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Friday, February 23, 2024

University announces Red Gym will not host Amazon pickup point

The Red Gym will no longer be considered as a potential location for an Amazon pickup point on campus, according to a UW-Madison press release.

"We've heard the concerns from building occupants in the Red Gym about potential impacts to a variety of student organization and programming uses," said Laurent Heller, UW-Madison Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration, in the release. "We take these concerns seriously and have agreed to work with our partners at Amazon to find a different location."

The announcement comes after recent campus community objections to the location. Heller addressed the Associated Students of Madison Shared Governance Committee Tuesday about their concerns regarding the upcoming Amazon pickup point in the Red Gym.

In August, the UW System Board of Regents approved a five-year contract for Amazon to set up their pickup location in the Red Gym, a historic building on campus. ASM approved legislation last week that requested Amazon move the location off the site.

“It was a lack of consideration in choosing the Red Gym,” said Omer Arain, the Shared Governance Committee’s chair.

Heller explained that a representative from Amazon will be coming to Madison soon to discuss new locations. Arain suggested possible alternative locations like the University Bookstore or the Student Activity Center.

The deal is planned to make a minimum of $100,000 per year for the university, Heller said.

“It is important to look [at] it in the long-term,” Heller said. “Hopefully it will generate $300,000 to $400,000 in the long-run.”

Heller explained that state funding to public universities has decreased significantly in the past 30 years.

“We need to find creative ways to gain revenue that goes along with our mission,” Heller said.

Concerns were vocalized at the meeting about UW-Madison contracting with a private company, given its public university status. Heller explained that this is not the first of such contracts.

“This university already has multiple contracts with private companies that gain more revenue than this Amazon contract will,” he said.

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ASM has openly criticized the university in the procedural way that the school went about negotiating the contract.

“Our biggest concern with the deal is they did it without involving students in the decision,” Arain said. "There needs to be review of contract decisions by a student group or maybe by shared governance."

UPDATE Sept. 28 4:45 p.m.: This story has been updated to include the university's press release announcing the Red Gym will not host the Amazon pickup point.

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