Co-op - Lee Altenberg _ Ph.D by wuzhenguang


									CoopAtStan-28W      Weds May 16   7:00 pm   Draft Only — Draft Only — Draft Only

     Co-operative Living at Stanford
                 A Report of SWOPSI 146

                           May 1990

This report resulted from the hard work of the students of a Stanford Workshops on Political and
Social Issues (SWOPSI) class called “Cooperative Living and the Current Crisis at Stanford.”
Both instructors and students worked assiduously during Winter quarter 1990 researching and
writing the various sections of this report. The success of the class’s actions at Stanford and of
this report resulted from blending academics and activism (a fun but time-consuming
Contributing to this report were:
Paul Baer (instructor)
Chris Balz
Natalie Beerer
Tom Boellstorff
Scott Braun
Liz Cook
Joanna Davidson (instructor)
Yelena Ginzburg
John Hagan
Maggie Harrison
Alan Haynie
Madeline Larsen (instructor)
Dave Nichols
Sarah Otto
Ethan Pride
Eric Rose (instructor)
Randy Schutt
Eric Schwitzgebel
Raquel Stote
Jim Welch
Michael Wooding
Bruce Wooster

There are many people who contributed to this final report and the resolution of the Co-op crisis.
Although we would like to mention everyone by name, it might double the length of this entire
document. Our everlasting thanks go out to everyone who contributed. Especially Leland
Stanford for having his co-operative vision, the SWOPSI Office for carrying it on and providing
the opportunity for this class to happen, Henry Levin, our faculty sponsor for his help with the
proposal process, Lee Altenberg, whose tremendous knowledge of Stanford co-operative lore is
exceeded only by his boundless passion for the co-ops themselves; the Co-op Alumni network,
the folks at the Davis, Berkeley, and Cornell co-ops, NASCO, and all of the existing Stanford
co-ops for their support during this entire process. For special help with the house histories we
would like to thank Susan Larsen, Sam Sandmire and Chuck Spolyar, Duane, Arvind Khilnani,
Magic House, and all of the other co-op alums for their stories and contacts. Thanks go to Norm
Robinson, Jim Lyons, Keith Guy, Charlotte Strem, Larry Horton, the Row office and Res. Ed.
For the wonderful cover, we thank Irene Stapleford. We’re grateful to Eudaemonia house for
their community, space, and food. To everyone who wrote a letter or signed a petition or filled
out a survey, you contributed to what Bob Hamrdla called “the blitz”, thanks. AND and extra
special thanks go to “Jack and Diana, two administrators, doing the best that they can....”

                              Table of Contents
Summary                                                                              i
I. Overview                                                                          1
II. Co-operation                                                                     3
       Theories, Models and Issues Concerning Cooperation                            3
              What is Co-operation?                                                  3
              Five Kinds of Companies Cooperative in the Narrow Sense                4
              Principles of Co-operation                                             5
              Notes on Community, Cooperation, and Sustainable Living                7
              Leland Stanford’s Ideas on Cooperation                                 7
              Residential Education and Cooperative Ideals                           8
              The Co-operative Houses at Stanford                                    11
              Goals of Residential Education Embodied in Co-ops                      11
              The Co-op / Res-Ed Relationship                                        12
III. Background                                                                      13
       Current Campus Residential Co-ops                                             13
              The Stanford Residential Co-op Timeline                                13
              Co-op Vacancy Statistics: 1980-89                                      14
              Columbae House                                                         14
              Hammarskjöld House                                                     18
              Kairos House                                                           20
              Phi Psi House                                                          22
              Synergy House                                      25
              Terra House                                        31
              Theta Chi                                          33
       Defunct Residential Stanford Co-operatives                35
              Walter Thompson Co-operative                       35
              Jordan House                                       35
              Androgyny House (aka Simone de Beauvoir)           36
              Ecology House                                      36
       Other Co-operative Institutions at Stanford               37
       The Co-op Council                                         37
       The Co-op Alumni Network                                  37
       Non-residential Stanford Co-ops                           37
              The Kosher Eating Co-op                            38
              Stanford Federal Credit Union                      38
       Co-ops in the Community                                   39
       Residential Co-ops at Other Universities                  39
              Introduction                                       39
              UC Berkeley                                        40
              Harvard                                            40
              Cornell                                            40
              Madison                                            42
              Brown University                                   42
              UC Davis                                           42
              Conclusion: Implications for the Stanford Co-ops   44
       Survey of Stanford Co-op Alumni                           49
IV. The Current Crisis                                           57
       Chronology of the PostQuake Events                        57
       Effects of and Concerns about Closing Synergy, Columbae
           , and Phi Psi Coops                                   61
       The Structure of Decision Making                          64
V. Recommendations and Alternatives                              66
       Introduction                                              66
       Recommendations of the Class                              66
               Repair of Buildings                                                      66
               Changes in Co-op Programs This Year                                      71
               The Co-op Union                                                          73
               Ethnic and Cultural Diversity                                            75
       Options for the Future                                                           77
               Co-op Office                                                             77
               Co-op Contract with the University                                       78
               Resident Fellows                                                         80
               A Separate Co-op Housing Draw                                            81
               Future Coop Buildings                                                    81
               Outreach to Other Co-opers                                               86
For Further Reference                                                                   88
Appendix                                                                                90

As a result of the October 17, 1989 earthquake, three Stanford residential co-ops were closed
indefinitely due to structural damage. A group of co-op community members formed to monitor
the administrative process as it made crucial decisions regarding the future of the displaced
communities and to rally for their successful continuation. Several of them designed a SWOPSI
(Stanford Workshop on Political and Social Issues) class called “Co-operative Living and the
Current Crisis at Stanford” and taught it during Winter Quarter, 1990.
The uncertainty of the aftermath of the earthquake made it imperative that the co-op community
take an active role in the University decision-making process. It is only through the joint efforts
of the administration and concerned students that mutually satisfactory decisions are made. The
“Co-operative Living and the Current Crisis at Stanford” class filled this role by providing a
forum for co-op community members to actively participate and by researching co-operation and
how it relates to Stanford University.
The changes forced by the crisis of the earthquake made it necessary to analyze the Stanford
University residential co-ops. It also provided an opportunity to re-evaluate them. Although
Stanford co-op community members tend to be very satisfied with their residence experiences,
the members of the Co-operative Living at Stanford class felt that an in-depth look at further
potentials was appropriate. The class produced the following report based on their research. The
report includes background research regarding co-operation and the Stanford community. It then
treats the nature of the current crisis. Finally, it recommends specific developments for the future
and presents other possibilities for the future that the class did not come to consensus on.
Since the commencement of the class, the Stanford Administration has committed to repair one
house, Columbae, and allow its displaced co-op community to return there in the 1990-91
academic year. The Administration has also committed to temporarily rehousing the other two
displaced co-op communities (putting Phi Psi in the Alpha Delt House and Synergy in the Grove
Houses), and to repairing their damaged houses by an unspecified time no earlier than 1991-92.
The students of SWOPSI 146 believe that they have had an important role in the process that led
to these decisions and hope the University administration will continue to value their concerns
and input.

The concept of co-operative living is hardly new. Indeed, most people across the world live in
some type of co-operative housing (for instance, in a nuclear- or extended-family home). At
Stanford, however, the very word ‘co-op’ conjures up images of extremism and deviance. This
occurs in spite of the fact that Leland Stanford himself was a strong advocate of co-operative
associations and considered the co-operation of labor to be, in general, a leading feature lying at
the foundations of the University. The present co-operative movement is not directly connected
with Stanford’s vision, but with the student movements of the 1960’s. While this period was a
formative one for co-operation at Stanford, the Stanford co-operatives must transcend this
pigeonhole and affirm those characteristics of cooperative living from which all students can
learn and which further the goals of Residential Education.
The co-operative community at Stanford is remarkable in its diversity, and there exists no unified
manifesto of purpose for members of the community. There do, however, seem to be some ideals
shared by many of the co-operatives. These co-ops strive to blur the distinction between school
and home, between mental and physical labor, between the personal and the political. Consonant
with this ideal is the emphasis placed on limiting environmental impact and rejecting the
opposition between “nature” and human society. Co-ops also act to encourage co-operation as a
viable and fulfilling alternative to competition, and serve as a forum where methods of
co-operation can be explored.
Lastly, co-operatives take many of the goals of Residential Education and apply them within the
framework of the house itself. Thus, goals like social awareness and involvement, individual
responsibility, and tolerance are not imposed by Res Ed, but are intrinsic to the ideals of
co-operation itself. Co-operation can be a way of life which, while aware of its own history and
origins, looks forward and works to create tangible change. It forms, we believe, an
indispensable part of a Stanford education.

Seven residential co-ops operated at Stanford prior to the earthquake in 1989. Through extensive
research, we explored their unique characters and spirits. Each house has special features that
make it unique structurally, and to some extent this affects the student population.
Columbae House still maintains its original theme of Social Change Through Nonviolence — a
theme that has included ideas such as vegetarianism, consensus decision-making, and recycling.
Columbae comes from a tradition of political activity, which varies from year to year, and the
house generally focuses on building a tightly-knit community. The house has an extensive co-op
library and archives.
Phi Psi House has a long tradition of “good living” which encompasses the large house and yard,
and has in the past included traditions of house bands and wild parties. The house is considered
less political than other co-ops on campus.
Hammarskjöld House was created to foster “International Understanding”, and in order to further
this goal has a separate draw which is more self-selective (to insure a geographically and
culturally diverse group). The small house has many Eating Associates.
Kairos House draws a more “mainstream” group. Decisions are made by majority vote rather
than consensus and it is the only co-op that hires students from the house to cook. Kairos has
maintained independence from the other coops in the past, and only recently was officially listed
as a co-op in the draw book.
Terra, once Ecology House, has become a more “mainstream” co-op in the 1980’s. It was nearly
closed by the administration after relatively unsuccessful Draw seasons, but has survived and
thrived since then. It is located in a large Cowell-cluster house. Terra has several interesting
Synergy House, originally created with the theme “Exploring Alternatives”, which included
alternative energy, organization (non-hierarchical), and sometimes vegetarianism. The house has
a large garden and keeps chickens in the back yard for eggs. Also, the house boasts a large
“Alternative Periodicals Rack” as well as many murals. Synergy residents tend to feel relatively
detached from mainstream Stanford University life.
Theta Chi is organized around the idea of self-control — the house is owned by the co-op
(technically its fraternity alumni group), and repairs, improvements, and all aspects of house
managing are done by students. The house is known for having many singles and is close to
campus (as well as being cheaper both for rent and food), a characteristic that usually brings in a
diverse crowd. Theta Chi stays open all year round, and in the past has been a haven for groups
seeking escape from University red tape.
Synergy and Columbae tend to stay away from processed foods and run non-hierarchically.
Many students mistakenly associate these traits with all co-ops, an attitude that residents have
attempted to change through outreach. In fact, the survey conducted as a part of the class
discovered that some students thought a co-op (Synergy, I suppose) had a goat!
Several co-ops previously existed at Stanford, but are now defunct. Jordan House (now Haus
Mitt) was started in 1970. Little is known about the house other that the fact that it had a few
murals (some from Alice in Wonderland, and a Rolling Stones tongue on the door). Apparently
the food was bad, and the house was unclean. In 1977 it was terminated, and became Androgyny
(or Simone de Beauvoir) House, a “theme” house focussing on feminism and gender issues. The
house was not fully equipped until three weeks into the school year, and was mysteriously
terminated after Winter Quarter of its first year, leading many people to suspect a conspiracy
(Haus Mitt, which had been approved to become a theme house at the same time as Androgyny,
was placed in Jordan the following year). Ecology House, an environmental theme house, started
in 1971, it became Terra in 1973. The reason for the name-change and loss of academic theme is
not known.
Stanford has many other co-ops on campus besides the seven residential co-ops. The Associated
Students of Stanford University (ASSU) is a coop of all Stanford students. The Stanford
Bookstore is owned co-operatively by the faculty. Breakers Eating Club is also a cooperative and
recently Jewish students created a Kosher Eating Club in the Elliot Program Center.
In addition to University co-ops, there have been a number of co-op houses in the local
community in which many current students or recent graduates live. These are usually transient
(with a few exceptions). The Food Chain, a network of these houses, was started in 1978 so that
food buying could be combined. Five or six houses would buy bulk food and have parties or
potlucks together. The Food Chain lasted until about 1981. Magic was started in 1979, in order
to explore “human ecology”. Members of Magic work to organize community projects (such as
planting trees) and develop a larger community of people associated with Magic interested in
service. A number of other spin-off co-ops once existed, but no longer do.
One of the most instructive aspects of the course has been the exploration of co-ops and co-op
systems at other universities. For example, the co-operative association at UC Berkeley is a full
corporation with 1500 members, owns and even builds its own co-ops. Most other co-op systems
are smaller — University of Wisconsin (at Madison), Brown, and Harvard all have small-scale
co-ops, usually two or three houses. Probably the most diverse co-op system is at UC Davis,
which includes off-campus co-ops and newer houses constructed on campus (which are parts of
different co-op organizations), as well as Baggins End, known as the “Domes”. There is a lot to
learn from the ways students have set up co-op systems at other universities. This report includes
names of people who know in-depth about co-op construction and funding.
The campus survey conducted as a part of the class sought to identify common ideas held about
co-ops by different student populations. Many students believed the houses to be dirty, or felt
that co-ops were too large a time commitment, or held extreme political views. Clearly there is a
need for education about co-ops, especially among freshpeople.
The survey of Stanford co-op alumni was responded to by members of many co-ops, but
especially Synergy and Columbae. The vast majority considered living in a co-op a positive
experience. Many alumni explained the benefits they see in co-operative living. Their co-op
experiences at Stanford influenced many alumni in their lives and professions after graduation.

The Current Crisis
A chronology beginning with the quake on October 17, 1989 points out those events which were
particularly strengthening or disempowering, with the hope of reinforcing the former. Five of the
co-ops were among a group of University residences temporarily closed by the quake. Co-op
residents along with other displaced students met on the lawn in front of Columbae on October
19 to meet with the University administration. This meeting began the community’s involvement
with the long-range planning of their future. By October 20, three of the co-ops knew they would
not be able to return to their houses for at least the remainder of the academic year.
A difficult but often gratifying dialogue between co-op community members and the University
administration has continued till the present. Two functioning student/administrator groups that
formed in the aftermath of the quake were the “task group” and the “work group.” The former
helped give student input, while the second was a decision-making body. These groups fit the
consensus process of the students into the complex bureaucracy of the University.
In January, it was announced that Columbae was scheduled to reopen the following fall,
providing a boost to the co-op community. Soon thereafter, the University administration
determined that they would fix the remaining houses within a few years, and that the displaced
communities would be rehoused temporarily. In March it was finally announced that Synergy
would occupy the Grove houses and Phi Psi would occupy the Alpha Delt house in the coming

Recommendations and Alternatives
A major focus of this class from the beginning was to consider and recommend alternatives for
the short, medium, and long term futures of the co-ops at Stanford. This included both those
closed by the earthquake and the co-op community as a whole. This section presents the class’s
recommendations and other alternatives for the future. These sections should be read in full by
those interested in possible future action on behalf of the co-ops.
Some of the actions of the class have already been completed, some are continuing, and some are
still in the form of recommendations or options for further consideration. Actions that are
completed need little discussion. The future houses of Phi Psi and Synergy, after much debate in
the class and wrangling with administrators and cooks, have been decided: the old Alpha Delt
house for Phi Psi and the Grove houses for Synergy. Suggestions for the repair of Columbae
have been proposed but were rejected (although further suggestions might still be appropriate).
What specifically have we done and do we recommend?

Modifications to Columbae House
We recommend bringing Columbae closer to environmental sustainability by means of
insulation, passive and active solar energies, grey water, and a more flexible heating system. We
recommend returning temporary first floor rooms to lounges, the removal of two walls, new
sinks, a new floor in the kitchen, and wheelchair accessibility. We request that the individual
character of the rooms in Columbae be retained, that the murals be saved, and that the size of the
kitchen not be diminished.

