Save the Co-op: Donation Boycott of the University of Maryland
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Sign your name and graduation year to join the community of students and alumni pledging to refrain from donating to the University of Maryland if it closes the Maryland Food Collective at the end of May. The donation boycott will continue until a new student-run cooperative space is secured.
The past few years have posed serious challenges to the co-op, both externally and internally, which led to current workers managing a significant amount of inherited debt. These include changes to the dining plan in 2016, the proliferation of subsidized cafes and vegetarian-friendly options across campus, and a slow deterioration of the co-op’s operating structures.
Despite our efforts to restructure and revitalize to overcome these problems, we weren’t able to successfully tackle the debt over these last two semesters. In March, Stamp decided that the co-op wouldn’t be able to pay back its debts and that the co-op would close at the end of the Spring 2019 semester.
Since this crisis started, the co-op community organized to do everything possible to save the space. The Solidarity Co-op, a new long-term model for worker-community governance of the co-op, has been an integral way for this work to happen. By the end of the month, the co-op will have met all its financial obligations except to Stamp for unpaid rent and utilities. The initiatives and changes developed over the last two months have breathed new life into the co-op’s viability and this community of workers, students, faculty, campus staff, and alumni believes it can meet the challenges ahead.
Stamp administration have committed to their decision to close the co-op and do not believe these changes can succeed. University of Maryland President Wallace Loh stated he doesn’t want to “micromanage” Stamp and the co-op would need to be creative about campus politics if we want to succeed.
Our goal is to agree to a payment plan with Stamp and to be able to continue our efforts to build the co-op as a community-driven institution. This comes at a critical historical moment where young people are searching for an alternative economic model that can meet the environmental and economic crises we collectively face.
The donation boycott is a call to action to demand the university reverse this decision and allow the co-op a chance to implement the viability plan. If the co-op does close in May, supporters will continue the boycott until a student-run cooperative space is secured. This tactic of collective power will build a mandate for the cooperative movement in College Park, whether the current co-op or otherwise, and ensure the legacy of the Maryland Food Collective lives on.
If we want this university to prioritize its missions of sustainability, student entrepreneurship, and a valuable campus experience for our community, students and alumni must make our collective voices heard. Withholding donor support is the most effective way we can build this power together. Please join our struggle to save this space for future generations of Terps.
Join supporters for our free Celebration of the Co-op event on May 10th.
For more information on our initiatives and changes, see the following Financial Memo prepared for the April 10 meeting between Stamp and co-op workers and the Financial Viability Document prepared in late March.
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