Q&A: Union House food outlets
During semester 2, Parkville Station will take a questions asked by readers (including you), find someone who can give us a solid answer, and publish it.
You can ask a question by:
- emailing firstname.lastname@example.org,
- or texting 0402 084 468.
This week’s question:
Isn’t the student union supposed to support the underdog? Why are there such large chain stores in Union House?
We asked Simon Napthine, CEO of MU Student Union Ltd (which manages tenancies in Union House) to give us an answer:
The organisation responsible for the retail leases in Union House is MUSUL. MUSUL is a 100% owned subsidiary of the University, it provides corporate services (finance, HR, payroll) to the two student unions, UMSU and GSA, but it also manages Union House, including the commercial leases. In simple terms, the revenue from these leases pays for the operation of the building, with the remainder used to subsidise the support it provides to the Unions. So any responsibility for the decisions on the type of stores rest with MUSUL, not the student unions.
The student population is deep and diverse in its cultural and economic perspectives, as well as in food preferences, appetites and price points. What we try to do with the food offering, and other retail offerings, is to respect this diversity of opinion and needs – so the range of vendors will go from small single owner-operators to some franchises of wider recognition and appeal. In granting leases there are some ethical considerations which are not-negotiable but after that we are leaving the choice up to you the student to choose where you wish to spend your retail dollar; you can vote with your feet in choosing which outlet you want to go in and why, including into the more well-known names if you wish. It is up to you, and the choice is yours.