III.H. Theme House Support Initiative

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The Berkeley Student Cooperative is committed to offering superb, outstanding theme programming to its membership. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit housing organization with cooperative values and the mission of serving students who would not be able to attain an education without affordable housing, we strive to create and maintain affordable, accessible, and anti-oppressive living spaces where underrepresented students can feel safer, grow personally and collectively, and thrive in academic and extracurricular engagements. The Theme House Support Initiative seeks to hone this by: (1) fostering spaces where transformational learning and unlearning is encouraged, (2) encouraging a learning space where diversity and equity is seen through a critical lens affected by historical and structural power relations, (3) creating and maintaining spaces that empower underrepresented students, and (4) providing support to these spaces that empowers and reinvigorates them as time goes on. In short, the Berkeley Student Cooperatives aims to provide theme programming that acknowledges and challenges oppressive structures while creating a space that empowers underrepresented students.

1. Theme Development, Enforcement, and Improvement

a. In order to ensure the theme of a unit is developed and enforced, there will be a theme house charter for each theme house that shall be overseen and followed by the respective theme house and the central-level. The following units shall be required to develop and maintain a charter with the Cooperative Experience Manager and the Experience & Training Committee:
i. Andres Castro Arms / Person of Color Theme House
ii. Afro House / African American Theme House
iii. Oscar Wilde House / LGBTQIA and Queer Theme House
iv. Cloyne Court / Substance Free, Academic Themed House
b. The charter of a theme house may include, but shall not limited to: Preamble, Mission and Principles, Community Goals, Theme House Programming, Manager Structure, and Assignment of Membership (if applicable). Each charter must include an established Anti-Oppression Framework that complements the respective theme of the unit.
c. The Cooperative Experience Manager and Community Managers shall work together to uphold each respective theme house charter. The Community Managers will ensure that the theme of their respective unit is being upheld as listed in the charter. However, with the approval of the Cooperative Experience Manager, Community Managers have the ability to interpret the charter as they see fit.
d. Any changes to the charter (from the unit) must be approved by ⅔ of unit membership at council. The Community Manager and/or House President shall ensure the information is relayed to the Cooperative Experience Manager. Then the proposed changes shall be considered by ETCom and the Cooperative Experience Manager who shall decide whether it is is ready for Cabinet and Board. Board has final authority on requested changes to all charters.
e. In the case that a new theme house is proposed through acquisition or re-theming, the body tasked with the project must develop its charter and ensure that the charter comply with existing policy and organizational capacities.
f. Evaluation of Theme Houses: The Cooperative Experience Manager shall administer evaluations on each theme house by surveying theme house membership and theme house management every term on their respective theme house experience. The results from these evaluations may be used to determine if any changes need to be made on the theme charters and/or their respective implementation. In addition, the Community Managers must ensure that members are providing feedback on their theme house experience.

2. Community Managers and Theme House Manager Teams

a. The aforementioned theme houses shall have a Community Manager with full workshift compensation and a stipend that is allocated from the House Level Payroll Budget. As with other major managers, the Community Manager shall have a job description in the Central Level Supervision & Support Policy. However, each respective theme house can provide its own job descriptions for their Community Manager in their unit bylaws/constitutions which should outline specific duties needed for the respective theme house.
b. Theme houses may require more attention from theme house managers, so a different mechanism for determining the annual House Level Payroll Budget for theme houses is encouraged. ETCom should closely monitor stipend compensations and actual workload annually in order to recommend potential changes to the annual House Level Payroll Budget for theme houses. Any proposed changes must be done in the Spring term before the Budget Board Meeting, and brought to CFCom in an appropriate amount of time to be included in the Budget.
c. Due to the complex nature of theme houses, changes to management structures are encouraged, but should be done in consultation with the central-level first. Any changes to the management structure must be included in the charter in order to take effect, thus must go through the established governance structures to be approved.

3. Programming Budgets and Community Outreach

a. The BSC shall establish a Programming Budget (Theme Budget) that the protected account will not be capped and allow money to rollover if there is leftover budget. These Programming Budgets shall be used by the Community Managers to fund and coordinate events and workshops that relate and/or develop the theme of the house. The Community Managers and Cooperative Experience Manager shall plan how the budget will be spent for each theme house, and establish a spending programming budget early in the semester.
b. ETCom shall monitor the programming budgets annually to determine if changes need to be made to the programming budgets. Any proposed changes (if necessary) must be done in the Spring term before the Budget Board Meeting by ETCom, and brought to CFCom in an appropriate amount of time to be included in the Budget.
c. Community Managers with support from the Cooperative Experience Manager and the Member Resources Department will strive to make partnerships with both campus and community organizations that align with theme programming. Also Community Managers with support from the Housing Department will strive to make partnerships with organizations that aim to recruit prospective members into theme houses.
d. The Cooperative Experience Manager with the Member Resources Department shall provide a space for theme managers to consult with each other regarding theme programming and implementation. Additional outcomes for these Theme Manager Meetings is to encourage inter-unit theme programming, develop inter-unit community, and have theme managers discuss challenges and solutions to those challenges in their respective units.

4. Anti-Oppression Framework in Theme Houses and Member Resources for Theme Houses

a. The Community Managers and other management shall uphold the BSC’s Anti-Oppression Policy with the established Anti-Oppression Framework in their respective theme. Community Managers must ensure that their respective theme house is a living space that is accessible, transformative, respectful, and safe for all members of the theme house. In conjunction with management and the central-level, Community Managers must spearhead initiatives to achieve both of these tasks in their term.
b. ETCom shall annually evaluate the BSC’s anti-oppression education and training to ensure that both management and membership are equipped to challenge oppression in the BSC. The Member Resources Supervisor shall work to find outstanding educators of anti-oppression for its trainings and education programs.
c. If necessary, the Cooperative Experience Manager and Member Resource Supervisor shall provide additional, specialized trainings for theme house management that was not covered in the regular manager training. Managers from non-theme houses are welcomed to attend these trainings. Community Managers may request certain trainings from the Member Resources Department or make a grant request from ETCom. Requests may be approved or denied. In addition, the Member Resources Staff shall assist theme house management on community issues from theme houses by finding appropriate resources in the campus and community.

[Board approved 5-6-21.]