AMHERST — Blue and green paper line the windows of the corner room on the Student Union’s top floor at the University of Massachusetts. Inside, a printer whirs and a song plays from a nearby stereo system. A group of five student co-managers laugh around a circular table as they scribble evaluations for one another in pen.
Campus Design and Copy (CD&C) is one of UMass’ seven student-run businesses — the only one to offer print and design services. While there are printing options all over the UMass campus, from the campus library to various learning commons, CD&C is distinct.
“We’re fun. We care. Often times our prices are a lot cheaper,” said Marc Maren, co-manager and junior marketing major.
The store also sells paper and paper-related products from course packets to zines, and offers design services for logos, flyers, posters, brochures, business cards and Snapchat geofilters. According to the CD&C website, the business “was founded Jan. 10, 1990 when the Student Government Association (SGA) and the Center for Student Businesses merged SGA Communications with the Student Notes and Printing Services to create a student business.”
“The beginning of our co-op is kind of sketchy because it wasn’t a co-op for a little while,” said Maren. “It was just a guy and a bunch of his friends illegally copying textbooks and then they got licensing for textbooks and stuff. Then they decided to make it a co-op with the SGA.”
Since its inception, services have evolved and continue to do so. Co-managers are able to foster ideas to make the store how they envision it to be. Co-manager and senior Eric Watterson started making skillfully designed YouTube videos marketing “flavored” print stocks and flashing-color commercials as marketing for the shop. Last year, Watterson created a GoFundMe page to raise money for a new GameCube and controllers for the store. The set now sits by the entrance for any student looking to play a game of Super Smash Brothers.
“You can do anything you want,” said Pascale Froehlich, co-manager and senior hospitality and marketing double major. “It’s not like normal jobs where someone tells you what to do. You can put a Wii in a store. You can make a photo studio. It’s cool to mend the business to your desire.”
“We really made this space our own,” Maren added.
Running a Cooperative Business
The co-op is run by 15 co-managers and two financial consultants. According to CD&C’s mission statement, the business aims to foster equality and diversity in the workplace and promote the co-operative and collective movement. Students manage every aspect of the business, from making payroll to sweeping the floors.
“We all have equal say, regardless (of) if you’re a freshman, or a sophomore, or senior, junior,” said Zoey Sloate, co-manager and BDIC major who graduated last year. “We specialize in different committees that kind of divvy up the business. We are all on shift equal times, and we all have elections on the different committees we specialize ourselves.”
The 11 committees include a human relations and hiring committee called Steering, IT, Outreach, Marketing, Maintenance, Data Analysis, Academic, Flyering, Board of Student Business Representatives, Design, and Fun (to keep up the office morale). According to Froehlich, the co-managers put down their names for the committee they want to be in. Before the start of a new semester, an all-staff meeting is held to vote for who will be on which committee.
According to the CD&C website, the business is a co-operative in the way it is managed, such as the worker-manager positions and even distribution of profit earnings. It is technically collective, because while the business controls its own capital, UMass owns the business.
Many of the CD&C co-managers feel they, as well as other student-run businesses, could be better supported by the UMass administration.
“They kind of undercut us a little bit,” said Bobby Svec, a graduated co-manager and operations and information management major.
According to the CD&C team, UMass fails to sufficiently spread the word about student-run businesses, focusing more on businesses that fund the university. An example of this would be People’s Organic Coffee coming to campus, using a similar name as the already existing student-run business, People’s Market. Harvest Market also came after the student-run Earthfoods Cafe, initiating a similar “health-style” business.
“Let’s put it this way: it sucks they do it, but it’s kind of good they do it in a way, because it makes us work harder,” Maren said.
“It doesn’t let you get complacent. You really have to do advertising and marketing,” Sloate added.
The staff has gained valuable skills at CD&C that have positive implications on their personal lives.
“Working here is how I got my job that I’m about to have in July, because I just know the different parts of what goes into a business,” said Sloate.
Maren and Ryan Cotreau, a junior psychology and journalism double major, were living in the same building at the time of their application process for CD&C. Since working together, they have grown closer and have decided to share a dorm together next year.
“We had our interviews back-to-back and we both got it. It definitely solidified friendships, and it just felt so right from the beginning,” said Maren.
“Now look at us, living together, best buds,” Cotreau added.
Froehlich and Sloate also decided to room together after they worked together at CD&C for a year.
“We see each other all the time too,” said co-manager and junior management major Aoife O’Shea smiling.
“It almost feels like a club sometimes, but it’s just like the coolest job ever,” added Svec.
The group jokes back and forth with one another, recalling old co-managers who have graduated and funny moments in the office.
“It’s just a good melting pot, like mixing of people,” added Sloate. “This also helps the quality of work, because you want to do a good job because you care about them.”
Email Caeli Chesin at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter at @caeli_chesin.