Phi Psi and Synergy Structures
We point out the importance of the quasi-rural setting of these two houses, unique on the
Stanford campus, and the importance of students’ living in a place with beauty and character.
Their homes must be personal and personalizable. The murals, the chicken coop, pool table,
wood floors, chimneys, and the items that contribute to the individuality of the houses must be
preserved. The second-floor bathrooms might be made co-ed. Perhaps the Phi Psi attic and the
Synergy roof can be adapted in such a way that people may safely make use of them as common

Synergy and Phi Psi Transition
Now that Synergy and Phi Psi have houses (the Groves and the Alpha Delts) for next year, some
concrete actions need to be taken. We suggest that a “transitional manager” for each of the
houses be named to ensure the process goes smoothly. The Alpha Delt kitchen should be
equipped with burners and additional cutting-board space. ASSU funds may perhaps be used.
Summer storage needs to be found, the kitchens must be assessed, managers and exempt spots
must be assigned for next year, the house belongings must be gathered from the offshoot
residences, and so on.

Co-op Outreach
We feel that a strong and united outreach effort would help more students see co-ops as an
attractive living situation and show the diversity that actually exists among the co-ops. We would
especially like to concentrate on making the currently unhoused co-ops (Columbae, Phi Psi, and
Synergy) more visible, providing them with extra support to compensate for their lack of
operational facilities. Among the specific plans suggested are study breaks and dorm outreach
meetings, tabling in White Plaza and contacting people who signed petitions of support after the
earthquake, updating and distributing the all-coop booklet Co-operative Living at Stanford, and
holding a co-op week with various activities in White Plaza.

A Co-op Union
We recommend the formation of a co-op union. House participation in this union should be
voluntary. Each participating house would have 1 – 2 representatives; the Union would be
funded. The co-op union could serve as a spokesorganization for the co-op community and a
liaison to the administration. It could arrange both educational and hedonistic programs. It could
help co-ordinate outreach for the draw. Possibly in the long term it could save money, perhaps
for an emergency or to hire a staffperson.

Ethnic and Cultural Diversity
Why do few of the co-ops attract a substantial minority population, when generally these
communities value cultural diversity? We must strive to understand why racial and ethnic
minorities do not come to the co-ops. We should reach out to ethnic communities in the form of
joint programs and discussions, and by offering information. We could engage in workshops
involving minority issues, invite professors to dinner, and bring ethnic bands to the houses.

Alternatives for Further Consideration
We suggest a number of other possibilities for changes in co-ops in the coming years. For
example, we could have a co-op office, in a university space or in a co-op, staffed with paid
employees or with volunteers. Such an office would presumably increase the clout and
programming of co-ops, but it would cost money and perhaps introduce undesirable bureaucracy.
The co-ops could set up a contract with the University, clarifying mutual rights and duties on a
variety of issues (maintenance, the draw, leasing, unofficial practices, etc.). Such a contract
would be both liberating and constraining, as the current ambiguity works sometimes against,
sometimes in favor of the existing co-ops. An additional problem is that one generation of co-op
dwellers might, in violating or unwisely signing a contract, cause unnecessary problems for
future generations.
Would we like to have “Resident Fellows” or perhaps “visiting scholars/activists” in our coops?
The relation need not be hierarchical. The term of stay need not be two years. Perhaps the house
could select one themselves. They would cost money but could bring in valuable resources.
Do we need a separate co-op housing draw? Coops (like Hammarskjöld) could be selective and
use their own criteria of student placement, but perhaps it would be exclusionary, and it might
eliminate people interested both in U-op and co-op housing and who put a mix of selections on
their draw cards.
We discussed the possibilities for building coops on Stanford land, but at present this seems, if
not unfeasible, at least far off in the future. We could build behind the foothills, in old faculty
areas close to campus, or between the Alpha Delts and the frat cluster, for example. The
University right now, however, is sinking its money in Kymball Hall, and afterwards will
probably focus on graduate housing or other kinds of building. Faculty houses are expensive to
convert to full-scale co-ops, but they could be rented to students and operated pretty much as
they are. A co-op or outside group could build on Stanford land with its own money, but it would
have to meet strict safety codes and the University could take over and convert the house under
certain conditions (much as they now take over frats). If such a group did build a house, it would
be about as autonomous as Theta Chi, but its architecture could be as funky and appropriate to
co-op ideals as we wished. Also, if demand for co-ops mounts and a group of students have an
interesting idea (e.g. a communal farm), the University administration is willing to stay flexible
and open.
At any time, a group of students could take over an off-campus house. The primary problems
would be funding and demand (and persuading students not to participate in the draw). Buying a
house off campus and turning it into a co-op would have several advantages. The co-op residents
would be independent from the University (thus rent would probably be cheaper) and members
could modify their house (paint murals, make improvements) as well as let non-students live
with them. The house could stay open over breaks and summer. The main difficulties are in
funding (houses in this area are expensive), housing demand (demand to live in co-ops on
campus is low), and responsibility (mistakes or failures could have serious financial and legal
Other co-op groups have taken this route in the past, though. At UC Davis an equity fund was
accumulated through an increasing “tax” on the rent levied towards the eventual purchase of the
house. At the University of Chicago, students relied upon loans from the National Co-operative
Bank and several other co-op associations (such as USCA and Madison) plus their own funds, to
purchase a house. Legal difficulties could be handled with the help of NASCO, and the houses
could be owned independently of the other existing co-ops (to limit liability). We don’t
recommend purchasing houses, though, unless the demand is sufficient and good management
could be assured. We do recommend the coops consider starting a fund that would be devoted
exclusively to long-term projects, and that the coops consider joining NASCO as part of our
co-operation among co-operatives.

Outreach Beyond the Class
The class made an effort to communicate the ideas and actions of the class to the co-op
community at large, both formally and informally. Although formal participation by people
outside the class was not great, discussion with friends and acquaintances helped us in our
decision-making process. Some concerns expressed by residents of Kairos are included.

An appendix includes numerous original documents from the period of the earthquake and from
the research and activities.

A Late Note
As we went to press we learned the results of the housing draw:
                                    I. Overview
Late on a cool clear Tuesday afternoon in October 1989, a major earthquake shook northern
California. From Santa Cruz and Watsonville to Oakland and San Francisco, the quake inflicted
serious damage, leaving more than 60 dead, many more injured, and hundreds of homes and
businesses destroyed. The image of a collapsed double-deck freeway in Oakland transfixed a
stunned population, and it took weeks before almost anything else could be thought of or
discussed in the media.
At Stanford, where only by luck were major injuries avoided, hundreds of students were
displaced from their housing for a day, a week, or more. Seven student residences were closed
for the year, some perhaps never to be reopened. Among them were three of Stanford’s seven
student-run co-operative houses. Along with two fraternities and two other row houses, the
residents of Synergy, Columbae, and Phi Psi all had to scramble for new quarters — tucked into
converted rooms or guest spaces in dorms, or off-campus.
Many of the residents of the co-ops felt strongly that the continued existence of their
communities could not be taken for granted. Deprived of the shared living that is the substance
of a cooperative community, students feared that the ties and traditions that sustained the houses
would erode to nothingness. The idealism that motivates students to co-operate thus was directed
towards ensuring the future of co-operative living after the quake.
With the larger tragedy of the quake as an everpresent background, students reconstructed their
lives. Dealing with the University Administration became suddenly an everyday issue.
Competing demands, lack of communication and an unavoidable uncertainty left
student/administration relations tense.
Madeline Larsen, a former resident of Phi Psi and Theta Chi who now works in the SWOPSI
office, first suggested organizing a SWOPSI class as part of a campaign to keep the co-ops open.
Her contacts with students and other co-op “alums” soon produced a core group that conceived
and won approval for what became SWOPSI 146: Co-operative Living and the Current Crisis at
Some people felt that such a class stretched the boundaries of even SWOPSI’s broad definition
of academic subject matter. The class was seen as inevitably becoming an interest group,
advocating for the co-ops. But, at an October 1989 conference marking the 20th anniversary of
SWOPSI at Stanford, a group of current and former SWOPSI participants were enthusiastic
about reviving an old SWOPSI idea: focusing SWOPSI classes on developing and implementing
solutions to real, local problems. This class would be a perfect re-incarnation of that spirit.
Together with reading and research on co-op history and theory, the group would prepare a
report outlining alternatives for the three closed co-ops and the Stanford co-op system in general,
and would also put forward recommendations among those alternatives.
Several alums provided resources for the course planning; the student co-instructors worked on
the planning while struggling to find new houses and patching together their academic lives. The
result was a detailed 10-week plan outlining background reading, research questions and
methods, and a process and framework for exploring and evaluating alternatives.
Twenty five people came to the first class, and twenty remained all quarter. The first five weeks
were devoted to providing a common framework for discussion through reading different types
of materials, learning about co-ops at other universities, and compiling and sharing histories of
the co-operatives at Stanford. Four task groups were identified to organize different aspects of
the work; these groups focused on compiling a history of the Stanford housing co-ops,
researching other co-ops at Stanford and elsewhere, surveying students campus-wide and coop
alums, and monitoring the development of University policies affecting the future of the coops.
In the second half of the course, a larger number of groups was formed to pursue different areas
and develop recommendations. From short-term questions such as “how do we communicate to
students not in the class?” to long term issues regarding autonomy and alternative funding for the
co-ops, groups of 2 to 4 drew on what they’d learned to form concrete proposals.
Controversial proposals were brought before a meeting open to all co-opers not in the class, or
discussed by the whole class. Those on which the class did not agree consensually were left as
options for the future. Where there was substantial agreement, proposals were advanced as
recommendations. It is the collected results of this process that comprise Part V of this report,
and which are the fruits of the seeds planted at the SWOPSI reunion conference.
As we publish this report, we know vastly more about the future of the co-ops than we did just
three months ago. On the one hand, we know where the three displaced communities will be
physically located next year, and this provides a foundation on which to rebuild the communities.
On the other hand, through the class we have studied a wide range of possibilities for the
development of the co-ops and highlighted those we think feasible and desirable. We hope that
this examination of the past, present, and future of co-ops at Stanford will provide an inspiration
to the students and others who will take responsibility for their direction.

                               II. Co-operation
Theories, Models and Issues Concerning Cooperation
What is Co-operation?
Broadly defined, co-operation is interaction harmonized for mutual benefit. Co-operation in this
sense may be contrasted with competition.
Co-operating organisms struggle together toward mutual goals.
Competing organisms struggle against each other toward mutually exclusive goals.
Clearly, both kinds of interaction are essential to the proper functioning of society. For example,
a corporation must have internal co-operation if it is going to succeed in external competition.
Cooperation and competition are suited for different goals. Any motion that is co-operative is
necessarily not competitive. Co-operative and competitive companies must both co-operate and
compete with each other.
More narrowly defined, co-operation is quite literally, “co-operation” — that is, the collective
operation of a company. In a company collectively operated, (1) every person served by the
company is a member of the company, and (2) every member has (at least potentially) equal
influence on the behavior of the company. The goals of the company are thus guaranteed to be
equivalent to the goals of its members, taken collectively.
The word “company” is taken from the Latin “co(m)-” (together) and “pan-is” (bread), in origin
identical to the word “companion.” A company is thus a group of people who take their bread
together, a group of companions. Our definition of “company” shall encompass the narrow use
of the word in business, but shall also go beyond it. By “company” henceforth we mean any
group of people keeping company for a mutual purpose, such as making bread, or any group of
Property may be held by a company. In a purely competitive system, each individual (or each
individual company) has total control over a certain, generally small, bit of property. In a purely
co-operative system, each individual (or each individual company) has partial and equal control
over a large amount of property. These two basic forms of property may be combined variously
to yield the other forms of property, such corporations, state-controlled property, or co-operative
property over which certain people have disproportionate control. Holding property
co-operatively requires the individual to submit to the group will, but by so doing allows large
resources to be effectively harmonized and directed toward goals unattainable by the individual.
All companies are co-operative, at least in the broad sense. That is, they are animated by a
common aim. This common aim may be artificial or natural. A farm, for example, may be
animated by two purposes: first, to generate income for the owner; second, to meet a need. In
general, the first reason will dominate. If the owner employs wage labor toward fulfilling the
first purpose, owner and employees are animated by different (and to some extent competitive)
goals: the owner to maximize his or her profit, the employees to maximize their wages. The
company will only exist as a company so long as employee wages are sufficient to motivate the
employees to pursue the secondary interest that links them to the owner: providing food. Since
this interest is not the first interest, it is sustained artificially by the motivation of profit (for the
owner) or wages (for the employees).
A collectively operated company, on the other hand, is sustained naturally by the mutual interest
of its members. Profit and wages are identical and need not be reconciled. A collectively
operated company arises to satisfy the needs of all its members, and will be stable so long as the
members share their mutual goal and find the company an effective means toward their ends.
Students keep company. Every student residence is a company, animated by companions.
Residents are united in the task of residential living and share the goal of making their
surroundings pleasant and livable. Thus, they form associations of friends, floors, and halls, and
act cooperatively to create social events or to adjudicate differences. They even hold
co-operative property in the form of house funds. However, not every residence is co-operative
in the sense of being collectively operated by the students. Residences go various degrees in this
direction, but none at Stanford is entirely outside University control (nor, if one was, would we
call it a University residence).
Residences tend toward co-operation as students gain control of their environment. When
students band together to cook or clean, they act co-operatively toward a mutual goal. When
students purchase their own food supplies, they maintain and direct co-operative property. Hired
labor is anathema to co-operation because it provides for the mutuality of goals only through the
artificial incentive of wages. Self-determination, on the other hand, is essential: co-operation is a
means of directing resources and thus requires resources to direct.
In a competitive university environment, the benefits of co-operation and mutual support may
unfortunately be given slender attention. Cooperation is a skill that must be learned and
practiced, and it is essential to the proper operation of society. If a student learns only
competition and never co-operation, he or she is not well prepared for a constructive role in

Five Kinds of Companies Cooperative in the Narrow Sense
Drawing on and extending the work of George Melnyk, we may distinguish five general types of
co-operatives in the narrow sense: the liberal democratic, the marxist, the socialist, the
communalist, and the informal. Each of these types has a degree of bearing on the residential
cooperative companies at Stanford.

Liberal Democratic
Liberal Democratic co-operatives are generally businesses within a capitalist system, created
primarily to reduce consumer cost, and competing directly with more traditional businesses.
They play a very limited role in the members’ lives (unless the members happen to be
employees), and serve a narrowly defined function. One joins by paying a small fee, or even
simply by entering the place of business, and generally receives in turn either reduced prices or
periodic rebates. The managers of liberal democratic co-operatives limit profit and return on
investment, and return this money, instead, to the consumer. The Stanford Bookstore and the
Stanford Federal Credit Union are both co-ops in this sense.
The student housing co-operatives, most narrowly defined, are co-operatives of this sort. To be a
co-operative house at Stanford, one need only be a house operated in a liberal democratic
manner: where students cook and clean so that they might save money.

Marxist co-operatives are co-operatives initiated by communist governments. Membership is not
voluntary, and control is so remote from the individual members that all but a few of the
members have, in effect, no control over the system. Without voluntary membership, it is
difficult to assure the singularity of the member’s aims without artificial means.
Student housing may learn from Marxist examples the advantages and disadvantages of enforced
membership (a result of not filling in the draw), of enforced ideology, and of outside control by
those who “know better.”

 A co-op can be:
        • a group of people coming together to produce
 something that benefits all and that couldn’t have been produced otherwise
 an exploration of methods by which people can work together to improve their
 lives or others’ lives
 • a method of saving $ by sharing resources
 method of empowerment, people banding together to work towards a collective
 goal and to gain strength as a unit — Classmember
Socialist co-operatives, like Marxist co-operatives, are multi-functional, serving more than one
need (such as employment, education and community). Unlike Marxist co-operatives, however,
they exist within mainstream society, and their membership is voluntary. The Basque
Mondragon and the Israeli Kibbutz are examples of socialist co-ops. They form full
communities, and range over almost every aspect of their member’s lives. They minimize private
property. The members of socialist co-ops are often united in their concern for each other by a
separate ideology, such as Basque Nationalism or Zionism. This unification helps overcome the
stresses put on the system by the competing goals of the members.
As co-operation increases in the student housing co-operatives, they tend in some respects
toward socialist co-operation, because (unlike, for example, the Stanford Bookstore), the
company or companionship is pervasive in the student’s life and serves multiple functions.

