Death in the Co-op Family

Tragic “Accidents” Sure Can Ruin a Good Day


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Tragic “Accidents” Sure Can Ruin a Good Day

By accident, I mean here not only “acts of God,” but also those mistakes, acts of forgetfulness and unfortunate omissions that can have mortal consequences.

I won’t go into those obvious problems, such as fire and flood, except to say that adequate insurance can and should be a conscious decision. So also should be filing tax returns, paying property taxes, and keeping houses well maintained – but sometime these don’t happen. The reason that I think of these as accidents rather than stupidity is because of two underlying problems in the very nature of student co-ops: youth and turnover. In smaller independent groups, turnover and lack of experience make errors much more likely than in other types of businesses.
These errors are seldom conscious. The student members of the co-ops on the whole are very intelligent, hard working and good at making excellent collective and individual decisions. The problems usually arise from lack of information on which to act. For example, small independent groups may not even know that they have to file with the state on a regular basis to remain incorporated, and the forms may be sent to a member who no longer lives in the house. They may not think that it’s important to file income tax returns, since they make little or no money, and they may not have noticed that the city fire codes have changed until an inspector orders a massive change with a quick deadline.
As individuals, we might say “Whoops!” and beg for mercy – and again co-ops are no different. But there are some cases where the damage is too much to be dealt with, and the co-op dies.
Case study: Cornhusker Co-op at the University of Nebraska. Cornhusker was the first men’s co-op at the U. of Nebraska, founded 1938. In 1970, the group obtained a loan from the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development and built a beautiful new building. The following are memories of Cornhusker and its death, written by Jim Jones in March of 2000:

I visited Cornhusker for the first time in the summer of 1971, just as construction on the new building and before the house was actually opened for the fall. It was a very institutional place, maybe three stories high, long hall, flat roof and such. I believe it held about 60 members.

I next visited in about 1982 or 1983, while serving as Executive Director for NASCO. My memory is that they had vacancies despite having a hired cook and requiring little work. They complained about the high rent but felt that if they didn’t have a hired cook, no one would live there. They had no one hired for business matters.
My next contact was in the late 1980s or early 1990s, when they came to a NASCO Institute. They had “forgotten” to pay the property taxes a few years before and were in deep trouble. I suggested to them that they form a union with Brown Palace, which at the time was having serious maintenance problems but were free of debt, so that as a single unit they could (1) hire management, and (2) borrow money to fix up Brown Palace and pay off the back taxes.
They went back to Lincoln and made a brief effort to explore this idea, but for whatever reason it didn’t work out and they ended up donating their building to the University...”

Conclusions and Suggestions for Long Life and Better Living

Co-ops can die for many reasons, only some of which are under their control. A focus on dying can lead to the wrong conclusions, however, since there are some models for co-operatives which avoid many of the “death traps” so depressingly outlined in this paper.

The first and most important variable is ownership. Leasing co-ops are always at risk to market forces, although it can be a good way for co-ops to start. University ownership can be problematic, although there are some excellent co-ops in university buildings that suggest some good variations to insure good health.

Without question, the most successful undergraduate co-op owned in university owned buildings is at Oberlin College. A key difference between the Oberlin Student Cooperative Association (OSCA) and university owned co-ops is incorporation. OSCA, which began in 1951, likes to say that it is student operated and has no staff, despite the fact that (1) it hires an accountant, and (2) it has the entire university to take care of its physical plant. This pride of “ownership,” of the organization if not of the buildings, is a palpable factor in their success.

Another glaring difference between OSCA and many other on-campus groups is their economy of scale. Whereas the co-ops at Stanford or Cornell are all independent groups coordinated by a university staff member, OSCA has over 600 members in residence halls, houses and dining halls at the college. While most decisions are decentralized by location, the OSCA board has overriding authority. If any one group has problems, they can step in with to assist and make changes as necessary without the paternal interference of the college.
Moreover, it is the OSCA board that negotiates the lease agreement with the college, a grueling experience, which the students both cherish and dread. In these negotiations, they see themselves correctly as a strong bargaining partner, representing 25% of the student body. It can be quite a learning experience for a young student who has only been away from the family home for a few years.
This model has the advantage of allowing the students to concentrate on cooperative process rather than property management, which is handled by the university. The Oberlin co-op members can be (and have been) accused of living in a protected fairyland, where process is more important than pragmatic decision making, but it works. OSCA, far more than most co-ops, develops idealistic members who later work in non-profits, cooperatives and government.

