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Apply to be Cloyne’s next Facilities Manager!

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.

Following is a version of the job ad that accepts all suggestions that are in line with the job description per BSC policy:

JOB RESPONSIBILITIES: 
The Cloyne Residence & Facilities Manager is responsible for overseeing the smooth operation of the room and board program at Cloyne Court.  The FM shall do this by being an active participant in maintaining a cooperative environment at Cloyne Court through modeling cooperative behavior,
checking members in & out of the house; problem solving between members and managers; maintaining financial records; ensuring that maintenance, safety, and habitability standards are maintained; working with house-level managers to enforce contract provisions and house rules; supporting the development of educational and social programming; working with the house Council to support democratic decision-making and member engagement; and acting as a liaison between members, house-level managers, and the house in general to the central-level.  The Cloyne Resident & Facilities Manager plays an integral role in the training, support, leadership development, and supervision of a variety of student house-level managers carrying out various specialized functions (e.g. Academic & Substance Free Theme, Food, House, Kitchen, Maintenance, Social, Workshift, etc.).  The Cloyne Residence & Facilities Manager must carry an emergency phone and be on-call for emergencies; some evening and weekend work is also required.            
The Cloyne Residence & Facilities Manager also acts as a resource for information, assistance, and advice for all BSC house-level managers, house-level operations, and Board-level committees, and completes other duties consistent with the mission of the BSC as required by the Cooperative Experience Manager.
 
JOB REQUIREMENTS:
Applicants must have a four-year college degree and at least one year of residential management experience.  Previous supervisory experience managing multiple staff (and preferably student employees) is required.  Applicants must be familiar with and have the ability to appropriately respond to the many and complex issues faced by college students (e.g. mental health, substance use/abuse, consent and sexual harassment/assault, and other identity, health, and wellness issues).  They should also be familiar with and have the ability to support and provide resources to students with a wide range of disabilities.  Significant experience working with a college/university student population, particularly in a residential setting, and experience with and/or involvement in one or more cooperative or collective organizations, are preferred.
The successful candidate will have excellent management/supervisory skills, strong interpersonal and verbal/written communication skills; conflict resolution skills, the ability to work on sensitive, confidential, and often complicated issues with tact and political acumen; excellent attention to detail; the ability to work independently in a fast-paced residential/office environment; excellent problem-solving/trouble-shooting skills; the ability to analyze problems, gather and evaluate data and develop recommendations for improvement with a tolerance for ambiguity and change, when necessary; intermediate computer skills, including Microsoft Office and Google suite applications; and the desire and ability to work with students in a student-controlled cooperative living and working environment.

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, we sympathize 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 cooperation@cloyne.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”.

Kim’s response to Cloyne’s Memorandum

Background:

On the Saturday before UC Berkeley’s final exams week, the Cloyne House Manager, on behalf of the members of Cloyne Court Hotel, sent an email to [*Facilities manager], our then Facilities Manager (FM). The email included the Spring 2019 Cloyne Memorandum on Staff Cooperation, which laid out the house’s grievances against uncooperative behavior made by both the FM as well as several executive and supervising level staff members of the BSC central offices. It also listed many demands that called for greater cooperativity in decision making about our house. The memorandum can be found here.

The email included several executive and supervising level staff members, including Kim Benson, Executive Director; Marie Lucero, Operations Manager; and Victor Saldivar, Cooperative Experience Manager, as well as all of the house members of Cloyne Court Hotel via the announce@cloyne.org listserv.

We finally received a response from Kim Benson on June 1, 2019, 17 days after the original email and 15 days after the deadline to accept our demands. While she did not refute any of our grievances, Kim Benson flat out rejected our demands on the grounds that her definition of cooperativity is different from ours.

This post includes the original email sent, as well as Kim Benson’s response, in order to provide future Cloyne Members and other members of the BSC more history and context on the matter.

On June 2nd, 2019 during the first council of Cloyne’s summer session, it was decided that new members would be given a week to become familiar with the pertinent context revolving the Spring 2019 Cloyne Memorandum, and that a more thorough discussion would be held at the following council. This post was intended to facilitate this effort.

Original Email:

Original memorandum was attached.

