OCC funds to change hands

Daily Pilot

A new bookstore contract leaves the future of Orange Coast College athletic, performing arts and academic program funding uncertain.

The Coast Community College District, which also oversees Golden West College in Huntington Beach and Coastline Community College in Fountain Valley, consolidated its three campus bookstores in April, sending bookstore revenues to the district instead of directly to the college with no indication whether the money would be returned.

Almost every aspect of student life at OCC is supported, or partially supported, by bookstore revenue. The OCC student government receives about $750,000 a year from the bookstore and parcels out that money across campus.

Losing the funding would be "detrimental" and a "significant decrease to college life," said Jamey Briddle, student government senate president.

"Why do they have the right to just take it away? Why do they know what is best for the students?" Briddle asked.

The district extended its contract with Follett Corp., a national college bookstore company that serves OCC, to take over at Golden West and Coastline as a "short-term mitigation" measure to keep the Golden West bookstore from running a deficit next year, District Chancellor Ding-Jo Currie said.

The move funnels Golden West and Coastline's bookstore revenues to the district, and starting June 20, 2013, OCC's, but the district hasn't made it clear if the funds would go back to the schools, or what they would be used for.

"The plan is there is no plan," Currie said. "I think we said this is going to need consultation."

The college shouldn't be dependent on the funds, which are an unstable revenue stream, Currie said. There shouldn't be a question about whether essential programs are going to come back, she said.

"If those programs are indeed necessary ... then the college should seriously look at funding it in their line-item budget," she said.

Funding those programs is going to be difficult with all the budget cuts the campus has been facing, said Kate Mueller, acting co-vice president of student services.

"In an ideal world sure, but it's a little hard to even go there at this time," she said.

The college has begun looking into funding the programs and has some savings to rely on and has had preliminarily discussions about slowly decreasing funding to programs to ease them into a lower level of annual support, Mueller said.

Even with those measures, the college is going to have to look at other revenue resources to keep the programs if the funds are taken away, she said.

The district is looking into ways to "leverage" the funds that will make the best sense for all three colleges, but is also unsure the bookstore should be making so much money on the backs of its students in the first place, Currie said.

"Should we expect a bookstore that exists to serve our students need to be a profit center? Our goal is to give our students the lowest [priced] books possible," Currie said.

What will happen to student programs at OCC remains to be seen, but for now, students just want transparency from the district in what is to come and for their voices to be heard, Briddle said.

"You need to be working with the students of this campus and the people of this community. ...You need to be working with your constituents," he said.

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