It came from the Coop, and it wasn't a bill.
Ballots to elect the candidates to the Harvard Cooperative Society's board of directors arrived in the mailboxes of many students yesterday.
Students will elect 11 candidates who will help govern the $60 million corporation along with the corporation's president and the Coop's 11 stockholders, made up of members of the faculty, administration and alumni.
The Coop sent out 24,000 ballots to its members at Harvard and MIT. Last year, the organization received aproximately 5000 votes back, said Coop president James A. Argeros. Coop by-laws require that three directors come from Harvard College, three from Harvard graduate schools, and three from MIT undergraduate and graduate schools.
While the president handles the every-day business of the company, the student-directors "assist in the making and defining of broad general policy," Argeros said.
Directors approve management decisions, he said. Hiring and firing the president if needed is another of the directors responsibilities.
The greatest difference between the faculty members on the board and the students is experience, said Professor of Law William D. Andrews, the Coop's clerk.
"Student-directors are often only around for one or two years," said Andrews, a twenty year veteran of the board, "They don't have the accumulated experience."
Coop management holds special meetings for the student members of the board to help them make up for this lack of experience, Andrews said.
Harvard undergraduates originally founded theCoop in 1882 as an association to give studentsand professionals connected to Harvard and MIT theopportunity to buy merchandise for a fair priceand then give back its profits to members.
Candidates said that one of their reasons forrunning for the board is being able to participatein an activity that directly affects students.
"I figured the Coop more directly affectsstudent's lives than any other organization exceptthe University itself," said Ethan A. Budin '90.
Other candidates said they saw the board as achance to learn the workings of a board ofdirectors.
To get on the ballot, candidates go through aprocess where they fill out a resume form and canbe nominated by a group of five student and fivefaculty stockholders that includes Dean Archie C. EppsIII. If not nominated, candidates can obtain 100signatures of Coop members to be eligible for thevote.
While most corporations give profit dividendsto stockholders, the Coop divides its profits andsends it back to cooperative members in the formof rebates. But as a corporation with stock,stockholders are needed to hold the stock in trustfor the members, without compensation. Thestockholders appoint their successors from Coopmembers.