Communalist co-operatives are small, utopian communes. The members are generally united by
common political or religious beliefs. The “hippie” communes of the early seventies belong to
the political communalist tradition. Monasteries and Hutterite societies belong to the religious
communalist tradition. Communalist coops are small, and generally stress total egalitarianism.
They seek to dominate every aspect of their member’s lives, and are often the product of a single
charismatic leader. They criticize and isolate themselves from the mainstream of society. They
control every aspect of ownership, production, and consumption. They allow little or no private
When the Stanford student housing co-operatives initially arose, they were associated with the
communalist tradition, although they are less so now as communalism has waned in popularity.
Still, the co-ops are small and sometimes tightly-knit communities, and Synergy and Columbae
in particular have tended to promote idealism and political involvement.

Informal co-operatives are companies of people banded together for a specific, informal purpose,
such as to go on a ski trip, or for a formal purpose with largely informal attendant demands, such
as marriage or membership in a club. Informal co-operatives are generally grounded in the trust
of friendship, and last so long as the trust and the mutual goals remain. Informal co-ops may
control one or many aspects of the member’s lives. They are generally the smallest co-operatives
and the co-operatives most responsive to the demands of individual members.
Informal co-operation appears constantly in student housing in general, although it is an open
question whether it appears more or less frequently in the co-ops. Much of the positive
experience of co-operation may be attributed to informal co-operation. It is often the prop
without which more formal co-operative companies would fail.

Principles of Co-operation
What makes a good co-op? Melnyk in The Search for Community lists fifteen basic principles,
which can serve as a good beginning for reflection.The purpose of presenting them here, along
with descriptions of different kinds of cooperation and a discussion of co-operation is general, is
to acquaint the reader with what cooperation is in its ideal and to set the Stanford housing co-ops
in the larger context of the cooperative movement.

1. Voluntary Membership.
Because formal co-operation often also depends upon informal co-operation (and thus trust and
goodwill) and because all members are taken into account in decision-making, destructive
influences in co-operative companies can be particularly damaging. For this reason, it is
imperative that the Stanford housing co-ops not have empty spaces that may be filled with
people not interested in contributing positively to the community.

2. One Person/One vote.
This principle is implied in the definition of cooperation. Every person must have the
opportunity to exert influence upon the decisions of a co-operative company, and this influence
should be equalized as much as possible. Voting per se is not essential. Most informal
co-operatives are run by consensus as opposed to voting, as are several of the Stanford housing
co-ops, and this is generally not seen as incompatible with co-operation.

3. Open Membership.
That anyone who agrees with the object of a co-operative company be admitted is in general a
good rule of thumb. However, cases may arise where exclusion (or selection, which amounts to
the same thing) based upon an objective principle such as ethnic diversity (Hammarskjöld) or
based upon subjective criteria may be justifiable.

4. Limited Capital Return.
Companions working co-operatively may of course save or make money by doing so. What this
principle suggests is that investment, which is a competitive principle, not be the guiding motive
for co-operation.

5. Education About Co-operation.
If a co-op is to be successful the members must of course learn how to work co-operatively. If
one agrees with the ideals of co-operation one might be inclined to persuade others of these
ideals, and so long as such persuasion is done considerately, it is utterly appropriate.

6. Co-operation Between Co-ops.
Once co-operation is learned on a smaller scale, it may be attempted on a larger scale. The
results will generally be beneficial.

7. Egalitarianism.
This principle is tied to the second principle, but is considerably broader. The sentiment here is
that social and political inequalities are largely the product of competition, and are anathema to
cooperation. Co-operative groups are in a position to address these inequalities and should strive
to do so.

8. Nationalism.
Co-ops should adapt as best they can to their (national and other) environment. This does not
mean that they should go against their moral conscience or that they cannot strive to change their
environments, but rather that co-operatives should not be hostile or revolutionary, but rather
sympathetic and evolutionary — that is, they should exist in a co-operative relationship as much
as possible with those around them.

9. Class-Consciousness.
Co-operatives should be aware of social problems (and not simply those of class) and do what
they can to alleviate them. This should be the case for people in general. The argument that
co-operatives should maintain political neutrality so as not to alienate members, however, also
has some weight.

10. Evolutionary Development.
Cooperatives should engage in peaceful social change.

11. Decentralization.
Central control and central administration provide the advantages of experienced
decision-makers and continuity and consistency in decision-making, but these advantages must
be balanced against the co-operative virtues of self-control and self-determination. The closer
authority is to home, the more responsive it is to the needs of its members. This applies even if
the members themselves are “in control” (e.g. as in the case of the voters being “in control” of
the United States). Yet, co-operation itself is a means of centralizing action and guaranteeing that
it will be harmonious, that individuals will not work at cross purposes. At Stanford, tension will
always exist between those who want more independence and those who want more
centralization (either in the form of a co-op council or in the form of control by the Stanford

12. Multifunctionalism.
If one agrees with the principles of co-operation, one would like to see these principles operative
on more than one plane of one’s life. Students in the Stanford housing co-operatives should seek
not only to co-operate about cooking and cleaning, but also in other aspects of their interaction.

13. Work Outside the Co-op.
Members should not only co-operate within their communities, but should seek to promote
positive change in the larger community.

14. Self-Reliance.
Self-reliance generates an atmosphere of mutual commitment and responsibility. Self-reliance
separates one from involvement with and dependence on non-co-operative companies. Also, it
ties in with the eleventh principle. Stanford students should learn to take care of themselves,
because soon they may find themselves taking responsibility, not only for their own lives, but for
the lives of others.

15. Open Principle.
The co-operative communities should be allowed to develop other principles as they wish. For
example, one co-operative might develop a specific principle of environmentalism, another
might wish to be an all women’s co-operative. The ideology of a community should reflect the
interest of its members, and should always be open to change and input from its members.
These principles are meant to guide, not to dictate absolutely (nor could they dictate absolutely,
even if we wanted them to). In general, they are already present in some form in the Stanford

Notes on Community, Cooperation, and Sustainable Living
People living in a community share, learn, teach, and grow in understanding as they cultivate an
appreciation of the unique contribution which each person has to offer. People who work to build
community share common interests, values, and purposes and also exhibit diversity in expressing
these. A community fosters support for and from others, and encourages acceptance and
Co-operation is an essential element of community. The essence of co-operation lies in the idea
that people benefit more from sharing and working together than from competing against one
another. Collectively, we can more fully realize our purposes than we can working alone.
Co-operation is an ongoing process which requires communication and understanding between
members of the community. When we co-operate, we acknowledge and celebrate the
interdependence of all the inhabitants of the planet.
People create a residential community when they share housing and the responsibilities of daily
living such as cooking and cleaning. By engaging in these activities, people feel closer to each
other as they develop appreciation and understanding of the other members of the community.
The behavior of life, and increasingly the behavior of human life, affects the environment. Each
time we act on ideas we carry inside of us, the environment becomes a more accurate mirror of
human thinking. In turn, changes in the environment impose demands for changes in human
Lifeforms interact with their environment like lock and key. Lacking a close fit, they cease to
complement each other. When a sufficiently large gap opens between the pattern of a lifeform
and that of the environment, death of the individual or extinction of the species ensues. Humans
are currently changing the environment in ways unprecedented in both type and magnitude. We
will benefit by reducing the rate at which we change the environment.
People living in University-operated, self-operated, and co-operated houses all have the ability to
limit environmental impact. In practice, students who cook and clean for themselves are often in
a better position to reduce conversion of resources. Choices made concerning type of foods
(plant, animal; fresh, processed), utensils, dishware, and handtowels (reusable, disposable),
waste (composting, recycling, throwing away), and soap (biodegradable, non-biodegradable) all
make a difference in the total environmental impact of the people living in a house.

Leland Stanford’s Ideas on Cooperation
It is one of Stanford’s best kept secrets that Leland Stanford Sr. was himself a powerful booster
of co-operation in his later years. In an article written in 1989 and published in the Winter 1990
edition of the Stanford Historical Society’s quarterly journal Sandstone and Tile, former Stanford
co-oper Lee Altenberg documents in detail the Senator’s beliefs about the values of co-operation.
Evidence of Stanford’s beliefs can be found right in the Grant of Endowment of the University,
which lists among the leading objects of the University “...the independence of capital and the
self-employment of non-capitalist classes, by such system of instruction as will tend to the
establishment of co-operative effort in the industrial systems of the future.” Additional sources
Altenberg cites in his article include Stanford’s address at the University’s Opening Exercises in
1891, a letter of Stanford’s to the first University President David Starr Jordan from 1893, and an
address from Stanford to the University Trustees. From the Opening Address comes the
following quote:
“We have also provided that the benefits resulting from co-operation shall be freely taught. ...
Co-operative societies bring forth the best capacities, the best influences of the individual for the
benefit of the whole, while the good influences of the many aid the individual.”
Stanford also sought to advance the practices of co-operation through his role as a U.S. Senator.
Stanford introduced a bill that would lend money to farmers on the basis of their land value,
which Stanford saw as supporting farm co-operatives and other small industrial ventures.
Stanford’s speeches to the Senate on behalf of the bill further document his belief in co-operation
and the desirability of the independence of labor from capital.
Stanford’s beliefs had an influence on some early students of the University, including those who
founded the Stanford Co-operative Association in 1891 (which later evolved into the Stanford
Bookstore, which is still legally a co-operative). A class on “Co-operation: It’s History and
Influence” appears in the first year’s course catalogue. But Stanford died just two years after the
University opened, and neither his wife Jane nor President Jordan appeared to share Stanford’s
concerns. Moreover, the larger co-operative movement dwindled in the 1890s, and Stanford
made no provision to actually organize the University as a co-operative, giving it instead a
standard hierarchical Board of Trustees and an executive President.
Over time nearly all knowledge of his commitment to co-operation disappeared. Mention of
Stanford’s vision appears in a Daily article concerning the closing of Walter Thompson
Cooperative in 1945 (see p. ???), and was resurfaced by a founder of the Palo Alto Co-op in
1950, but when the student cooperatives we know today were founded in the early ’70s, there is
no mention of Stanford’s ideals. Perhaps with the publication of Altenberg's article, this little
known side of the famed “robber baron” might once again find its way into the lore and life of
the University.

Residential Education and Cooperative Ideals
A full residential education could encompass such things as individual responsibility, social
involvement, openness to difference, cooperation, and creativity. The Office of Residential
Education has been successful in promoting a myriad of speakers, workshops, and programs
which encourage these values. Student residences, however, have the potential to provide an
even greater and more complete educational experience.
Students at Stanford might more fully explore the ideals of responsibility, co-operation, and
creativity if they are able to cook and clean for themselves. The policies concerning the
day-to-day operation of student residences at Stanford reflect a wider cultural belief that
students, especially at Stanford, have certain rights which the rest of the population lacks. One of
these “rights” is the right to avoid such day-to-day inconveniences as cooking for themselves and
cleaning their own house. The fact that the University supplies cleaning and meal service to the
majority of student residences inadvertently condones irresponsibility and unco-operativeness
among students. Asking students to cook and clean for themselves (and each other) is a
fundamental way to develop characteristics of responsibility, involvement, co-operation, and the
like — values which the Office of Residential Education hopes to promote.
At an institution like Stanford today, we run the risk of buying into the myth of the high-status
student who should be exempted from the “grubbery” which those in the real world must face.
Many members of the Stanford community (including many of the students themselves) have the
attitude that students are here to do “mind work” and not “physical work.” This attitude
establishes inequality between students and the physical laborers we hire. Yet physical activity is
not a lesser form of labor than the mental activity that goes on in classes, discussion groups, and
workshops. What we do (and do not do) physically is a very real basis for how we think about
the world. If we, as students, attend Stanford for several years with a squadron of cleaners and
cooks catering to our every need, how can we expect to develop the skills of responsibility,
working with others, or building a true community?

   A co-op house should be a house or place where people can live together and
   become good friends and community by sharing the tasks of living. I’ve found
      that a tightly knit co-op can foster healthy discussion and can raise the
                     consciousness of the people living together.
                                  — Classmember
In the University’s founding grant, Leland Stanford himself stated a commitment to establishing
and maintaining co-operative institutions at Stanford. While it is true that several student-run
housing co-operatives have been in operation on the campus for decades, they are still the
exception rather than the rule. The rule is that unless students express a strong desire to live
co-operatively, they will be provided with cleaners and cooks who will take care of their “dirty
work” for them. Unfortunately for the co-ops, student housing is currently approached from a
market analysis standpoint. If student demand for co-operative housing exists, then so does
University support for this type of residence. But if demand seems to wane, then so does
University enthusiasm. Regardless of student demand, certain things might be regarded as
fundamental to a worthwhile education. Is cooperation fundamental?
Co-op houses face an obstacle in recruiting new members and promoting the ideals of
cooperation as long as co-operative living is viewed as a strange exception rather than the norm.
Though unusual, co-operatives are a valuable interactive and truly educational housing option.
Through co-operation, students create a real community, learning to take pride in their own
contributions, and learning to respect and appreciate the contributions of others. By promoting
co-operative residences, the University has the opportunity to continue to take education beyond
academics, teaching students self-sufficiency and community responsibility through
co-operation. Despite the rise and fall of interest in co-operative ideals, the benefits of
co-operative living are too important to ignore.
On the next pages we present a comparison of the official goals of Stanford University’s
Residential Education program and the the goals and practices of co-operative living at Stanford.

The essential conviction behind the Stanford co-operative homes is that the integration of living
and learning is best enacted through daily interaction of community members. Our intellectual
and social development is, in fact, greatly enhanced by our co-operative lifestyle. We are
constantly exploring new ideas and incorporating knowledge gained in the classroom by openly
discussing and critically examining such important issues as gender dynamics, racial and cultural
differences, nonviolent social change, organization of human and natural resources, and
environmental ethics. Furthermore, we implement our values in the very way we live. Together
we create a challenging intellectual environment and a supportive community for each other.

Goals of Residential Education Embodied in Co-ops
Through co-operative living, we provide the following:
•   A supportive and friendly environment where members develop above all else a spirit of
    community strength and cohesion.
•   An intellectual and friendly atmosphere in which the constructive conflict of ideas provides
    incentive for personal academic research and achievement.
•   A stimulation of interest in cultural, social, and political activities sponsored by the
    University or other organizations; formal and informal discussions; the development of
    special house libraries which offer access to resources otherwise unavailable, and which
    record the historical evolution of the community, building awareness of traditions and past
    experiences; and encouragement of artistic expression and appreciation, ranging from mural
    painting to musical concerts.
•   An opportunity for co-op members to interact with each other, and with faculty guests, so
    that their ideas and values are constantly challenged and developed. The co-operative
    experience also offers a rare chance for undergraduates and graduate students to live
    together, providing greater diversity of perspective and insight as well as invaluable mutual
•   A place where the community as a whole concerns itself with aiding individual members
    solve personal and academic problems.
•   An alternative housing experience that many students are unable to have elsewhere, and one
    that truly represents the diversity of residential possibilities.
•   An opportunity to live and interact with students of different backgrounds, ethnicities,
    classes, religions and nationalities in a structure that emphasizes the importance of
    celebrating and reconciling these differences.
•   An environment in which we learn that “good citizenship and consideration of others” can
    mean much more than is usually expressed. In a co-op, each member is equally responsible
    for the functioning and governing of the house.
•   A social network that involves member interaction on many levels, helping “social
    competence” to grow as broadly as it does deeply.
•   Finally, co-operative residences provide living situations which give students a feeling of
    “empowerment.” We assume responsibility for our own decisions on the most essential
    aspects of our lives: food policies, living arrangements, work schedules. As members of a
    co-operative, we learn to see how our individual behavior affects the environment and
    community at large and to act responsibly.

