Books for Students, Not for Profit. Open Letter to Stamp Admin

27 Jan

Dear Gretchen Metzelaars, Steve Gnadt, and Jim Osteen:

I am writing in regard to the University Book Center. I have been speaking with my colleagues and we are concerned that a non-profit, university run bookstore has not been given a fair hearing. Specifically, students, undergraduate and graduate, during the meeting of the advisory body assembled for Ron Duvall’s research suggested very seriously that a non-profit operation would be preferable to a for-profit corporate store and better serve students. My understanding of Duvall’s response is that a non-profit, university run model was not even in the scope of possibilities for the next contract. From my discussions with you and others, I have heard a similar sentiment – that Stamp and University officials have not and do not plan to vigorously consider the possibility of an institution-run bookstore. I am writing to request that such a possibility receives the attention it deserves as a viable option for the University Book Center.

Further, I find the bid process as you have explained to me and as I have observed to be problematic. I understand that there are structural restrictions on the openness of the bid process, but as a service that is an integral part of every student’s education, we deserve to know what changes are coming and a voice at the table in coming to those decisions. I appreciate that a student is on the bid evaluation committee, however, one student tied to a confidentiality agreement cannot possibly represent the voice of the student body or effectively communicate to his peers the complexity of the ultimate decision. It troubles me that the Stamp has not made it clear to students that the largest private tenant in the Stamp may be replaced. More so I am troubled that widespread and open student input has not been solicited. Your practically open-door policy is both encouraging and very much appreciated, but that is not the way to ascertain what the student body really wants. In the pursuit of a more open, transparent, and democratic campus, I request a public forum be held sometime between February 6 and 12 to solicit student opinion, address student concerns, and discuss the possible outcomes and the possible consequences of the different outcomes of the bid process.

In closing, I want to thank you for you time in attention in addressing my concerns. I look forward to your response and to the discussion that we can have together with a larger and more diverse group of students. Finally, I want to encourage your work in making the campus a welcoming and supportive place for all students.

Bob G. Hayes


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