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Trustees discuss Student Stores and UNC debt

University officials say Student Stores privatization is not a done deal.

The committee immediately went into closed session. UNC’s 1-year-old sexual assault policy says either party in a case may appeal to the Board of Trustees if an appeal to a University official affirms a hearing outcome involving suspension or expulsion.

On Sept. 21, Student Body President Houston Summers said he did not want to be involved in the Board of Trustees review process for sexual assault cases. He was not present for the appeals committee meeting.

Four other committees met Wednesday, and the full board meets today.

Student Stores

Charles Streeter, Employee Forum chairperson, told the University Affairs Committee the possibility of UNC Student Stores being leased to an outside company is a big concern for staff members.

He said outsourcing in general is not something the Forum sees in a positive light.

“When the word (outsourcing) comes up, we think about people losing their jobs, we think about families that are struggling and possibly being reduced to nothing,” he said. “And then the big question that always comes up when we hear this is, ‘Who’s gonna be next?’”

He said right now, the Employee Forum believes not enough research has been done about whether bringing in Follett, the company that has proposed to lease Student Stores, would be a good idea.

“I know that the staff at Student Stores are very concerned about what’s happening,” he said. “They also feel that right now there’s not enough respect that’s been given for all that they’ve done.”

Chuck Duckett, committee chairperson, told Streeter his concerns were appreciated but reminded him UNC is in the early stages of considering the proposal.

Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration Matt Fajack told the Finance and Infrastructure Committee that the University talked to other schools that have undergone similar outsourcing. The feedback, he said, has been generally good.

He said the University is asking for another proposal that would this time include keeping Bull’s Head Bookshop independent and leaving the bookshop open for North Carolina writers.

“There have been some articles and fliers going around that it’s already a done deal and a lot of other things,” he said. “But that’s not true.”

University debt

Assistant Vice Chancellor for Financial and Accounting Brian Smith said UNC currently has $1.4 billion in debt outstanding.

Smith said Moody’s Investors Service, which rates public colleges and universities, gave UNC an “Aaa” ranking, the highest quality ranking with the lowest risk level. Seven other public universities have the same ranking.

According to the new state budget, each UNC-system school must conduct an annual debt affordability study.

Binge drinking

Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Winston Crisp said the High Risk Alcohol and Substance Abuse Working Group is about to recommend a rewritten alcohol policy.

He said he expects to see a draft within a month.

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“Along with that policy, they’re going to be recommending a series of new initiatives and programs, newly designed to create significant change in the culture on this campus,” he said.

He said the new policy would focus on public health issues by approaching alcohol issues on campus, from prevention and intervention to recovery.