Colleges with Cooperative Living Communities (Co-ops)
Student-run cooperatives are great ways for college students to save on housing costs while engaging with diverse members of their community. At most co-ops, students are expected to participate in group cooking, cleaning and resource management efforts.
Many co-ops work to build openness, autonomy, independence and a concern for community among students living there. Below are some of the nation’s most historic and successful university cooperatives still thriving today.
Student Housing Cooperative
This nonprofit cooperative housing system provides affordable accommodation to Michigan State University (MSU) students, as well as other schools in East Lansing, Mich. The MSU cooperative operates under a system of democratic member control in which multiple coordinating governance groups work together under the Board of Directors to meet the needs of each of the co-op’s members.
Members of the committee have different responsibilities, from producing the SHC’s Pine Press publication to balancing house budgets and maintaining individual facilities. The SHC owns 15 properties spread throughout East Lansing, housing about 200 students in total. The average rent is between $360-$550 a month, depending on the size of a student’s room.
Berkeley Student Cooperative
Like MSU, the student cooperative at Berkeley is a nonprofit, member-governed entity that offers housing to students at UC Berkeley as well as surrounding community colleges. This co-op system has 20 properties around campus, ranging in price from $500 to $850 a month, depending on whether students live in an apartment or have a single in a room-and-board house.
Each property has weekly or bi-weekly meetings, with more frequent meetings held by elected members of the student-led governance organizations. This cooperative currently houses 1,220 students.
Como Student Community Cooperative
The cooperative, which houses 500 students studying at both the Minneapolis and St. Paul campuses, is located near public transportation and popular with current students. Individuals can rent month-to-month, which includes access to a community parking space, laundry facilities, emergency care, charcoal grills, the co-op library and a community garden. The cooperative also offers activities such as yoga classes and cooking seminars to members. There are multiple governing bodies operating under the Board of Directors, all working together to maintain a high standard of mutual respect and amiability among its residents.
Much like other university cooperatives, the UT College Houses organization is a nonprofit managed and operated from by students. The co-op owns seven properties on the campus, where more than 800 students live together while promoting the values of cultural inclusion, democratic control and community engagement. The co-op meal plan for students offers 17 meals a week, and members are expected to participate in weekly or monthly meetings to discuss the affairs and policies of the co-op. The average rent per resident ranges from $600 to $888, depending on the house and room size.