Co-ops Ask for Funds to Hire Help

The co-ops — the Food Co-Op, the General Store and Groundwork Books — have been asked by University Center administrators to present financial records if they continue negotiating the reduction of their rent. Representatives from the co-ops are currently in the process of renewing their space agreements with the university, which will dictate the terms of maintaining their Student Center locations.

This is not the first time the co-ops have gone to the council in desperate times. Last year, co-op representatives asked the council to carry about a $30,000 debt; their request was granted.

In April, the co-ops asked University Centers to lift their obligation to pay rent completely. However, administrators declined to consider the request without the presence of documents detailing the expenses and the income of the co-ops.

In response, General Store employee Andrew Rubens, along with about 15 other co-op representatives, visited the council ‘s meeting on May 26 to submit the request for $15,500 — enough to hire an accountant to prepare the needed documents. Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs Jordan Taylor sponsored the request.

“We wanted there to be a face to this proposition of thousands of dollars being taken from A.S.,” Rubens said. “We explained why we thought it was necessary.”

Rubens added that the co-ops will not make a habit of turning to the council for help.

“We’re not going to be asking for money in the future,” he said. “This is a one-time thing, to help with the process of certifying our rent agreement and making it smoother.”

According to Vice President of Finance and Resources Andrew Ang, the $5,167 will come from mandate reserves — where approximately $900,000 is set aside for one-time expenses and enterprise startups.

University Centers and the co-ops will each pay $5,167 to cover the full $15,500 cost of an accountant. This amount was determined in a discussion between director of University Centers Paul Terzino and a local accounting firm.

Once the University Centers Advisory Board receives the financial statements — beginning in 2007 for the General Store and Groundwork Books, and 2008 for the Food Co-Op — it will review the documents and determine each co-ops’ need for a rent reduction. UCAB will examine how much each co-op can afford and how much the university is willing to subsidize.

Under an expired lease agreements still in place on a month-to-month basis, rent is currently $1,450.97 for the G-Store, $521.70 for the Food Co-Op and $788.55 for Groundwork Books.

UCAB Chair Nicole Metildi said she is sure University Centers will try to make it easier for the co-ops to pay rent. As an alternative, UCAB is considering swapping the General Store space with UCSD Bike Shop’s smaller space so that the General Store can pay less in rent.

“We talked about ways we can help them to better pay their rent, and we also talked about the co-ops really defining who they are,” Metildi said.

Taylor, who was 2009-10 UCAB Chair, said the co-ops could benefit from redefining themselves as student services, rather than vendors.

“What will probably be written into the new space agreement is a paragraph where [the co-ops] describe what they feel they are — and what fully encompasses — their operations as more than just a vendor [but also] a safe place on campus [and] as a resource of social movement,” Taylor said.

At a meeting with University Centers in April, the co-ops stated that they don’t regard themselves to be for-profit vendors.

“They still have to pay some sort of rent because they’re selling stuff,” Metildi said.
Members of the the co-ops are asking the A.S. Council, GSA and UCAB every quarter to touch base. According to

Taylor, they also plan to create a public annual report that includes the financial expenses and current business models being used.

Metildi said she plans to meet with members of the co-ops over summer to further discuss a potential master space agreement should be finalized by the end of Fall Quarter, at which point the GSA and the A.S. Council will give a final OK since they represent graduate and undergraduate students who pay the university centers fee.

Readers can contact Regina Ip at [email protected].

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