THE LARGEST ENTIRELY STUDENT-RUN 501(c)3 NON-PROFIT CORPORATION IN THE WORLD
Students of Georgetown, Inc., commonly known as “The Corp”, is a public, non-profit, and charitable organization at Georgetown University in Washington D.C. It consists of seven subsidiary companies generating annual revenues in excess of $5 million. Only undergraduate students of Georgetown University work as employees or sit as members of The Corp’s Board of Directors, distinguishing business operations at The Corp from other student-run companies.
Fighting for students since day one
During the heat of the Vietnam War, large-scale May Day protests took place throughout Washington, DC, ending in clashes between protesters and police. Protesters sought refuge from the Metropolitan Police Department by coming to the campus of Georgetown University where, on May 3, 1971, Rev. Robert J. Henle, S.J, the university’s president, authorized the police department to use tear gas to disperse and remove the visitors. However, many students were caught in the middle of the violence and injured.
This prompted then-student body President and Vice President Roger Cochetti and Nancy Kent to create a non-profit organization, The Students of Georgetown, Inc., “to assert and protect the inherent rights of its members [students] and the community.”
Student-administration relationships mellowed with the war’s end, prompting the young non-profit to take up a new form of advocacy: offering low-cost, high-quality goods and services, providing students with hands-on experience in running a business, and funding philanthropic causes in the campus community.
The Corp Opens up for Business
Decades of serving students
The members of this new organization, which became known around campus as “The Corp,” began selling yogurt and Coca-Cola on Healy Lawn to fund their efforts. Originally called the Food Co-op, this small service soon evolved into Vital Vittles, The Corp’s flagship storefront and only grocery store, in 1974.
In 1977, The Corp began the Corp began Summer Storage, a service that provided storage space for students to leave their belongings during the summer break. Though it closed twice during the 1980s and was redesigned five times, this operations continues today as Corp Storage, which services thousands of students and other members of the greater Georgetown community each year and is available year-round.
While some of our services have remained since the earliest days of our history, The Corp remembers and is proud of all of its defunct services that helped get it off on the ground. These include ventures such as the Book Co-op, Furniture Co-op, Audio Co-op, and Corp Shuttles, which was actually absorbed by the University and became the Georgetown University Transportation Shuttle (GUTS), which operates five bus circuits in the Washington Metropolitan area.
The Corp Becomes an Entirely Independent Organization
No Taxes, No Problems
Up until the 1990s, the wide array of Corp services was an extension of the Georgetown University Student Government. In fact, the student body president was also recognized as the Chairman of the Board for the Students of Georgetown, Inc. This close tie made it difficult for The Corp to operate independently from the University’s administration, since its parent organization had a direct connection with the University. This caused a persistent strain to the two organizations’ relationship, prompting The Corp’s board of directors to break from the student government. With this move, The Students of Georgetown, Inc., became a fully independent, autonomous company.
Though it is now a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt non-profit corporation, this was not always the case for the Students of Georgetown, Inc. The IRS denied the organization tax-exempt status on three separate occasions (1974, 1979, 1980), causing its rent-free use of University space to threaten the University’s own tax-exempt status. As a result, the Georgetown administration began requiring The Corp to pay rent, nearly bankrupting the company and forcing the young Vital Vittles to merge with the Record Co-op into “Audio Vittles.” In 1981, The Corp won tax-exempt status, as well as a check from the IRS for several years’ back taxes.