Letters to the Editor: Is Birkbeck losing its points of differentiation?

There are some disquieting events occurring at Birkbeck; the university seems to be moving further away from its roots in alternative education.

Birkbeck’s original mandate was to help hard-working Londoners get a university education, particularly those who may not have had the opportunity to do so when they were younger.

Over the years it has earned the reputation for being different, for having an approachable staff and for being on the student’s side. I suspect many students chose Birkbeck primarily for these reasons.

Today, the student body demographics are changing significantly and with that, the entire ethos of the institution. The latest change is the withdrawal of 24-hour access to the Malet Street building.

Here’s a letter to the editor we think you should be aware of and to take action upon, if you see fit to do so.

Hello there !

I am a student at Birkbeck in my second year of 4, studying History and Archaeology in a join honours degree.

The reason I choose Birkbeck was because it WAS a 24 hour building, and being an insomniac I found using the 24 hour computer room much to my life style as I manage circa 3-4 hours sleep a night if I am lucky, but I usually have a 36 hour cycle, as not everybody is so easily conditioned to sleeping at night for 6-8 hours.

What relevance does this have well, Rob at the student union has informed me today that Birkbeck is no longer a 24 hour building and all students get kicked out at 23:45.

So now I feel I have been deceived about studying at Birkbeck and the only reason I chose Birkbeck was because it was in the past a 24 hour building. And I know this because last year It was !

I am very much a nocturnal person, so I found it refreshing that I could finish work about 03:00 am, head to Birkbeck and use the computer room to do my reading and work on my essays until around about 7 or 8 in the morning, then go home a sleep for about 3 or 4 hours, and be back to university the same evening for my evening lectures and seminars. However because people who were not students apparently used the rooms to ‘sleep’ this is not longer the case.

I was at times the only person in the 24 hour computer room, but this was usually from about 4am onwards, although I sometimes did stay at uni after classes and use the room until about 1am at times pending on my work routine.

Now this is no longer the case Last year It was a 24 hour building, This year it is not….There is forever talk about London being a 24 hour city, well I can tell you this is not the case.

I am also on committee for the Birkbeck Archaeology Society and assist with setting up talks and events, so you can say I am an active member of the Student Body, and as such I would like to start a petition to bring back the true meaning of Nocturnal Study, that Birkbeck once honoured.

Best Wishes

Raphael Ghanchi

If you’d like to get behind Raphael’s campaign you can email him at archaeo@socs.birkbeckunion.org

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Kittie Walker

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    3 thoughts on “Letters to the Editor: Is Birkbeck losing its points of differentiation?”

    1. I find this story of Birkbeck’s loss of 24 hrs operations very sad. To me it has always been a beacon to people who cannot easily enter the education system. It was one of the reasons I became a student here myself – not because I have had challenges but because I so support that ethos. Is anyone trying to find a compromise?

      1. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. I know how you feel Linda, it was one of the reasons I became a student at Birkbeck too.

        I believe there are several parties looking into it. There are posters on campus encouraging people to sign the petitions. The first that we heard of it was at the end of the summer term. It was brought in whilst the campus was fairly empty. One of our section editors is also investigating further to see if there’s a way that we can get behind the campaign and bring some pressure to bear.

        Kittie Walker
        Editor

    2. I agree also, although I do not want to rock the boat as I am at Birkbeck to study, but I believe there is a solution, which parties can all agree to democratically and where everybody benefits. So far this year it has been noticeable to me how I have been effected, I know and believe I am not the only one. It would be helpful if all parties that would like to address this further make contact and take matter from there onwards and upwards.

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