride a break, and allow them to complete their education as financially stress-free as possible.