1. What is a co-op? 

A co-operative is a business that is owned and managed democratically by its members. Co-op members democratically elect a board of directors from within the membership, attend meetings, and vote on decisions. Every member receives one vote, regardless of how long they’ve been a member or how much they may have contributed financially to the cooperative beyond the threshold required to join as a member. In the case of Students’ Co-op, these “member-owners” are the residents living in the building.

Co-ops operate according to the seven co-operative principles, practiced by co-ops around the world since their inception in 1844 in Rochdale, England. There are many other examples of member-owned co-operatives in the Twin Cities. For example, Seward Co-op  is a grocery co-op owned and governed by its customers. Hard Times Cafe is a worker co-op, democratically owned and governed by its employees. CHS is a farmer-owned cooperative that provides a variety of products and services for its members. Credit Unions such as Spire Credit Union and Affinity Plus Federal Credit union are also co-operatives, democratically owned and governed by their deposit-holding members. 

  1. Who owns and manages the Students’ Coop?

When a resident moves in, signing their membership agreement and paying their security deposit entitles them to shared ownership of Students’ Cooperative, Inc., an MN 308A Cooperative, which is the entity that owns the property.

For the past 80 years, Students’ Co-operative, Inc. was completely self-owned, self-governed, and self-managed by members living in the house. Member-residents made all decisions and were responsible for all leasing and maintenance.

However, going forward the Students’ Co-op will have alumni advisors participating in governance of the cooperative as voting members. The co-op has also contracted a property management company, Housing Hub, to oversee leasing and maintenance. This means that residents and alumni will make decisions together democratically (one-member, one vote), and Housing Hub will be responsible for executing those decisions as they relate to leasing and maintenance. 

  1. What is the leadership structure of the co-op? 

Every person living in the house is a voting member. Members of the house elect the following members of the Board of Directors: President, Vice President, Treasurer, Secretary, Recruitment and Orientation Manager, Maintenance Manager(s), Education Manager, and Food Manager.

Additionally, there must be at least two alumni advisors on the Board of Directors. These advisors are appointed by an external entity, the Friends of the Students’ Co-op nonprofit.

The Board of the Directors steers the direction of the Co-op and its major initiatives, but decisions are made in house meetings and are voted on by all co-op members present. Additionally, all members are required to attend the tri-annual All-House meeting, where new members of the Board of Directors are elected, and other major business decisions are made. 

While the members act as the governing body and make decisions about the rules for the co-operative, a property management company hired by the co-op, Housing Hub, is responsible for executing those decisions as they relate to leasing or maintenance.

  1. What are alumni advisors? 

Alumni advisors are appointed to the Students’ Co-op Board of Directors by a separate MN nonprofit, Friends of the Students’ Co-op. These alumni advisors participate in the governance of the co-op as voting members. They also play a role in mediating conflicts within the house and implementing the co-op’s Safer Space policy. In addition, they provide regular updates to Friends of the Students’ Co-op about events in the co-operative and ensure that Bylaws and policies are being followed and decisions are being made lawfully.

  1. How are co-op members screened? 

In accordance with Fair Housing laws, we do not reject applicants on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, disability, public assistance, sexual orientation, gender identity, or familial status. However, there are a few factors that are considered in the application process: 

  • A University-affiliate quota: 75% of our members must be students or employees at an accredited post-secondary educational institution. 
  • Low-Income Guidelines: Members will be screened for income to ensure that Students’ Co-op meets IRS low-income housing guidelines by housing the required percentages of low-income and very-low income members
  • Criminal Background Screening: All applicants will undergo a criminal background screening. 
  • Ability to pay: Applicants must demonstrate that they will be able to cover the cost of living in the co-op and must pay the initial application fees.
  • Commitment to Membership in the Co-op: Applicants must acknowledge the additional responsibilities and expectations of co-op membership and commit to upholding the policies and principles of the co-op.
  1. Why are you only implementing a 75% university affiliate quota instead of 100%?

Allowing a small percentage of non-students to live in the cooperative has a number of benefits, including: 

  • Financial security: Having a small number of nonstudents living in the house reduces the impact of high vacancy during periods when classes are not in session, such as during the summer term or during pandemics in which campuses are closed. This reduces fluctuations in income and ensures that housing security is not jeopardized for our members due to factors outside of our control. 
  • Recent Graduates: Historically, the majority of nonstudent members at the co-op have been recent college graduates. Allowing these recent graduates to stay in the house for a short period after they finish their studies eases their transition from school to the workplace and allows them to maintain a support network as they navigate this challenging life transition. 
  • Institutional Memory and Governance Support: Many non-student members are usually older and more experienced than student members.These members positively contribute to the co-op by providing institutional memory, governance support, knowledge, and experience that student members may not have.
  1. How will Students Co-op deal with violent incidents or unlawful activity on the property? 

Members responsible for violent or unlawful activity are subject to termination, removal, and eviction. Our new property management company, Housing Hub, will ensure this is carried out in an expedient and legally sound manner. 

  1. Does the co-op have a security system? 

Yes, a security system has been installed on the property, including security cameras connected to a multifunctional internal server, which will monitor activity both indoors and outdoors. Motion-activated flood lights have also been installed around the exterior of the building. 

  1. What kind of work was done in the renovations? 

Work performed during the renovation included:

  • Drywall repair throughout the building
  • Reinforcement of floor joists, brick, and limestone
  • Repairing and refinishing of hardwood floors
  • Renovation of bathrooms
  • Electrical work
  • Upgrade of Fire Alarm System
  • Minor layout changes and accessibility improvements
  • Replacing numerous appliances, including ovens, fridges, washers, and dryers 
  • Window repair
  • Roof Repair
  • Installation of a Security System and outdoor lighting

This work was performed by Primo Restoration, with project planning, oversight, and support from keep Architecture, NASCO Development Services, and Firm Ground Architecture. Inspections by the City of Minneapolis were also performed to ensure code compliance prior to move-ins. 

  1. What is the relationship between Students’ Co-op and the University of Minnesota? 

Although Students’ Co-op is located near the University of Minnesota campus, there is no relationship between Students’ Co-op and the University of Minnesota. Students’ Co-op is independently owned and operated and is not affiliated with the University of Minnesota in any way. 

  1. Is Students’ Co-op only for University of Minnesota Students? 

No. Students and staff at any college or university are eligible for Students’ Co-op membership. Non-students are also eligible for membership as long as the 75% University Affiliate quota is maintained.

  1. Where can I learn more about safety at the Students’ Co-operative? 

You can view our Building Safety Plan and Safer Space Policy on our governance documents page. 

  1. Who can I reach out to with further questions? 

You can email us at studentscoopinc AT gmail