Another successful model comes from the University of Minnesota, where the married student housing is run by two student-owned management co-ops. The largest of these, Commonwealth Terrace Co-op, handles all aspects of management for over 500 townhouse and apartment units on the St. Paul Campus. They have a full staff, including maintenance workers, and they are able to do the management work at a fraction of what it would cost the university. The savings is returned to the members in the form of a rebate.

It’s interesting that these models have been around for decades and have never been replicated by other schools. It seems quite likely that fear of losing control is a contributing factor. In cases where the housing already exists, fear of job loss would also be a factor.
While there may be ways of mitigating the danger of university ownership, it is also clear that co-operative ownership is the best way to avoid death. There are simply few deaths among co-ops that are owned by the members. Having said that, however, it’s important to recognize that deaths do happen and find ways reducing the number.
As I stated earlier, all co-ops have good and bad years. When there is a single co-op building, that group will rise and fall as a unit. When there are several buildings joined through a system, each group is on a different cycle, and the ones doing well can support another having problems. This argues for a multi-site co-operative with a single ownership and representative board, which is in fact the model most common in the largest and most stable U.S. co-operatives.
The irony of this model is that it allows the individual sub-units the luxury of falling apart. They can do so with the knowledge that the system will act as the “doctor” to pick up the pieces and cure the problems. When the co-op is a single unit, it must solve its own problems -- or it will die.
While some small, single house co-ops have existed successfully for 60 or more years, there are quite a few that have not survived. In fact, this is the most vulnerable type of member owned co-op. For a small group of 15-25 students to live long and prosper, there must be a strong culture with systems that are institutionalized and easily transferred from one group to the next. Outside advisors or board members can help, but they can’t replace a strong culture.

To summarize, the best way to lower risk of death is to have:

  1. co-op ownership of the property, or separate incorporation if it is in university owned property;

  2. a large enough scale to hire at least one full time staff person;

  3. multiple locations, with decentralized management, so that members can feel a sense of ownership and control and sub-groups will be on different cycles;

  4. a majority of the Board of Directors elected from the membership, preferably on a representational basis;

  5. some members of the Board of Directors drawn from the community, and preferably alumni;

  6. a strong educational program, including annual board training, new member orientation, an alumni program to stress continuity, education on the co-operative movement, easy access to information on the co-op and its services, etc.;

  7. a strong community building program, ideally developed around shared meals and member labor;

  8. numerous opportunities for member involvement, through committees, officer positions in sub-units, etc. (a goal should be for at least 20% the membership to be involved to a greater extent than is required);

  9. student/member involvement in planning the co-operative, so that the very act of creation is a mutual effort.

In North America, we believe that our highly transient group equity co-ops are most likely to succeed when in “small” groups or sub-groups of 12-150 members. Establishing student cooperatives in apartment blocks is also possible but much harder. There are some special approaches that can be used if apartments are necessary, and we would be glad to make suggestions. But we do urge that at least some group housing be considered, even if only as a part of the larger project.

Remembering our original analogy, the spirit must be must be strong if the body is to prosper. In a student housing co-op, it is the culture, particularly in regard to a sense of ownership and involvement, which is critical to a strong spirit. If the spirit is strong, the co-op will survive the worst of traumas and catastrophes. If the spirit is weak, the most beautiful building in the world will fail to keep the group alive.

I realize that this has been an incredibly long answer to a simple question. I hope that it is clear, and I hope that the length of the reply won’t deter future questions! In many ways, your success is our success, and we hope to help in any way that we can.

Jim Jones

NASCO Executive Director

January 23, 2005

Appendix A:

Sudden Life and Sudden Death in East Texas
Sudden life and sudden death of cooperatives perhaps must always be wrapped in mystery. In the beginning, little is written about where the idea comes from or why it succeeds. In the end, no one is interested.
So it was with some misgiving that in the winter of 2002 I traveled to College Station in eastern Texas to ferret out one of the strangest and most mysterious stories and cooperative history. What I discovered there may have lessons for us all.
The co-ops at Texas A&M grew out of great need. In 1932, in the depths of the Great Depression, a small group of friends in Moody, Texas talked about their plans for college. In the fall, they attend Texas A&M, located in the tiny town of College Station. But in that summer of 1932, they were concerned about how to live so far from home with almost no money for housing and food. The prospects were grim.
Someone suggested that they live together to save money. When they looked into the idea, they were told by the school that they would need a faculty sponsor in order to live on their own. Enter Dr. Daniel Russell, professor of Rural Sociology. But he was a rural professor with an urban background: he was at one time a Chicago policeman, and he received his PhD from the University of Chicago. Even in the early 1930s, Chicago was a hotbed of cooperative activity, with Hull House and other efforts offering ideas for new ways of living.

