Please please please check out the budget spreadsheet to see how it all fits together, particularly the visuals tab! I’ve added a revenue visual too. Basically, here are our budgeted expenses:
And here (to scale) is our projected revenue:
So, you can see for yourself how occupancy projections affect the big picture. We need to fill all the empty squares inside the black box, with some combination of increased occupancy, operating reserves, and donations. Because we’ve cut spending/investment a lot, if we were to have 100% occupancy we would actually have a surplus this year, which would go back into reserves. Here are our various reserve funds:
Altogether, it’s not much bigger than our annual operating budget. That’s the non-profit (literally, not as a corporate structure) aspect of our cooperative model – we pretty much run at cost. We’ve put a relatively small chunk of our revenue into these reserve funds each year so that we can give scholarships, maintain and improve our buildings, have emergency funds, and save up to cooperativize more buildings someday.
This year, we’re drawing from reserves instead of paying into them – by about the same amount that we’d be paying into them in a good year. We’re doing that partly because we can afford to, but mostly because it’s clear that right now, we do not have a democratic mandate to raise rent even by the $15 per member per semester it would cost to offset the increase in our own coordinators’ payroll budget. Long term, we do need to budget in a way that makes annual expenses and annual revenue balance out on average – but we can’t do that at all unless it’s as a “we”.
To be clear, I believe in class struggle. I believe there is a “they” that “we” need to fight against. But I really think that structurally, the BSC can be part of the “we”. Members are in charge here. Despite years and years of being manipulated to think that we were powerless, we were structurally able to replace the Executive Director – by taking over Board. I’m hoping that as we move toward transparency and everybody on both sides of the staff/member divide continues to deprogram from longstanding narratives of austerity and division, the BSC will feel more and more like a “we” to the members/workers who constitute it. Then – and only then – can we talk about the sustainability of our budget.
This is clobr1/necm1, Cloyne’s direct line to Cabinet for 2020-2021. Members circulated a petition that Cabinet wrote a response to, Cabinet’s response is available there but I’m reposting here for better formatting and easier linking.
Dear Members of the Berkeley Student Cooperative,
Thank you for the time, energy, and passion that you poured into developing, circulating, and delivering the petition you sent to us. We recognize that the petition is not simply asking for rent relief, but is also calling for a holistic, critical analysis of what we are budgeting for, what systems we have set up, and how we are keeping ourselves accountable to our values. We also recognize that this petition is a call for accountability and a response to harm done.
First and foremost, we would like to assure members that we as the Cabinet are recommending that the Board freeze rent for the coming 2021-2022 academic year.
The “cooperative” part of our mission statement means that we have an obligation to uphold the Rochdale Principles of Cooperation. Democratic member control and member economic participation are among these Principles we hold dear in the BSC; and we always value when our peers hold us accountable to them. The petition circulated in the past week makes it clear that the Board has been failing in its core responsibility of ensuring members relate to the BSC as part-owners and not as a third party. As Board’s own elected leadership, we on the Cabinet would like to apologize and take responsibility for these failures and commit to doing better. We want to deliver on your demands and we are going to be pragmatic. We want to ask for your grace, time, and support in answering your demands.
In the meantime, you deserve a direct response from your elected representatives to your specific demands. To address the immediate demands first:
We as Cabinet will be recommending the Board freeze rent for this coming academic year. The Capital and Finance Committee will finalize its own recommendation on Wednesday, and the full Board will determine the final amount of next year’s rent on Thursday. All members are welcome at both meetings.
We are also recommending senior management salary and bonus freezes to the Board.
We have pushed for more complete financial information than past Boards have as part of the budgeting process. We feel confident that the budget proposal that is currently being finalized makes no compromises to members’ needs for the sake of financial business partners, but we encourage members to review it themselves and propose changes if they feel that is untrue.
We can also share with you that Victor Saldivar will be resigning from the Cooperative Experience Manager position, effective May 11th. Please keep an eye out for a full announcement from our Interim Executive Director Teena Lorie Harris later today.
We have no plans to hire any new senior management for the rest of our term, which expires May 21st. After that, continuing a hiring freeze will be up to next year’s Board, which all BSC members will elect.