Dear [*Facilities manager] and supervising staff,

Cloyne members have drafted a memorandum enumerating our grievances with staff’s uncooperative behaviour and stating our demands to address these issues. We are taking this step because past attempts to communicate our concerns have proven ineffective.

The motion to send this memorandum was passed through council by an absolute majority of the house. This memorandum was made with the intention of fostering cooperativity and repairing our relationships with staff.

As this issue concerns the entire house, I have cc’ed all Cloyne members, and I request that you ‘reply all’ with your responses.

Best regards,

Cloyne House Manager on behalf of Cloyne Court Hotel

Kim’s Response (emphasis added):

Dear Cloyne Members,

I hope that you all are doing well and that your Summer is off to a good start. I also want to thank you for your patience for a response to your memo — the semester transitions are very busy times for everyone in the BSC community and we wanted to make sure that we were fully considering your feedback/requests, incorporating evolving circumstances, and determining the best way to move forward.  And to be honest, crafting an appropriate response to a five page memo is challenging and time consuming and this was difficult to do while balancing all of our other responsibilities. So we’ll have to figure out more efficient ways to communicate with each other moving forward. I apologize in advance for the length of this email — I had hoped to provide a more succinct response, but ultimately decided that it was better to share more of our thoughts and feelings in hopes that we can find a way to humanize everyone involved a bit more and come together to work toward a common cause.  I do not believe I am able to copy the Cloyne announce list, as was requested, (as I am not a member of the list/group), however, in the interest of transparency, I have bcc’d all current members of Cloyne to make sure everyone has the same information.

First off, I want to assure you that we have heard and understand your concerns.  I want to acknowledge the frustration you have experienced, your desire for a different dynamic with staff, and your desire to create a habitable, cooperative, and supportive community at Cloyne.  As a former co-op member and student house-level manager, I can appreciate your desire to feel empowered as members and student leaders in effectively governing and managing your housing community.  I and all other staff members share those goals and want to do our best to support you in collaborating to achieve them. Our goal as staff in this student-run organization is to try to work with you to figure out how best to support your leadership development and work with you to create systems that will help you and your fellow house members live cooperatively and be as self-reliant as possible while also meeting baseline standards for both Cloyne and the BSC as a whole.  If there are better ways for us to train, provide resources, or otherwise support you and your members in making that a reality, we want to find them and will put forth every effort to make it happen.

With regard to the summary of events you have shared, I will forgo providing a point-by-point response or debating details, as I don’t feel I have sufficient information to do so.  I have not been able to speak directly with many of the Cloyne managers and members involved and do not want to make assumptions about what occurred or anyone else’s actions or intentions without the benefit of their perspective.  I would encourage everyone else to do the same. I will say that, from those I have spoken to, there are definitely divergent opinions and experiences others have shared about some aspects of the narrative that has been put forth. There were a number of other things that reportedly occurred that were omitted, but likely played a significant role in affecting how these situations unfolded and the effectiveness of our working relationships.  The memo also contains some charged language and insinuations about [*Facilities manager] and other staff that seems to be based on misinformation, rumors, and assumptions.

For a variety of reasons, however, I do not believe that written memos/emails, social media, or similar forums is a productive space to unpack such things.  In the memo, restorative justice was referenced, and if there is a desire to engage in that type of process and discuss different decisions that were made and actions taken and to share how that impacted individuals and what we would like see in the future, I and others would definitely be open to that.  I think that would provide a safe and productive space for all parties to share their individual experiences, empathize, and make commitments to engaging more effectively with one another. I do not believe, however, that restorative justice can be replicated via written/electronic communications, so I will not try to do so here.

