(Go to Washington Univrsity Coop website)

Dear Cooperators,

Thank you for working with me since Spring 2003. When we made our decision to work with Washington University, and even to name ourselves after them as a courtesy, I let the other founding members know that it might be good politics to distance the Coop from me. If the Coop were to succeed, I might be given some credit, and thus it would be harder to get rid of me. I don't think you ever took that quite seriously. Perhaps you did not then realize how vulnerable are Lecturers and other Teaching Faculty with year-to-year contracts, or how vicious University politics can be. In any case, you chose to work with me, and to accept my donation of labor and resources, and you have chosen to give me your public support. Thank you (and KWUR) for the recent fundraiser on behalf of my cooperative education initiative (and your support, individual and collective, of me personally, and my continued employment here at Washington University). Thank you for not distancing yourselves from me, as I advised you to do.

In autumn 2004 I sent a message entitled "Gratuitous Faculty Advice," to the new residents of our first University-owned Coop House, "The Perry." I quote from this email:

Last year whenever I would go to a function with University administrators, they all seemed to think I am your "faculty sponsor" or "faculty advisor." I always told them that we are not hierarchically organized, so there is no "faculty advisor" per se, but I am what we call a "core member," defined as someone who attends meetings, does work hours, and has been with the Coop almost from its inception Even so, as I believe I am still the only "core member" who happens to be faculty, I am going to give you some gratuitous advice:

1) I recommend that in Autumn 04 we solidify our relationship with Student Union, as [one student] advocated last Spring. I recommend that in Spring 05 we incorporate as a NASCO cooperative, as [another student] advocated last Spring.

2) I recommend that we maintain our constructive relationship with the University. We have done very well with that so far. But please be cautious... They haven't really "given" us anything. [Note: this was written before we got the grant to renovate "The Perry" basement]

3) I recommend that we maintain our ties to the Student Worker Alliance, and resist any attempt by anyone to drive a wedge between our two groups. This summer [a student of mine who is an SWA member] came by my apartment with a surprise gift: a bicycle, donated to the Coop, as well as the tarpaulin to keep rain off barbecues (I would like to ask permission to use this one more time, for my big barbecue two weeks from now, before physically transferring it to the WashU Coop building). These were modest tokens of the SWA's gratitude for our solidarity with them. [The student] wants me to convey his personal gratitude to the Coop for putting a link to the Student Life story about the demonstration in favor of a living wage last spring. He informed me that the WashU Coop was the only student organization with a web link to the SWA. [The student] was thrilled to hear Chancellor Wrighton cite the SWA favorably in his speech at the graduation ceremony. I was there; we could not believe what we were hearing; we just cheered! The University is taking the SWA, and the WashU Coop, very seriously. We have their attention, but they do not know quite what to make of us. Perhaps this spring, or the next, Chancellor Wrighton will mention us in his speech, favorably I hope.

4) I recommend continued outreach to other campus groups, including conservatives such as "green Republicans" and even the Libertarians, who probably disagree with most of us on economics but agree on free speech issues. One reason I was so happy with the University Students' Rochdale Housing Project in Santa Barbara was its ideological diversity. My first roommate was an Evangelical Lutheran who had lived in a Christian commune in Caribou, Maine, and who was a Reagan Republican and a Captain in the Air Force Reserve. My second roommate was an extremely liberal Protestant Democrat. None of us fit any stereotype of Coop dwellers, but we all cooperated and did our work hours faithfully. The USRHP was a long-established and very mature Coop, and an accepted part of the UCSB scene. This is the future I envision for the WashU Coop.

This is still the future I envision for the Coop, and this is still my advice: keep an open network, maintain our ideological diversity, and work with everyone who shares our values, without being coopted by anyone. Let's not endorse any political party or candidate. But please, let's never turn our backs on the workers. Let us support anyone who is out of a job for supporting workers' rights (not just me).

Very soon (please check the Cervantes Free University calendar) we will begin a new discussion group on "The Myth of Mondragon," about the alleged romanticization of the Basque worker's cooperatives, especially by the "progressive" wing of the international business class. According to the reviews, the book argues that managers have discovered that supporting cooperatives can be an effective union-busting strategy, a way to drive a wedge between co-op workers and labor unions. We will be reading this book, and other Marxist, liberal, libertarian, conservative, and neo-conservative views on these issues. I hope that our discussion will help us better understand our relationship with Washington University, its community and its bureaucracy.

Please, let's never again give anyone a good reason to call us the "Green Fraternity" or the "WashU Coopt." This is my gratuitious faculty advice.


Jerome Bauer

Still a proud, loyal member of the Teaching Faculty of Washington University, and a proud member of this community....