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Decision to privatize U of C bookstore delayed

By Cristina Paolozzi, July 5 2021—

A statement released by the Students’ Union (SU) on June 30 indicates the University of Calgary administration has decided to delay the decision to privatize the bookstore until June 2022.  

University administration was considering privatizing the campus bookstore by awarding the contract to American company Follett, a move that other Canadian post-secondary institutions have made. 

“The university is delaying their decision until June 2022 with discussion on this resuming in the new year,” the statement reads. “This new timeframe will not make students find privatization more palatable but it gives the SU and students time to organize further efforts to save the bookstore.”

A survey conducted by the SU, which saw over 2,000 respondents, concluded that 89 per cent of students opposed the privatization of the bookstore. University administration also conducted their own survey, which went live on April 19. 

“I know for myself personally, I was really pleased to hear that the university is delaying any decision on the bookstore for a year,” said SU President Nicole Schmidt in an interview with the Gauntlet. “I think that that’s a massive win for students — a year gives us a lot of time to consult with the university, and to also look into alternative options to the model [the university] is currently proposing.” 

Schmidt said that the SU will continue to monitor the situation, as regardless of timeframe, bookstore privatization will not be a good deal for students. Schmidt also said that she is hopeful this extended timeframe will allow students and university administration to work together on a conclusion moving forward. This collaboration is also something Schmidt said the SU will be pushing for. 

“With the results of our survey, we know that 89 per cent of students directly oppose the privatization of the bookstore,” said Schmidt. “So, I’ll be pushing for further consultation and further information sharing from the university so that students can be involved in the process and also understand how this is going to impact them.” 

While Schmidt believes that the SU’s survey was successful, her goal is to ensure that the university is including students in the conversation regarding the bookstore’s possible privatization and that the SU remains transparent about how this issue will impact students.

“We know that the survey was incredibly successful — we had nearly 2,000 survey responses which was really fantastic,” said Schmidt. “Going forward, I’ll be sure to follow up with the university and understand where they’re actually at in this decision-making process, and I really want to make sure that the university is involving students in the decision-making process and the consultation process.” 

While anything can happen in a year, Schmidt sees this delay as student advocacy win, and is looking forward to the year ahead. 

“I definitely think there’s a lot we can do moving forward into the next year.” 

To read the SU’s full statement, click here

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