As some of you may know, I spoke with your House President over the phone on the weekend prior to your last Spring Council meeting and the memo being authored and offered to meet with members of your management team to better understand your concerns and come up with an action plan.  I shared that I believed that approach would be a more appropriate and effective way to provide feedback and for us to develop solutions. However, nobody reached out to meet or to let me know that the house was not interested or willing to do so. Your House President came by at the end of the week, after the memo had been circulated, to check in and indicated that managers did not want to meet due to a lack of trust.  The staff liaison team also attempted to arrange a meeting with your management team earlier in the Spring semester so they could work with you to improve habitability in the house and so that staff could better support your managers, however, from what I understand only two members of your management team attended. While I understand the potential hesitation to meet, that there may have been challenges to people attending these meetings that I am unaware of, and that trust must be developed between folks and earned, I have to be honest that I and other staff have found it challenging and have felt pretty disheartened when we have attempted to reach out, meet up, provide more support, and develop action plans together and these offers have been rebuffed.  These feelings are compounded when coupled with a public approach to providing feedback about our performance and being put on blast.

One of the BSC’s organizational priorities in our current strategic plan is to build more effective, healthy, and constructive feedback mechanisms for professional staff, student staff, and unit-level managers.  Almost all of you have held a job and/or are graduating and will soon transition to the professional arena. I would like you to ask yourself how you would you feel having a five page memo “criticizing” and “condemning” your behavior, sent to the all the members of your housing community, all of your supervisors, and potentially many additional members of the broader community?  How would that impact you? Would it make you feel safe and supported in your working environment and provide you with the best opportunity to consider the feedback and come up with strategies to improve?

It can be tempting at times to publicly criticize unit-level managers, professional staff, or other student leaders via email listservs and/or social media — and we all recognize that such communications have become increasingly common in our broader society.  In my experience, however, this type of feedback usually only leads to folks feeling defensive, shutting down, and feeling humiliated and/or that they are not valued by those they work with. It makes them think about whether or not that is the best place for them.  As a cooperative that strives to be both a progressive housing community and employer, I think that we can and should hold ourselves to a higher standard and treat all members of our community better than this. And if we can’t, I believe this is a major risk factor for our organization as it will jeopardize our ability to recruit and retain the best employees to support our membership over the long-term.  It’s hard to imagine many self-respecting people, especially in a highly competitive and evolving job market, accepting being treated that way, even if they truly love the BSC, our mission, the cooperative movement, and working with students.

This does not mean that you should not hold your staff and student leaders accountable — in order to be an effective student-run organization, you must be able to provide regular, constructive feedback so your leaders and staff understand your needs and can do their best to meet them.  However, in the future I would ask that this feedback be provided in a more professional manner by providing it privately, directly to the employee or to the employee’s supervisor, consistent with our agreed upon procedures and employment policies. If you’re not sure whom to speak to, or feel like you need more support, you’re always welcome to reach out to the appropriate senior manager, me, or you can reach out the BSC President (if you have feedback for me).  I think all staff members recognize that there are areas in which we can improve and opportunities for us to learn from both our successes and failures. We all genuinely want to do our jobs as well as we can — but we need partnership and support in providing an environment that makes it most likely for us to be able to contribute our best and succeed.

With regard to the unconditional demands and affirmations that you have requested we agree to, we are unable to do so.  This does not mean that I and others believe that the concerns or requests that underlie the demands are not important or valid — we certainly do.  However, there are various aspects of the demands/affirmations and/or the manner in which they have been presented that would be inconsistent with BSC policy, our housing contract, contractual agreements we have with outside entities, responsibilities we have as a student housing provider, and/or with what we sincerely believe, based on our previous cooperative and professional experience, would be effective.  I and other relevant staff are more than willing, however, to sit down with members of your management team and work collaboratively to develop agreements, based on input from all parties, that are feasible and responsive to the concerns and needs you have shared. And I am confident that this is achievable.

I understand that some folks feel that not agreeing to these unconditional, one-sided demands is “uncooperative”, however, that may just be due to us having different views, at present, of what it means to be cooperative.  And that’s okay. I actually don’t believe any one person has the perfect definition of what being cooperative means, nor that it’s universal for different individuals or groups of people. I think what cooperation looks like can and should constantly evolve based on the collective energy of the community, which inherently will change as the make-up of the constituents within the community changes and as the individuals that comprise the community change and hopefully grow within it.  What exactly cooperation means and should look like for our particular group, as we work together, will need to be co-created amongst us.

