Agreement on management of UC Berkeley campus bookstore to directly benefit students


By Media Relations

BERKELEY -- The Associated Students of the University of California and Berkeley campus officials today (March 19, 1998) jointly announced a new structure to operate the student-run bookstore in an effort to return it to profitability and generate money for student activities.

Chancellor Robert M. Berdahl and ASUC President Sharon Yuan both praised the agreement as a positive solution to a difficult, long-standing dispute over how best to ensure the financial viability of the essential campus service.

The new agreement, they said, will directly benefit students by guaranteeing that profits from the 28,000-square-foot store, which includes the bookstore, Cal clothing sales and a variety of other enterprises, will be returned to the ASUC to fund student activities and services.

"With this fair and far-sighted agreement we preserve UC Berkeley's long and meaningful tradition of independent student government and renew an atmosphere of open and honest interaction that will serve the students and administration well into the future," Berdahl and Yuan said in a joint statement.

The agreement calls for bringing in an independent third-party to run the store, which has historically been run by the ASUC. The third-party will be selected and overseen by a new ASUC Store Operations Board consisting of six student members, including ASUC officers, and five faculty and administrative staff members.

Further, a campus-run auxiliary reporting to the chancellor will manage the operations of the commercial buildings and oversee the financial activities of the bookstore operator in conjunction with the operations board.

"The reason the student store was created was so profits would go directly to benefit students. In the past 10 years we have not seen any real profits. This new structure will enhance the profitability and continue to maintain an independent student government," said Yuan.

Berdahl too lauded the agreement. "This agreement is good for the university first and foremost because it is good for the students," he said. "Our singular objective has always been to resolve the failing operation of the student-run campus bookstore in a manner that is in the best interests of the ASUC and of our students as a whole.

"That we have reached a mutually agreeable resolution is enormously satisfying and a tribute to those on all sides who have put in a great deal of hard work."

In addition to establishing a new management and operating structure, the agreement resolves a pending legal action the university brought against the ASUC to recover more than $2 million in emergency loans the university made last year to keep the store afloat. Under the agreement the funds will be paid back in a timely fashion through operating revenue.

The agreement also guarantees employment for at least six months for the 75 full-time ASUC store employees.

University and ASUC officials said they hope to have the new organization operating in time for the return to school in the fall, the bookstore's busiest time of the year.

Trying to ensure a viable future for the financially troubled bookstore, which had been run independent of campus control or oversight for decades, had become a time consuming and decisive issue for all concerned.

"First of all, this ends the conflict with the administration," said Yuan in enumerating the benefits of the agreement. "It allows the student government to go ahead and work on issues that will benefit the students rather than spend all their time on lawsuits. The elected officials haven't been able to focus on student issues when the store issues have consumed everyone's time and energy," she said.

An essential aspect to any agreement, said Yuan "was maintaining the independence of student government. In crafting this agreement we are assured student government will continue to run as we did in the past.

"I am not saying there are not concerns. This isn't perfect, but it does bring us into a new era with the university regarding commercial activities and I have to commend most of the senators who really

took their time to understand the agreement and researched it so they could make an informed choice."

The ASUC Senate approved the agreement on a 16-3 vote shortly after 1:30 this morning.

Vice Chancellor Horace Mitchell, who has been working closely on the issue for more than a year, agreed that the outcome was a success both from a business standpoint and in building a new working relationship with student government leaders.

"This was an outstanding job by both the university team of Victoria Harrison, Stephanie Siri, Alan Kolling and Lloyd Lee, and the ASUC team working through a very difficult and long-standing set of issues. The outcome is in the best interest of the university and the students. We look forward to working with the ASUC on our new partnership."

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