For whatever reason, the combination of Russell’s drive and the needs of a group of students proved to be a heady mix. A story written in May of 1938 tells the story of Professor Russell, twelve youths, a “haunted house,” and one of the most astonishing rates of cooperative growth in our nation’s history:

The haunted house was a large two-storied place at College Station, near the college’s Experiment Station farm. Vacant for a number of years, it was dilapidated, isolated, deserted and – most important – obtainable at a ridiculously low rental.

Professor Russell proposed to the faculty that they be permitted to try out the idea of an organized experimental house. Not without qualms, the deans approved.

The landlord of the house – it possessed neither sanitary accommodations, plumbing, or water connections – was approached. A bargain was struck. If the landlord would furnish lumber and other materials, the boys, their fathers, and friends would sink a well, run pipe connections to the house, and make all necessary repairs.1
The proposal was accepted. A Washington County extension agent named Dutch Hohn actually rented the house for the boys, and Russell was faculty sponsor.2
A cooperative plan of house management was developed, with the members of the group sharing the work. “Typically this assignment requires from thirty to forty-five minutes daily.”3 The house was called Moody, in honor of Moody High School.
The co-op was a great success, and Russell was a tireless organizer. The number of people living in cooperatives grew exponentially: 12 in 1932, 110 in 1933, and still more every year, until in 1938 there were 1,171 members (23% of the student body) in 52 housing units. “Having taken over all the suitable buildings available near the campus, it was forced to push farther and farther away until now it has fifty units spread over four miles. This wide scattering of its houses has forced the cooperative into the operation of a transportation system of its own…”4

Then, in the fall of 1939, the cooperatives disappeared.

As I leaned more about the A & M co-ops over the last 30 years, the less I understood. How could the co-ops grow so quickly? How could they disappear without a trace? For many years, I assumed that World War II had brought an end to the co-ops. After all, A & M was essentially a military school, and the war must have had a devastating affect on the student body. How wrong I was.
Over the years, I kept trying to find someone who would go to College Station and look for the story. Although many people were interested, none had the time to do the investigation. Finally, while visiting family in Houston, I made a side-trip to the university archives. It was there that I learned the astonishing truth about both the growth and sudden death of the Aggie co-ops.
The most interesting information on the rapid development of the groups was found in a paper donated to the University by Professor Russell himself, called “A Few Facts Concerning the Texas A. & M. Cooperative Student Housing Program.” Clearly, the key to growth was a system of sponsorship by local individuals or groups:

  1. Student groups may be sponsored by: county agent, vocational agriculture teacher, parent-teacher associations, Loins Club, Rotary Club, denominational group0, chamber of commerce, women’s clubs, American Legion, county school superintendent, former student club, or numerous other civic organizations.

  2. Student groups are organized on a basis of common interest of locality or social ties. For example:

(1) Locality -- Collingsworth County Cooperative Group

-- Northeast Texas Cooperative Group

-- Washington County Cooperative Group

(2) Social Ties -- Catholic Cooperative Group

-- Industrial Education Cooperative Group

-- Junior College Group of Transfer Students

  1. Sponsors lend moral support and leadership in contacting and organizing those financially handicapped high school graduates of a locality who desire to further their education.

  2. Several sponsoring groups have financed the building of structures to house their respective student groups. The students in turn repay the loan with interest through the payment of house rents over a period of eight to ten years.

  3. Sponsors are responsible for leadership, planning, and fostering of groups before the students are sent to college.5

Russell evidently went beyond his role as faculty advisor to essentially become the manager of the cooperatives. The “Few Facts” goes on to say that “The head and the staff of the Department of Rural Sociology serves the general capacities of administration, planning, organization, management and sponsorship of the Student Cooperative Housing Movement” in areas ranging from organizing new groups to coordinating a purchasing co-op and monitoring the finances of the 52 existing houses.

The college support for the effort was astounding. Not only was the faculty and staff heavily involved in a supporting role, but the school even built homes for some of the groups. In 1936, Texas A & M spent $100,000 to construct fourteen model houses on its land, each with a capacity of thirty two students.6

By 1938, the cooperatives were gaining a national reputation. Not only were magazines and Readers Digest carrying stories, but Daniel Russell even traveled to Chicago to appear on an NBC radio broadcast. Numerous newspapers in small towns around the state were carrying stories. The Rotary Club of Brenham built a house of its own for 20 students, and the American Legion constructed a building for 84. Other cooperatives were started at Southwest Texas State, the North Texas State Teachers College, and then in Austin, at the University of Texas. It began to appear that the sky was the limit for cooperative housing.