In your memo, you indicated that cooperation requires collaboration and shared values.  I think there is universal agreement around this. However, in order to collaborate, create shared values, and develop trust and more effective working relationships, I think that we need to be willing to meet and actively work, in person, with one another.  We will not be able to achieve those things if we work in isolation, make unilateral decisions without others’ input, impose unconditional demands on each other, or try to marginalize the contribution any individual or group is able to make in helping shape the cooperative community.  I don’t think that we will we ever achieve a truly cooperative housing community and working environment unless we humanize everyone involved, strive to empathize with each other, share ideas and perspectives, problem-solve, and come to collective agreements about how we would like to move forward as a community.  That’s going to take working alongside each other and learning as we go. In order to actually co-create our vision and plans, we’ll need to do it together.

The need for Cloyne management, members, and staff to work more closely and effectively with each other always exists, but will be even more necessary this Summer.  After considering her future plans, [*Facilities manager], your Facilities Manager, has notified us that she has decided to move on and pursue other educational and professional opportunities.  She will be wrapping up her work and will be moving out next week. For those of you who had the opportunity to live and work with [*Facilities manager] and are interested in staying in touch or learning more about her new adventures, I encourage you to reach out to her directly before she leaves.  

We will begin the recruitment and hiring process for a new Facilities Manager and will work to fill the position as soon as we are able.  In the meantime, Cloyne managers, members, and staff will need rally, come together, and support each other to develop and implement a transition plan so that we can ensure Cloyne operates smoothly over the Summer and that members’ needs are met.  We’ll also need to work together to try to learn from the challenges we’ve experienced and provide a training and support plan for the new Facilities Manager that will bring them up to speed as quickly as possible and help them be able to carry out their duties in alignment with your needs as members, cooperative values, the BSC’s expectations and goals, and the agreements we’ve made with the University regarding the position and the role it is expected to play in supporting Cloyne’s operations.  We’ll be reaching out to your management team to begin creating this early next week.

Though all of this may seem challenging, I also want to assure you there is reason to be hopeful.  Over the course of Cloyne’s history and the BSC’s 85-year history we have experienced far greater challenges than this.  In every instance we’ve been able to come together and find a way to overcome those challenges in order to ensure that Cloyne and the BSC can continue to thrive and provide an affordable, quality, cooperative community to students who need it.  And I’m confident that we can and will do it again and that we’ll be able to continue to make improvements and leave both Cloyne and the BSC better than we found it. We look forward to rolling up our sleeves, sharing ideas, problem-solving, and working with you all this accomplish this.

Sincerely,

Kim

Editor note: Facilities manager’s name redacted for privacy.

Uncooperative behavior by staff in the BSC

Update: Executive Director Kim Benson responded to our memorandum on June 2. You can read the text here.

Dear members of the Berkeley Student Cooperative,

At about 1:30 am on Wednesday, May 15, 2019, Cloyne members sent to Cloyne’s Facilities Manager ([*Facilities manager]) and their supervising staff a memorandum about their uncooperative behavior. We took this step because past attempts to communicate our concerns diplomatically had proven ineffective. Almost unanimously approved by an absolute majority of our 140-person house during Finals week, the memo enumerated our grievances and demands, including but not limited to the following actions by Cloyne’s Facilities Manager:

    • Called the police during council, when no one was in imminent danger, without the knowledge or consent of members

 

    • Without the members’ consent:

       

       

        • Closed the house’s Free Pile multiple times

       

        • Ordered a dump run with 1-800-got-junk, which threw away the entire contents of the Free Pile

       

      • Threw away the entire contents of the furniture room

 

    • Illegitimately threatened members with unappealable fines, without having a policy basis to do so

 

  • Criticized and imposed demands on managers without realistic consideration of managers’ material and emotional capacity to respond

We sent this memo in good faith, with the intention of fostering cooperativity and repairing our relationships with staff. We cc’ed the BSC’s Cooperative Experience Manager (Victor Saldivar), Executive Director (Kim Benson), and Operations Manager (Marie Lucero). Several of our new managers were even in the same room as these staff members during training this last week. In spite of all this, staff did not agree to our reasonable demands. Even after a one-week extension for good faith, staff members haven’t even given us the slightest acknowledgment of having received the memo. This is simply insulting.

