All posts by clobr1

BSC Budget 2021-2022 Updates

Board has approved the BSC budget for 2021-2022.

This includes:

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.

Cabinet response to rent freeze petition

Hello world,

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. 
  • Access to unit budgets were expanded in fall, and we would support expanding them further for spring. 
  • 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 ( 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 and helped 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. 

Cooperatively Yours,

The Cabinet of the BSC Board of Directors