The Co-op / Res-Ed Relationship
The co-operative housing experience dynamically fulfills Stanford’s goals for Residential
Education. Co-op homes build consciousness of the union between living situations and
education. Co-ops are then motivated internally by the desires of their members to build
supportive and healthy environments. Their independent agendas coincide with the stated ideals
of Residential Education at Stanford.
Why, then, are co-ops repeatedly compelled to justify themselves and assert their value within
the residential system? Since the problem is apparently not a conflict of values, it must
necessarily lie in the relationship of the co-operative homes to Residential Education.
One detrimental factor in the relationship arises from the perceived low demand for co-operative
life by the student body as a whole. Residential Education must cater to the desires and needs
expressed by the student community, because it is basically useless to create a potentially ideal
residence environment if it cannot attract members. Co-ops are not the highest priority of Res-Ed
because they are not the highest priority of the student body. The solution to this problem could
emerge from commitment and communication. Working together, the co-operative homes and
Residential Education could revitalize general interest through outreach programs (on the part of
the co-ops) and commitment to making co-ops more attractive by improving facilities or
augmenting programs (on the part of Res-Ed).
Further tensions in the co-op / Res-Ed relationship are the product of a mutual lack of trust.
Co-ops fear the encroachment of University authority on the independence they need to exist.
We currently depend on Stanford for support, but we recognize that self-determination is an
integral component of co-operative living. Residential Education, conversely, must fear this very
self-determination. The University is held accountable for its students’ living conditions, and it is
consequently reluctant to relinquish direct control over us. Although we share the purposes and
ideals of Residential Education, we are inhibited from developing a healthy relationship due to
bad faith. Both parties must work to re-establish their commitments through open
The co-operative homes at Stanford are a unique experience in Residential education. To
preserve the co-op alternative, effort must be made to build a relationship of goodwill and
understanding between Res-Ed and the co-ops. Together we can generate a climate for growth
and improvement.

                                III. Background
One of our aims in compiling this report was to provide a fairly comprehensive description and
history of the co-operative movement at Stanford. Towards this aim, we present descriptions of
past and present residential co-ops, coop organizations, and non-residential co-ops within the
Stanford community. We also take a look at co-operative living arrangements within other
universities for comparison’s sake. Finally, we present compiled versions of two surveys. The
first was distributed to current Stanford students. From the results of this survey, we have a fairly
broad view of the images which the co-op houses have within the various Stanford communities.
The second was distributed to co-op alums. With their hindsight, we are better able to understand
all the various pros and cons of co-operative living as it is takes place at Stanford. By careful
self-examination, we are more likely to improve our own co-operative homes.

Current Campus Residential Co-ops
In this section, we present synopses describing each Stanford Co-op (Columbae, Hammarskjöld,
Kairos, Phi Psi, Synergy, Terra, and Theta Chi). We hope to provide accurate images which
reflect both the good and the bad, so that perhaps we can better judge where greater effort or
even a change in direction may be beneficial.

The Stanford Residential Co-op Timeline

Chi77-78AndrogynyColumbaeTerraSynergyHammarskjöldTheta                             ChiPhi
Psi78-79ColumbaeTerraSynergyHammarskjöldTheta                                      ChiPhi
Psi79-80ColumbaeTerraSynergyHammarskjöldTheta                                      ChiPhi
Psi80-81ColumbaeTerraSynergyHammarskjöldTheta                                      ChiPhi
Psi81-82ColumbaeTerraSynergyHammarskjöldTheta                                      ChiPhi
Psi82-83ColumbaeTerraSynergyHammarskjöldTheta                                      ChiPhi
Psi83-84ColumbaeTerraSynergyHammarskjöldTheta                                      ChiPhi
Psi84-85ColumbaeTerraSynergyHammarskjöldTheta                                      ChiPhi
Psi85-86ColumbaeTerraSynergyHammarskjöldTheta                                      ChiPhi
Psi86-87ColumbaeTerraSynergyHammarskjöldTheta                                      ChiPhi
Psi87-88ColumbaeTerraSynergyHammarskjöldTheta                                      ChiPhi
Psi88-89ColumbaeTerraSynergyHammarskjöldTheta               ChiPhi              PsiKairos*
89-90ColumbaeTerraSynergyHammarskjöldTheta ChiPhi PsiKairos
Co-op Vacancy Statistics: 1980-89

                         YearColumbaeSynergyPhi PsiKairosTheta
  870/024/140/013/70/010/019886/03/07/00/00/02/019892/00/00/00/00/06/1(The two entries in the
                          table correspond to first and second rounds of the draw).

Columbae House
Physical Structure
Columbae, built in 1896 and moved to its present location in 1973, is now centrally located, 2
houses away from the Post Office at 549 Lasuen. There are 20 student rooms (5 singles, 10
doubles, 4 triples, 1 quad, officially, although different configurations were common, e.g. a 10
person, 3 room, “commune”, etc.). Columbae has a large kitchen, pantries, many fire escapes, a
large common room, a dining room (used to serve dinner, not really eat it there— dinner was
usually eaten on the front porch or, in bad weather, in the common room), a good roof for
sleeping, a large front hall, and a library with books and archives. Two first floor common rooms
were converted into doubles for Roble Refugees in 1987-88 and have remained as student living
spaces since. Outside are an organic vegetable garden, a compost pile, rose bushes and some
lemon trees.

Financial Status
Before the quake, Columbae had a savings of about $1300. Dues to the house and payment for
supplies were $57.50 for residents, $32.50 for Eating Associates. The Board plan was extremely
flexible, with house members paying from $367.50 for a full meal plan (6 dinners a week, open
kitchen for all lunches and breakfasts) to $0 if they wouldn’t eat there at all. People could talk to
the Financial Managers about how often they would be eating at the house and figure out how
much to pay. Rebates varied for the different meal plans, but for people on the full meal plans
rebates usually amounted to about $50 per quarter. Board bills were paid directly to the House,
but rent was paid to the University.

Food Policy
At the time of the Earthquake, Columbae had not yet reached consensus on its food policy for the
year. In two house meetings totalling 4 1/2 hours, food policy had been discussed without
conclusion, and another meeting was scheduled for October 18, 1989. In the meantime, food was
being ordered according to the ’88-89 policy, in which Columbae was completely vegetarian.
Vegan alternatives were served at all common meals. The house avoided buying any types of
drugs (caffeine, sugar) and most processed foods (we had no name brands, except for Enrico’s
salsa). Table grapes, sugar, and General Electric products (I know it’s not a food, but I thought
I’d mention it anyway) were being boycotted. Dry goods were ordered from Sierra or Fowler
Brothers. Milk was delivered in returnable glass bottles.

Governance Policy
All decisions were made by consensus, and had been since the house’s founding.
Rooming assignments were also made by consensus at the beginning of each quarter (rooms
changed each quarter). Typically the largest groups had priority over smaller groups, i.e. first the
four people living in a quad picked a room, then the people in triples picked rooms, then doubles,
and lastly, singles. A separate meeting was held with all people desiring singles to decide who
would get singles that quarter.

House Work Division
Columbae began a new system in fall ’89 on a one-quarter trial basis. There have been different
systems in the past.
   Food-making jobs — 5 times/quarter — This included dinner crew, making some type of
      lunch for everyone, or making bread or granola and yogurt.
   Kitchen clean-up—every week
   Bathroom clean—3 times/quarter
   Special jobs/ House clean-up — 5 times/ quarter — vacuuming, gardening and whatever else
      people thought needed to be done.
   Managers—Columbae had 5 exempt spots—a theme associate, 2 other manager positions
     were volunteered for and included Compost, Library, Garden, Dairy and Egg, Dry
     Goods, Produce, Menu managers.
Other systems had been used in the past, including an unstructured system in which people
cleaned whenever they were inclined to do so and thought things were too dirty (used in the early

Relations with the University
The University assigns residents through the draw. Row Facilities does some maintenance work
(asbestos removal, fixing windows, groundskeeping, etc.) and provides furnishings. Columbae is
University owned but does its own cooking and cleaning. The house is usually closed over
Winter break and over the summer.

Columbae’s theme is “Social Change through Nonviolence.” “Nonviolence” translates into all
aspects of house life, the philosophy being that people can unthinkingly do violence to others
through overconsumption. To lessen their negative impact, Columbaens have a compost pile,
recycle, conserve energy and water, try to reduce consumption, etc.
Columbae has an exempt spot for a theme associate, and this year as part of house jobs there was
talk of house members doing theme projects. The theme project was not a part of priority
assignments or signed house agreements.

Special Features
Columbae is the only completely vegetarian house on campus, and one of the very few in which
rooms are changed each quarter. A library holds Co-op Archives and the archives from Project
Synergy, as well as books and textbooks about politics, the environment, economics, and other
subjects and a collection of periodicals.
In April, 1970, a group of students met in Mem Chu to discuss nonviolence as a way of life, a
commitment to achieving social change through peaceful activism, as opposed to the violent
means that characterized many student movements alleging to work for peaceful ends. To
heighten awareness of the nonviolent option and to protest the presence of ROTC on campus,
they decided to fast for three days. Thirty people moved into White Plaza with blankets and
bongos and together planned to start a nonviolent group on campus and hopefully obtain an
on-campus residence. In the Autumn of that year, academic year 1970-1971, the group moved
into a University house in the Cowell Cluster to build their community.
The Columbae Community was housed in what had been the Chi Psi fraternity house at 517
Cowell Lane (in what is now Whitman House). The 50 members of Columbae chose the house’s
name from several sources, including the Latin name for (peace) doves, Columbidae family, and
the Woody Guthrie song “Columbia” describing his thoughts about America as it should be.
Nonviolence meant many things to the house’s founders, encompassing all levels of nonviolent
action, including respect for other people and the natural environment, political action, a
communal life, a non-manipulating, non-consumer, and non-materially oriented world view. The
idea was to change society in the larger sense while at the same time building an alternative,
nonviolent community. To this end, the group ate only about $1.00 worth of food per person per
day, reused products, gave up other unnecessary products (like paper napkins), recycled, had an
organic vegetable garden in Escondido Village, tried to buy the least processed food (including
grinding their own flour to bake bread), had a compost pile, and did all their own cooking and
cleaning. The house abided by the Quaker idea of consensus instead of voting because voting
was thought to affirm one point of view while denying others. For many years Columbaens
baked dozens of loaves of bread at the beginning of each quarter and gave away slices to
students at Registration.
Members of the house organized both political and non-political actions throughout the years.
Some Columbaens refused military induction and were arrested in March, 1971 for blocking
entry to the San Francisco Draft Board and were given five day suspended jail sentences. Others
researched and published accounts of U.S war crimes in Indochina, worked in ecology and
conservative projects, investigated Stanford finances, and studied legislation to repeal the draft.
The next year, 1971-72, Columbae organized the Peace Fund, which (among other things)
encouraged the Stanford Community not to pay the 10% Federal phone tax on their phone bills
(legislated in 1966 specifically to pay for the war), sending a note to the phone company
explaining the action, and donating the saved money to the Peace Fund to support organizations
working towards a peaceful world. In 1972-1973 Columbae collected more than 2500 pounds of
clothing and raised money to fund its transportation to Mud Creek, a large area of small towns in
the Appalachian Mountains.
It was decided to move the Columbae Community to Stillman House, with residents moving in
Autumn 1973-1974. To complicate matters, Stillman House (built in 1896, formerly Kappa
Alpha Theta sorority house) itself was to be physically moved to its present location at 549
Lasuen to make room for Campus Drive. The house was uprooted from its foundations in
summer, 1973, moved in two pieces down the road to its new foundation, then pieced back
together with new wiring and appliances. This was all supposed to be completed in time for the
37 Columbae residents to move in in the beginning of Autumn Quarter. It wasn’t.
The Columbae residents were temporarily relocated to the Delt House, originally told that they
would be able to move into Stillman “October 15 at the latest”. The Delta Tau Delta fraternity
was on suspension and was forced out of their house for at least one year following many
complaints of misconduct from neighboring houses. The house was to be filled that year with 43
men and women who were unassigned in the housing draw. Those 43 individuals stayed with
friends or found other housing until they were finally allowed to move into the Delt House. The
reason Columbae was there, and therefore 80 people instead of 37 were displaced, was that
Columbae persuaded the housing office that if their group were to have a chance to succeed, they
needed a house and an independent kitchen, and the housing office understood this and acted
accordingly. Finally, in mid-November, Stillman House was ready for Columbae to move into it,
so Columbae members moved out of the Delt House and into Stillman House (which became
Columbae) and the Delt residents were finally able to move into the Delt House.
Columbae continued to be a community resource for nonviolence. They maintained a good
library of books, newspapers, and magazines concerned with alternative psychological, spiritual,
and political themes. They harbored and fostered many groups interested in various aspects of
social change by providing volunteers to work with them, making rooms available for meeting
and giving them direct monetary support. Columbae was the base for the Stanford Coalition
Against the B-1 Bomber, the Trident Concern group, and the Stanford Community Coordinating
Center for the David Harris Campaign, the Alliance for Radical Change (ARC), Against the
Grain (the alternative publication of the Black Rose Anarchist Collective), and the Radical Film
Series Group. Classes met at Columbae to discuss political organizing, sexism, communal living,
and holistic health.
In the Fall of 1976, the Stanford Committee for a Responsible Investment Policy (SCRIP), with
many Columbae residents, challenged Stanford to divest itself of its stock in J.P. Stevens
company (a textile manufacturer with a record of horrible labor relations — portrayed later in the
Sally Field movie, Norma Rae). Members of SCRIP put on a Winter Quarter SWOPSI course at
Columbae focused on South Africa and U.S. companies that did work there. In the spring, this
class grew into a campaign to have Stanford divest itself of stock in companies that did work in
South Africa. This was an extensive campaign involving leafletting every dorm on campus three
times, dozens of showings of a film about South Africa in dormitory lounges, a dozen rallies, an
overnight vigil in White Plaza, a day-long fast in which hundreds of students participated, and a
week-long fast by 8 students.
The campaign climaxed in a sit-in in Old Union in which 294 students were arrested. Just about
all members of the Columbae community were involved in some capacity (as were many
residents of Synergy and other co-ops). Many of the students involved in these campaigns went
on to live together in households in Palo Alto and San Francisco for many years. Many also
worked with the South Africa Catalyst Project (to organize on the issue of South Africa at
California universities). About 10 Columbaens from 1976-77 met every New Year’s Day for
about 8 years.
In the fall of 1976 year Randy Schutt built a solar oven that could bake 3 loaves of bread. The
oven has resided at Columbae or Synergy for about half the years since then. This was also the
year that Bryan Coleman designed the Columbae Tshirt and cut a silk-screen stencil. Most
Columbae residents since then have made themselves a shirt with this stencil or its duplicates.
Columbaens were also very involved in the proposal to start Androgyny house, which opened its
doors in Autumn 1977. In early 1977 the Subcommittee on Residences of the Committee on
Services to Students (COSS/R) considered housing the approved Androgyny House in
Columbae, suspecting that Androgyny House would cut into Columbae’s constituency. Jordan
House, Whitman House, ATO, and ZAP were also considered as possible locations. At a house
meeting’s poll only 4 of the 37 Columbae residents said they would leave Columbae for
Androgyny, and after much action and many letters to the Stanford Daily from Columbae
residents, Jordan was picked as the location for Androgyny House.
Political activity and community building continued in Columbae, and in Autumn, 1985
representatives from the different co-op houses met at Columbae to look into ways that they
could provide meals for students affected by the then possible United Stanford Workers (USW)
strike. They hoped to educate people about a possible strike and, at the very least, perform a
service for other students, estimating that they could serve up to 150 extra students.
In April, 1986, Columbae consensed to declare itself a sanctuary for Central American refugees,
possibly in violation of federal and Stanford regulations. They did this to call attention to the
U.S. policy of returning El Salvadoran and Guatemalan refugees to their native countries where,
according to Amnesty International reports, at least one third of those individuals are kidnapped,
tortured, or murdered. Herman, a 40 year old refugee from El Salvador, came to stay in
Columbae and to speak of how oppression and death squads are forcing people to leave their
homes. Throughout all of the abundant media coverage that this received, Herman wore dark
glasses and a red bandana covering the lower half of his face to prevent identification so that his
family (who were still living in El Salvador) would not be murdered in reprisal.
Columbae asked that the University recognize Columbae as a Sanctuary and waive some normal
housing rules, but the University chose to respond to the matter as though it were a normal
housing policy issue, saying that University regulations allow guests to stay for only three days.
If Columbae hosted refugees for longer than that time, Dean of Students James Lyons said they
could lose their housing privileges. Columbae remained active in various aspects of the
Sanctuary movement, and Herman himself stayed in various Row Houses after leaving
May of 1989 brought an occupation of President Kennedy’s office and the arrest of 58 students
(including 4 Columbae residents), and then on October 14, 1989, SWOPSI held a party at
Columbae to celebrate its 20th birthday. Three days later, there was an earthquake...

