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The Coop should stay in the Student Center

The Coop is moving to Kendall Square! And what are we going to do about it? Well, from what I read in The Tech the other day, there's a Coop committee set up to acquiesce while the Coop plots its strategy. The purpose of the committee (other than simply acquiescing) is to decide what to do with the space after the Coop is gone. Doesn't anybody want the Coop to remain in the Student Center? Why isn't anyone protesting the move?

During four and one-half years at MIT as a grad student, I've never really loved the Tech Coop. It's an inefficient and unresponsive organization. Have you ever gone to the stationary department to buy a pad of your favorite writing paper (or some other particular item) and found it to be out of stock? Yes, it was in stock two weeks ago, but they're now sold out and it will be another month before the next shipment comes in. Or, have you ever tried to get a special order book from the book department? Six weeks later, when you go inquire why it hasn't yet arrived, they tell you that the order was sent to the publisher only last week. It makes you wonder about the Tech Coop's inventory and management practices.

Despite the inefficiencies of the Coop, it is nevertheless conveniently located and is near the center of many social activities at MIT (like having lunch and coffee and generally hanging out). It also has a captive clientele, in particular the undergraduate MIT students who live in the dorms west of Massachusetts Ave. Has anyone from Burton or MacGregor contemplated what it's going to be like at the beginning of each semester when you have to lug a ton of textbooks from Kendall Square to your dorm? And what if you just wanted to browse in the bookstore? Are you going to walk 20 minutes (there and back) in order to browse for 10 minutes?

From what I can see, the motivation for relocating the Coop is purely economic. The Coop wants to tap into the lucrative market provided by the yuppies who are going to work in the new office developments at Kendall Square. What about service to the MIT community? Where is the Coop's sense of responsibility to the customers who have provided its income for so many years? Instead of moving to Kendall Square to find new markets, might not the Coop increase its profits by simply eliminating some of its present inefficiencies?

As an undergraduate, I went to a university where there was a "campus store." It was much like the Tech Coop and was similarly located near the center of the university's social activities. Unlike the Coop, it always seemed to have the interests of the students in mind and hence deserved the name "campus store." It is obvious that the Coop, on the other hand, thinks of itself as an entity independent of MIT.

Instead of trying to decide what to do with the space after the Coop leaves, the Coop committee should first try to persuade the Coop to renew its commitment to MIT and stay at the Stratton Student Center. If that fails then they should start thinking about how to transform the space presently occupied by the Coop into a real "campus store."

Sam Liao G->