In 1939, Daniel Russell began negotiations for rental of a hotel in a nearby town, trying desperately to keep up with demand. There were 600 more students who wanted to become members than there had been in the previous fall. A County Agent, E.B. McLeroy, was particularly active around the state, holding meetings throughout the summer to organize and educate student groups in their home towns.
Then, without warning and just days before the start of the fall semester, the A & M governing board ruled that all students must live on campus. The full story was told in an editorial in the college newspaper, dated September 22, 1939:

The A. & M. College faces the gravest situation in its history as a result of the ruling of the College Board of Directors prohibiting living anywhere except in College dormitories, or in cooperative houses located on the campus, until such quarters have been filled…

At first thought the rule will please many A. and M. men. But consider the rule’s immediate results. Many students have been forced to drop out of school because they could not meet the added cost of dormitory life. Hundreds of new students could not enter for the same reason.

Literally dozens of students with jobs in Bryan or College Station, boys who had already proved themselves at A. & M. and whose own efforts and ingenuity had earned their educational opportunity, were forced out of school this fall.

Over a dozen cooperative groups, enjoying the support and interest of as many counties and cities of Texas, were forced to disband and the boys to remain out of school or go elsewhere. The present role amounts to an arbitrary limitation of enrollment…

The AGGIE fears insufficient study and too little research has been given this vital matter by the Board. It is no secret that Executive Officers of the institution are aghast at the results of the rule. Not consulted was a local committee charged last spring with a complete study of student housing. That Committee made the most comprehensive study ever made of student housing problems at A. & M. Apparently its report was filed into oblivion…”7

The local support of sponsoring groups guaranteed outrage and opposition throughout Texas. A number of legislators met with the head of the Board on August 26, as soon as they had notification of the ruling. The group met with the whole board on September 2 and left thinking that the action would be rescinded, “inasmuch as it would possibly mean that the door was being closed on around 1,500 students who would be unable to attend…”8
Why should such a strange and disastrous action be taken? How could it be politically possible? It isn’t clear that this is why the decision was made, but it would be worth further investigation. ? A clue is found in the editorial cited above: “The rule puts an effective weapon in the hands of those seeking to establish two additional A. & M. Colleges at Arlington and Stephenville.”9 It also should be noted that in Texas the governing board of both Texas and Texas A&M are appointed by the governor, not elected.
In the short term, the college built houses continued as cooperatives, but later they were converted to more traditional uses. In 1040, the American Legion house was purchased by the school, and it too was later converted. Eventually, the college owned buildings were torn down. In 1957, a letter from the Department of Student Affairs states that “…A. & M. College of Texas does not have any cooperatives. We did have a few cooperatives prior to World War II, but they have not been instituted since 1942.”10

And so ends a stirring yet tragic story. What can we learn? I can’t help but wonder why other co-ops haven’t looked for sponsors. Or why faculty are no longer as involved with our efforts. Would they be if they were asked to help?

We know from far too many other experiences that university administrations can have their own agendas, often with disastrous effect for the cooperatives. But in this day of greater student freedoms, could the same thing happen to a co-op with over 20% of the student body in its membership?

Questions remain, but we now know a bit more about our cooperative history. Our next challenge will be to learn from it.
--Jim Jones, October 28, 2002

Appendix B:

The Rise and Fall of the

Student Cooperative Association

(The SCA began in 1933 and continued through the1950s at the University of Washington in Seattle. The text below is from a letter to Deborah Altus, faculty member and co-op historian at Washburn College in Topeka, Kansas in response to a question about what happened to the co-op.)
September 20, 1997

Dear Deborah,

Thanks to the wonders of computers, I can send you notes on everything I can find about the Seattle student co-ops. Their end was one of the bigger disasters of the student cooperative world, and the cause is still unknown, at least to me. My biggest fear is that the change to make the proceeds of dissolution into a scholarship fund might have contributed to the decision to close, since the members would actually have a continuing benefit from the sale. Note: the scholarships are only available to the children of former members. Excuse my cynicism.