Hammarskjöld House
Physical Structure
Hammarskjöld is a large house at 592 Alvarado Row. It is is the smallest of the co-ops, with 17
student rooms (9 singles, 8 doubles). Hammarskjöld has a large lounge, a smaller TV room and a
large dining room. The kitchen is small but has a large pantry and dish-room. Behind the house
there are a study room (poorly heated) and a guest room with a bathroom (currently housing 3
Columbae refugees).
Hammarskjöld has a large front porch with tall columns many fire escapes, and a large fireplace
whose chimney was destroyed in the earthquake. Exterior amenities include a large lawn,
basketball hoop and a volleyball court.

Financial Status
At the beginning of the year 1989-90 Hammarskjöld had an operating budget of $18,300/
quarter, somewhat higher after the earthquake. Board for residents and eating associates is
$375/quarter. Rent (approximately $950) is paid to the University. Hammarskjöld has
approximately $12,000 on reserve in various savings accounts.

Student Composition
As of October 17th Hammarskjöld had 26 residents including 2 female grad students and 4 male
grads. There were 10 female undergraduates and 9 male undergraduates. 3 female
undergraduates were added after the earthquake. As part of its theme of “International
Understanding” Hammarskjöld seeks to create a community of diverse national, religious and
ethnic backgrounds. This is accomplished through a special draw. International diversity is also
reflected in the house’s 30 eating associates.

Draw Statistics
Hammarskjöld operates its own draw (see Special Features, below). The house always fills
through this system.

Food Policy
Dinner is prepared every night of the week. Meals are always vegetarian with a vegan
alternative, and a carnivorous option every other night. Meat is also stocked for individual use.
Food is purchased from S.E. Ryckoff and Sierra foods. House food boycotts are rare, but have
been proposed (e.g. tuna). The rules in food selection seem to be convenience (foods that require
minimal preparation) and cost (the least expensive option is usually preferred.

Governance Policy
House decisions are usually made at weekly house meetings. Issues are discussed, then a
decision is made on a one-person/one-vote hand vote. Some decisions are made by the managers.

House Work Division
The current system has been in effect for several years with a few modifications.
   Food preparation: 1/ cook crew cycle (3-4 weeks) — 3 people on cook crew, “head cook”
      plans meal, makes sure menu is posted so managers can order food
   Kitchen cleanup: 1/week— 2 Saturday dish crews/ quarter
   Bathroom clean: 3/ quarter (residents only)
   Special jobs: 1 large job (usually clean-up) at the beginning of each quarter, then 2 weekend
      clean crews/ quarter
   House members are also expected to participate in Cook and Clean crews for
      Hammarskjöld’s two traditional large dinners.
   Managers; There are exempt spots for 2 house managers, 1 financial manager, and 2 theme
   Volunteer manager positions include produce and dairy, dry goods and meat, bread and tea,
      and soda fridge. Managers are exempt from some house jobs, such as the weekly dish
The theme of “International Understanding” is very important at Hammarskjöld. All residents
agree to present a theme project at some point during the year, and applicants are asked to submit
possible ideas for theme projects. Theme projects have included preparing a meal from one’s
native country, to slide presentations of different countries, to story-telling. The desire to create a
truly diverse house is the reasoning behind the separate draw.

Relations with the University
The University has final say in the draw, although the University usually follows the
recommendations of Hammarskjöld in assigning students. Hammarskjöld does its own cooking
and cleaning and some minor repairs, but Row Facilities does major work (repairing the Hobart,
fixing flooding toilets, mowing lawns). The University also chooses and assigns a Resident
Assistant to Hammarskjöld.

Special Features
One of Hammarskjöld’s attractions is its residential setting—the house feels like a part of the
neighborhood. There is a volleyball court and a TV with a VCR (both very popular with
“Hammies”). There is a nice piano in the living room, and the large wooden table in the kitchen
becomes the center for late night socializing. The second floor has a co-ed restroom and shower
room. Before the earthquake, residents could have a week’s worth of guest housing (in 3 day
increments) in the guest room at minimal cost.
The Hammarskjöld draw is a unique feature — students apply in the spring to live in
Hammarskjöld. The applications asks about the student’s international background and
international experiences (travel, or otherwise), what it means to live in a co-op. Applicants are
also asked to submit possible theme projects. Many applicants come and eat a meal at
Hammarskjöld and help prepare food or do a dish crew. The applications are then reviewed by
the Resident Assistant, the House managers and any interested residents who then submit their
collective recommendations to the Row office. The University then reviews the applications and
assigns one half of the residents to reflect geographic diversity, for instance, at least one resident
is from each of the major continents. The other half of the residents are U.S. citizens with
international experience or interests.

Hammarskjöld opened as the International co-op in the academic year 1973-1974, and is named
after Dag Hammarskjöld, a Secretary General of the United Nations. The house was formerly the
home of the Phi Kappa Sigma fraternity. The plan for the house was initiated by several foreign
students who were actively involved in the Bechtel International Center. Clifford Clarke, the
foreign student advisor said of Hammarskjöld, “This new concept of a living group (will be)
composed of people from other cultures who want to participate in educational and social
programs to facilitate mutual understanding and respect.” In the early years, Hammarskjöld was
under the general direction of Clarke and F. Lee Ziegler, the director of the I-Center. Early
residents have remarked that an equally strong reason for creating the house was the founders’
belief that Americans who spent a lot of time in other countries returned to the U.S. somehow
changed. Hammarskjöld would be a place for them to nurture these differences and explore their
own experiences.
In March of 1977, student protest against Stanford’s investment in South Africa became active.
The University higher-ups seemed to be ignoring the issue of the University’s moral
responsibilities, for example; although students were vocal in their objections, the Board of
Trustees would not even raise the issue at its meetings. Students took over Old Union to protest
both the University’s tacit support of apartheid and their unresponsiveness to student concerns.
University police began to arrest protesters. During the night, Hammarskjöld became the
command center of the protest. Hammies started a phone network, and called a crowd of several
hundred people out to support the protesters. Hammies also cooked food for those inside and
outside the building.

  Co-ops at Stanford are more of a home, less of a borrowed space/hotel type room
                       from the University. — Classmember
The make-up of the house has changed from year to year. Some years the international students
in the house were predominantly from East Asia, other years from Europe. This year many of the
residents and eating associates are from India. Hammarskjöld is fond of its traditions, which
include ringing the dinner bell, Friday evening happy hours/wine clubs and the big dinner parties
at Thanksgiving and Chinese New Year. For these parties, house members decorate the house
and prepare food for 200 people, including past members of Hammarskjöld who are invited, and
assorted other guests. Hammarskjöld’s personality has changed from year to year. One current
eating associate mentioned that the house used to be more “co-opy.” Resident satisfaction with
and pride in Hammarskjöld reached an all-time high in March 1990. After many challenges
bravely fought and hurdles valiantly overcome, the Ping Pong table arrived, and the joyous
sound of rubber connecting with white plastic echoed throughout the halls of Hammarskjöld.

Kairos House
[Note: A detailed study of the current residents of Kairos is included in the appendix]

Physical Structure
Kairos is an old fraternity house located on Mayfield a block south of Campus Drive. It is on
“The Row”, close to the center of campus, but removed from the larger dormitories. It stands
between the DKE house and Grove-Mayfield.
There are thirty-five residents in Kairos in twenty-two rooms. This includes twelve singles, nine
doubles and one quint. The house has three stories. The first has one single bedroom, a piano
room that was temporarily converted into a bedroom after the October 1989 earthquake, a
pool/bar room, a TV room, a laundry room, a co-ed bathroom, a dining room, and a large
kitchen. The second floor has men’s and women’s bathrooms, four doubles, ten singles, and a
sun deck accessed through bedroom windows. The third floor has men’s and women’s
bathrooms, five doubles, a quint, and a sun deck.
The first floor is unusually well-endowed with community space. This is especially appropriate
for the community atmosphere important to Kairos, and makes the temporary conversion of the
piano room into a bedroom an uncomfortable arrangement. The kitchen is spacious, although it
has the same appliance features as most residences: two industrial refrigerators, a freezer, a drink
fridge, ice machine, gas range, grill, two ovens, five large sinks, a sterilizer, cabinet and pantry
Financial Status
The House spends roughly $54,000 annually, about $1,550 per person (This excludes a rebate
that averages $250 per year. Eating Associates are charged $1.50 per lunch and $5.00 per dinner.
The house balance averages between seven to ten thousand dollars at any given time. The board
bill is calculated with a 12-15% overhead fee to allow the house the freedom to make choices
such as extravagant food, social activities or increased rebates at the end of the year. The house
has never had any financial troubles according to University and student sources.

Student Composition
Kairos has not admitted graduate students. There is no information indicating that this has ever
been considered. During the ’89-90 academic year, there are eighteen females and seventeen
males. It is a three-class residence.

Food Policy
There are two food managers who order all food. Kairos has twenty eating associates. There is a
wish list for residents and E.A.’s to request food they would like to eat. The food managers try to
satisfy residents’ desires, but make final decisions about what the house can afford, when to buy
it, what “tastes like dog food” or any other factors. Some food choice decisions are brought to
vote if it involves a costly item that people cannot agree upon.
For dinner, meat is served quite often, and vegetarian residents’ needs are taken into account.
There is normally a vegetarian alternative available if there are people in the house who want it,
and generally any special requests are directed to the cooks. Historically, Kairos buys processed
and junk food if enough residents want it. There is not an emphasis on food boycotts, although
when residents decide, alternative foods are bought.

Governance Policy
The managers meet before the residents arrive to decide how the house will be run. They decide
how food will be ordered, how house jobs will be distributed and enforced, and any other
structural decisions necessary to make the house work. Traditionally most things remain the
same year-to-year because they work and the managers like them. The residents are free to
change any of these decisions, but they generally do not.
Room draw is done on a priority system designed by Kairos residents in a previous year. All
other decisions that require resident input are voted upon on a majority basis. All decisions are
contestable and can be reconsidered if the residents so decide. Managers and others often make
smaller decisions on their own if they feel the house will not object. This works because the
house has a general disposition to put up with the desires of others, and if someone objects
afterwards, the situation can be reevaluated.

House Work Division
The Kairos managers take a strong role. Not only do they make many decisions independently of
the residents, but they are required to do a considerable amount of work. They receive an exempt
spot in the draw for that year, and receive a full or two-thirds reduction in the board bill. They
also are given priority in room choice. The managerial jobs are outlined as follows:
   House Manager — does all finances, deals with the University upon occasion, legally
      responsible along with the R.A. for the house, does some shopping, and is a backup for
       the Operations Manager.
   Operations Manager — Coordinates house jobs and enforces their execution, handles all
      work orders and orders cleaning and bathroom supplies.
   Food Managers (2) — Order and shop for all food.
All residents do one dinner hashing job per week (about 45 minutes), one house job per week
(1/2-1 hour), one house work day per quarter (about three or four hours), one weekend hashing
per quarter, and one job for every party. Cooks are hired from within the house. Generally two
people cook each night and are paid $25 each.

Relations with the University
The University owns the house, runs and pays for central heating, electricity and gas, pays all
repair bills except for student-caused ones, owns all furniture, ovens, industrial refrigerators, and
chooses the Resident Assistant. The residents own the kitchen utensils, plates, pots and pans, etc,
all small kitchen appliances, the TV, VCR, and small refrigerators. They run the kitchen
themselves, and do all cleaning in the house.

Special Features
The dining room has two murals. One has an Egyptian theme and was painted before 1981. The
other, a Doonesbury cartoon, was painted during the Autumn quarter of the ’89-90 school year.
In the front of the house is a porch that was boarded up after the earthquake. In the past this was
a center for eating dinner. The second and third floors each have a sun deck that is widely used
for social purposes. There is a one-ton pool table on the first floor.

Kairos House was originally built and used by the Delta Chi fraternity. The house was built in
1910. The construction and furnishing was supervised by student member Earle Leaf. In 1935,
the house was rebuilt to roughly its modern condition in what was called at the time “French
Chateau” architecture.
The house became a self-op in 1968 because the Delta Chi fraternity did not fill the house and
could not pay its bills. As a self-op, the residents managed all house upkeep and hired a cook.
From the 1971-72 school year through 1977-78, Kairos was listed in the Draw Book as a special
program house that is co-operatively run, but with no special sign-ups. Although house
management, upkeep and cooking policies were not changed, in 1978-79, Kairos ceased to be
identified as co-operatively run.
In 1980 or ’81, Kairos began the kitchen policy it now has. Reportedly, in the fall no one liked
the cook. The house took a vote and decided to fire her at the end of the quarter. They decided
that everyone would cook each week until they found a new cook. Over Christmas vacation,
everyone was to go home and find a recipe that could easily be cooked for fifty people. During
winter quarter people liked cooking, and it worked so well that they decided to continue it, only
hiring cooks from within the house instead of everyone cooking. At this point, as Diana Conklin,
Director of the Row, put it, Kairos began its evolution into a co-op. It remained a self-op until
1986-87 when it was listed as a row house with a special priority. In 1988-89 it was first listed as
a co-op with special priority. The management of the house never changed, though.
    A co-op is a haven for people who want to make decisions for themselves as an
  autonomous group. In a co-op we have a special ability to create our own futures
   to suit us as a group. A co-op community/atmosphere allows us to interact in an
     unusual way: somehow to value others as people for what they contribute. —
In 1981-82, Kairos received the large pool table that now sits in the back common room. It had
previously been in one of the Toyon eating clubs. That club closed that year, and the University
needed a place for the table. At Toyon the table was used exclusively for the game “squash,” a
rowdy game often involving twenty people where one rolls the cue ball with the hands to hit the
active ball, the point being to never let the active ball stop or be sunk. The table was in very bad
repair as a result, and so the University offered to give Kairos the table if the residents would
refurbish it. For two hundred dollars, the table was removed from the eating club, redone, and
delivered to Kairos. It is an incredibly heavy table, with three large slates of marble. After a very
difficult time, it was moved into the house. The only problem was that it warped the floor. Pieces
of wood stuck under the legs on one side remain the solution.
In 1983, the quad on the third floor was turned into a quint. Apparently there was a person who
wanted to live in an attic space adjacent to the quad. He moved in, stretching an extension cord
in with him. Eventually the University discovered him and kicked him out. Afterwards, though,
they decided that the space could be made into a room. The wall was opened up and a window
was installed.
In 1984-85, Facilities completely renovated the house. According to a resident, relations between
the house and facilities were very good at the time, so the process was friendly and done to
everyone’s advantage. They redid the carpets, walls, and most notably remodeled the kitchen.
According to a resident, the house used to have a strong tradition of athletics. In the early
eighties, almost the whole women’s crew team lived there. Around 1984 and ’85, most of the
women’s volleyball team lived there.
In the early eighties, the first female house manager was elected. There was a managers’ log
book that caused severe difficulties this year. It contained many secret passages that those
holding the book did not want a female to see, most likely because they were chauvinistic
statements. An attempt was made to erase parts, but that didn’t work. The previous manager
decided to hold the logbook until the next male manager was elected, but it has never been seen
The house was never particularly “co-opy.” It never co-operated with other co-ops. Reportedly it
is more involved with the other co-ops now than it has ever been. The character of the house
used to go in a three-year cycle. A new group of sophomores would draw into the house,
bringing with them new ideas and energy. Because of the now abolished returning resident
priority, they would live there for the next three years and become the house officers. When they
graduated, a new group would draw in.
The house has had consistently good relations with the University. Around 1986 and 1987 it did
not do as well in the draw as usual, but other than that it has filled without any problems. Kairos
has been a mystery to Diana Conklin as long as she has been in the Row office, since 1978. She
has never heard it referred to by students, and she cannot pin it down in her mind. She senses it is
different from other houses and fraternities, but she does not know why. She describes it as
low-key, with an ethos of not being demanding or strict, kind of easy-going, comfortably and
friendly. It is a positive image, but with no detail. “It is the one house I shrug about,” she says.

