We need to take back our co-op.
Behind your three-week late order for your course-reader, the line pouring across Grattan St and the bookshelves overflowing with Doctor Who merchandise is the Co-op’s dirty secret: it’s not run FOR students because it’s not run BY students!
While you were browsing overpriced textbooks as a jaffy, staff probably told you a $25 membership fee entitles you to a discount. What they didn’t tell you is that membership of a co-operative also entitles you to participate in its democratic governance and share its profits. So why aren’t you?
In 1958, two students at the University of Sydney, Malcolm Broun and John Sharwood, set up the University Co-operative Bookshop, a student association that bought, swapped and sold books at low prices, operating out of a garage.
Now the Co-op is controlled by a corporate clique who over-pay themselves despite running at a massive loss, have no academics on their board, and take every measure they can to bar students from its governance.
The Co-op give as little notice as they can before holding their AGMs in rural Queensland or NSW towns. They reject students’ resolutions without basis and they prevent anyone from running for the board who hasn’t graduated from a tertiary institution and “participated in the management and/or direction of a medium to large size business over not less than five years” I.E NOT STUDENTS.
In 2016, CEO Thorsten Wichtendahl said, “I wouldn’t want to be reporting to a 21-year-old, first-year uni student. I take my guidance, strategic direction, coaching and mentoring from our board of directors – experienced company directors.”
The Take-Back-Our Co-op Campaign has tried (and so far failed) to flood their AGMs with enough students to vote the cronies out. This year we’re joining forces with the National Tertiary Education Union to win back control of the Co-op once-and-for-all.
If you wanna no more join us in Graham Cornish Room B 2pm on Tuesdays!