Student Government, University Co-op partner to promote student businesses to community

Sheryl‌ ‌Lawrence‌ ‌, News Reporter

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared as part of the July 26 flipbook.

Student businesses will be featured in the University Co-op starting this fall as part of a new initiative by Student Government.

Cheryl Phifer, president and CEO of the University Co-op, said the Co-op is hoping to have the first business’ products on display before “textbook rush” after fall classes start or before the first home football game in September to allow for more exposure for the businesses. 

Student businesses can apply to be featured through an online form, which is vetted by SG. The main questions businesses have to address are about what impact their business will have on the community and how they will use the opportunity to further their business.

Student body Vice President Ethan Jones said SG has already received applications from student businesses that want to participate in the partnership. He said there are no specific requirements for what businesses will be accepted, but there are elements they will take into consideration, such as having products ready to sell at the time of application and ensuring that the product will be easy to integrate into the Co-op’s system, not creating extra hassle.

“We’re accepting as many people as we can, because one of our biggest goals is just amplifying the other works students are doing at UT,” said Jones, a business honors and public relations senior.

Phifer said the Co-op will ensure that products are not inappropriate and do not need much attention from employees, such as food that can go bad quickly. The products from the featured businesses will be put in the Co-op’s point of sale system for the Co-op employees to manage.

Although student businesses will receive the majority of the profit from their products, Jones said a portion of the profits will also go to the Co-op and SG. Phifer said the Co-op will take a percentage of the profits to cover their credit card fees, and Jones said another small portion, roughly 10%, will go toward other SG initiatives. 

“(The percentage of money Student Government takes) will help just in case we want to help with marketing or advertisements, but it’s more specifically to ensure that the money that is earned from these different campaigns can go towards really great causes,” Jones said.

Phifer said the space used in the Co-op for the display will vary based on the type of product.

“We’re thinking that it’s going to be right by the cash register so that anybody that’s going through the line is going to have an opportunity to see what students are coming up with,” Phifer said. “If we’re highlighting art, that’s probably gonna need a larger space than if it were, say, jewelry. It will definitely be on the first floor and it will certainly be in a high visibility area because we want to highlight what students are doing.”

Student body President Kiara Kabbara and Jones’ main campaign point was to foster community among students and to build bridges between different groups of students. This initiative helps do this by connecting students with resources they would not otherwise have access to in their college.

“I see it as a way for us to (build a bridge) between the entrepreneurial and artisans on campus with some of the amazing solidarity base we’re hoping to do with our platform,” Jones said.