These experiences lead Cloyne members to question the commitment of the BSC’s staff to the cooperative aspect of our organization’s mission. We said in our memo that we would refuse Central the use of Cloyne for training in the case of an adequate response, and Central responded by simply moving training to Rochdale. Those of us experienced in university organizing recognize this tactic as one that the University of California relies so much upon: wait just long enough for agitated students to graduate, and then institutional turnover will scatter any remaining energy for collective action. This approach leads us to believe that not even an unconditional agreement to Cloyne’s original demands would be a sufficient response: we require and deserve more than that.

We therefore write this letter as a rallying call to all BSC members. We are tired and angry with staff for constantly refusing to adopt cooperative solutions proposed by members, and instead for resorting to uncooperative actions that punish rather than support members. We desire and know that we are capable of achieving a clean and habitable BSC — not in spite of our commitment to cooperativity, but because of it. We believe that a BSC built upon goodwill, mutual aid, and anti-oppression is also the model that operationally will work best for us now and in the long-term. Which is to say: we are willing to work with all staff in a friendly and cooperative manner, so long as they are willing to align the BSC with a cooperative organizational model. We just don’t see that happening without further pressure from members.

If we want a chance at pushing back against Central’s growing uncooperativity, members from every co-op need to come together in solidarity. Central is happy and able to brush aside these concerns when they only come from the “vocal minority” — but not when we have strength in numbers. The Board of Directors is the highest-level decision-making body of the organization, to which staff ultimately must answer. And each co-op elects and may recall its own Board Rep(s). Therefore, it is imperative that a cross-co-op coalition of BSC members form, in order to discuss the issues that afflict us and organize around ways of co-creating a more cooperative BSC.

In the coming week or so, some co-opers will be putting together a petition for other BSC members to sign. The scope of the petition will encapsulate these points and more, and the goal is to demonstrate the support from a substantial portion of the membership for a more cooperative BSC. If you would like to be involved, please reach out to ourbsc33@gmail.com. With the signatories, we can then organize a meeting for discussing these issues in further detail. Everyone will be welcome, including those who are unfamiliar with the BSC’s policy and/or organizational structure, and especially members from the BSC’s target demographics. Until then —

Cooperatively submitted, and in solidarity,

Some Clones

Full text of Cloyne Memorandum Spring 2019

TO:[*Facilities manager], Facilities Manager, and all supervising staff complicit in the uncooperative behavior.
CC: BSC Executive and Supervising Staff, including Kim Benson, Victor Saldivar, and Marie Lucero.
FROM: BSC Members residing at Cloyne Court Co-op
SUBJECT: Response to persistent uncooperative behavior by the Cloyne Facilities Manager
Delivered via email to [*Facilities manager]@ bsc.coop, 15 May, 2019

To [*Facilities manager], the Cloyne Court Co-op Facilities Manager:

After careful consideration, we as members of Cloyne Court Co-op have come to the decision that the dynamic we have with you as Facilities Manager must change in order to cultivate a healthy and communicative relationship that puts our community first. As members, we wish to conduct our house in a habitable, cooperative, and loving manner. However, throughout the past year, we believe that certain actions you have taken in your role as Facilities Manager have inhibited  us from operating in this manner.

We have therefore written this memo to formally reiterate and record past interactions with you where we attempted to communicate our grievances regarding your uncooperative behavior. Our purpose is to 1) provide the relevant background of our discontent; 2) list the grievances we have with the uncooperative actions taken, several of which have violated Cloyne Policy and BSC Policy; and 3) list demands to which you must agree if we the members are to have a harmonious relationship with you as Facilities Manager.

We understand that these are actions you have taken in an effort to fulfill both direct and perceived expectations your supervisors have led you to believe you must fulfill. In particular, we reject Central’s framing of the Facilities Manager position as having a duty to ‘pick up managers’ slack’. We believe that this positioning of you as a scapegoat has made you feel that you must resort to more expedient but less cooperative approaches to issues. We therefore express our disapproval of any and all actions taken by your supervisors that have created both implicit and explicit pressure that may have caused you to employ the behavior being criticized.

