A student housing cooperative, also known as co-operative housing, is a housing cooperative for student members. Members live in alternative cooperative housing that they personally own and maintain. These houses are specifically designed to lower housing costs while providing an educational and community environment for students to live and grow in. They are, in general, nonprofit, communal, and self-governing, with students pooling their monetary and personal resources to create a community style home. Many student housing cooperatives share operation and governing of the house. As with most cooperatives, student housing coops follow the Rochdale Principles and promote collaboration and community work done by the members for mutual benefit.
Most student housing coops in North America are members of NASCO.
Several of the earliest US student cooperatives (e.g. at Northwestern University and Wellesley College) had begun by at least 1915, for the purpose of housing female students. Most student housing cooperatives are formed to provide an alternative dorm for students who are unable to afford college due to housing costs. For example, the Harriet E. Richards House at Boston University (1928) was established to provide a cheap alternative to dorm life for women scholars. The Berkeley Student Cooperative, amongst others, started during the Great Depression to help provide affordable food and housing for Berkeley students. Other early examples that started in the Depression years: the Cooperative Living Organization at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida founded in 1931 and the Michigan Socialist House at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan founded in 1932.
Others were formed to provide a more inclusive and supportive environment for students. Many student housing cooperatives are focused around socialist principles or political activism (Michigan Socialist House), veganism or vegetarianism, racial or ethnic identity (Biko), or environmental concerns.
Throughout the twentieth century, student housing cooperatives expanded, but some floundered. Many formed coalitions in the face of rising debt or bankruptcy. The North American Students of Cooperation (NASCO) was formed in 1968 as a way to link existing cooperatives together while educating and improving cooperatives across North America. Today, NASCO primarily serves as an association that promotes development and communication amongst coops and promotes communal living.
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Management of Student Housing Cooperatives
There is not a standard way of running a housing cooperative. Most student housing cooperative members have full voting privileges on issues such as rent, future members, and community activity and then maintain an elected board of committee members who oversee the running of the cooperative. Many student housing cooperatives require work shifts that help lower the overall cost of living. These may include chores or cooking. Some coops award points to the type of chore and members are required to complete a certain number of points a week. All cooperatives expect members to contribute assistance throughout the year to keep the cooperative running smoothly and efficiently. It is up to the individual coops as to whether the members elect a board or committee to oversee the entire cooperative.
Partial List of Student Housing Cooperatives
Student co-operatives are situated in close proximity to colleges and universities. The second biggest student co-operative is Waterloo Co-operative Residence Inc. in Waterloo, Ontario with 800 resident members.
The East Coast is represented by:
- New Brunswick Residence Co-operative from Fredericton, New Brunswick.
Central Canada is represented by:
- Coopérative d'habitation étudiant Triangle Rose in Montreal, Quebec
- Campus Co-operative Residence Inc. in Toronto, Ontario
- Neill-Wycik Co-operative College in Toronto, Ontario
- Guelph Campus Co-operative in Guelph, Ontario
- Waterloo Co-operative Residence Inc. in Waterloo, Ontario
- Science '44 in Kingston, Ontario
The West Coast is represented by:
- College Housing Co-operative Limited in Winnipeg, Manitoba
- Common Ground Co-operative in Winnipeg, Manitoba
- Assiniboia Community Housing Co-operative in Edmonton, Alberta.
- Campus Residence Co-operative Association in New Westminster, British Columbia
Many of the co-ops are members of The Cooperative Housing Federation of Canada and NASCO.
The Student Co-operative Dwellings was set up to stimulate greater opportunities for students to live in co-operatives.
There are two operational student housing co-operatives in the UK:
- Edinburgh Student Housing Co-operative
- Birmingham Student Housing Co-operative
Both are members of Students for Cooperation, a UK wide federation of student co-operatives which includes a number of other groups across the UK working to establish student housing co-operatives.
An unsuccessful plan to launch a student housing co-operative took place in 2004, when MMUnion partnered with the National Union of Students and Confederation of Co-operative Housing to offer cheaper cooperatively owned alternatives to city housing for Manchester Metropolitan University students. The NUS plan unfortunately fell through as NUS management changed.
Artist, student and community co-operatives are common in the San Francisco Bay Area. Many of these housing co-operatives are members of organizations such as NASCO.
Currently, the biggest student co-op is the Berkeley Student Cooperative, formerly known as the University Students Cooperative Association, in Berkeley, CA with 1300 students living in 17 houses and 3 apartment complexes. Other large-scale co-op systems include MSU Student Housing Cooperative of Michigan State University, the Inter-Cooperative Council at the University of Michigan, and UCLA University Cooperative Housing Association with 400+ students.
Other examples of such cooperatives include:
- College Houses and the Inter-Cooperative Council at the University of Texas at Austin
- Cooperative Housing at Purdue at Purdue University
- the Oberlin Student Cooperative Association at Oberlin College
- Berkeley Student Cooperative in Berkeley, California
- Community of Urbana Champaign Cooperative Housing in Urbana, Illinois
- Stewart Little (cooperative housing) in Ithaca, NY (besides many others)
- the Tri Co-ops and Baggin's End/Domes in Davis, California
- Santa Cruz Student Housing Co-ops in Santa Cruz, California
- Santa Barbara Student Housing Cooperative in Santa Barbara, California
- Qumbya in Chicago, Illinois
- Genesee Valley Cooperative in Geneseo, New York
- Cooperative Housing at the University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland
- University of Minnesota Students Co-op and Riverton Community Housing in Minneapolis, Minnesota
- Minnesota Students' Cooperative in Saint Paul, MN
- University Cooperative Housing Association at UCLA
- Students' Co-Op at the University of Minnesota
- Student Housing Cooperative at Michigan State University
- Inter-Cooperative Council at the University of Michigan
- Cooperative Houses at Stanford University
- Penn Haven Housing Cooperative at University of Pennsylvania
- Brown Association for Cooperative Housing in Providence, Rhode Island
- Universe City Cooperative in Norman, Oklahoma
- Kalamazoo Collective Housing in Kalamazoo, Michigan
- UKSHA (the University of Kansas Student Housing Association) in Lawrence, Kansas
- and Two Dickinson Street Co-op in Princeton, New Jersey.
Three student housing cooperatives are presently operating in Australia.
- STUCCO Cooperative Ltd in Newtown, founded in 1982
- Canberra Student Housing Co-op in Canberra, founded in 2010
- Bareport in Melbourne, founded in 2014
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