Phi Psi House
Physical Structure
Phi Psi is a large house at 550 San Juan Road. It is nestled among the trees on a hill overlooking
the campus. The house was built by Mr. and Mrs. Cooksey and is one of the oldest residential
buildings on the Stanford campus. We believe the house was acquired by the Phi Kappa Psi
fraternity in 1897. A floorplan exists dated 1900.
Phi Psi has 24 student rooms (7 singles, 16 doubles, and 1 triple), two lounges, a study room, a
dining area and a large kitchen. The house has several fireplaces, and two large porches, which
were popular with students. Phi Psi’s attic was off-limits to residents, while 2/3 of the basement
was used for University storage.

Financial Status
In 1989-1990 Phi Psi had an operating budget of approximately $24,000 and board was $400.
The house had a safety fund of $1,000.

Student Composition
Phi Psi had 44 residents, including 3 male grads, 1 female grad, 19 male undergraduates, and 20
female undergraduates. In fall 1989 Phi Psi had 8 eating associates, but the number of eating
associates varied from year to year.

Food Policy
Phi Psi served dinner 5 nights a week. The meals were mainly vegetarian, although meat with a
vegetarian alternative is served 1-2 times a week. Residents were composting their biodegradable
refuse, and there were some food boycotts, grapes in particular. Food was purchased from
Ryckoff, Sierra Natural Foods, and Cal Fresh Produce.

Governance Policy
All decisions are made by consensus, with the exception of room selection. Room assignments
were decided at a consensus meeting, with the knowledge that seniors and then juniors would be
given priority in choosing rooms.

House Work Division
Residents had one major house job each week. These jobs included cleaning the bathroom,
vacuuming the living room, breaking down cardboard, and were usually done in teams of two.
Residents and eating associates did one food preparation/clean-up job each week. House
members signed up either to cook or do dishcrew for a given day, with three or four students
cooking and two or three cleaning each day.

Phi Psi has no official theme, but it is known as a co-op whose personality is truly defined by
each year’s residents. When asked what was the unifying force for the Phi Psi residents of
1989-90, one resident responded, “Location.”

Relations with the University
Students do their own cooking and cleaning, but the University performs major repairs and
groundskeeping. The University also assigns a Resident Assistant to Phi Psi. Several years ago
University storage took over the basement, much to the dismay and anger of Phi Psi residents.

Special Features
When asked what was Phi Psi’s best feature, nearly all residents named its location and sense of
seclusion. Phi Psi is on a hill, away from most of the campus, and residents really felt like they
were out in the woods. The large porches and lawn were residents’ next favorite features of the
house. Phi Psi has a darkroom, a piano and a 1911 pool table that was known around the campus.
Phi Psi’s murals, painted over the years by different residents, also helped define the house’s
personality. Among other special features mentioned by residents were the co-ed bathroom on
the second floor and the sense of mystery surrounding the house (e.g. what’s in the attic?).

In the late 1960’s, the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity had troubles filling its house. At the time, the
fraternity owned the house. By 1969, there were only eight or ten members living there. They
had a cook and a local fraternity advisor. To solve their problem, and in keeping with the
character of the current members, beginning in 1972 they allowed women to live in the house.
The fraternity advisor and student members applied to the national chapter for women to be
allowed in the fraternity. In a desperation move to keep the house open, they were officially
made a co-ed fraternity, possibly the first in the country. In 1972-73, Phi Psi was run completely
co-operatively. The next year, though, a cook was hired because people were tired of doing it
themselves. In 1975-76, the house once again became a complete co-op with student cooking.
According to Peter Fox, president of Phi Psi in 1976-77, they remained a fraternity for the
benefit of the national chapter and to have control over the selection of residents until the
1977-78 school year. Although they did participate in the draw prior to this, they still had control
because priority was given to fraternity members. In 1976, the national chapter sent a
representative out. He saw that Phi Psi was not behaving like a fraternity, precipitating a letter of
reprimand. According to Fox, the national chapter never revoked its charter, but rather Stanford
ceased to recognize the house as a fraternity. At some point in the late 70’s, ownership of the
house was transferred to Stanford. The only notable structural change that occurred with the
change in ownership was the removal by the National of two large stained glass windows
sporting the fraternity’s emblem above the front door.
From 1976-81, Phi Psi is reported to have had a very laissez-faire co-op mentality. There were
few imposed attitudes such as environmental awareness or nonviolence; instead, there was a real
variety of people with contrasting lifestyles. They moved into Phi Psi seeking more autonomy
from the University, escape from dormitory food and University-hired laborers, a quiet yard for
frisbee, and a good view from the roof. Also, Phi Psi was famous for its mellow friendliness, its
drugs, and its wild (and often illegal) parties.
During this period, the house was heavily involved in music. Many of the residents from this
period reported that the house had a strong rock tradition, and was one of the contemporary
music centers on campus. In the beginning, a bunch of friends in the house all happened to play
complementary instruments. They rehearsed together in the living room. After awhile, they built
three practice rooms in the basement. This was a major project for those involved. The rooms
would flood in the wet winters of the period (Lyle Zimmerman, ’81, once caught a salamander in
the basement). The musicians did cement repairs, wall patching, and got wooden pallets to cover
the floor, raising the equipment above water level. They covered the pallets with carpeting, and
lined the ceilings with carpeting and egg cartons for sound insulation. There was only one
bedroom in the house that was affected by the noise, so a band member usually tried to occupy it.
University permission to have the practice rooms was eventually secured.
The first band from the house was The Phi Psi Band which first played in Spring of ’79. It
evolved into Rooftop Magic and Claude Monet. These two lasted for two years. They merged
again in ’81 as the Druids. They played until ’83. The band then went through the following
progression: Missy and the Boogieman, The Heptiles, The Blenders, and finally Zsa Zsa House
(still playing, one album released). The early band members and the current ones are still good
friends and all keep in close contact.
Traditions from this time period include a Tom Jones Party (named after a scene in the movie
based on the Henry Fielding novel) where people dressed in old English costumes and messily
fed each other large amounts of food (called a “glorious tradition” by a resident of the time). The
Halloween Parties were mentioned by participants as consistently the best parties they ever
attended at Stanford or since (“legendary”). Haunted houses were held in the Phi Psi attic. Frost
Amphitheater was opened for all co-op parties. Every night at 6:00 was a community viewing of
Star Trek. At one point, Phi Psi had a sauna, but a Marilyn Monroe poster in it caught on fire and
burned it down. In ’79 Phi Psi had six people starring in Hair.
The residents of this early period are described as easy-going, “artsy mega-pre-professional”
(most have since gone on to get advanced degrees or high-paying positions), aristocratic, not
particularly political or organic, non-hierarchical, diverse, and as a silent majority dominated by
a vocal minority who wanted meat and cold cuts around. (The people belonging to this “vocal
minority,” however, described Phi Psi as primarily vegetarian.) The house was also described as
inconsistent in its dedication to house work. For example the house was relatively dirty
compared to many other houses, and especially in Spring, dinners were often not cooked at all.
House management was done by a few residents while the majority was uninvolved due to lack
of interest. For example, Nicki Roy, ’79, says he hardly remembers how the house was
organized. At the time, it seemed to him that no one specifically managed the house.
Nevertheless, the house did well in the draw and consistently filled.
One resident described the role of RA as important to the general success of the house. Around
1976-77, RA’s were assigned from outside of the house, whereas later around 1979, RA’s were
selected from the community. When the community was able to get along well with the RA, their
ability to organize and do extra projects increased dramatically.
During this general period, a number of high quality murals were painted in public areas by
residents. Mimi Wyche painted a 20’ by 30’ mural of the Last Supper with residents of Phi Psi
substituted for the disciples. A few years later this was painted over by an offended resident.
There was also a version of the Sistine Chapel in a stairwell and a Hindu deity with the head of
an elephant painted by Nicki Roy.
A resident in 1984-85 remembers the Tom Jones parties, Halloween parties, and the Druids as
highlights during her time at Stanford. At this time, house managing was done by all residents.
There were a long list of management positions that residents volunteered for, such as dairy,
produce, bread, and dry goods. This contrasts with earlier times when there were a few managers
who did all the work. At this time, there was still meat in the house with vegetarian alternatives.
Phi Psi was hit particularly hard by the closure of Roble in 1987-88. Seven spaces were added to
the house. The large Phi Psi doubles were converted into triples, and the residents of these
doubles forced to accommodate new, unfamiliar roommates.
From the earliest times through the late eighties, Phi Psi has reportedly had good relations with
the University. The house tended to be isolated and independent, making the residents feel like
the University largely let them do as they wished. Previous residents report that Phi Psi was
always more mainstream than others such as Synergy or Columbae. It has been called the
“beautiful people’s co-op” because it has tended not to be dedicated to co-operatives at Stanford
or conscious viewpoints. The experience has been described as pleasure-oriented and decadent.

Synergy House
Physical Structure
Synergy House, built in 1910, is a large 25-room house at 664 San Juan. The house has three
floors and a semi-basement, which had windows facing out the back. Usually, there is one triple
and five singles, and the rest are doubles, but these figures can vary depending on how the house
decides to break up rooms. The house has a large dining room and two spacious common rooms
on the first floor, as well as a smaller common or guest room to one side. The kitchen is fairly
small compared to most co-ops. Originally, the house had a sleeping porch, since removed. The
back yard is large enough to contain a garden and space for chickens.
The house is not registered with any historical associations. It was built in 1910 or 1911 as a
house for the Sigma Nu fraternity (Beta Chi chapter). The kitchen was enlarged in 1953. The
three singles and double on the second floor used to all be part a sleeping porch, but this was
converted into rooms in 1971 before the house opened as a co-op. A large chapter room for the
fraternity in the basement was also divided into rooms (numbers 001 and 002). The second floor
bathroom, currently divided into two very thin bathrooms, used to have a stairway leading up to
it, presumably removed in the conversion process. The house, which is currently painted red, is
clearly visible from the foothills and some parts of campus.

Financial Status
The house funds now amount to about $700. Before the quake, about $12-15,000 were in the
bank from resident’s board bills. Bills for this year and last were about $250 per quarter for a full
plan. House members contributed another $100 per quarter for social fees and a deposit, making
a total house member’s contribution $350. Last year most of the deposit (about $48/per quarter)
was returned. After the quake, residents who had paid their board bills were refunded $300.
Rent, at a fee set by the University, was $1114,$1018, and $991 for Autumn, Winter and Spring

Student Composition
Generally Synergy has 42-45 spaces, 10 of which are reserved for graduate students. This year,
the house had 6 grad students (4 men, 2 women), and 39 undergraduates (19 men, 20 women).
Racially the house is mostly Caucasian.
Food Policy
This year Synergy decided to serve fish or chicken at meals once a week. Lunch meat would also
be available in the refrigerator. Synergy principally orders food from Sierra or Fowler brothers,
and occasionally from S.E. Rykoff (produce from Palo Alto produce, dairy from Peninsula
Creamery). The house tries to order organic produce when cheaper than non-organic, and also
attempts to buy from local growers or distributors. The house ordered virtually no name-brand
processed foods, and no red meat. Milk was delivered in returnable glass bottles. As of this year,
the house has not decided to boycott any specific foods, but last year the house refrained from
buying canned tuna, table grapes, Coors, GE, and Nestle products.

Governance Policy
All major decisions in the house are made by consensus. Sometimes committees will be created
to handle the organization of house parties. Managers make most of the day-to-day decisions.
Rooms this year were decided on a lottery system (draw a number, pick a room), with house
members re-drawing each quarter.

House Work Division
Synergy is well-known for multitudes of manager positions. Everything from keeping the bees to
ordering food is done by a “manager”. Five manager positions had exempt spots this year: dry
goods, outreach, kitchen, house, and financial managers. Others, such as produce, dairy, garden,
compost, and condom managers were filled from house volunteers. Manager positions can
change every quarter, and often are taken by more than one person at a time. Members of the
house are expected to do the following jobs: one kitchen job per week (cooking, cleaning,
bread-baking), one Saturday kitchen-cleanup per quarter (group of four), and one work-crew per
quarter (group of four). Cooking was done by four people, cleaning by three, and bread-baking
by one.

Synergy’s original theme was considered “Exploring Alternatives”. While the University has
redefined the notion of a “theme” house to be more academic (a change that occurred sometime
after 1977), Synergy continues to explore alternatives. The house has organized alternative
career speaker series, an organic gardening class, built solar collectors, and done other projects
that help residents explore alternative ways of living.

Relations with the University
Synergy used to be a full co-op, but since its near-termination in 1987 Synergy has been cleaned
by the University. The past two years (including this one) the house has attempted to resume full
co-op status, but to no avail. This year, however, the house had succeeded in returning to full
co-op status prior to the earthquake. The University owns the house and collects rent money, and
also does repairs. The University keeps the house closed over Christmas break and usually over

Special Features
The house has many spectacular murals painted by former co-op members. Also, Synergy is
unique because of its 20-30 chickens from which the house collects eggs for cooking. Synergy
has a very large roof with flat areas where people would often congregate or sleep (although this
is not sanctioned by the University). An “Alternative Periodicals” magazine rack and ecology
library was started by Glenn Smith several years ago. It contains many hard-to-find and
back-issues of radical, anarchist, gay/lesbian, ecologist, feminist, and spiritual magazines. A
smaller right-wing rack was started in 1988 by Chris Balz to provide an alternative.

