By Morgan Clark, Staff Reporter
The University Store, currently located in Look House on Main Street, may be experiencing a change in scenery in the near future, as a university task force has been assembled to make recommendations for change.
For the task force, it comes down to one question: Is the current bookstore meeting the needs of students? One of the largest issues the task force will focus on is the store’s location. In the fall of 2013 the bookstore was moved from Olsen Student Center to its current location on Main Street, but the task force is wondering how effective this new location truly is.
“Main Street didn’t deliver like we hoped,” said Chris O’Brien, UMF history professor and head of the task force. “I can’t speak for the task force, but for me it’s back to the student center.”
Recently the task force administered an online survey to gather information before making any prompt decisions. As added incentive, they gave away free small coffee vouchers, redeemable at the Mantor Coffee Bar.
O’Brien said the goal was to receive at least 200 surveys to help with the decision making process. The questions were aimed specifically at the effectiveness of the store to students, including the location of the store and the prices of their merchandise.
For many students, the largest concern that needs to be addressed by the task force is the price of books and supplies. To avoid paying such high prices, a majority of students buy their books online from sources such as Amazon or Chegg.
“Professors make you buy the book,” said Mac Swanson, a junior business major, “but you barely use it.” Swanson said he rents his books from Chegg because he does not want to keep them after the semester is over, and for him, Chegg is less expensive.
Despite this, O’Brien said costs are going down, due to renting and buying used books. “It’s a different trend than I was expecting,” he said, though to students this doesn’t seem like the case.
“I would probably still rent because I don’t keep my books,” said Swanson. Similar to other students however, Swanson said he would be willing to buy his books at the bookstore if they lowered their prices.
“There are a lot of good things the bookstore is doing right now,” said O’Brien. “We’ve got people who have worked there a long time who have fought for student’s interest over and over again.” The bookstore currently offers book rentals and used book purchases for competitive rates, and according to O’Brien they are always searching for ways to accommodate the interest of the students.
As for the future of the bookstore, O’Brien said they would hopefully have collected all of their information and data in a few week, but “even after the task force makes its recommendations there can’t be a definite answer.” Though the task force is designed to make suggestions after their research, the final decision will be made by President Kate Foster.