University of California at Berkeley

The Chancellor Addresses the ASUC Issue

Concern Is to Assure Continued Health of Bookstore and Student Government

To the Campus Community:

Throughout the summer, I and others have worked diligently with ASUC student leaders in an exhaustive effort to resolve the difficulties confronting the financially troubled ASUC bookstore. My goal throughout this process has been to provide a sound, stable financial base for student government and student activities on campus.

The management of the bookstore has proven it is incapable of doing that. The bookstore has accumulated a staggering deficit that now threatens to put essential student services at risk.

We have worked toward a solution that will protect the interests of the ASUC and our students as a whole. As I have stated repeatedly, I strongly support an autonomous student government as an honored and integral part of this campus. Every solution we have proposed has emphasized the preservation of a financially stable and autonomous ASUC with an assured revenue stream.

Key leaders of the ASUC have rebuffed all of our efforts to help resolve their financial problems. My concern now must be the continued health of a vital campus institution that will continue to exist long after its latest occupants have graduated and gone on to other pursuits. Based on the ASUC's records, the bookstore is in such financial disarray that it could jeopardize the economic underpinning of student government and affiliated student groups for years to come.

Thus, the campus has no choice but to assume control and run the bookstore under a new partnership with the students. As many of you know, the bookstore has been in poor financial shape for some time. It lost $671,000 last year; it owes the university more than $2.3 million; and it has built up substantial debts to other creditors.

No other business enterprise operates on campus with complete lack of accountability. For the bookstore to continue to operate in such a fashion clearly poses unacceptable risks. As chancellor, I must assure a viable student government. To do that, I must exercise my authority over the bookstore as I do over every other business that operates on campus. Some key ASUC student leaders have consistently refused to recognize this. Every proposal they have offered to pull the store out of debt --from leasing the space to a private company to setting up a new corporation --ignores this fundamental issue.

That being the case, I was forced to withdraw the ASUC's authorization to do business on campus and direct them to vacate the bookstore. Our right to do this is clearly stated in the agreement we signed with the ASUC in 1994. In refusing to leave, they knew that legal action would be inevitable.

Having lost in every other venue, some ASUC officials are now trying to make this a political issue, even resorting to personal attacks against me. Well, here is our platform: the university will establish a self-supporting auxiliary with substantial student participation. Profits from the store will go to student government and affiliated student groups. And if store revenues are insufficient, we will guarantee enough funding to assure the continued existence of independent student government and support for student groups.

This is a fair and reasonable solution. It will allow us to put this issue behind us, to avoid the needless cost of litigation and to get on with the task at hand. I hope the ASUC will reconsider their position and work with us to serve the needs of students, faculty and the campus community.


Copyright 1996, The Regents of the University of California.
Produced and maintained by the Office of Public Affairs at UC Berkeley.
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