The following blog post has been written by the committee of the recently formed UCC Co-operative Society
The UCC Co-Operative Society is a group of students whose overarching goal is to promote and help facilitate the establishment of co-operatives in Ireland and further afield.
We decided to begin formally working towards the establishment of the society in the October of 2019. A visit from a member of the Edinburgh Student Housing Co-Op to the UCC campus organised by the Centre for Co-Op Studies being a large motivating factor.
Looking at successes and movements elsewhere we felt now was as good a time as any to address various societal and economic issues in a way that was both long term and sustainable; including but not limited to issues particularly relevant to students such as housing.
Our membership from there has grown to an eclectic mix, with students being drawn to us from across the schools of the college, with a large contingent from the Government and Politics courses.
Now that we are a newly recognised society and are able to operate on campus our plan is to work on education and promotion surrounding key ideas like solidarity economy and the co-operative model, escalating from there to get some projects started to put our ideals into practice. We are confident that with student, staff and co-operative support we will be able to help establish a community from which a wide reaching and effective co-operative movement can grow.
While our initial projects will be in the lines of establishing a student library for Co-Op material we’ll be working towards scaling up to the likes of establishing student housing and food co-operatives.
We’re planning our approach to facilitating student engagement with co-ops to be multi-faceted: dealing with the practical skills necessary to set up or be part of a housing, agricultural or worker co-op, encouraging practice and collaboration around creative skills, investigating the cultural and political reach of co-operatives as well as providing a social space for like-minded people.
UCC has a thriving scene for student interest and we hope to live up to our name by running events in association with other student groups, to demonstrate the intersection of the co-operative movement with others and provide an entry way for people to discover the world of co-ops, collectives, economic sustainability and how to go about achieving a more democratic society.
We will also be working in conjunction with the UCC Centre for Co-Op Studies itself, supporting their events in the hope of bringing them to a wider audience. The Centre runs MSc programmes in Co-Operatives and sustainability; given the universal potential we feel co-ops hold for students, undergrad or post-grad, we have enshrined the position of Post-Graduate Representative in our constitution to ensure we’re involving all kinds of students in our efforts.
In a similar vein we’re looking to implement the role of International Representative to ensure visiting students get as involved as possible, both so that we learn from movements abroad and so that they can learn from us. This will hopefully lead to widespread student involvement in the movement.
As the first society of our kind in Ireland there is a degree of added pressure on ourselves to make this project as successful as possible so that students in other institutions can be encouraged to start other projects of their own. We are confident given our commitment, experience and support that we can deliver on this to help ensure a more co-operative future.
-The UCC Co-Operative Society Committee