Groundworks Books becomes first Co-Op to Reopen since March

Arts and Culture

Open sign outside of Groundworks Books
Image courtesy of Groundwork Books Facebook

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Groundworks Bookstore reopened its doors on October 26 for the first time since March. Students walking past can catch a glimpse of its bookshelves stuffed with topics ranging from Marxist discourses to Lost Generation poetry.

The student co-op has been providing leftist literature for UCSD students since 1973, and has served as a campus forum for progressive discussion, community events, and even punk rock shows.

Groundworks Books is the first of UC San Diego’s four student cooperatives to open on campus since this March. Despite the ongoing pandemic, Groundworks’ member Rohan Shenoy said that the collective felt like “they owed something to the student body” by reopening.

Groundworks has been critical in exposing UCSD students to new perspectives. Matthew Lee, a second-year member, explained fondly that the store ”serves as a place for people who are interested in leftist politics to meet and learn. It also has been a home for quite a bit of on campus activism. We also sell books and, pre-pandemic, used to be an open study space. I think that people can really get what they want out of it and that’s a beautiful thing.”

Shenoy and Lee began to physically reopen the store at the end of summer, which Shenoy admits was “a little roundabout, and required a lot of paperwork”. Nonetheless, the Collective wanted to ensure student safety, and had no qualms with taking extra precautions to make sure that no UCSD students would contract COVID-19 on their premises.

Groundworks enacted safety measures for staff and customers in the bookstore, including: adding disinfecting to the opening procedure; shortening store hours; and requiring customers to wear gloves while handling books.

Groundworks’ fellow student co-ops are in the midst of the reopening as well. Second-year Zaya Gooding, a co-manager of the Gstore, told the Triton that “We’ve seen how hard they’ve been working with organizing and getting a plan together. We hope to be able to join them soon!”

Though Groundworks initially planned to open only three days a week, they have decided to switch to five days a week after an unexpectedly large turnout at their initial interest meeting. Besides Groundworks’ weekly meetings, they also plan to host virtual movie nights.

Despite numerous limitations and obstacles, Lee remarked that keeping Groundworks Books open is important, in maintaining “a place where people can ask questions and keep current activism going. If student activists need a space to continue, then we would like to be a space for them. Even if it’s just in spirit”.

You can stop by Groundworks in the Student Center near Muir College any time between 11 and 4. You can also get in touch with Groundworks at groundworkbookscollective@gmail.com.

Emily Zou is a staff writer for the Triton.