Our Statement About Recent Incidents at Our Co-op
[We hope that you had a chance to read our apology about recent events.]
For more than 80 years, the Students’ Co-op at 1721 University Ave has been a stable and positive fixture of the Dinkytown community, providing affordable on-campus housing to the student community. Independently owned and operated by its residents, our cooperative has been a much-loved home to hundreds of students across decades.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the societal turbulence of 2020 hit hard for all of us, and resulted in unprecedented instability in the Students’ Co-op. In October 2021, our alumni network was contacted by a concerned cooperative member—we learned then that the Students’ Co-op was nearly empty, and the few remaining residents lacked the institutional knowledge to keep the Cooperative running. The occupants at this time faced a history of housing insecurity, marginalized by interlocking systems of systemic racism and economic inequality. Our alumni group committed to supporting the occupants of the house and reviving the cooperative structure. However, at this time, alumni did not have any legal authority within the co-op.
As concerned community members and alumni, we began meeting regularly with occupants and making repairs to the building. We also began working in partnership with the Minneapolis Health Department and NASCO, a national alliance of student housing cooperatives. When it became apparent that the occupants needed more support than we could provide, we collaborated with case-workers and social service nonprofits to connect the occupants to more supportive housing and resources.
We formed an alumni board in late March, 2022 through consultations with attorneys, NASCO, and the remaining occupants. While we were able to successfully re-house most occupants to safe, stable and more secure housing, several people still remained at 1721. The last of the occupants refused to leave by April 7th and we began preparing for an eviction process the next day. At this point, we also reached out to UMPD and MPD to help address the situation.
From the time we took legal action until the time the eviction was finalized, a nearly two month process, we could not access the building due to concerns for our safety and due to legal restrictions imposed on property owners which could have impeded the eviction process. Knowing eviction was imminent, the occupants had no interest in stopping any parties from occurring or preventing property damage and/or violence to occur.
Since the evictions were completed on June 4th, there have been zero incidents of violence or property damage, and our alumni network has come together to clean the inside and outside of the building. We have a monitored security system installed and conduct routine walk-throughs of the property. We are working with an architect, contractors, and the Health Department to make this historic property both a livable and beautiful space again.
The Students’ Co-operative is built on the values of social responsibility and cultures of care, and these acts of violence were in direct violation of our values as a cooperative community. Our hearts go out to all those affected: the former occupants caught in cycles of instability and violence, their guests at the house, our fraternity neighbors, the student community, and the broader community. We believe that community is created and sustained through collaboration, shared goals, and a willingness to grow; we make the road by walking.
Now, as we embark on a journey towards community healing and trust building after these traumatic events, we hope to work in collaboration to find effective and creative solutions. We are grateful for the outpouring of support we have received, and we sincerely hope that you will continue to engage in these conversations with us. Please continue to check our website for updates, or reach out to us with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Students’ Co-operative Board
August 19, 2022