Group partners with U., city charities


One year ago, a few fed-up students asked the Rutgers University Student Assembly to endorse their alternative to overpriced bookstore textbooks, the startup company RU Selling.

RU Selling is a website that allows students to post information about textbooks they are buying or selling and meet up with fellow students in University safe zones to exchange cash for the books.

Gerald Witherspoon, chief communications officer at RU Selling, said the project is still in its infancy stage. Nonetheless, the year-old company has decided to donate some profits to New Brunswick food pantry Elijah’s Promise, which works to alleviate hunger locally.

RU Selling wanted to keep the endeavor University-centric, said Witherspoon, a School of Arts and Sciences senior.

“We want to keep affiliated with the community,” he said. “We came to a decision early April to go with Elijah’s Promise, as it is embedded within the New Brunswick community.”

Witherspoon said while RU Selling is a for-profit company, it still donates 30 percent of its 10 percent service fee to charity.

“Let’s say you buy a book for $50,” Witherspoon said. “We take $5, and we donate $1.50 to Elijah’s Promise, and [RU Selling] gets $3.50.”

Witherspoon said their structure is made up mostly of first-year students and sophomores.

RU Selling hosted a charity barbeque yesterday afternoon at Sonny Werblin Recreation Center on Busch campus and members from Elijah’s Promise were at the barbeque, selling T-shirts to raise money.

Although Witherspoon chose Elijah’s Promise as the recipient of part of RU Selling’s profits, he invited representatives of the More and Me Foundation to co-host the barbeque and raise funds and awareness for their cause.

Olive Henries, the University chapter coordinator for More Than Me, said the organization’s mission is to empower at-risk Liberian girls through education.

According to an information sheet from Henries, the organization offers girls a free education, free school lunch and a weekly visit from a guidance counselor who encourages the girls to stay in school.

“The organization currently funds tuition fees and provides after-school programs and counseling for at-risk girls in West Point Liberia, a poverty-stricken area,” said Henries, a School of Arts and Sciences junior.

Henries said last year, the foundation won a $1.25 million grant from the Chase American Giving Award, which is being used to fund the opening of an academy later this year.

“Our goal is to have 100 plus girls in schools and off the streets,” she said.

Rutgers University Student Assembly President Pavel Sokolov said he is happy to see that RU Selling gives students a cheaper alternative for buying textbooks.

“RUSA obviously supports alternative ways for students to buy textbooks because they’re very expensive, and if RU Selling exists to donate its profits to Elijah’s Promise, we greatly support those endeavors as well,” said Sokolov, a Rutgers Business School junior.

He said RUSA is not able to financially support RU Selling because the company is a for-profit organization, but the assembly does support what the organization is doing.

“We are sadly unable to use our resources specifically [for] financial contributions to for-profit organizations,” Sokolov said.

He said that non-profit student organizations need funding from RUSA, so it wouldn’t be fair to give to a company like RU Selling.

“Textbooks prices are always outrageous,” he said. “We support any alternative to buying $300 books every year.”

All the same, Witherspoon said the company does not want to compete with bookstores such as NJ Books or Barnes & Noble, but instead would offer students an alternative.

He said RU Selling plans to set up tables around campus to promote the site sometime in the future.

 

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the percentage of its service fee donated to charity.


Sabrina Szteinbaum

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