We also have an immediate partial solution to one of the end of semester demands: we want to publicize the ways that members can already apply for (and usually receive) one-off exceptions to membership criteria – please check out the grace semester policy (I.A.2) and/or talk to Betsy (firstname.lastname@example.org) about it. In general, taking a semester off when you intend to return as a student does not require leaving the BSC! The Board can and should also further evaluate expanding membership criteria in a way that is in line with our values, meets IRS restrictions, and also helps us to fill bed spaces and reduce our deficit.
We have been exploring the diversification of our sources of income. Donations have contributed to our reserves andhelped make it possible for us to use those funds to freeze rents. We are also continuing to work with staff to identify and exhaust all possible sources of government aid.
We are also currently analyzing alternative models for co-op structure.In Fall, the Board passed the Cooperative Involvement Plan directing Spring EACom to take tangible steps that aid in the cooperative movement. The Board’s leadership has hired Teena Lorie Harris, who will also be a Board Director at NASCO, as our new Executive Director, and we will be working with her to identify ways the BSC can further reap the benefits of cooperativity.
Lastly, we would like some time to work with you to tease out how best to move forward when it comes to reinvisioning staffing structure. We recognize this demand as an indication that our staffing structure is not effectively meeting the needs of membership. We want to avoid creating a new body to give us cover from blame and would like to take responsibility and work with members to enact this process.
All BSC members are part-owners, and, under our current bylaws, the most direct way members exercise this power is by electing the Board. The BSC’s Board is more like the Board of Regents than the ASUC – as the Board of Directors of the organization, Board is the highest decisionmaking body. While we cannot predict or guarantee what future BSC Boards will do, we are doing our best to enshrine both policy and cultural mechanisms for ensuring that each Board is accountable to its members. We encourage all members who are interested in making structural change in the BSC to run for Board. In the meantime, please come participate and bring these concerns to the General Membership Meeting on March 20th from 2pm-5pm, or share them in advance via the pre-GMM survey.
We are committed to taking tangible action to repair the buy-in and trust necessary for our cooperative to flourish.
Hello world! I’m a clone, and right now I’m being tested for SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19. I’ve heard some of you are interested in what happens after you take the test. In brief the test is a mouth swab and a lot of waiting. I’m afraid you’ll have to go elsewhere to hear about the mouth swab. I’ll tell you about the waiting.
Most of my time is simply spent sitting alone and thinking. For me that isn’t much of a change from normal. I’m usually at Cloyne stressed about people, thinking on how to help them or at least not inconvenience them, often to a fault. The room I’ve been moved to is quite still. Since I’m the only one here there isn’t anyone to accidentally be rude to, and I can just exist in a quite relaxing way. While here, away from other people, I’ve been free to think about how I’m doing, the sorts of ever present stresses I’ve been carrying, how feeling bad about myself had become so constant that just feeling okay throughout the day was almost foreign, and having to face head on the thoughts of “how bad do I have to be doing before I drop out for a semester?”
There are a lot of paintings on the walls that aren’t quite done. Looking at the style they seem to be from the same person. I’m not sure who the previous resident who did them was. But I think I understand them in some degree. They finished the broad strokes of the room. But almost all the detailed parts were not quite finished. Like they started the semester with the energy and desire to do something out of the joyous energy of wanting to create something. But as time went on, things weighed down on them more, and they were never quite able to finish.
Endorsed by Cloyne Council on 3/8/2020, 36 in favor, 0 opposed, 1 abstaining
To Chancellor Christ and UC Board of Regents,
Several months ago, graduate students at UC Santa Cruz and across the UC system began making demands for a COLA (cost of living adjustment). As students of UC Berkeley and members of Cloyne Court (a Berkeley Student Cooperative house), we write this letter in collective solidarity with all graduate students fighting for a living wage adjustment. In an area in which the cost of housing has soared and thus become unattainable for so many low-income people and racial minorities, we stand united as one in support of all graduate students, faculty, staff, and community members committed to striking for a COLA. As members of a tenant-owned housing cooperative, we know that the unsustainable market rate does not reflect the true cost of maintaining housing, but is instead the result of speculation-driven profiteering. We know that paying graduate students a living wage is only a drop in the bucket of the overall UC budget, and we reject the notion that the money is not there.
