SA postpones bookstore discussion

By Stephanie Bradley

The subject of the proposed “privatization” of the Holmes Student Center Bookstore and a bookstore credit card was brought up before the Student Association at Sunday’s meeting but was not discussed by the SA.

Vice President Gregg Bliss said he did not think it would be worthwhile to discuss the issues with the SA before it has a sufficient amount of information on the subjects. Bliss said he and SA Sen. Jim Valentine will issue a report to the SA on the bookstore as soon as they meet to talk about it and establish a position.

Bliss and Valentine are both student members of the bookstore committee.

Valentine told the SA the question of privatization involved whether the bookstore should be a profit center or a service entity for students. He said the SA would be given more information later.

The bookstore committee meets Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. in room 306 of the student center.

Bliss said applications for a bookstore credit card had been sent to students a few years ago, but because of a breach of rules, the card proposal had to be withdrawn.

NIU President John LaTourette said in an earlier interview, “We would have to look at the issue to see if there would be a basic charge. Students would have to pay to establish it. It might cost up to $10 (per student) for it.” He indicated there could be some method to reimburse the students for their initial expense, but said the program would not be cost-free.

The card initially would not cover other university services, like the University of Iowa’s program, LaTourette said. It would be used only for academic supplies at first, and if it worked, would lead to a whole system, he said.

The system might help with keeping student fees low. “If we could generate a significant profit, it would help to keep student fees down,” LaTourette said. Profits generated by the bookstore go back into the student center’s budget.

LaTourette said bringing in an outside vendor also might help to keep student fees down if it was efficient. Costs would be kept down if the vendor made a profit and paid NIU for the use of the facility, he said.

LaTourette cited Illinois State University’s use of outside vendors as an example. ISU has a Dairy Queen and a McDonald’s in its student center and has demonstrated success with clothing stores and a travel agency, he said.

Failure to market what the students wanted was the reason the Mariott Corporation’s Roy Rogers restaurant in the Pow Wow did not succeed two years ago, LaTourette said. With the bookstore, he said the committee has to make sure they do not make the same mistakes as were made with the restaurant—it was viewed too narrowly, and not enough people were consulted.

Bliss said the comparison of Roy Rogers with outside vendors at other universities such as ISU’s McDonald’s is inaccurate because McDonald’s is a tested entity. He cited the fact that there are two highly successful McDonald’s within a few miles of each other in DeKalb.