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Students’ Co-Op reopens following 2022 closing

After violent incidents occurred on the property housing the Students’ Co-Op, the organization hopes to improve community relationships following safety changes.
Image by Amaya Battle
The Students’ Co-op on Tuesday, September 19th.

The Students’ Cooperative, a student housing building not affiliated with the University of Minnesota, plans to reopen in October after a series of violent incidents in summer 2022, with added measures to ensure student safety.

The residence, located at 1721 University Ave., revamped their bylaws and policies to ensure a safer environment for their members and the surrounding community.

Last summer, the University of Minnesota Police Department (UMPD) responded to four separate calls to the property: one call for multiple assaults, one call for a robbery and two calls responding to two separate shootings. According to Ellery Wealot, vice president of the Students’ Cooperative board, the people responsible were squatters and not Co-Op residents.

Wealot said one of their policy changes, among others, includes a safer space policy, which is a dismissal process for members who participate in any acts of violence or discrimination. Additional policies include security cameras and lights, which were recommended by the City of Minneapolis after a safety review of the property. 

Wealot added the Students’ Cooperative alumni, who have shown support for the organization and oversee the property’s renovation, will serve on the board. The Co-Op has an ownership stake for their property, which allows them to influence what happens on the property. 

“There is good in the Students’ Co-Op and I’m excited for people to see positive things come out of the Co-Op,” Wealot said, noting the organization helped to pass an intentional communities ordinance in 2016, which prohibited more than four unrelated people from owning a property in Minneapolis.

Will Conlin, a member of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity, located down the street from the Co-Op, lives at his fraternity house and hopes the leadership will be more heavy-handed this time around. 

“I don’t want to roadblock anyone from living somewhere, but I expect more of the leadership in general,” Conlin said.

The organization seeks to improve their relationships between University officials and other properties on University Avenue, which include fraternity and sorority housing, according to Wealot. The Co-Op met with leaders of the Greek life community and University officials in June, which allowed them to share their experiences with the Co-Op property. 

“There’s a lot of harm to repair with our neighbors on University Avenue,” Wealot said. “There’s a lot of fear and anxiety, and hopefully, once our neighbors are able to meet these new people who are moving into the building, that it would release a lot of that anxiety.” 

There was previously no fostered relationship between the Co-Op and its University Avenue neighbors, making current students, like Conlin, apprehensive about the Co-Op’s ability to improve community ties.

“Those incidents are all we know about this student group,” Conlin said. 

Members of the Co-Op participated in Dinkytown safety walks as a way to connect with the community. They also plan on hosting dinner events to be able to engage with their neighbors. 

“People move into the Students’ Co-Op to be part of a social community, so we care very deeply about community and about sharing meals and space together,” Wealot said. 

In a Board of Regents meeting held on Sept. 8, Senior Vice President for Finance and Operations Myron Frans said the University has worked closely with the Minneapolis City Council and business licensing department to include eight provisions in the Co-Op’s license to operate. 

Frans said the provisions include requiring 75% of tenants to be students or staff at an accredited college or university, all tenants to pass a background check and have a signed lease, and the property to pass inspections by the Minneapolis Health Department and the City of Minneapolis prior to opening. 

The City Council adopted the Students’ Co-Op’s new business license at a Sept. 7 meeting.

Frans added UMPD has paid ongoing attention to the Co-Op property as it undergoes renovations and is on alert for any potential issues.

“At the core of our preparation for this fall was a steadfast commitment to the safety of every member of our community,” Frans said in the meeting. 

While Wealot hopes to foster positive relationships, he also does not want to forget about the events that occurred on the property. 

“We don’t want to let what happened get swept under the rug and it’s something that we’re going to hold in our hearts for a long time,” Wealot said. “We have to find a way to move forward, but also hold on to that and acknowledge the harm and trauma.”

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