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Second rally to protest possible Student Stores privatization planned for Monday

The protest, which follows a rally in September, was organized by State Employees Association of North Carolina, the UNC Employee Forum, Student Action with Workers and Faculty Forward.

Shannon Brien, a member of SAW, said the second protest is necessary to continue speaking out against privatization.

“I think it’s important to continue to put pressure on Chancellor (Carol) Folt because if we don’t keep this issue on the forefront of her mind as a major issue for students and Chapel Hill communities — if we don’t, we’re definitely not doing our job,” Brien said.

Brien said the fact that the protest corresponds with Gorsuch’s last day is not just a coincidence.

“Part of this is there’s been such great leadership at the Student Stores for a really long period of time,” she said. “I think it’s important to highlight all the good work that Student Stores has done and celebrate the work of (Gorsuch) and show that that’s a great alternative to corporate bookstore.”

John Gullo, chairperson of SEANC District 25, which represents part of Orange County, said the possible privatization of Student Stores is not an isolated event in North Carolina.

“With the current climate in Raleigh, there’s been a look to go back to the universities and look to privatize functioning services there,” Gullo said. “There’s a look to change (the) established balance of what a public education is.”

Richard Lindayen, a member of SAW, said he isn’t satisfied with the administration’s response. Administrators have promised to continue working on a Request for Proposals, or RFP, which would let companies know what terms the University would accept from an outside company trying to lease the store.

“We’re not exactly satisfied with what the administrators are doing because they haven’t listened at all,” Lindayen said.

He said he thinks continued protests are important to show support for workers at Student Stores.

“I hope that people start to see workers as a more valuable resource to UNC,” Lindayen said. “I hope that people start to see good jobs at UNC as something that needs to be protected.”

Brien said she is disappointed in corporate tendencies she sees in the University.

“All the way from the Board of Governors to Chancellor Folt’s office, we have a university administration that seems to value corporate business structure over employees, faculty and staff,” she said. “At this point, I’m not really convinced that the administration is listening to students and workers. So that’s another reason that we need to keep protesting.”

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