What is a Co-op?

A cooperative is a type of business that is owned and operated for the mutual benefit of its members. This is done through being a democratic organization where members have full ownership and control over their earnings and assets. The SHC is a housing cooperative where residents own and maintain their own houses, but there are a variety of other types of cooperatives such as credit unions, worker cooperatives, and consumer cooperatives.

By contributing and becoming an active member of a co-op, you have the power to shape that business. You control the politics and economics of what is truly your organization. The International Cooperative Alliance, in their 1995 statement on cooperative values, declared…

“Co-operatives are based on the values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity. In the tradition of their founders, co-operative members believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility and caring for others.”

The MSU Student Housing Cooperative owns 14 houses in East Lansing, 2 in Lansing, and 1 in Meridian Township, all of which are entirely member-owned and democratically operated.

Why Is Living in a Cooperative Different From Other Housing Options?

Cost – Not-for-profit:

Because we own our own houses, we choose what we pay for rent each month. Co-ops are at-cost because your charges are based on what you and the other members decide we all pay. Costs are therefore much lower than other off-campus options because there is no landlord trying to make a profit. The money you put into the SHC is contributed to the betterment of everyone in the co-ops.

Control Self-Governing:

Every member of the house has a say in how it’s run. House meetings open up a forum for member concerns and inquiry. Whether it’s a proposal to have a party, decisions about house jobs, or a new meal plan, the house makes the rules. You can also choose to get involved  in leadership at an organizational level to help make decisions about how the co-ops are run overall.

Community – People-Centered:

Living in a cooperative is also different from other housing options because of the wide variety of people you will have the opportunity to meet both within your own house and within the co-op system at large. The bonds you build with your fellow co-opers are often the most meaningful because of the shared sense of responsibility and community that forms in cooperative houses.


Member Rights & Responsibilities



  • To live in a democratically-managed House under the auspices of a democratically-run organization.
  • To regularly participate in House Meetings.
  • To participate in the governing of the SHC (either directly or through elected House Officers).
  • To  read all communications from the House and SHC. 
  • To live in a room and House which are safe and secure.
  • To abide by all House and SHC security measures.
  • To lock doors and windows.
  • To monitor all guests.
  • To respect the property and privacy of others.
  • To refrain from illegal activity.
  • To live in a room and House which are clean sanitary, and in good repair.
  • To share in whatever work is required to keep the room and House clean, sanitary, and in good repair.
  • To communicate with the House and SHC when such work is needed.
  • To live in a House that is free from abuse, harassment, and prejudicial behavior of any kind.
  • To refrain from any actions that would discriminate against, harass, or abuse another member.
  • To refrain from any actions that would cause physical, emotional, or psychological harm.
  • To privacy in their own room.
  • To respect the privacy and personal space of others.
  • To access all House and SHC rules, policies, and financial records.
  • To pay all House and SHC charges; and work to become familiar with the SHC Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws, Code of Operations, contracts and House Constitutions.
  • To a balanced and fair dispute resolution process.
  • To work proactively to resolve disputes in a forthright, peaceful, and civil manner— beginning at the House-level whenever possible and appropriate.
  • To competent House and Executive Officers.
  • To communicate and cooperate with House and Executive Officers in the execution of their duties. 
  • To hold Officers accountable and provide constructive feedback.
  • To voice opinions; to be heard and listened to. 
  • To improve and change the House and the SHC. 
  • To critique problems in the House or SHC.
  • To hear and listen to others. 
  • To be open to other members’ ideas.
  • To work for creative solutions to problems.