THE MICHIGAN DAILY
RITT-MAV f rIlrAMV'D 0 itior
PEI GH H IHIA FL
ZUNMAY, Wt TUISER 3, 196
The philosophy of a public, state-supported university is to
provide qualified state residents with the finest possible education
at the lowest possible cost. Implicit in this concept of education
are an abstract and a concrete ideal. The abstract involves the
maintenance of an intellectual environment and of an academic
dedication to truth-searching and mind-building; the concrete
involves the furnishing of the physical rudiments from which
the learning experience develops. The University of Michigan
has maintained a commitment to the abstract ideal of higher
education, while seriously neglecting the physical requirements
of its student body.
Faculty, facilities, texts, and living arrangements are the
physical bases of a university education. The University of
Michigan supplies faculty and attempts to provide adequate
facilities for students but has not provided books nor succeeded
in insuring satisfactory living arrangements for these same
students. A 1929 Regents Ruling prevents economic competition
with private community enterprises. This ruling is detrimental
to educational objectives: the assumptions which underlie it are
false, the attitudes which support it are restrictive. The University
of Michigan student body provides a captive economic market
for the local merchants.
To protect the student the University must assume an active
role in providing and insuring a superior, low-cost education.
Toward this end, the Regents Ruling should be rescinded. A
university must commit itself to the economic welfare of the
students when this welfare coincides with their educational
Every Big Ten School, with the exception of the University
of Michigan, has a school bookstore! And closer to home, every
state supported college in Michigan, with the exception of the
University of Michigan, has a school bookstore! These include:
MICHIGAN STATE NORTHERN MICHIGAN
WAYNE STATE MICHIGAN TECH
WESTERN GRAND VALLEY
It is true most of the aforementioned college bookstores
do not offer student discounts. This is because these colleges use
profits for other student services, such as concerts, activity fees,
etc. However, a considerable number do offer very direct savings
to the students. Wayne State is a prime example. Prices on new
texts and supplies generally average 10% lower than the prices
in Ann Arbor. To this must be added the 4% savings provided
by sales tax exemption for college bookstores in Michigan.
Assuming the average student spends $100 per year on
books and supplies, a savings of 10% gives him an extra $10.
Multiply this by the 30,000 students at the University of Michi-
gan and a savings of $300,000 results annually.
Past attempts at the establishment of a university book-
store have always faced obstacles. Much opposition came from
local merchants; however, the primary stumbling block was a
Regents' ruling of 1929:
Resolution adopted at June 14, 1929 meeting of the Regents
(r.p. 1926-29, p. 1016.) Resolved, That it is not and will not
be the policy of the Regents of the University of Michigan
to encourage or approve the establishment of cooperative
mercantile organizations within University buildings or under
circumstances that will give such enterprises special advan-
tages in the way of lower rents, freedom from taxation, or
other cooperation on the part of the University.
Serious attempts for the establishment of a university book-
store selling new texts have been made by the Michigan Union
and Student Government Council, but have failed. The need for
a bookstore remains.
The bookstore, to survive and flourish, must be of the
1. The bookstore must be University owned and must utilize
2. The bookstore must have a full-time professional
3. The bookstore must handle new and used textbooks
and as many paperbacks, trade books, and soft goods as possible.
4. The bookstore must encompass and replace the SGC
5. The bookstore must sell below list price on most or all
items; specifically, it must give a 10% discount on new texts.
6. The bookstore should remain open all year.
7. The bookstore should be located on Central Campus,
possibly with a branch on North Campus.
The price of a college education is increasing enormously
and rapidly, and book purchases constitute a major educational
cost. Providing textbooks at lower prices would both cut
educational costs directly, and favorably influence efforts to
decrease the student economic burden in all areas of Ann Arbor
The primary obstacle to inception of a University of
Michigan bookstore is the 1929 ruling of the Regents of the
University. Is this ruling still applicable, still tenable? Would
establishment of a University bookstore make use of unfair
advantages and constitute a threat to private bookstores? ....
FIRST, competition in Ann Arbor would not suffer greatly.
Many other campuses of state universities, including the Univer-
sity of California at Berkeley and Wayne State University in
Detroit, maintain bookstores in the midst of several commercial
endeavors. The swiftly growing market in Ann Arbor should be
ample for all bookstore concerns.
SECOND, the Regents' ruling is in direct contrast to the
philosophies of other state universities. For example, Wayne
State University's Board of Governors has said:
"The University shall continue to operate a bookstore whose
primary purpose is to provide service to the students. In
keeping with this general policy, the bookstore shall self
books at reasonable discounts."
THIRD, the Regents' ruling is inconsistently enforced. The
Michigan Union sells newspapers, magazines, paperback books,
confectioneries. The Michigan Union Grill (MUG) charges no
tax to-patrons. Neither does the cafeteria in the League. Several
dormitories house snack bars which charge less than comparable
outside concerns. A bookstore selling new law textbooks has
been operating . in the Law Quadrangle. Microfilming and
duplicating services are available in the General Library. The
Cinema Guild presents movies at nominal cost. Laboratory
supplies are sold to students. Most astonishing, the- University
of Michigan (Flint campus) operates a bookstore in conjunction
with Flint Junior College which offers 5%-10% discounts on
new texts and other articles! All of these operations are located
in University facilities, pay no taxes, proffer advantages to
students, and overtly flaunt the precepts of the Regents' ruling.
If the ruling precludes establishment of a University bookstore,
it also necessitates abolition of all these endeavors. The question
of degree is irrelevant, for a principle is involved. If the University
deplores participation in economic competition, it must cease
competing! Certainly few would advocate such action; then why
not a bookstore?
The University of Michigan has realized in many ways its
obligations to students. Yet it has often neglected considerations
of economic welfare. It is the University's responsibility to provide
all aspects of an education at the lowest possible cost-and to
begin by instituting a University discount bookstore.
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