Alternative Models of Student Housing

This literature focuses around three (3) different models of student housing: 

  1. Fraternities and Sororities
  2. Co-operatives
  3. Squatting

Private Sector Participation in Post-Secondary Student Housing

University & Public Sector Student Housing

Fraternities and Sororities

  • Much of the literature about Fraternities and Soroities is aimed at discussing the problems with these organizations and the effects they have on university administrators. This includes deaths caused by hazing, alcohol and substance abuse, physical violence, and poor study habits. Many scholars have suggested various legal strategies to curb these problems, including federal laws against hazing, and robust national strategies. Studies found that imposing alcohol free policies were not effective. 
  • A small number of studies opposed this view of fraternities and sororities, highlighting the positive effects of these organizations including learning leadership, building strong friendships and social networks and strong sense of community. 
  • One study found that affiliation with a fraternity or sorority did not impact educational outcomes. However many more studies found that the educational impacts were significant. 
  • Lastly a few studies discuss fraternity and sororities acting as de facto housing segregation based on race unless interventions were taken. 


  • Literature on student co-ops and co-housing arrangements focused on two themes. The first is literature on managing co-ops, including alternatives like participatory management and other models of best practice. In this literature there were strategies like public recognition of member contribution, and educational initiatives using fines and credits for members who completed study guides.
  • The second theme on student co-operatives includes first person narratives from people who lived in co-ops. These narratives discuss the experience of living in a student co-op. They often describe living in the co-op as a transformative experience.
  • Students who live in co-ops describe strong feelings of community, learning opportunities beyond the classroom that prepared them for life (including cooking, cleaning, how to do maintenance, leadership and how to run meetings). There is an element of mutual aid, and caring for people in your community, as well problem solving learned through certain conflicts or difficulties. 
  • Overall this literature positions student co-ops as a form of housing that provides a strong sense of community, affordable rents, and important educational opportunities. 


  • Literature discussing the historical trends of squatting in the late twentieth century, predominately in Western Europe. 
  • This includes the Berlin squat movements that responded to urban renewal strategies in the 1970s and 1980s, as well as the squatting response in the 1990s to neoliberal urban restructuring. 
  • In the literature there are 5 forms of squatting which include (1) deprivation: involves distressed people who experience severe housing deprivation. (2) alternative housing strategy: people organize squats to meet their housing needs (3) Entrepreneurial: squatting offers opportunities for setting up almost any kind of establishment without the need for large resources or the risk of getting bogged down in bureaucracy. (4) Conservational squatting is a tactic used in the preservation of a cityscape or landscape against efficiency driven planned transformation. Lastly (5) Political squatting is a field of action for those who are engaged in anti-systemic politics.

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