Inter-Cooperative Council at the University of Michigan

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Inter-Cooperative Council
Housing cooperative
Founded 1934 (1934)
Headquarters Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States
Members Mature Students & Community Members
Website Inter-Cooperative Council

The Inter-Cooperative Council at the University of Michigan (ICC) is a student owned and operated housing cooperative serving students and community members in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The ICC is an active member of NASCO.


In response to the harsh economic times imposed by the Great Depression, members of the Socialist Club at the University of Michigan founded the Michigan Socialist House, located at 335 East Ann Street, in 1932. In return for four to five hours of work and two dollars each week, each of the 18 founding members received room, board, barber, canning, and laundry service. The success of the Michigan Socialist House fueled other cooperative endeavors by the Socialist Club, the most notable being the Michigan Cooperative Boarding House, later to be renamed the Michigan Wolverine Eating Co-op. The Michigan Wolverine Eating Co-op would later play a vital role in the expansion of the cooperative movement on campus. By serving as a common ground for members of the Socialist Club and the Student Christian Association, which owned the building at the time, the Wolverine Eating Co-op introduced the idea of housing cooperatives to many within the religious community.

The second wave of student cooperative houses was formally initiated in 1934 through the efforts of the Reverend and Mrs. H. L. Pickerill. The Pickerills welcomed students to live in their house in exchange for performing household chores. By 1936 there were a total of eight students living in the Pickerills' attic who, with the help of a $700 loan from the Reverend, rented a house on Thompson Street naming it the Student Cooperative House and, later, Rochdale House. Because the women who often visited the Rochdale Co-op were in a similar economic position to their male counterparts and the University did not allow for males and females to cohabitate, they began to look for a house of their own. A house at 517 East Ann Street [1] was rented and ran smoothly as the Girls' Cooperative House until 1939 when it was forced to move to 1511 Washtenaw Street [2], adopting the new name, the Alice Freeman Palmer House, named after prominent women's educational rights activist Alice Freeman Palmer.

In 1937, adhering to the Rochdale Principles of cooperation among cooperatives and continuing education, the four existing student cooperatives, the Michigan Socialist House, the Michigan Wolverine Eating Co-op, the Rochdale cooperative House and the yet to be renamed Girls' Cooperative House joined together to form the Campus Cooperative Council. This organization later became known as the Inter-Cooperative Council and, in 1939, submitted a draft of its first constitution to be adopted and ratified by each of the cooperatives on campus. The increased economy, efficiency, and publicity gained through the establishment of the Inter-Cooperative Council facilitated the establishment of many more student cooperatives on Campus. This expansion reached its peak prior to the outbreak of World War II when the ICC consisted of 12 independent rooming and boarding houses. All of the organization's houses were rented until 1943 when Stevens House was purchased, named after Albert K. Stevens, an early supporter of the ICC.

The ICC hired its first paid executive director, Luther H. Buchele, in 1951, although some students felt having paid leadership was at odds with cooperative values.[1] Under his leadership, the Inter-Cooperative Council began a steady period of expansion from 1953 to 1978, during which several more houses were purchased and the North Campus Co-ops were constructed.


In accordance with the second Rochdale principle, democratic member control, ultimate authority in the organization lies with the Board of Directors. The ICC Board meets on Sundays, usually twice a month during the academic year (September to April) and one a month during the summer (May to August).

Board of Directors[edit]

The Board of Directors includes one voting representative from each house (including Escher), the chairpersons of standing committees (non-voting), and the General Manager (non-voting).


Each board member must serve on a committee. The committees are:

  • Diversity Committee (DivCom)
  • Membership Committee (MemCom)
  • Recruitment Committee (ReCo)
  • Education Committee (EdCom)
  • Finance Committee (FinCom)
  • Major Maintenance Committee (MaMaCom)

The chairs of each committee, the ICC president, and the General Manager sit on another committee that helps to coordinate the efforts of all the other committees and the board of directors. This committee is known as the Coordinating Committee (CoCo).


The ICC currently owns 19 houses around the Central and North Campuses of the University of Michigan. The houses are primarily named after past co-opers and are often known locally by the honoree's last name (e.g. Karl D. Gregory House goes by simply 'Gregory').

Gregory House, an ICC affiliated cooperative house

Central Campus[edit]

Harold Osterweil Cooperative House[edit]

Osterweil House

The Harold Osterweil Cooperative House is a student housing cooperative located on East Jefferson Street in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The cooperative is named after Economics professor Harold Osterweil.[2] Its first residents were men during the summer of 1946, but in the fall of 1946 Osterweil became a women's house and in 1970 became co-ed. By the time of its purchase, all new student housing had to be approved by the University because students were legally considered minors at that time. Because the ICC moved so fast in its expansion, the University was not asked for approval until after the house was already purchased. The first house that the University granted approval for retroactively is most likely Osterweil.[citation needed]

Osterweil is the third co-operative and is one of the smallest in the Inter-Cooperative Council at the University of Michigan (ICC). It is located across from the Institute for Social Research and is in immediate walking distance from downtown Ann Arbor and Central Campus. The LSA Building, Student Activities Building, and the Union are a few notable landmarks that are in close proximity of the house.[3]

At Osterweil there are four single rooms and four double rooms which typically house a total of twelve people. Generally there is an equal number of graduate and undergraduate students and the ratio of males to females is encouraged to be kept at a strict 1:1 ratio. However, an exception was made for the 2009-2010 school year in which the house contained 7 males and 5 females.

Dinner is served five nights a week, giving members the option of dining out or preparing their own meals when dinner is not served on Friday and Saturday. Osterweil has made a point to be flexible and respect their residents dietary wishes and restrictions. There is always a vegetarian option at dinner for those who wish and, as in Fall 08, meals can also be made without dairy products for those that are lactose intolerant. In addition to the meals part of the boarding charges covers a wide variety of food that is deemed "guff", which stands for General Unspecified Free Food[4] but can be used to refer to any "free" object in the house whether it is a nice office chair or a colorful rug.

Each year the house elects many officers that tend to issues such as budgeting, food purchasing, and maintenance. At the beginning of every semester a House President is elected who oversees and coordinates all the officers as well as hosts house wide meetings and forums every month.

North Campus[edit]

Which was previously two houses:

Past Houses[edit]

Several ICC houses have closed, sold, or been lost to fire since the creation of the Inter-Cooperative Council, including:

  • A.K. Stevens House (Purchased in 1943, burnt down in 2004)
  • Brandeis House (Purchased 1956)
  • Congress House (Founded 1939, dissolved during World War II)
  • Palmer House (Founded 1939, dissolved during World War II)
  • Rochdale House (Founded 1937, dissolved during World War II)
  • Xanadu House (Purchased in 1971, sold in 1986)
  • Zeno House (2006-2008)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Long-time head of U-M cooperative student housing organization dies". Ann Arbor News. August 4, 2008. 
  2. ^ The Michigan Independent
  3. ^ ICC's Official Website for Osterweil House
  4. ^ Owen House's GUFF Definition
  • Mericle, Amy, Suzanne Wilson, and James Jones. In Our Own Hands: A History of Student Housing Cooperatives at the University of Michigan. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-Cooperative Council, 1994. ISBN 0-9639935-1-8

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 42°16′56″N 83°44′43″W / 42.282255°N 83.74525°W / 42.282255; -83.74525