House celebrates National Co-op Month

by Allison Wickler

Many students who walk past the Students’ Co-op at 1721 University Ave. know it as “the house with the clothesline out front,” said house recruitment manager Hans Johnson.

Even some current residents, like cultural studies senior Ryan Pusch, said they were not always co-op savvy.

“I didn’t know what it was until last semester,” he said.

Each October, cooperatives nationwide celebrate National Co-op Month, during which they try to promote awareness about cooperative business and housing options.

Cooperative organizations exist in nearly every industry, including housing, healthcare, credit unions and food processing, said Amy Fredregill, vice president of the Minnesota Association of Cooperatives.

Co-ops are owned and operated by the people who use them, said anthropology and physiology senior and former Students’ Co-op President David Martin.

For the Students’ Co-op, Johnson said, this means the residents control all aspects of the operations of their house.

Johnson said the 28 student residents elect members to board positions and elect several managers among themselves to take care of food purchases, maintenance and finances.

Because no one is trying to make a profit, rent is comparatively low. A double room is $200 per person, and a single room is $250 to $300 per person, Johnson said.

Riverton Community Housing also operates four apartment-style co-ops in the University area, including the Chateau Student Housing Cooperative in Dinkytown.

LoAnn Crepeau, director of housing and member services at Riverton, said they are a lease-holding housing cooperative, which means that co-ops lease their property from Riverton itself.

However, she said, like the Students’ Co-op house, the membership of each co-op decides how it’s operated.

Fredregill said housing cooperatives don’t have an economic impact on the state like other business-based co-ops do, but they still carry many social and community benefits.

That idea held true for global studies and geography junior Ilana Lerman, a new resident at the Students’ Co-op, who said this semester was the right time for her to try out the lifestyle.

The first time she visited the co-op she said she “didn’t get a good vibe,” but said now she is interested in building a sense of community and being a conscientious consumer.

The co-op is a healthy way to live in a society that uses resources irresponsibly, she said.

Psychology senior Kaitlyn Scott said she didn’t know much about housing co-ops, but said she wouldn’t want to live and make decisions with so many other people.

“It would get chaotic,” she said.

History sophomore Ryan Schumaker said it would be a benefit to live without a landlord.

Martin said the Students’ Co-op is planning an awareness event in partnership with the North Country Co-op grocery store, which will most likely occur in November.

“We want to give people a chance to look at our house and look at cooperative living,” he said.