ASUC Rejects Campus Offer

After Talks Fail, the Courts Will Decide Fate of Student-Run Bookstore

 One of the continuing stories of the summer has been the difficult situation with the financially insolvent ASUC-run bookstore.

The issue is currently in Alameda County Superior Court, with the campus seeking a ruling ordering the ASUC to cease operations and move out of the space in the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union.

The issue reached the courts after exhaustive efforts by the campus to seek a mutually agreeable solution failed and a declaration from the ASUC that it will not vacate the space without a court order.

Despite months of intensive efforts, ASUC officials have rejected all proposals by the campus including the possibility of buying back the store in five years if the ASUC is in a financial position to do so because of a seemingly irresolvable conflict over control of the business.

The students insist they must retain control of the operation, but the campus requires that the final authority rest with the chancellor.

On July 12, Chancellor Tien informed the ASUC that due to the financial insolvency of the bookstore, he was upholding an earlier decision to remove their authorization to conduct commercial activities on campus.

The action was precipitated by the accelerating financial deterioration of the student-run enterprise. The store had posted losses of more than $900,000 during the four months of February through May of this year, with a record loss of $248,000 in May alone. Last year, the store lost $671,500.

The action and a proposed new operating partnership with the ASUC are consistent with goals outlined by the campus, said Vice Chancellor Horace Mitchell. These include:

  • To preserve an independent student government by severing the business failure from the political entity. The ASUC remains the fully functioning student government on the Berkeley campus.

  • To guarantee a source of income from store profits for student government and student group activities.

  • To create a financially sound university bookstore that will assure books and other essential services are consistently available.

  • To provide a mechanism for student participation in the operation of the campus bookstore.

  • To seek assurances from the ASUC that funds from mandatory student fees will not be diverted to the money-losing operation, thereby placing at risk funding for student government and programs.

    The campus envisions establishing a self-supporting auxiliary to operate a new bookstore that will meet the needs of the campus.


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