On Friday, March 6, Chancellor Christ wrote a letter to the graduate student community in which she expressed an unwillingness to concede to the demands for a COLA for all. Chancellor Christ’s message to the graduate student community was inadequate, given her refusal to acknowledge the basic needs of graduate students in addition to her failure to disclose how the UC has come to this decision. We believe that her response that the university has plans to build an additional 105 bed-spaces over several years is insulting to all students, especially given that there are at least 12,000 graduate students on campus. We therefore ask that the UC negotiate with student-workers in good faith to 1.) provide a COLA for every graduate student, regardless of residence, visa, documentation, employment, or funding status, without raising tuition or campus fees; 2.) reinstate the employment contracts of all graduate students at UCSC and drop all threats of retaliation; 3.) agree to the demands of COLA organizers to ensure that all students at UC Berkeley and beyond basic needs are met, including but not limited to shelter and food; 4.) demilitarize, disarm, and defund the campus police.
Hello Clones! We are your new Garden Coordinators and we wanted to let you know a little about ourselves:
Evan: I’m a 1st year PhD student studying environmental science and am passionate about gardening, sustainability, and fungi. I was garden manager in my previous co-op in undergrad where I managed a small team to plant a succulent garden, establish a compost pile, plant a bunch of fruit trees and grow some yummy veggies. I’m hoping to add more cloyne micrbes to my mivrobiome by getting my hands dirty.
Xena: I’m a 4th year undergrad student double majoring in Landscape Architecture and Conservation and Resource Studies. As such, I have some experience in garden design. I’m really passionate about native plants, increasing biodiversity in the garden, adding more flowers to the garden, and making the front entrance more pretty and welcoming.
Below are our main goals for this Spring. These will probably change over time as we scope the difficulty/habitability of various projects, but our main hope is to make gardening and the garden more educational and interactive for all clones.
More interactive / educational garden
events – Want to learn how to germinate starts? How about making a mushroom log? Or care and planting of succulents?
These are the kinds of events we want to facilitate in the garden, bringing people and plants (and sometimes fungi) together to get down in the dirt!
– The yard out in front of the house is not so exciting. Let’s spruce it up with some native shrubs! I’m thinking evergreen huckleberries, flowering currants, maybe a california buckeye if we’re going craaazy. There are also some native medicinal plants we
want to include like yerba santa, yarrow, and mugwort.
Signage around plants
– especially for all the fruit trees we have out in the garden! We want your everyday clone to feel comfortable picking a fruit if its ripe, because if they don’t the squirrels probably will. This means labeling so y’all know what’s out there! We would also
like to make signs for the worm bins, vegetables and native plants, but fruit trees are the priority.
– We are obsessed with decomposition! Good thing, because during the winter months there isn’t a ton of planting and
growing to do. During this time, we hope to bury and inoculate a mushroom log that will give us tasty homegrown mushrooms every winter for 3-4 years! Additionally, we will work on a system to use more of our yard waste to grow oyster mushrooms, a tasty way
to directly bring our waste streams back to our food system :)
Feel free to reach out with questions
Hello everyone, my name is Christopher Stevens and I am the newly minted Software Coordinator as of Spring 2020! I am looking forward to working to make our electronic resources more useful for everyone. As Software Coordinator I have a few goals for this semester:
Make cloyne.org a better resource for all members
Update our infrastructure to no longer need python2
Get feedback from the house about what you want Cloyne to host
One of the things I love about Cloyne is the ability to talk about my issues and have people be very understanding about them. I have recently been diagnosed with social anxiety, but have been struggling with it for a while. If I ever look like I’m staring at you it’s probably because I would like to say hello but don’t know you very well. I’m trying to get better, but it is a long process so I ask for some of your patience. Always feel free to say hello though! I like making new friends.
