THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 1949
THE MICHIGAN DAILY
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Co-op Houses Celebrate 16 Successful Years
Celebrating their sixteenth year
on campus this fall, co-op houses
have grown steadily from an am-
bitious experiment in democratic
living to the largest student-own-
ed housing organization at the
Campus Co-op houses, like other
consumer cooperatives throughout
the world, operate on principles
developed at Rochdale, England,
over a century ago. They provide
for consumer ownership, non-pri-
fit operation, neutrality in politi-
cal and religious controversy, and
complete democratic control on
the "one member, one vote" prin-
ciple. In addition, campus co-ops
particularly emphasize inter-rac-
ial living and division of work
THE FIRST student housing co-
op in the nation had its inception
here in 1932, when six men were
faced with the alternative of either
lowering their expenses or drop-
ping out of school. Living in the
basement of Rev. H. L. Pickerill,
a local minister, they found that
by dividing the cost of rent, food
and supplies among themselves,
they could live for $2.00 a week.
Expending rapidly, Michigan
House, as it was called, soon had a
home of its own. Other students
joined in the plan, and beforethe
war, co-op members were renting
13 buildings, housing nearly 200
students. They discovered that not
only were the Rochdale Principles
economically sound, but the dem-
ocratic living they engendered had
a peculiarly strong ideological
appeal of its own.
* * *
AFTER repeated set-backs dur-
ing the war, co-ops have seen a new
post-war development on a firmer
basis, since houses now are owned,
rather than rented, and are bound
together under a unified budget.
With the purchase of John M.
Nakamura House this summer, the
Inter-Cooperative Council will in-
clude more than 250 members and
operate six houses, three for men
and three for women.
All members belong to the In-
ter-Cooperative Council, which
serves as coordinating group, the
corporation through which the
houses do business. A 25-man
board of directors meets every two
weeks to formulate long-range
policy and thrash out immediate
problems, but all its decisions are
subject to the approval of the en-
CO-OPERS are also members ofI
the Midwest Federation of Campus
Cooperatives, which has its head-
quarters on campus, and the
North American Student Coopera-
tive League. The latter organiza-
tion was founded two years ago to
answer the growing demand for
some kind of coordinating group
for the more than 50,000 members
of student co-ops on campuses
throughout the nation.
Despite their remarkable
growth, campus co-ops continue to
operate on much the same basis
as the original Michigan House.
Costs are still less than half those
of comparable non-co-op houses.
In each house, a president, house
manager, accountant, one or two
purchasers, and other officers are
elected by the members. Members
share equitably in house work and
do extra work on committees and
special jobs on a volunteer basis.
Frequent house meetings help to
give each member a say in the
running of his house.
* * *
GROUP purchasing in quantity
is a primary factor in reducing
costs. Produce and canned goods
are purchased in conjunction with
the Ann Arbor Cooperative So-
ciety, and meat is purchased at
wholesale directly from the pack-
ers and frozen until needed by the
Apart from the purely func-
tional aspects of co-op life, there
is a welding together of the entire
group through a series of social
and educational programs. Prom-
inent campus speakers are invited
to meetings at which various ques-
tions are discussed. The atmos-
phere at these meetings, which are
nearly always open to the public,
is informal, and speakers are in-
vited to discuss their topics on a
personal, give - and - take level.
Dances, picnics, exchange dinners
and other events are frequently
arranged by the social committee,
and here, too, an atmosphere of
informality is generally the rule.
* * *
CO-OPS take pride in the fact
that racial or religious bias is
completely absent among their
members. They feel that co-ops
are a living, growing example to
other campus groups that democ-
racy not only works, but works
better than racial and religious
When a new student applies for
membership either as a boarder
or a roomer in co-ops, the person-
al committee judges him solely on
his merits as an individual. The
criterion for admittance is the
newcomer's ability to adjust him-
self to, and to add to the efficiency
of, the organization. The success-
ful co-oper quickly gains an insight
into the particular problems rep-
resented by the members of dif-
ferent groups in his house, from
which there arises a new under-
standing of -human values, one
which can be carried forth into
the world. In that manner co-ops
on campus fulfill a definitely
* * *
COOPERATIVES do not identify
themselves with political parties
as such, but they do foster a liber-
al spirit and encourage their mem-
bers to take stands on the basic
issues of the day. Consequently,
according to a recent study, co-
opers are more active in the vari-
ous political groups on campus
than any other similar group of
The Inter-Cooperative Council
is basically an independent organ-
ization. It is completely owned and
controlled by its student mem-
bers. It is unlike any other group
on campus. By buying or renting
its houses, the ICC establishes an
atmosphere of responsibility, of
belonging. The occupants know
that what they have has been
handed down to them by their pre-
decessors. They come to feel their
obligation to leave as good or bet-
ter a set-up to the succeeding
group of co-opers.
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NINCE 1848, .,
CO0R1 949 RY THE
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THURSDAY, FRIDAY, SATURDAY SAVINGS
Sept. 30th and Oct. 1st and 2nd
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Next to US
Pound of Terry's
14 oz. Bag 50c Value
Chesterfields, Old Gold,
Phillip- Morris, and
Yes, you have just four more days to
make your picture appointment for the
We sell loads of
We also stock
Stop at the Ensian business office any afternoon this week
Get your picture, name, home town and
degree in the official University yearbook.
Phone 2-6482 for information
6 for 29c
Reg. $1.25 Value
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