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Saturday, February 24, 2024
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New university building displaces Wisconsin's last student housing co-op

The Zoe Bayliss Student Housing Cooperative will be displaced by the development of University of Wisconsin-Madison’s new Irving and Dorothy Levy humanities building after the 2022-23 school year. It is the only remaining student housing cooperative in Wisconsin.

“As a community, we have not felt any support from the university. They did not include the impact of the displacement of Zoe Bayliss in the planning of the building and do not pay attention to any of the concerns we have brought up about the proposed relocation of the cooperative to a dorm floor,” Zoe Bayliss Cooperative President Angela Maloney said in an interview with The Daily Cardinal. “University leadership has repeatedly dismissed us and have made false claims about the Zoe Bayliss community.” 

The Zoe Bayliss Cooperative, a 67-year-old cooperative founded in 1955, provides affordable cooperative living on campus. Their mission is to provide “experience in responsible, cooperative living and to encourage academic and personal exploration in a flexible, open and friendly atmosphere.” 

The cooperative consists of a community of UW-Madison students who share in the responsibilities for maintaining their housing, such as cleaning and administration, to provide a more affordable housing option. The building houses around 40 to 45 undergraduate and graduate students, according to Maloney.

“Living in a double room at Zoe Bayliss costs less than half the price of living in the university dorm next door,” the press release says. “Residents also learn community and leadership skills through the cooperative structure which includes delegating cleaning duties, managing all finances, running a board of directors and making decisions jointly.”

Zoe Bayliss may cease to exist after the 2022-23 school year if the cooperative cannot access the building or the university does not find an alternative solution. 

“We are hopeful the university will find the means to fully support the cooperative and affordable housing on campus,” Maloney said. “If not, we will call on the university to provide fiscal support for relocation into the private market.” 

The only proposed alternative from the university is a cooperative floor within a residence hall, similar to a learning community. The university has failed to provide details about the increase in price of rent, and how this alternative would affect their cooperative structure. 

Additionally, this solution limits control over all finances, and Zoe Bayliss would no longer be qualified or considered a cooperative, the press release states. 

“Our community does not see this as a viable option to fulfill the needs of the cooperative,” Maloney said. “Because the university has made the decision to displace our community, we feel it would be just for the university to provide for us a stand alone building on campus where we would be able to operate the same way we have operated for the last 67 years.” 

Despite these struggles, Maloney said that the cooperative does not anticipate termination. 

“Our community will do everything possible to continue to provide this affordable housing option to students with or without the university,” she said. 

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To express support for the continuation of this 67-year-old community, visit and sign the Zoe Bayliss online petition. 

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