Synergy House began as a SWOPSI action project in 1972 and embodied new directions that the
cultural movement for social change took as the Civil Rights and anti-war movements became
exhausted in the early ’70s. Ten years of psychic shocks to the country, the main one being the
Vietnam War, and ever growing visions of better ways that life and the society could be left
students extremely ambitious about effecting change, about the possibilities for how their lives
could be.
The years 1968 to 1971 saw the energy of student activists going toward ever-increasing
violence, mirroring the increasing use of violence by authorities and in the war itself. A
countervailing spirit, that of nonviolence and constructive action, began taking root at Stanford
in 1970 and coalesced in the creation of Columbae House that year. The miserableness of the
war, the miserableness of throwing rocks at police in protest, and miserableness of giving up
one’s personal freedom to become a cog in a corporation called out for redemptive, positive,
action. To escape from dependence on the life choices offered by the status quo, students were
determined to create their own choices — in careers, ways of living, goods and services, and
ways of running business — and this became known as the “alternatives movement”.
Alan Strain, a draft counselor at Stanford and a long time pacifist and Quaker, had helped place
many conscientious objectors to the war into the required alternative service, and many of them
started to wonder how they could live their whole lives “conscientiously”. So Alan organized a
SWOPSI course “New Vocations and New Life Styles” in Winter 1972. The action project of
that course was Project Synergy, whose goal was to create a counseling and resource center on
new ways to live and work.
The concept of “synergy” was one of the hot new ideas floating around at that time. Synergy
means “together energy” (syn-ergy), i.e., the energy released by bringing things into relationship,
creating something new which is not predictable from the original things which were combined.
Bringing ideas, people, and resources into new relationships was then recognized as a basic
strategy for achieving innovation, for creating alternatives, and for restoring ones own spirit,
which is why “synergy” was chosen as the name of the action project.
Meanwhile, the alumni of the Beta Chi fraternity had become fed up with the “Beta Chi
Community for the Performing Arts” that the fraternity had evolved into, and sold the house to
the University for $11,000. Larry Horton, Dean of Residential Education, told Alan of the
available house. So Project Synergy decided to create Synergy House, a community where
students could explore new ways to live and work for real. The organizers described their vision
“Our attempt is to create here and now at the Stanford community a society we envision where
co-operative relationships and collective actions are encouraged, where all the aspects of out
lives can be integrated. ...[Synergy House] has been organized around the theme of alternatives.
...Here people will live and work together to create a community integrating work, study and
interpersonal relationships and maintaining close contact with other alternatives.”
What exactly would be the new ways to live and work that everyone would be exploring? The
open-endedness of Synergy’s theme made for some initial vagueness but ultimately for vitality.
Choices and diversity were the root of the theme, so it functioned basically to give individuals
permission to share and pursue their own visions. And it gave the community the ability to
respond over the years to the current issues of the day.
Synergy started right out with many of the practices pioneered at Columbae, including being a
co-operative, consensus decision-making, bread baking, vegetarian cooking, avoidance of
processed foods, co-ed bathrooms, and organic gardening. In addition, Synergy started a “Guest
in Residence” program, in which people working in alternatives could stay at the house for one
or more weeks. One of the first real debates in the house was whether to continue the Beta Chi
tradition of having a bowl of acid punch at the Halloween party. After long discussion the
consensus was yes — but it would be kept upstairs so as to be more responsible about it.
Along with Synergy House, the Synergy Center opened up in Old Union with a library and a
counseling program. The big project for the first year was the Synergy conference on
Alternatives, which Project Synergy and Synergy house organized. Five hundred participants
from the Rockies west assembled under big tents in the Cowell Cluster during May 9-13, 1973,
to share their experiences in such areas as: new ways to work and alternative vocations;
communes and alternative living groups; access to resources and information; third World
peoples; the activist and social change; approaches to personal and interpersonal relations;
co-ops, food conspiracies and land trusts; new options in the professions; women’s concerns;
new technology and alternative world futures; and alternative media.
Synergy was one of the most popular houses on campus until the culture began to move in the
late ‘70s toward the “Reagan era”, and until 1981 experienced an uninterrupted period of

Many Synergy members were interested in solar energy and studied it with Professor Gil
Masters. In Spring 1976 (?), they built a solar water heating system and installed it on the roof,
making Synergy one of the first solar dorms in the country. A group called “Ecology Action”
had been working to get people into growing their own food as they had during the two World
Wars, and was teaching people “biodynamic/ French intensive” horticultural techniques from
their experimental garden at Syntex. Synergy incorporated these techniques into its gardening
(described in “How to Grow More Vegetables” by John Jeavons). In 1976 and 1977 the drought
hit California, and water conservation became a new imperative. Synergy built a “gray water
system” that allowed used laundry water to be used to water the trees. In the Spring of 1977 a
local resident donated a glass greenhouse to Synergy which greatly improved the gardening
Campus political activity was centered at Columbae, but a large number of Synergy members
were involved in political actions. The 1974 union strike spawned the Alliance for Radical
Change, which in turn gave birth to the Black Rose Anarchist Collective, which published
“Against the Grain” to which several Synergy people contributed. The 1976 South Africa
divestment movement, the forerunner of the 1980s movement, grew out of a SWOPSI course at
Columbae and climaxed in a sit-in in Old Union in which 294 people were arrested. Cook crew
at Synergy didn’t happen that day, since 27 members of the house had been arrested at the sit-in.
A number of the Synergy and Columbae residents would go on to help organize the anti-nuclear
Abalone Alliance the next year, taking with them the principles of consensus and nonviolence
they had learned in these houses.
In 1977 the Synergy Journal was started, which added a whole new dimension of discourse to the
house. The Recycling Center started that year, another SWOPSI action project, and recycling
became an avidly pursued activity at Synergy. Though not the original organizer, Synergy
member Bob Wenzlau became the Recycling Manager the next year, and went on to create Palo
Alto’s Curbside Recycling Program. Throughout the 80s Synergy would be the source for all the
Recycling Managers and a good deal of the workers at the center.
Co-ops had established the concept of theme housing at Stanford, first with Columbae
(nonviolence) in 1970, then Ecology House in 1971, then Synergy and Hammarskjöld
(international understanding) in 1972. Whitman (intellectual culture) followed, and when the
French House proposal was being considered in 1975, Larry Horton (Dean of Residential
Education) had said to the Daily, “Above all, we want to maintain a spirit of vitality and
innovation. If we did not have a policy of innovation, we would not have some of the successful
houses we do now,” pointing to Whitman, Columbae, Synergy, and Hammarskjöld as examples.

Clouds on the Horizon
In 1977 Larry Horton went on to become the University Lobbyist, and Norm Robinson became
the Dean of Residential Education. That time also marked a change in campus climate. A few
vacancies started showing up in some of the co-ops. Alan Strain closed the Synergy Center. In
the 1978 Stanford Informational Bulletin, Synergy had been mysteriously deleted from the list of
theme houses, along with Terra (ecology) and Whitman. A new co-op theme house, Androgyny
(transcending sex roles) had been terminated by Residential Education in Winter 1978 just a few
months after it had opened, to be replaced by Haus Mitteleuropa. When Norm Robinson,
explained his decision he said, “I don’t believe a strong theme house and a co-op are compatible.
Each requires a great deal of time. Its hard to focus on important things to be done for each.”
Synergy’s theme was embodied in how people lived in the house, which fell outside the newly
emerging definition of what constituted an “academic theme house”.
Attitudes on campus were changing as well. Sororities were permitted back on campus again.
Animal House energized interest in the Greek system. A vignette: when flow-reducers were
installed in the dorm showers to conserve water during the drought, a group of students protested
by leaving their showers on all night. In the 1978 draw, Synergy had 3 vacancies for the first
time. Because of this, the house was placed on probation and a review was made of the program.
If Synergy did not fill in the 1979 draw, it was told it could face termination. Faced for the first
time with this threat, the house mounted an “outreach” effort to interest students in the house,
and it worked; the house filled.
Synergy was very active that year. Some members wrote the original version of “Living in Syn:
A Handbook for Residents”, which introduced members to all the things that were going on in
the house. The house helped produce the video “Working against Rape”. Martha Watson heard
that the Biology Department was giving away a bunch of chickens, so the house built a coop and
she brought them to Synergy. The house now had fresh eggs every morning. An unusually strong
bond formed between residents that year, and they still continue to go in large numbers to each
other’s parties, picnics, weddings, and so forth, and have been Synergy’s strongest alumni allies.
1980-81 was a flagship year. Many people who had been away from Stanford and who had lived
in Synergy two, three or even four years ago returned to the house. They had a strong sense of
where Synergy had been and knew they wanted to go further. New ideas were incorporated into
the consensus process. A biology graduate from Cornell who had come to stay at Synergy
created a circular “medicine wheel” herb garden in the back yard. A second “bread box” style
solar collector was built. Nineteen members of the house went to Santa Barbara for the wedding
of a couple in the house. The house artists had a “bag event”. Synergy made its first T-shirt, “If it
moves, hug it. If it doesn’t, compost it.” One member who had lived in Berkeley’s co-op system
organized the other co-ops into producing a promotional pamphlet on the co-ops, and added an
introduction to the co-ops in the draw book. The co-ops were among the most popular houses in
the draw that Spring, and Synergy applied and was able to stay open in the Summer.
One Synergy member organized the co-op council in the Fall 1981-82. The co-ops helped host
the annual California Co-operative Conference that was held at Stanford that year. Synergy also
requested that graduate students be integrated into the house as part of its theme of “Exploring
Alternatives”. The house requested to be open again during the summer and this was granted.
Meanwhile, cultural changes were taking place on campus. The results of the Spring 1982 draw
left Synergy with 19 vacancies, Terra with 12, and Columbae with 12. It was an unprecedented
result. Fortunately, Residential Education chose not to terminate any of the co-ops. Synergy was
occupied with 19 “006” students: those who as put down “assignment anywhere” on their draw
card. They demanded that meat be served at least three time a week, and the pro-vegetarian
members realized that they had to give in or else there would be mutiny. Most of the “006”
people moved out after Fall, but Synergy filled due to an outreach program done in anticipation
of this. In the midst of this crisis, Synergy celebrated its tenth anniversary at the Halloween
Party. The return of the people who had lived in the house five and ten years before helped
bolster the sense among the current members that Synergy meant something and was worth
preserving for another generation of students.
Synergy, Columbae, and Terra pulled together and put on a “Co-op Week” in the Spring as a
joint outreach effort, and it worked. They all filled by the second round of the draw. Residential
Education finally agreed to allow graduate students to live in co-ops.
The summer of 1983 dealt a hard blow to Synergy, though. The house was denied its request to
stay open that summer, and a former eating associate volunteered to take care of the chickens,
but was negligent. Row Facilities decided to “clean up” Synergy’s back yard. It gave the
chickens to Hidden Villa Ranch, tore down the green house, bulldozed the Herb Garden,
knocked out some fruit trees, threw away the oil drum barbecue used by the carnivore club, and
then piled dirt dug from street repairs in the back yard. When students returned in the fall, the
back yard was a “moonscape”. Plastic had been laid down all around the base of the house with
red volcanic rocks over it, much to the dismay of the people who liked to walk barefoot in the
back yard. Workers cleaning out the house had also taken some of Synergy’s house items,
including a pair of stereo speakers in the kitchen, cast iron pots, and the house job board. The
director of Row Facilities was replaced a month later, and the new director offered to make
amends to Synergy by removing the red rocks and dirt, and by paying for a new chicken coop
and greenhouse. The red rocks were taken away, but the piles of dirt remained and were finally
just spread out over the back yard. Gardeners still find chunks of asphalt when digging.

1983-84 was a year of renaissance. The new grad students added a new dimension to the house
(e.g. Jose Giner’s 3-D slide shows). A big cohort from Branner got the sense of community
started right away, and one member donated her family’s portable chicken coop. Eight new
chickens were bought. One member built an Indian Hogan hut where the Herb Garden had been.
Synergy even held a benefit party for Nicaragua, and was accused in the Daily of helping to arm
the Sandinistas. Even a Hoover Fellow joined in the accusation!
Even though Synergy was renewed in vitality, it had lost many of the concepts that founded it.
People carried on many of the house traditions such as consensus, the garden, and recycling, but
without knowing that they grew out of a conscious exploration of new ways of life. Ironically,
just as the American Medical Association was starting to say that the hippies had been right
about eating legumes, whole grains, less meat, and less sugar, Synergy began baking white
bread, using sugar, and eating meat.
The house failed to mount an effective outreach campaign that year, and the realities of the rest
of campus came penetrating the warmth of the house: Synergy had 12 vacancies after the first
round of the Draw, which shrank to 6 after the second round. Terra was left with 19 vacancies.
Throughout the 1984-85 year Synergy and Terra lived under the sword of Damocles, otherwise
known as COSS-R, the committee that would review them. COSS-R wanted to terminate one
co-op, and they chose Terra. Norm Robinson took the Synergy RA’s alternative proposal, that
Synergy and Terra would both be allowed to continue if they filled 90% by round two of the
Draw. Both houses mounted intense outreach campaigns and managed to squeak by.
There were some notable innovations that year. The house had a retreat to Hidden Villa before
Winter Quarter, with various sorts of recreation — a group painting, “Mind Vomit”, milking the
cows, and so forth. In the Spring a group of 10 people decided to create “the commune” and
divided the third floor into one room for partying, one room for studying, and one room where
all 10 people slept. It had its advantages and disadvantages, but the participants agreed it had
been worthwhile.
The next year (85-86) continued to be something of a renaissance. Louis Emery added two
beehives to the farming operation. Synergy held a “Science Night” with the showing of several
science movies such as “Donald Duck in Mathemagicland” and “Our Friend Mr. Sun”. The
house decided to build a new, permanent chicken coop. Due to a successful outreach campaign,
Synergy squeaked by with only 3 vacancies.
Lee Altenberg stuck around that summer to build the coop, and Row Facilities contributed $300.
The chicks were ordered by mail and Louis, Lee, and several other residents raised the chicks in
storage rooms at Hammarskjöld and Phi Sig. A chicken collective was organized in the Fall to
care for the chickens. Lee led a SWOPSI course with a person from Columbae which many
Synergy residents took. Henry Bankhead and several other members formed a band “Henry and
the Vegetables”.
Unfortunately, Synergy again had a disastrous draw in the Spring of 1987. Round one left
Synergy with 23 vacancies, which dropped to 14 after round two. The axe finally fell. Synergy
was terminated. Quickly house members such as Glenn Smith and Louis Emery organized a
“Save Synergy” campaign. A petition drive collected 700 signatures. Alumni across the country
wrote in letters of support. A full-page add appeared in the Daily, asking why Residential
Education would terminate a house with such an outstanding academic reputation that seemed to
embody its principles. Finally, in the summer, the house was saved, but with several program
alterations. Henry Levin became the faculty advisor, and the house was forced to accept
University cleaning service (Residential Education believed that the house drew badly because it
was not kept clean enough).
Over the summer, some members recruited Peter Donelan of Ecology Action to teach a SWOPSI
course on sustainable agriculture in the Fall, and they took to work on the garden with
miraculous effort. That Winter Laura Bonk and Greg Cumberford also taught a SWOPSI course
on environmentalism To celebrate Synergy’s fifteenth anniversary Lee organized a reunion, and
Glenn Smith organized an “Alternative Career Speaker Series”. The house had its best draw in
seven years, a trend that has continued since. The house that year had only three Sophomores,
and there were many extra spaces (which made for more singles). Several people did not even
eat at Synergy, and the tradition of having “stuffers” died out to only one person. Spring of that
year saw the arrival of the “Alternative Periodicals Rack” set up by Glenn Smith. Glenn noticed
a large wooden magazine rack in near White Plaza and, after discovering that the Jewish Center
did not want it, he took it back to Synergy (despite the scoffs of Jose) and stocked it with an
incredible array of alternative magazines he had collected over the years working at the
Recycling Center. Since then the rack has grown (including a right wing/military rack added by
Chris Balz in 1988), and several smaller rotating book-racks have been added.
The 1988-89 house had many new Sophomores, leaving only a few house members to preserve
the old traditions. Nonetheless, the house continues to be active in the Stanford community:
members of SCAAN, STAND, and REP were in the house and brought in a good political
contingent. The house followed the 1988 election, with activities including the throwing of a
“George Bush” pumpkin from the roof. The house attempted to get off University cleaning, only
to get a letter back from Diana Conklin stating essentially that the University needed the extra
money generated by charging for cleaning. Dominique Snyers, a graduate student, posted a letter
calling for a new Synergy, emphasizing a search for new alternatives to consensus and living,
and calling for an active program to change the “drug counterculture” stereotype of Synergy. The
house erupted into conflict over personal issues, and held a large emergency house meeting to
discuss how people relate to diversity and difference of opinion. Spring quarter outreach went
smoothly as the house organized garden parities, and a giant paper-mache chicken was
constructed and left in White Plaza to advertise a party. (The chicken was damaged by a storm
that came the next couple of days, and was moved to Columbae where it stayed for three weeks.
Residents moved it back to Synergy). The house RA organized a dinner with the Delta Tau Delta
fraternity (Synergy’s closest neighbor), but it fell through due to a scheduling problem. Outreach
was so successful that a few residents who had lived in Synergy could not get back in the house.
1989 Started as a good year. The house had an early retreat to Point Reyes. The new members
were enthusiastic and willing to learn how to bake bread and participate in consensus. The house
almost decided to have vegetarian meals. A few residents began to work in the garden and
organize the composting. Then the earthquake happened...

