All coop-ed up: student co-op offers recreational space

The student co-op, affectionately known as the Coop, is a student-run, donation-based coffee shop and performance venue. Photo by Madeline Newton

The Co-Op, affectionately called “the Coop,” currently functions as a student-run coffee shop and performance venue, as well as a space for student art display and the occasional club meeting. The Coop has soft couches in which to lounge and do homework, art all around and a new “Missed Connections” board, where students can post missed connections from around campus. It is staffed entirely by students.

Most student volunteers work coffee shifts, like Joy Zeichick ’21. 

“We had an hour of training to make assorted coffee drinks and tea,” Zeichick said. “We also have toast, and sometimes we have baked goods people bring in.” 

Coffee shifts are the easiest for new volunteers as compared to other, more specialized and organizational jobs, and they require the most people to cover the hours.

“We have about 20 volunteers that work coffee shifts during the week,” Noam Jacobs ’22, a coordinator at the Coop, said via email. “Coffee shifts are probably the biggest way for students to get involved.”

All payment is technically donation, with suggested donations for food and drinks around $1-2, providing an affordable option for students in need of a caffeine fix or quick snack.

Not all volunteers work coffee shifts, however, as the Coop does far more than that. 

“We have a couple people who design posters for us, and we’ve put out a call for submissions for art to be displayed (and) sold in the Coop,” Jacobs said via email. “We have a student who runs the Coop open mics and another who hosted our first poetry slam, and we also encourage people to have their own events at the Coop.”

Recent events include shows by students and local bands, a capella, poetry slam, improv and open mic nights, some of which are planned and hosted by volunteers at the Coop. Events at the Coop are announced with posters around campus and announcements on their Instagram, @thecoop_lc.

The Coop is an entirely student-run space, with community connection as its first priority. 

“As students, I think it’s important for us to feel empowered in our own involvement in our own community at LC, which is something that I haven’t felt students really feel here,” Jacobs said. “That’s what we’re trying to build here, the cohesion and the community.”

Over this past year, the coordinators and volunteers at the Coop have focused on establishing consistent coffee hours and hosting events regularly, including shows once a month and open mic every other week. Behind the scenes, the Coop is now more collectively run, instead of just controlled by the coordinators as it was in the past.

The main goal of Coop members at this point is expanding student awareness and engagement in the space.

“It’s not really on people’s radar and we’re trying to be on the radar,” Jacobs said. “We really rely on letting people know what’s up by word of mouth because what draws people to the Coop is that it’s a social space.”

The Coop’s outreach efforts have thus far been effective in encouraging patronage and recruiting more volunteers, like Zeichick.

“This semester there has been a huge movement among the people in charge to get more involvement, and they’ve done a really good job of it, in my opinion,” Zeichick said. “I was not even aware of the Coop last year.”

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