Co-ops are different from the dorms or (non-BSC) apartments in one major way: we own it. What does that mean? Pulling from the Rochdale Principles (the seminal document capturing the essence of cooperatives):
We are its members, have democratic voting power, and are autonomous from other organizations
We contribute the capital that allows the BSC to exist, and we control the budget
We have full control over our own policies, community agreements, and educational requirements
Democratic financial, policy, and cultural control enable us to prioritize what matters most to us (e.g., consent, accessibility, anti-oppression)
We get to elect the people who have (delegated) powers, and we get to hold them accountable in material ways
We can turn our wildest and most radical speculations for a better world into a reality
It’s not a coincidence that some of the most affordable housing requires cooperative democratic control. When it’s our interests at heart (and not a landlord’s), concern for community is at the front of everything we do. We cook incredible meals for each other, we create beautiful things like the multicultural space or garden, we participate in collective direct action and run a $10+ million organization — and we aim to do all of this at a price that makes college accessible for those who wouldn’t be able to afford a higher education without it.
I think this is always important to keep in mind: the more we lose sight of this, the more our co-ops will look like dorms. Getting quorum (the minimum number of people needed for a valid vote) at Council and in elections has (notoriously) been an issue the last several years at Cloyne. To not sugarcoat it: it has gotten worse over time. There are likely many reasons for this — here are just some that come to mind:
Certain people feel disempowered (in the house/in the space)
Increasing privatization of the UC + a housing crisis + gentrification (strategically) drain people’s time and isolate/individuate us
Council takes too long
To take that last “reason”: I know there are ways we can make Council more efficient (admittedly this is one of my blind spots, so please actively advise me on this). But the truth is that democracy is slow and takes time. The neoliberal lens blinds us to the fact that spending this extra time is actually crucial for our survival, feeling connected to others, and keeping our housing cooperative, affordable, high-quality, and empowering. Rather than taking up our time, member control and participation enable us to regain energy at our home and fight bigger battles out there.
So, what will you do this semester to help sustain the cooperative vision and the collective “we”?
Hello world! I’m the Cloyne network coordinator. Like most co-op manager/coordinator positions, the role of network coordinator is really about being a steward of resources, not a manager of people. With the exception of Board Directors, co-op managers are not political representatives, nor are we part of “the management” in the traditional sense – we are elected to carry out specific responsibilities determined by the members.
As network coordinator, my housemates have empowered me to make sure the internet works, to keep the servers running so that all members can use and benefit from the services we host, and to provide education so that other members can get hands-on educational experience with out network infrastructure.
Exercising editorial discretion over the content of the Cloyne blog, however, is not within the scope of what my housemates have empowered me to do. This is why I refused a request from a BSC employee to remove a post publicizing a memorandum endorsed by members as an official act of Council. Instead of removing the post, I’ve helped other coordinators to redact the name of the staff member who resigned, and taken steps to ensure that Google’s cache updated to reflect this. I am also making this post to clarify how the blog works.
In addition, the Cloyne blog has a shared account that any member can use to post anonymously. Posts with the author Cloyne Cloaca, are from this shared account. Like all cooperatively-controlled resources, the Cloyne Cloaca account belongs to the membership, and it is up to each member to be cooperative in how they use that resource.
Each coordinator email also has an account, and posts made from those accounts (such as this one) represent that coordinator’s views as a coordinator, but do not have to go through council and therefore do not necessarily represent the house as a whole. The only body empowered to speak for Cloyne as a whole, is Cloyne Council.
Nothing on the blog should be considered to represent Cloyne as a whole unless it is noted in council minutes. We are in the process of making all of our minutes available online in a single location, https://council.cloyne.org/meeting. If you are looking for minutes from a particular council that have not been posted there, please reach out to the Cloyne Secretary at email@example.com.
Note: This post was written collectively after council authorized a press release for the Cloyne blog. It was posted from the admin account because it had multiple authors and was specifically authorized by council.
To BSC members, past and present, and the broader cooperative community:
We are making this post to encourage any and all cooperatively-minded applicants to apply by the deadline of June 17 for the position of Cloyne Facilities Manager (FM). We also hope to provide an update and assuage any concerns that our previous posts may have created in the minds of potential applicants.
