The University of Wisconsin’s only housing cooperative voted to reject an offer by University Housing to lease part of Phillips Residence Hall for the co-op to live in starting in the fall of 2023.

The offer comes after students protested UW’s decision to demolish the Zoe Bayliss Women’s Cooperative’s current building to construct the new College of Letters and Science building.

UW offered to give the co-op space for 34 residents and to renovate Phillips residence hall to include a community kitchen and den — similar to how the cooperative’s building currently looks, University Housing spokesperson Brendon Dybdahl said in an email to The Badger Herald.

UW also offered the co-op a 12-month lease, which would result in a lower monthly rate for members if they stay for the calendar year, Dybdah said.

Zoe Bayliss residents only sign on to rent for 9 months out of the year at their current location, Zoe Bayliss Moving Officer Angela Maloney said.

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If the co-op accepted UW’s offer, they would have had to charge its residents more per month to cover the UW’s 12-month lease — which is $40,000 more than what they currently pay to rent their building for nine months, Maloney said.

Additionally, UW’s offer does not meet the growing needs of the co-op, Maloney said. Forty residents signed to live at the co-op this fall and the co-op expects that number to grow as the need for affordable housing increases, Maloney said.

“We’ve told [University Housing] what would fit our needs would be an alternative stand-alone building on campus where we can function in the same way that we have for the last 67 years, in a building they already have built specifically for affordable housing,” Maloney said.

The co-op plans to look for a building on the private market and will hold a fundraiser April 29 to start raising its money to do so, Maloney said.

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UW could help Zoe Bayliss by giving them financial compensation to buy a building on the private market, Maloney said.

“The university says they support affordable housing — here’s an opportunity for them to actually do it and they’re not rising to that challenge,” Maloney said.

While UW has generally lower rates for room and board compared to its Big Ten counterparts, University Housing plans to have a low-cost cooperative housing option in Phillips starting fall 2023 regardless of Zoe Bayliss’ decision, Dybdahl said.

Editor’s note: Rise UW will hold a fundraiser for Zoe Bayliss Women’s Cooperative
on Friday, April 29 at 6 p.m. The two-hour event will take place in the parking lot next to Zoe Bayliss with music, speakers and food. Rep. Francesca Hong, D-Madison, and other speakers will discuss the need for affordable housing and plans to address the issue.