Walter Hondrick, who started the co-op seems to have been very authoritarian in his approach, even while talking a good "co-op" line. He also seems to be one of the bigger self-promoters of the movement. The early board, consisting of many non-resident members and responsible only to those deemed worthy, seems like an incredibly paranoid structure. From the time that Nettie Jean Ross started as General Manager in 1944, there seems to have been many changes, including the nature of the Board. But it just isn't clear how much of the old pattern continued informally. We all know how co-op cultures continue over time, and a lingering paternalism may also have contributed to the eventual end of the organization.

* * * * * * * * * *
I have the first three copies of the co-op's newsletter thanks to Walter Hondrich's widow. See file. Issue 1 (May 1935) has a complete history of the first couple of years. The effort seems far from grass-roots:
The older students whom he approached before school was out in the spring showed for the most part only a passive interest in the new venture... It was new and transfer students who were destined to form the nucleus of the cooperatives.
Most valuable was the assistance given by the office if the Dean of Men, where inquiries from worthy but financially distressed high school graduates came pouring in all summer long... By September 10, twenty-seven had signed up to form the first unit, and most had sent in their initial $10 deposit...
...Each applicant signed a personal contract with the manager, Mr. Honderich, delegating to him the right to direct the financial and social policies of the organization as well as giving him complete control over the selection of members. In return, the manager agreed that the association would be operated on a strictly cost sharing basis and that complete records would be kept of all transactions. As the group proved itself capable of managing its own affairs in a businesslike way, more authority was to be given to members, but centralized responsibility was considered to b e absolutely essential to the establishment of the cooperative.
Stress was laid upon the fact that the organization belonged to its members, and that everything that was done to improve it benefited them. The necessity for whole-hearted cooperation, of course, was not at once realized by the membership...

--"History of the Washington Movement," The Cooperative Venture, Vol. 1 No. 1, May 1935.

The initial managerial structure is described in full and seems to be very staff dominated. An administrative council meets bi-weekly (sort of a staff meeting). Purpose is to bring house managers, presidents and general administrative staff together. Presidents "represent the social and activity organization, consisting of the social, educational, and athletic committees in their houses." Story goes on to say the three housemothers are "chairmen" of the social program, publicity, research on cooperatives, and an administrative committee composed of the six house managers. (My overall impression is that the organization is more like that of a consumer co-op doing housing than like other student co-ops.) "History of the Washington Movement," The Cooperative Venture, Vol. 1 No. 1, May 1935.
The SCA placed much value on "cooperation among cooperatives" and included a great deal of information on both other student co-ops and the movement in general in its publications and educational activities. Second issue of the newsletter has info on student co-ops in Idaho, Cornell, at Washington State, U. Oregon. Also has an organization chart of the SCA . There is also an explanation of the non-students on the Board:
Because most of the members were very young and also because of the rapid turnover of membership in a student enterprize, it was thought best to provide for full and associate membership.
Associate membership is open to any person who is in agreement with the aims and purposes of the Association, and who gives reasonable assurance of his or her ability to promote these aims through participation in the program.

Full membership is open only to associate members who have been active in the organization for at least one year, who have demonstrated through their own voluntary activities that they understand the ideals and methods of democratic cooperation, and who have pledged themselves to assume definite responsibility in promoting the economic and cultural welfare of all the Association's members and the public.

Associate members have full social and economic rights. The only difference is that full members alone have the right to elect the board of directors for the central Association and to pass upon the policies of this board...
The article does not say how the Assoc. members are selected to become Full members, or whether they can continue as members after leaving residence (I suspect that they can, judging by the composition of the Board). "New Organization of S.C.A.," The Cooperative Venture, Vol. 1 No. 3, December 1935.
But the September issue does explain the way members are elevated to full status:
To earn full membership, an associate member must be over 18, have been in the organization for at least a year, and be approved by a majority of the full members at a regular or special meeting. Qualifications specified in S.C.A. By laws are not personality and cash resources but evidence that the student has "demonstrated thru his own voluntary activities that the understands the ideals and methods if denicratuc ciioeratuib abd gas okedged gunsekf ti assyne defubute responsibility in promoting the economic and cultural welfare of all its members and the public."
" Cooperation at Other Colleges," The Cooperative Venture, Vol. 1 No. 2, September 1935.
Co-op started by Walter Hondrich in 1933 and incorporated in June of 1935. "A Student Venture in Cooperative Living" by Arthur E. Albrecht, The Journal of Educational Sociology, January 1937, pp 262-268.
An interesting article in January of 1937 helps to explain the operations of the cooperative and Honderich's role:

This unique venture grew out of student need for lower living costs and for normal social life. It was started by Walter Honderich, a former student at the University, who had to earn the money for his own education. Mr. Honderich knew student life, knew what equipment was needed, and in the summer of 1933 approached and secured the support of the University administration to promote cooperative housing among the student body. By September twenty-seven students had signed up to form the first housing unit and most of them had sent in their initial ten dollar deposit which was used to get things started. At the beginning of each month, assessments were made to cover the estimated expenses of the following month. Each applicant signed a contract with the manager, Mr. Honderich, giving him the right to direct the financial and social policies of the organization, and the complete control over the selection of members. The manager, in return, agreed that the association would be operated on a cost-sharing basis, and that complete records would be kept of all transactions. Centralized authority was considered to be absolutely essential tot he establishment of the cooperative association...

From May 1933 until June 1935 there was no permanent organization. Temporarily, highly centralized control seemed desirable. However, in June 1935 the Students' Cooperative Association was incorporated under the Washington Cooperative Law and thereby the first step taken toward permanent organization with democratic control.
Another oddity of the SCA was its unusual (for student co-ops) approach to member labor:
Work is so organized that each member can do his quota of work, and so eliminate unnecessary expenditures for labor. A student may, however, pay for his work instead of "working it out."
"A Student Venture in Cooperative Living," Arthur E. Albrecht, College of the City of New York; The Journal of Educational Sociology, January, 1937, PP 262-267.
Brochure from the late 1930s lists board members and staff and gives backgrounds. Interesting that only three of nine board members are students. The President is working for Boeing. They are elected by members but evidently not required to be members. Brochure of the Students' Cooperative Association, 4224 University Way, Seattle. See folder.
A brochure that is undated but appears to be from the mid-40s reflects either changes or revisionism. A section on organization places emphasis on resident control:

This organization is actually owned and controlled by all the members living in the five houses. They elect nine members, at least one from each house, to act as a board of directors which, in conjunction with the advisory board, sets the policies of the Association. The advisory board, invaluable in its assistance to the student directors, is made up of Professor H.A. Densmore of the General Studies department, Verner Dattson of West Seattle High School, and Robert Scott, one of the founders and past presidents of the SCA.

Unfortunately, the brochure doesn't go into detail about the relationship between the board and the advisory group, and it is difficult to tell whether the patriarchal attitude of previous year still held formal or informal control.
Another interesting note on food service reflected the important role of SCA in relationship to the rest of the campus at the time:
Quite naturally, the most important problem which faces the organization is that of purchasing, preparing and delivering three meals a day to the five Co-op houses and eleven University residence halls that also depend upon the SCA for food.
Given the centralized nature of the food service for SCA and the fact that the University must have been a much larger customer than SCA's own members, I can't help but wonder whether a change by the U. (i.e. buying elsewhere or preparing their own food) might not have precipitated the decline. But there is no information on what happened in the records that I've found to date.
Finally of interest in the brochure is a new version of their history, barely mentioning the role of Hondrick:

Tired of living in boarding houses, working as houseboys, and having no organized program of activities, twenty-seven boys decided to do something to improve the conditions under which they were getting their education. That was in 1933, and with the renting of Macgregor House by this group, the SCA had its beginning at Washington.

The plan followed by these boys was one of cooperation: they bought and prepared their own food, and did their own housework and odd jobs. By 1935 the group had met with such success that shares were sold to students and the Students' Cooperative Association was incorporated. Since that time, over 1800 students have purchased stock in the organization, which now has five houses (4 of them owned by SCA) accommodating 250 members.

Three of these houses, Rofcre, Synadelphic, and Sherwood were added in 1934 when the Co-op boomed to a peak of eight houses. Rofcre was expanded to include two houses in 1936, and in 1944 the last member of the present organization was added when Honderich House was leased and named for Walter Honderich, former SCA manager.

From "Living at College, " and undated brochure of the SCA
The last piece of the puzzle comes from the early 1950s, when the board was clearly thinking about the “final solution” and it consequences:
"University of Washington co-ops are working on a program to make the University the beneficiary in case the organization is ever dissolved. The assets would be used to furnish scholarships for the children of Co-op Alumni. Also, writes Bob Moe, 'If we adopt it, this would establish more definitely our non-profit status which all co-ops are being attacked over at this time.'" Co-ops on Campus, March-April, 1951.
When the co-op finally sold in 1957, it’s assets were indeed given to the University of Washington for this purpose. I have talked with co-op alumni whose children have used this fund for scholarships…

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