Cloyne’s Cooperative Identity
In May, an absolute majority of the house’s 140 members voted to approve a memorandum that, in part, spelled out some of our cooperative values:
We affirmed that a cooperative thrives when its members, managers, and staff live and work collaboratively and in good faith with one another (Memorandum, affirmation 1)
We affirmed that in member cooperatives such as Cloyne and the BSC, we democratically create our own policy and bylaws, complete with various collectively established channels for resolving disputes. (Memorandum, affirmation 3/4)
We collectively committed to honor these policies, which are the product of a transparent, cooperative, and democratic process. (Memorandum, affirmation 4).
We affirmed our desire “to conduct our house in a habitable, cooperative, and loving manner”
With regards to the role of the Cloyne Facilities Manager (FM) — a professional staff member who resides full-time on the premises of Cloyne Court — we affirmed our belief “that a full-time staff member can and has been beneficial to the managers and members of Cloyne,” and expressed our desire “to cultivate a healthy and communicative relationship”. We affirmed not only “our continued willingness to work with [the FM] in a friendly and cooperative manner”, but also “our support against any retaliation [the FM] might face from [their] supervisors as a result” of adhering to the cooperatively expressed democratic will of the cooperative’s members.
Context for Facilities Manager Vacancy
You may have heard that Cloyne’s previous FM resigned shortly after Cloyne approved and published this memo. The May memorandum also laid out a history of uncooperative actions, with an invitation for the responsible professional managers to join us in affirming some baseline commitments for good-faith cooeperation moving forward. Two and a half weeks after sending the Memorandum, we received the news that the FM had resigned, as well as a lengthy email to all Cloyne members from the BSC’s Executive Director, Kim Benson
Based on this response, as well as several house-level managers’ attempts at dialogue with all of the outgoing FM’s supervisors, we have come to the conclusion that job descriptions and directives promulgated by the FM’s supervisors, which were inconsistent with BSC’s existing policies, bylaws, and mission, are substantially to blame for the FM’s lack of responsiveness to our attempts to resolve issues at the house level. We do not ultimately blame employees for actions undertaken due to perceived economic coercion from their supervisors. As such, we have redacted all references to the name of the outgoing Facilities Manager in the public version of our Memo, to clarify the structural nature of our criticisms and to avoid harming her future job prospects.
Facilities Manager Job Description
Like all job ads, the job ad put out by senior management is only a paraphrasing of a longer description. The official job ad contains the correct instructions for how to apply. However, the title and text of the ad depart in significant and troubling ways from the actual job description as delineated in official BSC policy. The job title “Resident and Facilities Manager” (rather than “Facilities Manager” or even “Residence and Facilities Manager”) mirrors the subtle subversions, additions, and omissions of duties to suggest that the person in this position enforces whatever their supervisors order them to. — rather than work with student-members in accordance with the BSC’s mission, its purposes, and the Rochdale Principles.
A few members requested that the ad be brought more in line with policy, that the application deadline be extended, and that Cloyne’s Board Reps be involved in these parts of the hiring process. Kim refused to do any of these things. So it is only after exhausting attempts to resolve the matter in private that we are resorting to publishing this post. With it, we wish to inform potential applicants for Cloyne’s Facilities Manager position of what policy says about the position and its duties. In the following image, you can see the ad with the extra language added by Senior Management struck through. The text in green is taken from the description in policy, which is the description applicants can expect to be held to, and is consistent with Cloyne’s memorandum.
While we regret the manner in which this process has unfolded thus far, we wholeheartedly encourage all cooperative democracy-oriented people to apply by the deadline of June 17 and/or share this job with like-minded people.
Again, wesympathize and stand in solidarity with rank-and-file staff who join the BSC (that is, the membership) in wanting to realize our cooperative values — even and especially when recent actions by the BSC’s senior management threaten and jeopardize these values. Lastly, we invite anyone who is interested to reach out to Cloyne members at firstname.lastname@example.org to meet or chat with us throughout the hiring process.
Talk soon, Members of Cloyne Court
This press release was written by a group of members empowered by Council with “lots of yes [votes], few [abstentions], 0 nos”.