Student Gov’t Proposes Change Of Coop Fountain Ownership To End Five Year Budget Deficit

This afternoon, the Vice President of Finance (VPF) of the Associated Students of Pomona College (ASPC) sent an email to the student body proposing a “non-permanent” transfer of ownership of the Coop Fountain, a popular on-campus restaurant, from ASPC to the College. According to the email, the proposal promises to “more than double student employment and increase the variety of student jobs, end the annual average ~$100,000 loss, and redirect funding back to student programming, clubs, and organizations.” The VPF also informed students that “ASPC has been indebted to the College for the past 5 years for a previous budget oversight.”

Under this proposal, the Coop Fountain would no longer receive ASPC funding. As such, it would be exempted from the student government organization’s bill boycotting companies invested in Israel, which was passed last Thursday.

In her email, the VPF said that “[t]he primary reason ASPC pursued this option was for our organization’s financial sustainability. For any of the Coop enterprises, it was never ASPC’s goal to run a profit; in fact, it was expected that the Coop Fountain may run a deficit but it would be covered by any profit from the Coop Store. This ultimate net-zero was the goal so that Pomona could have student-owned enterprises on campus while ensuring that the ASPC’s budget would be maximized and fully available to students.”

Despite the stated expectation of a budget deficit, the VPF went on to state that ASPC’s losses from the Coop Fountain in the past five years “have been larger than anticipated, such as having an annual deficit of $91,362.89 in 2019 and $114,467.91 in 2018.” ASPC draws most of its income from student fees. In the spring of 2021, ASPC’s revenue from student fees totaled $216,700.

According to the VPF, “[p]aying a deficit this large was, and is, not a sustainable use of ASPC funds; funding that could be going to trips, events, or student clubs was being drained by the financial burden of the Coop Fountain. Because there is no guarantee that our budget could always cover such losses, and that over 20% of student fees would be going towards covering losses rather than student/club programming, ASPC leaders went to the College for guidance.”

The VPF explained that “[a]fter two years of discussion, ASPC was presented with a proposal that would call for a non-permanent change of ownership of the Coop Fountain: from ASPC to Dining Services. This decision doesn’t come lightly, and ASPC leaders and committee members have prioritized the following items with all of our conversations with Dining Services: increasing student jobs, ensuring a future with meal equivalency during semesters with ‘normal’ meal plans, having consistent hours of operation, and regular ‘Snack’ sessions throughout the entire week.”

The VPF’s email included an operational summary of the Coop Fountain’s record and potential future directions. According to the document, ‘[b]ased on the historical records of students working 2-3 hour shifts” the Coop Fountain should anticipate “40-50 student jobs” should the transfer of ownership go into effect. The summary clarified that “[s]tudent staff members will be working alongside union represented Dining staff but will not be required to join a union or pay union dues.”

The email concluded by stating that “[t]he Coop Fountain is very much a part of student life on campus, and this decision is made to ensure that it can continue to operate without forcing ASPC into debt again.” The proposal will be discussed at ASPC’s next Senate meeting this coming Thursday.

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