To the extent that your interactions with us mirror your own interactions with your supervisors, we extend our heartfelt solidarity. We unequivocally condemn any and all similar behavior on the part of your supervisors. The fact that you have perceived such a work environment as acceptable, let alone cooperative or necessary, speaks to a culture of intimidation and fear that is more structural than personal.

We wish to express our continued willingness to work with you in a friendly and cooperative manner, so long as you are willing to respect, acknowledge, and accept our demands. Additionally, we offer you our support against any retaliation you might face from your supervisors as a result.

Background

Since January of 2019, there have been a multitude of one-on-one meetings between you and Cloyne members in which we have tried to communicate our dissatisfaction with your uncooperative actions. You have received direct feedback through VOCs, personal emails, in-person meetings, and house list emails where members have expressed our concerns. Your response to these concerns has included an acknowledgement of their existence followed by apparent apathy and disregard, and you have persisted with the same criticized behavior.

On May 10, 2019, we invited you to a meeting with several members to collectively express our concerns with your uncooperative actions.

In that meeting, around 15 members, including a large portion of the manager team, expressed our desire to work with you, and provided practical solutions that embodied the cooperative values we want to live by. We urged you to reject threatening the members with fines as a way to assure the cleanliness of the house throughout move-outs; we presented a reasonable plan that was more cooperative; we reminded you that you do not have the authority to limit member access to parts of the house and resources without council approval.

You responded positively throughout the meeting when we discussed our relationship, and seemed to share our hope to work in a more cooperative fashion. In the end however, you rejected our solutions in favor of the same punitive and uncooperative behaviors that have led to our dissatisfaction, invalidating our concerns and eliminating our faith that our concerns are heard.

Grievances

According to BSC Policy, the Cloyne Facilities Manager shall be “an active participant in maintaining a cooperative environment at Cloyne Court through modeling cooperative behavior.” You have failed to fulfill this job description in the following ways:

    1. Closed the house’s Free Pile multiple times without the members’ consent.
    2. Threw away the entire contents of the Free Pile on a separate occasion without the members’ consent.
    3. Locked the furniture room and threw away old furniture without consulting or even informing the members.
    4. Communicated a plan to throw away old bikes that may have belonged to members without providing reasonable time for members to claim their bikes.
    5. Set arbitrary deadlines for Room Bids, and later barred members who could not meet these inflexible deadlines but showed up for room bids. Refused to consider the House Manager’s objections to these rules.
    6. Set similar deadlines for late move-outs and then cited lack of capacity as the reason for not making exceptions, despite managers offering alternative solutions and volunteering to manage the situation themselves.
    7. Established an illegitimate bathroom clean policy and fined some members even after they provided proof of fulfilling their task.
    8. Called the police during council, when no one was in imminent danger, without the knowledge or consent of members. Further, refused to agree never to take that action again even after members expressed feeling betrayed, uncomfortable, and made unsafe by the action.
    9. Illegitimately threatened members with uncooperative fines without having a policy basis to do so, either at the house- or BSC-level.
    10. Required members who are moving out to sign an agreement that would cause them to relinquish their ability to appeal a fine that is wrongfully imposed.
    11. Constantly refused to adopt proposed solutions to problems, and instead resorted to punitive actions that were uncooperative and not in support of manager responsibilities.
    12. Criticized and imposed demands on managers without realistic consideration of managers’ material and emotional capacity to respond. Did not give managers adequate time to respond in an effective or cooperative way, as said demands were the first and only form of communication managers received about any perceived issues.

We recognize that these faults are not yours alone, but also a product of your training and what you have been told are your responsibilities as a staff member of the BSC. We are aware that you may not have been properly instructed on the tools and solutions available to you in a member cooperative or how to work in a cooperative way with members and managers. We are also aware that other staff have condoned and encouraged these actions by giving you misleading information about policy, and in some cases directing you to take these actions, whether implicitly through excessive pressure or explicitly through direct orders.

Because of this, we are willing to work with you, and invite you to be a part of our community upon your acceptance of the demands outlined below.

