UMass Dartmouth officials are soliciting proposals to privatize the campus store, a plan already drawing fire from unions even as administrators maintain that nothing is set in stone.
"I don't know why the administration is putting this forward," professional staff union president Bruce Sparfven said, adding that he was "disappointed" at what he called a "secretive" push toward privatization.
Administrators see things differently, however, and pointed out that the campus store is one of the few in Massachusetts' public higher education system still run by university employees.
University spokesman John Hoey told The Standard-Times last week that the bid requests are "only the beginning of the process" and that officials can deny all of the proposals and maintain the status quo if they choose.
UMass Dartmouth will take bids until Tuesday from vendors interested in managing the store.
The campus store sells new and used textbooks along with UMass Dartmouth memorabilia, school supplies and other items.
State law requires that qualified store employees be offered jobs with the vendor.
The campus store saw a slight decline in sales from 2009 to 2012, according to the request package sent to would-be bidders. Total sales stood at $3.84 million in 2009 but dropped to $3.68 million by last year. Sales also decreased by $753,404 between 2005 and 2009, according to a consultant's report prepared for the university in 2010.