Monthly Archives: January 2016

Save the Co-op! What You Can Do

Important Letter From Tim Dzurilla, Chair Board of Directors UConn Co-op

Dear Fellow UConn Co-op Members,

As you may know, the University is currently considering a corporate replacement for the UConn Co-op as the official campus bookstore.

If we cannot save the Co-op, then members can expect higher costs, lower services, and a lack of community loyalty.

Without the Co-op, costs will go up.

The UConn Co-op provides affordable pricing of textbooks to keep costs as low as possible for students.

Further, students can compare prices and order directly through price comparison software, Verba, that the UConn Co-op began subscribing to this Spring.

Textbook prices are outrageous. Since 1975, the estimated price of textbooks has increased between 800% – 1000% far out-pacing the 271% increase in the average public university’s tuition, room, and board. The trend is expected to continue because as students buy fewer of their textbooks because of limited budgets, publishers increase the price per textbook and find new ways to force students to buy the latest edition.

Because the Co-op is run by and committed to students, the organization will always try to find ways to provide affordable options by working with faculty to raise awareness of lower cost options, offering a range of affordable textbooks and rentals, and collaborating with the library to provide free access to the most costly books. The Co-op’s primary, legally-binding purpose is to serve you, our members, not a distant, faceless corporate entity.

Without the Co-op, services will be reduced.

You may be aware of the great educational and cultural events the Co-op offers including music, arts, and speakers events. The Co-op encourages student groups to host events, free of charge, such as the poetry slams, comic book signings, and film screenings last semester at the Downtown Storrs location. Another bookstore will not be as willing to trust students to run their own events with minimal restriction and oversight.

The Co-op provides extra services such as tech repair, shipping services, Apple computer support, orientation packages, graduation ticket sales, bus ticket sales, and, much, much more. Each of these services require staff and financial resources which other bookstores would eliminate to save costs and maximize profits. The Co-op is committed to providing the services students and faculty want and need to thrive in a campus community.

The Co-op is there for students and the University. When pipes burst in a dorm and students lose all their stuff, the Co-op is there to donate all new educational materials. When the University wants a bookstore in the new Downtown Storrs development, the Co-op is there to absorb the costs of starting a new store. When students and faculty are frustrated with finding and ordering textbooks, the Co-op is there to give individualized attention to make sure everyone gets what they need. These are not the most cost-effective ways to do business; they are the right ways to do business. As a not-for-profit organization, the Co-op is able to prioritize service over bottom lines.

Finally, without the Co-op, community loyalty will disappear.

The Co-op has had a couple of financially difficult years. It was expected with the costs associated with expanding to our brand new Downtown Storrs location in an area that is still building up. This was an anticipated loss that ended up being much less than expected.

As mentioned above, the Co-op is a member-owned, member-run organization which allows students, faculty, and alumni direct control over management. This means, the Co-op is dedicated to this community during good times and challenging ones. The organization used this unique structure to incorporate customer feedback, innovate new services, eliminate out-dated practices, and further develop relationships across campuses and communities. In other words, the Co-op becomes more deeply committed to the success of the community in the face of challenges.

Corporate bookstores face challenges differently. The Bookstore Industry is a tough one right now. Remember Borders? Corporate bookstores respond to unprofitable locations by liquidating assets, closing stores, paying off top managers, and maximizing stockholder profits. It has happened at dozens of universities across the country that switched to corporate partners. This has left universities without a bookstore and millions of dollars in unpaid renovation costs.

An independent, member-owned structure ensures the Co-op can meet student needs, adapt to a rapidly changing industry, and stay financially and socially sustainable regardless of what the future brings.

The Co-op needs your help! If you believe that the UConn Co-op is the best operator for the UConn Bookstore, then please share your support by writing a letter or email to:

Members of the selection committee: (martha.bedard@uconn.edu; alan.calandro@uconn.edu; eliza.conrad@uconn.edu; patricia.fazio@uconn.edu; robert.hasenfratz@uconn.edu; michael.kirk@uconn.edu; kyle.muncy@uconn.edu; sally.reis@uconn.edu)

Martha Bedard, vice provost for University Libraries

  • Alan Calandro, senior advisor and director of special projects, Office of the Executive Vice President for Administration
  • Eliza Conrad, student
  • Patti Fazio, assistant vice president for brand strategy
  • Michael George, alumni
  • Robert Hasenfratz, professor of English and chair of the English department
  • Michael Kirk, deputy chief of staff, President’s Office
  • Kyle Muncy, associate director of athletics for trademark licensing & branding
  • Sally Reis, vice provost for academic affairs, Letitia Neag Morgan Chair in Educational Psychology, & Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor

President Susan Herbst: (president@uconn.edu)

Members of the UConn Board of Trustees: (boardoftrustees@uconn.edu)

Further, our proposal for Making the Future together will be publicly available on our website so that you can see exactly how the Co-op plans to move forward. We will host a public event Monday Feb. 8th from 10 AM – 12 PM to demonstrate public support during our presentation to the university, followed by a forum to listen to your feedback and discuss further ways to support our selection as UConn’s official bookstore. Keep an eye out on @UconnCoop, Facebook page, and #SaveTheCoop for further details.

Finally, share this message via your social networks both on-line and off-line.

Thank you for your continued support and commitment over the years. Please let me know if you have any further comments, questions, or concerns.

In service and solidarity,

Tim Dzurilla

Board Chair

UConn Co-op

timothy.dzurilla@uconn.edu

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