Over the last few weeks, there have been several articles and opinion pieces in the campus and San Diego media on the status of the UCSD co-ops.
As the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Life, I have been involved in the negotiations for a new agreement with the co-ops, and can assure you that UCSD supports the continued on-campus presence of the student-run co-ops, and we are hopeful that we can soon arrive at a mutually acceptable agreement. The co-ops provide students with a valuable educational, student development, and co-curriculum experience and service to the UCSD community.
Since Fall 2003, UCSD Student Affairs representatives have been engaged in negotiations with representatives from the co-ops and the Associated Students (AS) and Graduate Students Association (GSA) to develop a new set of agreements to guide the future operation of the co-ops. At the end of the 2004 Spring Quarter and just as the negotiations on one of the agreements was to be mutually agreed upon by all parties, an attorney on behalf of the co-ops asserted that the prior agreements were intended to exist in perpetuity. The administrative review and negotiations process between the AS/GSA, co-ops and Student Affairs representatives shifted into the legal arena as a result of this assertion.
The University chose to negotiate directly with the co-ops and their attorney. Under the proposed new agreements, the University would continue to provide the co-ops with discounted rental rates as well as long-term leases.
Over the last year, there have been several significant health and safety code violations at the co-ops. It would be irresponsible of the University to overlook these violations. To ensure that health and safety standards are maintained and that university policies and sound financial practices are followed, it is essential that the co-ops be held directly accountable for their operations. We believe this is in the best interests of all UCSD students and the campus community.
We commend and value the involvement of the AS and GSA as advocates for student interests. That role, however, should be distinguished from the role of a landlord overseeing the business and financial operations of the co-ops. University Centers has the staffing, expertise and mandate to provide such oversight.
We continue to be optimistic that we can reach mutually agreeable terms in the very near future.
Carmen M. Vazquez
Assistant Vice Chancellor - Student Life