TO THE EDITOR:
UNC Student Stores is an integral part of the UNC community and has been for 100 years. We provide an array of merchandise and services unparalleled at similarly-sized campus bookstores. We employ approximately 200 students annually with student salaries in excess of $500,000 per year. We donate all our residual funds to UNC academic scholarships ($27 million over the past 60 years of service and $400,000 in fiscal year 2015). We are campus-centered, student-driven and committed to the entire UNC-Chapel Hill community in every endeavor we undertake.
UNC Student Stores is entirely self-sustaining. We are not run with student fees, we do not take any money from the University and we pay all staff and student salaries, University fees and debt maintenance from store revenues. None of our salaries or expenditures are funded with taxpayer money.
We truly serve all aspects of the University community. Bull’s Head Bookshop has been a cultural and intellectual center of campus for 90 years. Our textbooks and course materials department uses Verba software to ensure our pricing structure is comparable to online markets. UNC Student Stores printing recently assumed responsibility for all campus printing operations formerly run by Xerox. Our Tech Shop computer and electronics department coordinates the sales and service of the University’s CCI computer program. Our Health Affairs department provides specialized services to the entire UNC health affairs campus. Our Pit Stop has the highest sales per square foot of any campus convenience store in the United States. We are a center of campus life and a destination for alumni and Tar Heel family members for shopping during game-day weekends. Our ever-expanding store.unc.edu website has doubled online sales over the past three years. Our clothing and gifts departments recently surpassed Wal-Mart as the No. 1 seller of UNC-licensed merchandise in the world.
So, why are we reaching out to you? Because on Sept. 16, all permanent staff of UNC Student Stores were called into a meeting with Chief Financial Officer and Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration Matthew Fajack and Associate Vice Chancellor for Campus Enterprises Brad Ives. At this meeting, Fajack and Ives informed us that they were considering outsourcing the store’s operations based on an unsolicited proposal from Follett Corporation. While they assured us that no decision had been made, it was hard not to take the administrators’ repeated claims of Follett’s benefits as anything but an indictment of our business and an endorsement of a corporate takeover of our store. They offered no suggestions for improving our current business nor solicited input from the store staff.