As a member-run organization it's up to you to lead the BSC! Regardless of your skills or available time, there are lots of ways for you to shape your co-op at your house or at Central Level!
Do you workshift - even Presidents and members of the Board of Directors start their co-op career behind a mop or washing pots. Doing workshift keeps your house clean and keeps you from getting fined, and also provides a firsthand look at how the co-op works. Never worked in a 1200-person organization or in foodservice? Workshifts are a great way to get those skills.
Go to House Level Orientation - These orientations at the start of every semester is where managers will show you how to take part in the operations, activities, and governance of your community.
Go to Council - Most houses hold councils every Sunday night, small houses may do it every other Sunday. Ask your house president when they hold council meetings at your unit. At these meetings house members get together to solve problems, allocate budgets, and change house policies. Got an idea you want your house to vote on? Ask one of your house's managers for details on how to bring a motion to council at your house.
Go to a Manager Meeting - At most houses, managers will meet an hour or a day before Council to plan the agenda for the Council meeting and discuss things in a more informal setting. Any member can attend! It's a great place to get feedback on a motion you are bringing.
Hold or Attend a Workshop - Every house is required to hold workshops on several essential topics such as consent and emergency preparedness. Other topics are up to members to initiate and can include cooking, or any other topic you want to teach or learn more about. Want free food? You can contact the VP of Education and Training at firstname.lastname@example.org to request funding.
Give feedback to your managers in your house's Votes of Confidence (VOCs) - Midway through the semester you'll have the opportunity to anonymously evaluate how your managers are doing and whether they deserve the rent compensation they receive. This is also an opportunity to recall managers who aren't doing their jobs. At the end of the semester there will be another round of VOCs to release the remainder of managers' comp.
Run for a Manager Position - In mid April, houses will elect managers for Summer and Fall. Spring managers are elected in November. Being a manager can cover some or all of your workshift and for some jobs, a portion to all of your rent. Not ready to do it yourself? Consider running as a team. New to a house? Often, there will also be a couple of unfilled positions at the start of a semester - talk to your Workshift Manager about filling in temporarily to gain experience and a head start to getting elected.
Read your emails and follow the BSC on Facebook - Once you're a member, you'll get weekly emails from Central Office about events, rent due dates, meetings, and job openings. Read them! You can also follow us on Facebook.
Go to Committee meetings - The BSC has six committees that craft policies for specific areas such as finance or external affairs. These committees meet every other week for a few hours at a time. You can bring a proposal to one, join the discussion of the day, or if you really want to get involved, apply to be a Member at Large (check your email at the start of each semester for details). Learn more and contact the VPs that run committees here.
Go to Cabinet and Board meetings - Once a proposal passes in committee, it goes to the Cabinet - made up of the President, all six VPs, and two members at large. After Cabinet debate and approval it goes to the Board of Directors - the ultimate decision making body of the BSC - where the 29 members of the Board can vote to accept or reject it. There's also time set aside at the start of Board meetings for members to give feedback directly to Board. Board meets 5-6 times each semester on Thursday evenings. Cabinet meets on weeks Board doesn't meet. While only Board and Cabinet members vote - though you can "pull your v
Propose a Policy Change - Anyone can propose a policy change! Our process is similar to that of local or national government - a policy starts in committee, then gets voted on by the Board of Directors. Learn how here. You can also petition to have a policy voted on by the entire membership.
Serve on Administrative or Conduct Committee - These are committees that meet as needed to make exceptions to policy (for example, someone who needs to defer rent payments beyond the normal limits) or to determine consequences for conduct violations. A rotating set of houses sends representatives to AdCom and ConCom - if it's your house or apartment's turn, you'll have a chance to run for these positions in mid April or November at the same time house managers are elected.
Run to represent your house on Board - Of the 29 members on the Board, 27 are elected by residents of each co-op, the other two represent staff and alumni. In April and November, when your house elects managers for the following semester, it will also elect its Board Representative. Large houses may have 2-4 representatives. Board Reps vote on policies at Board and also serve on a committee to craft policy.
Run to be President, a VP, or a Cabinet Member at Large - As an executive, you'll run meetings and meet with external stakeholders as a representative of the BSC. As a Cabinet Member at Large, you'll be paid to attend meetings to offer additional perspectives to the Executives. Presidents and VPs are elected for one-year terms in mid April by the Board of Directors. Any member can run! Check the Board website for details of when elections are. Cabinet Members at Large are elected to semester-long terms in mid April and November.
Work for the Co-op - There are over 50 member jobs, paid at workshift rate, ranging from food delivery to taking notes at meetings to office work. These jobs are only open to BSC members and are typically 8-17 hours a week. Most jobs will be advertised towards the end or at the start of a semester on the Hiring Commission website. Periodically, there will also be permanent staff job openings, these range from 20 to 40 hours a week and can be held by members or the general public.
Visit or join other cooperatives - Co-ops aren't just places to live, they are a business model represented in all industries and parts of the country. Some fix bikes. Some sell food. Some are credit unions. Some provide housing for non-students. See a list of local co-ops here.
Go to the WestCo and NASCO Conferences - Every year in early November, the North American Students of Cooperation (NASCO) - an association of housing and worker cooperatives in the USA and Canada - holds a training and education conference in Ann Arbor, Michigan. As the largest student housing cooperative in the USA, the BSC sponsors a group of members to attend NASCO each year. Funding is set aside for both long time and new members to go. In addition, the WestCo conference is held on the West Coast at one of the West Coast student co-ops every spring.
Remember, it's your co-op! We own it, we run it, and we can't do it without you!