Michaela Brew / Sun Senior Editor

April 27, 2016

Cornell University Assembly Suggests New Cornell Store Price Model

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The University Assembly passed a resolution by a vote of 9-2-1 recommending that the Cornell Store shift its financial model to reduce the cost of academic materials at its meeting Tuesday.

Gabriel Kaufman ’18, U.A. undergraduate representative, and the resolution’s sponsor, explained that the current revenue generating model gives the University approximately five to 10 percent of the profit from each purchase. The resolution proposes a cost-recovery model instead, in which this cost is eliminated so Cornellians can benefit from a slight price reduction.

“It would be like converting the Cornell store from a profit to a nonprofit store for academic materials,” Kaufman said.

The resolution recommends that the revenue generating model remain in place for non-academic materials. As part of the proposal, the U.A. will follow the Cornell Store’s guidelines for the distinction between academic and non-academic materials.

“I think it’ll save students money,” Kaufman said. “It’s not a huge number, but if you have a textbook that costs $200 and you buy five of them, it does make a difference.”

Ulysses Smith, employee ranking member, expressed concern over factors that contribute to costs, particularly the cost of actually acquiring said academic materials for consumers.

“If the cost of procuring these academic materials increases, then the savings that the working group suggests would be present for consumers would be diminished,” he said. “My concern was that it is unclear if The Cornell Store is also going to be the party to bear the cost of procuring modified materials for different groups, such as individuals with disabilities who may require some modified materials.”

Kaufman insisted that “the only thing that would change is that textbooks would become less costly,” and recommended that a standing committee be formed to evaluate the practices of this shift going forward.

“I think that it makes sense to get the costs down now for textbooks and then perhaps next year ensure the Cornell Store is as accessible as possible,” Kaufman said.

The U.A. also passed a resolution with a vote of 11-1-2 requesting that the University administration provide the U.A. with the cost of Cornell reaching carbon neutrality by 2035.

The resolution asks for a final cost determination from the University by January 2017 along with an initial report next fall.

The proposal requests information on how reaching carbon neutrality would be funded. Prof. Martin Hatch, music, faculty representative, called it an important first step in moving the process along and addressing the costs that will be incurred for the great benefits that will be gained.

“The value of this resolution is that it enables the various constituencies on the campus to deliberate about how the money required for carbon neutrality will be raised and spent,” Hatch said.

Hatch reiterated the importance of passing the resolution, noting that the importance of carbon neutrality has been discussed and affirmed by Cornell’s senior administration for more than seven years without the proposal of a comprehensive plan for its achievements.

“[Carbon neutrality is] an urgent thing,” Hatch said. “It’s urgent in society as a whole, and if we’re going to live up to Cornell being a ‘living laboratory’ … we have to develop this comprehensive approach.”