Students stood up and the university took notice. Today the university has agreed to meet with SU representatives to discuss the bookstore and will be launching a survey on the bookstore in the coming days. This is thanks to unrelenting student pressure since the bookstore privatization plan broke nearly two weeks ago.
While this is good news, the fight is not over.
SU President Frank Finley and Operations and Finance VP Mohammad Ali will meet with university VP Finance and Services Linda Dalgetty tomorrow, April 15.
In a public statement today, Ms. Dalgetty confirmed that the university will not sell the bookstore but are still considering privatization of operations with Follett or another company. While this privatization will include university oversight, questions remain. The statement also committed to no increase in the current markup of textbooks.
This is good news. After first declining a meeting with student leaders until a path had been chosen, the university is sitting down with the SU sooner than expected. The university actively seeking student feedback through a survey is also a new development and is unlikely to have happened without student pressure on the university.
There is still much more work to do if we are to save the bookstore from privatization and inevitable increased costs on students. While textbooks may not increase in mark-up, what does this mean for other products the bookstore sells like apparel and school supplies such as notebooks, pens, and pencils? Will students still be able to purchase textbooks from wherever they want including online or second hand?
A number of questions remain and these will be asked of Ms. Dalgetty at this meeting. The SU does not believe that an institution that considers itself an entrepreneurial university should throw up its hands and outsource operations to a billion-dollar American company. What risk to the university’s reputation does such a decision carry with it?
These concerns will be raised at this meeting and students can expect a further update from the SU on Friday.