Update – Campus Bookstore Privatization

April 8, 2021  |   Found in News

Recently the SU found out that the university was in some level of discussion with an American company, Follett, to privatize the campus bookstore. These discussions were only brought our attention by bookstore staff who were told about the looming changes to bookstore operations. Students were not consulted whatsoever on potential changes.

Follett has a negative reputation on many campuses where it operates bookstores. It has raised the cost of textbooks on students while also often decreasing student choice on where to purchase books by having students pay for books up front when they pay their tuition. The bookstore currently sells textbooks as close to cost as possible and maintains a book loan program. The SU is concerned that this is at risk if the university pushes forward on privatization.

While a final decision on the future of the bookstore hasn’t yet been made, the Students’ Union has repeatedly asked for meetings to get an understanding of the status of discussions with Follett or any other company involved. The SU has also asked for a meeting to present student concerns on this issue. These meetings have been declined. The university has refused to meet with student leaders until after a decision on the path forward has been made.

This is unacceptable.

Students deserve the opportunity to present their feedback for administrators to consider in their decision-making process on the bookstore. It makes little sense to solicit feedback only after a decision has been made.

Bookstore privatization may not seem like a big deal but it could further increase student costs at a time where many students are looking at paying 22.5% more in tuition than when they began their studies.

If the university is serious about ensuring affordability, then it should scrap its risky privatization plan and it should certainly ask for student feedback and ideas. If the university feels it cannot sustainably run the bookstore, the SU would be happy to enter into discussions with the university to take over operations on a cost-recovery model.

However, at the very least students deserve a voice before any decisions are made. The SU calls on UCalgary administration to sit down with students while they are still exploring options rather than after a decision has been made.