Demands

As a result of the grievances listed above, we ask [*Facilities manager] and her supervisors to unconditionally accept our following demands by May 17, 2019 at 5PM. Refusing to do so is to reaffirm their intent to continue to act in an uncooperative manner that is in direct conflict with the will of the members of the Cloyne Court Co-op. Our demands are as follows:

  1. Under no condition shall you threaten members with fines that have no basis in BSC policy, House-level policy, or within the member contract. You acknowledge and affirm that only members have the power to assess an (appealable) uncooperative fine on another member.
  2. Under no condition shall you make decisions on behalf of the members that affect all members without council approval first if possible, or good-faith consultation with member-managers as appropriate. You recognize that this includes limiting access to common space as well as throwing away or otherwise removing members’ property, including collectively owned property like the Free Pile contents and house furniture.
  3. You acknowledge that Cloyne’s Facilities Manager is a staff position hired by the BSC to serve Cloyne’s members in co-creating a habitable home and inclusive community. You affirm that any powers delegated by the members to the position, as with other manager positions, are appealable by Council.
  4. Unless there is a threat of imminent danger of bodily harm, you do not call the police without exhausting appropriate options first (i.e. calling the paramedics, calling the fire department, calling Path to Care at (510)643-2005, trusting in members to handle the situation, etc.), nor without a good-faith effort to reach out to members in the vicinity to determine the best options for handling the situation at hand.
    1. If you do call the police, you accept that you are responsible for (i) Notifying the members that you have called the police, (ii) Staying with the police from when they arrive until they leave, (iii) The police’s actions within the house, and (iv) Members’ reactions to you calling the police and members’ reactions to police presence.
    2. You acknowledge that implicit bias affects us all and that feeling uncomfortable should not be conflated with feeling unsafe. You accept that calling the police puts our members and community in danger, especially those from the BSC’s target demographic groups,  including but not limited to: those who are Black, undocumented, trans, homeless, indigenous, people of color, disabled, queer, and/or low-income.
    3. You acknowledge that calling the police at council without consulting members on the evening of April 22nd, 2019 was harmful and that you put members and guests in danger.
  5. Instead of resorting to uncooperative actions when trying to solve problems, you will come to council to brainstorm solutions with members. When issues are time sensitive and you are unable to come to council, you will work in tandem with managers and members to come up with cooperative solutions to house issues. Furthermore, in the interest of effective communication, you agree to forward any messages from central-level staff about house-level issues to the relevant manager(s).

Further, we ask you to join us in affirming the following commitments:

  1. That a cooperative thrives when its members, managers, and staff live and work collaboratively and in good faith, and that it dies when threats, fines, unnecessary police involvement, and paternalistic decision-making take hold.
  2. That non-member staff are hired to work cooperatively with managers and other members, rather than invoking a top-down power dynamic.
  3. That Cloyne has its own house policy and bylaws, and that any changes to procedures or rules described therein require motions and votes from members. We collectively commit to honor these procedures and work within our cooperatively established channels for resolving disputes.
  4. That members and managers are required to adhere to policies that are the product of a transparent, cooperative, democratic process, even under actual or perceived pressure from supervisors to violate policy.

These demands should be accepted in writing, and implemented in action during the remainder of your tenure as Facilities Manager. A non-response or continuation of uncooperative behavior will be regarded as a refusal of our demands. If, by 5PM on May 17th, these demands are not accepted, we are willing to deny and/or protest Central Office’s use of Cloyne’s space for New Member Orientation, manager training, and other essential BSC events.

Cooperative behavior requires collaboration and good faith on all sides. We believe that a full-time staff member can and has been beneficial to the managers and members of Cloyne. However, we are also willing to work separately from uncooperative staff and take back authority that was delegated to the Facilities Manager position but was initially held by the members. And we are willing to protest illegitimate fines en masse by refusing to pay them. Adhering to these demands is a first step to restoring trust.

Restorative justice is about more than reinvigorating the integrity of the community; it is honoring the radical act of care we call home. Reparations are intentions for holding sacred space. Home is a sacred space, and we know you have the capacity to care, and would like this place to be your home too.

Cooperatively,

Members of Cloyne Court, a Berkeley Student Cooperative

Approved by the Supermajority: 72 ayes, 1 nay, 8 abstensions

 

 

Editor note: Facilities manager’s name redacted for privacy.