The idea does not sound as radical as those opposed to it make it out to be. But those on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus who oppose the privatization of the student store where students buy textbooks and other merchandise have made a good case, and the university should not consider putting the store under a commercial venture.
The campus bookstore is 100 years old and has long employed students part-time and many others full-time. It has returned to the university millions of dollars in scholarship money. It is a sound financial operation and self-sustaining.
Private companies such as Follett and Barnes & Noble have estimated they might be able to run the store while returning an annual commission to the university of at least $3 million. The university is apparently not making that much, so it’s fair to ask for a study to seek efficiencies under the current system. And would that $3 million be guaranteed?
It’s true that other campuses around the country have private companies running bookstores. But those who have joined to protest the idea of privatizing say such arrangements in effect make a bookstore no longer a part of a campus. And there’s the possibility that some jobs would be lost in the name of efficiency and that students would not have as good a shot at the jobs that remain if the store were in effect part of a chain.