ASPC Considers High-Cost Coop Renovation

In its weekly meeting on Monday, Feb. 21, the ASPC Senate expressed a renewed interest in a proposal from last year to renovate the Coop Store. The idea was originally proposed by the Coop Committee, which sets policy for the Coop Fountain and Store through the Senate, but the proposal never made it past preliminary design stages. This year, however, the Senate has begun to reconsider a renovation as a serious option, and Pomona has even hired a southern Californian design company, Kraemer & Associates, to suggest possible designs for the new store. On Monday, Feb. 28, the Senate voted to proceed with the design plans.

Though the store would not be expanded in area if the renovation plans went through, it would probably receive new flooring, fixtures, and refrigeration units as well as a different layout. Costs for the project are estimated at $60,000 to $100,000, under a quarter of ASPC’s current reserves, which is derived from student fees and earned revenues. It has not been decided whether all of the money would come from ASPC’s reserves or if the college would assist in funding the project.

Neil Gerard, Associate Dean of Students and Director of the Smith Campus Center, said that no expenditures this large have been taken out of ASPC’s reserves during his 18 years at Pomona. He said the two main goals of the renovation are improving the appearance of the store and making it “more operationally functional.”

“The store was never designed by professionals. It was designed by college employees,” Gerard said. “It’s done okay, but it can be better.”

Gerard said the decision is ultimately up to the Senate, but he believes the renovation, if made, would be a positive addition to the Smith Campus Center.

“If they [the Senate] proceed with it, they will have a nicer, more attractive and more efficient campus store,” he said, “Those are our goals going in.”

ASPC Vice President for Finance and chair of the Coop Committee Cosimo Thawley PO ’11 said he believes the renovations will bring the Coop Store up to date with the rest of the SCC, since the Store hasn’t been renovated in 11 years.

“Aesthetically, it will look better,” he said. “It will function better for daily student use.”

Frank Langan PO ’11, Vice President for Campus Life and Activities and a current Coop Store employee, acknowledged the benefits the new arrangement could have on store employees but said he is unconvinced that a renovation is necessary.

“I’m kind of on the fence, to be honest,” he said.

Though Langan said he believes that the changes proposed will streamline operations, he was wary of how much students really care about the efficiency of the Store.

“I haven’t heard a lot of students talk about it,” he said. “Honestly, the Coop Store is functioning fine right now.”

Commissioner of Sports and Clubs Ari Filip PO ’12 said he does not see the point in spending such a large portion of ASPC’s budget on what he sees as a minimal change.

Filip said that the major goals of the renovation—reducing traffic flow and modernizing the store—are small problems that do not need to be addressed when students do not seem very concerned about them.

“Most of these things are pretty minute,” he said. “What I hear is a lot of parents don’t like it. It’s a parent concern.”

Thawley recognized the legitimacy of concerns regarding the high costs of the project. He said the current Store is “definitely functional” but “the Senate for the most part is happy to go ahead with the project.”

If the renovations do take place, the Coop Store will be closed for a three- to four-week period during the summer after conference season ends. During this time, an auxiliary store may be installed with a more limited selection of items.

In order for the Senate to fully gauge student interest in renovating the Store, Langan encouraged students to speak up and express their opinions to the Senate and the Coop Committee about the proposed renovation.

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