The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Thursday March 30th

UNC has issued a request for private management proposals for Student Stores

Brad Ives, associate vice chancellor for campus enterprises, said the document was drafted by the campus enterprises office with Campus Bookstore Consulting, an outside company.

Ives said John Gorsuch, former Student Stores director, drafted the first document, and Student Stores employees and Employee Forum members also had input.

“We try to be very inclusive in the process of the input of the document,” Ives said.

The RFP was produced after Follett, a company that owns more than 1,000 student stores nationwide, submitted an unsolicited proposal to privatize UNC Student Stores. Ives said the RFP describes all the functions and products of the store and includes clauses on issues such as the limitation of prices on textbooks, a topic very important to students.

“What the document tries to do is describe all the operations of the Student Stores and what the University would like to see if we did decide to have an outside operator,” he said.

Ives said the RFP maintains that no outside company can offer products or services inferior to what Student Stores offers.

The next step, Ives said, is to answer and clarify any written questions that potential bidders might have. All proposals are due by Feb. 18, and then an advisory review committee will review submitted proposals. The committee has not been formed yet, Ives said.

Student Body President Houston Summers has selected himself and Chief of Staff Harry Edwards to be potential members of this committee to represent student government.

Summers said he understands the repercussions Student Stores’ privatization could have, but he said if there is a way that a company could protect employees and give students more money, it needs to be talked about.

“That’s a really serious conversation that needs to be had in these times,” he said.

Shannon Brien, a member of Student Action with Workers, said after reading through the proposal, she can tell the administration is taking this process seriously. Brien said the Student Stores will be submitting its own proposal to the University, and she believes what the Student Stores has to offer is the best option for the University.

“How our licensing is determined, how textbook costs are kept affordable — those are things that are already taken care of by Student Stores,” she said.

Brien said privatization would be a decision that doesn’t serve workers, students and the community. SAW will continue to keep up activist pressure on the administration to ensure that the process remains as transparent as possible, she said.

Ives said if the University decides to outsource, it will not be to a company that does not treat employees fairly.

“The welfare and future of the employees of the Student Stores is going to be incredibly important to us.”


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