Terra House
Physical Structure
Terra is located in the Cowell Cluster on Campus Drive, across the street from Wilbur Hall.
Fifty-five people live in Terra in 28 rooms, mostly doubles. The house is divided into two parts,
one of which is composed almost entirely of student rooms, the other of which is almost entirely
common area. Students seem to feel that having the common area separated from the student
rooms reduces house interaction. The kitchen is large. Two years ago the house was renovated
for earthquake safety. In ’87 - ’88, after the closure of Roble, the guest room off the lounge was
converted into a double, and again after the earthquake of October ’89. Some Terrans have
argued that part of the reason Terra has tended to draw a more mainstream group of people than
the other co-ops is because it is built like a dorm and located on the main drag of campus.

Financial Status
Terra was group charged (the University sent a composite bill to the house, and it was the
financial manager’s duty to collect the rent from the residents) until the ’88 - ’89 school year, at
which time the University began to charge each resident independently. Terra currently collects
$390 from its residents, of which $335 goes to food and $55 goes to house and social. Typically
the students hope for a $50 rebate per quarter, at the end of the year. Terra currently has about
$8000 in the bank. In ’86 - ’87 Terra’s finances were computerized.

Student Composition
Terra has fifty-five residents, 30 males, 25 females, of which sixteen are returning residents.
Terra has an additional thirty eating associates. The house has no African-Americans, a few
Chicanos, a few Asian-Americans, two students from India, and one from Pakistan.

Food Policy
Terra serves dinner six days a week, and serves meat at each of these meals (but offers an
alternative, for the few vegetarians in the house). The Terrans proudly purchase many more
processed foods than such co-ops as Synergy and Columbae. They do not have long food policy
discussions at the beginning of the year. Food policy is decided by the head cooks (one for each
day, called clowns) and by the food managers who do the purchasing, and by wish lists. Eating
associates must be full time, and, like the other residents, are charged $390 each quarter.

Governance Policy
Until ’82 - ’83, the house made decisions by consensus. In ’83 - ’84, Terra switched to voting,
with a twist. Three-fourths of those present at the meeting must vote, and they must be able to
obtain a two-thirds majority, or the status quo prevails. Currently the house manager (“beast
master”) leads discussion. Generally, issues are decided by majority vote, or, in some cases, a
two-thirds majority (if it is a big issue). In extreme situations, a person may call for consensus.
At the end of the year after the draw, returning residents have a rooming meeting, which is
“more or less consensus.” These students select roomed based roughly on an informal priority
system. The incoming residents go to a happy hour and fill out a questionnaire. The house
manager assigns them to the remaining rooms on the basis of their answers to this questionnaire.

House Work Division
Currently, everyone must serve on one kitchen crew each week. Kitchen crews consist of a head
cook, five assistant cooks, four cleaners, one lunch cleaner, and two bread bakers. Also, Terrans
must perform one job every weekend. These jobs rotate between people, and mostly consist of
cleaning duties. House officers are exempt from weekend jobs. House officer positions are:
financial manager, house manager, social manager, two food managers, eating associate
co-ordinator, and a beverage manager. Every Tuesday and Saturday, two people go to Safeway
and two people go to the Price Club. This excuses them from one job. Terra also orders food
from Palo Alto produce and the Peninsula Creamery.

Terra does not have a theme. Between 1971 and 1973, it was Ecology theme house, hence the
name “Terra,” meaning “earth” in Latin.

Relations with the University
The University owns Terra, and collects rent from its members. Terrans are permitted to cook
and clean for themselves, and do a few exterior jobs on the house, but all repairs and outdoor
maintenance must be done by the University. Most of the furniture also belongs to the
University. Several Terrans have complained that Row Facilities neglects them, and gives the
other Cowell Cluster houses better treatment.

Special Features
Guests at Terra must tell a joke at dinner.
Terra has a mural entitled “Let’s Eat!” that dates back to sometime after the Ford campaign (one
of the characters wears a “WIN” button). The mural has been the source of much Terran lore,
and seems perpetually in danger of being painted over. It is a frame from Zap Comix #2 by
Robert Crumb, but (contrary to the rumor of some years) was not actually painted by Mr. Crumb.
The character “Chet” is the hero/villain of the house, and the house receives mail (such as
“Mellow Mail” and the Weekly World News in the name of Chet Terra). In ’88 - ’89 Susan
Starritt painted two murals, one of a sunset in the dining room, and one of the Starship Enterprise
in the TV room.

In 1971 the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity moved out of the Cowell Cluster back to the row (its
brother fraternities in the Cluster died, so this was probably a wise move). From 1971 until 1973
the house was used for the Ecology co-operative. Ecology house had a five unit theme
requirement, satisfied by a class taught in the house. They began the practice of baking bread,
still an important tradition at Terra, and at first even ground their own grain. They protested the
University’s preventive use of pesticides outside the houses, and they gave a big push to
organized recycling at Stanford, beginning with the collection of cans at football games. They
shared a garden with Columbae.
In ’73 - ’74 Ecology House was de-themed and Terra began. Little is known about the Terra of
the seventies, except that the mural “Let’s Eat” was drawn. Terra is absent from the Daily. The
house journals they kept are lost, and alumni contacts are sparse. It is, however, known that Terra
kept up good relations with other co-ops in these years, and held all co-op coffee houses.
In the ’81 - ’82 year Terra went through a period of crisis. Although the journal of this year
begins optimistically, it ends fragmented and hostile, and many of the pages are torn out.
Throughout, but especially in the beginning, there is much open talk about drugs and political
issues. At this time, and in the year previous, Terrans debated over, and decided against allowing
red meat in the house, although people typically sneaked private supplies in. A Terran from
previous years comments on finding tuna, hamburger, and Cheetos in the kitchen, and of hearing
“offhand sexist remarks.” The agenda for the only house meeting in this journal includes such
topics as consensus, drugs, food philosophy, and factionalism at Terra. One Terran commented
that the year was a sequence of bad events, culminating in the suicide of a “roofer” (someone
who sleeps on the roof).
 Conflict centered around the RA, who Terra felt was imposed on the house against their will,
and around the division of the old Terrans from the new Terrans (many sophomores drew in that
year). The old Terrans felt that Terra was losing its older ideals and mood. The new Terrans felt
that they should be able to change the house however they liked, regardless of the tradition they
felt the old Terrans were imposing on them. Throughout the eighties, such conflict existed in
Terra, each generation of Terrans accusing the previous generation of being too much like the
people in Synergy and Columbae. (Each generation also places Terra in the center of the
spectrum between the dorms and the more radical co-ops.)
The ’81 - ’82 year took its toll. For the first time in its history, Terra did not fill, but still had
eleven empty spaces in the second round of the draw (which resulted in people ending up in
Terra who ordinarily would not have chosen to live in a co-op). Most of the older Terrans were
gone, and a new group of Terrans, more in the mainstream, dominated the house. These new
Terrans were determined to make the house more “fun,” and less crisis- and conflict-ridden. The
journal for that year is almost empty. There were many beach trips and house activities. There is
talk of getting a barbecue and of increasing the number of “meat nights” each week from two.
The new Terrans also worked on restructuring the work division and manager systems, and
switched the house from consensus to voting. Terra begins to see itself as the co-op that can
appeal to students more in the mainstream than Synergy or Columbae. Relations were good with
Theta Chi, which was a co-op of the same ilk. ’83 - ’84 was much the same way, and house
enthusiasm continued to rise. One Terran described it as “happy and hyper, like the freshman
dorm I never had.” The Terrans managed to fill two and a half journals that year, primarily with
gossip, sexual innuendoes, and private jokes. At the end of this year, however, most of the
Terrans moved out. The sophomores of ’81 - ’82 had become seniors, and the house did horribly
in the draw, with nineteen spaces still remaining to be filled by the end of the second round.
As a result, the University threatened in ’84 - ’85 to shut Terra down. Stanford seemed to be at
the peak of its conservatism, the co-ops were doing poorly in the draw, and Terra was the largest
and most readily convertible into standard University housing. Through the diligent efforts of the
Terrans and Jack Chin (former Terran and R.A. at Synergy), Terra was able to postpone its fate
for a year, arguing that the University should see what happened in the next year’s draw, and
close Synergy or Terra if they filled less than 90%. Outreach was stepped up and the two houses
survived. Terra has filled adequately since then, and unlike Synergy, has received no further
threats of closure. Nevertheless, few of the alumni from this period have kept in contact with the
co-op alum network, and the entries in the the journal seem impersonal and distant. Only six
Terrans wrote final entries to the house.
In ’85 - ’86 a new period in Terran history began. The journal records open war. Jeff Philiber’s
Monday Crüe (loud, and all male, enduring with changes of personnel over a span of several
years) was cooking traditional middle-American dishes and meating with popular success, but
the vegetarian contingent complained. The house, already owning a TV, now had a VCR and a
microwave. Mike Hahn threw cardboard away, expressing his distaste for the attitudes of the
The years following brought further success to the efforts of those trying to bring Terra more
toward the mainstream, and the house has stabilized somewhat. Ballroom dancing has become
popular, volleyball, and keg jousting (trying to push each other off empty beer kegs). Still, Terra
is frequented by old Terrans who feel a sentimental attachment to the house.

Theta Chi
Physical Structure
Theta Chi is a large white building on Alvarado Row. The core of the house (kitchen, dining
room, library and several rooms) was built in the late 1910s by the Alpha Epsilon chapter of the
Theta Chi fraternity, and in 1935 the house was enlarged and took on more of its characteristic
Spanish architecture. In 1949 the living room, with its columns and fraternity embellishments,
was expanded, and the entrance area with the arched front door was added. The house normally
has room for 29, with 19 singles and 5 doubles. Eleven spaces were added to accommodate
students left unhoused by the quake. The house has a prominent Spanish architectural theme,
with a large front lawn and a secluded courtyard behind the house. The large living room and a
row of singles facing the alley were added in the ’40s or ’50s. Common rooms include a
fraternity chapter room (formerly for fraternity rituals, later the TV room, and now a double), a
pool room which houses the infamous “Speed 1 hit $5” (constructed from a “Speed Limit 35”
sign), and a small Library. The pool room was originally a porch/patio. There are two sleeping
porches, where fraternity members would sleep as a group (using their rooms for study) in order
to promote bonding. The two large showers are co-ed. The fraternity seal remains above the
fireplace, along with letters “Theta Chi” embedded in the concrete walks near the house.

Financial Status
Theta Chi is unique because it owns its own house, and is able to determine how much money to
charge for housing. The house currently sets its rent payments as 90% of Terra’s rent (Autumn:
$894, Winter: $817, Spring: $794). Rather than itemizing all the items that the rent goes to, the
financial managers consider the cost of Terra to be a good approximation to what the actual costs
of Theta Chi are, less 10% because Theta Chi is student-run (in the past, though, Theta Chi used
to be by far the cheapest place to live on campus, with bills up to $200 less than they are now).
Board is $350/quarter. The Theta Chi Alumni association actually owns the house, and pays the
taxes and insurance every year, as well as funds major capitol improvements. Of the money
collected for rent from members, 45% is paid to the Alumni association. The rest is spent on
power, gas, water, land rent ($5133/month to the University), and supplies and maintenance. The
house tries to maintain a $10,000 reserve for emergencies, and the Alumni association keeps
money in reserve for long-term improvements.

Student Composition
The house is split almost equally between males and females. There were four graduate spots
before Roble closed, but none were filled.

Food Policy
Unlike co-ops such as Synergy or Columbae, Theta Chi has a history of not having a “Politically
Correct” food policy. They serve meat regularly and buy bread and groceries from Safeway or
the Price Club (and occasionally from S.E. Rykoff). Vegetables are purchased from Cal Fresh.
Theta Chi has a large number of eating associates (approx. 30) and has a reputation for good
food (although this hasn’t always been true in the past). Alternatives for vegetarians and people
with allergies are served along with meals.

Governance Policy
A 3/4 majority voting system was decided on before the quake. The house decision-making
policy varies from year-to-year, but most often end up being some sort of voting system. Rooms
are selected with a priority point and lottery system. Three points are granted per quarter for
residents (including summer residents), and one for EAs per quarter. A lottery resolves any
conflicts once priorities have been determined.

House Work Division
The house is primarily run by people in three manager positions: financial manager, kitchen
manager, and house manager. Each of these positions gets free rent. If more than one person
takes a manager spot (which happens quite frequently), the rent is split between those people.
Kitchen managers co-ordinate food buying (making shopping runs) and make sure that people
plan meals, as well as draw up a food budget. The financial manager deals with collecting house
rent and pays bills. House managers take care of the house (including repairs and general
maintenance). Regular house jobs include house cleaning (about 1 hour/week), kitchen jobs
(about 2 hours/week) and a quarterly work-weekend (a work-week at the beginning of the school
year). Meals are planned by head cooks, who rotate through house members.

The house has no official theme. Past members have enjoyed the diversity of the people who live
at Theta Chi. The house has always had a very independent mood, and attracts people who like
self-management and self-control.

Relations with the University
Theta Chi is unique in its relations with the University. The house is owned by the Alumni
association, which pays the taxes and insurance costs for the house, as well as funds capital
repairs. The University leases the land to Theta Chi, and charges a land-use fee ($5133/month
after the quake) that the house pays. Periodically the University will request that the house
comply with safety regulations, which the house has to fund (such as a smoke-detector system
installed several years ago at $38,000, the money for which the University loaned to the Alumni
association). The University fills the house through the draw.

    A co-op is a house where interaction among members is essential to the set of
  goals it sets for itself. These may include living in balance with the environment,
    exploring alternative personal relationships, gender dynamics, incorporating
    educational ideals with lifestyles, operating entirely by consensus. Co-ops are
  essential support communities in a world of power imbalances and alienation. —

Special Features
Theta Chi has many special features. Because they own the house, it stays open all year round,
and in the past has become a haven for groups seeking to avoid University red tape. The
Viennese Ball floorboards are stored at Theta Chi (entitling the house to some free tickets), and
two years ago the house let the Stanford Orchestra stay several nights after University residences
closed. Theta Chi has also given office or storage space to other campus organizations in the
past. An old coke machine sits in the dining area, and students can purchase beer and soda by
inserting the correct number of quarters (in 50 cent increments).

Theta Chi house was originally a fraternity, but, in the early 1970s with the decline in popularity
of fraternities, the house had few actual members and many boarders. The boarders decided to
take control of the house by pledging as a group, and once successful made a deal with the
University to be co-ed and filled from the draw. The national chapter, while not happy with this,
agreed to go along provided that the house must pledge some male members and that if some
majority (1/2 or 2/3) of the fraternity members voted to return it to a fraternity, the house would
do so. The house, because of this, used to assure that incoming groups are interested in the co-op
and not in taking over the house. The house continued to live under the shadow of the national
chapter (which was still donating money for repairs and pressuring the house to convert back),
until members discovered that the Alumni association really owned the title of the house. With
this information, in the ’82-83 year the house called an alumni meeting (mostly co-opers came)
and a set of old co-op alums were voted into the Alumni Association. In 1984-85 the fraternity
president Eric Williams, who had been pledging a token number of men to the fraternity, joked
about pledging a female (whose name was Manley, nicknamed Lee, making it even more of
joke) to the National Chapter. That summer a Theta Chi fraternity member from Davis stayed at
the house (needless to say, he and his girlfriend especially didn’t get along well with the co-op
crowd), and either served as a spy for the national or informed them about this “joke” to be
played. Eventually a regional representative came to the house and interrogated the president
specifically about Lee (of course Eric denied any knowledge of such a person), and the joke was
never carried out. The house has only recently (in the last several years) broken completely with
the National chapter, and changed its name to “Chi Theta Chi” (X-Theta Chi).
Old members have told interesting stories about Theta Chi’s basement rooms — one in particular
called the Black Hole, a small room in the basement. From the time it became a co-op it was
occupied for seven years by Keith Nelson, a graduate student. After he left it became a haven for
stuffers, until Diana Conklin cracked down on them in 1982 or 1983 (one reason was that the
basement flooded and University workers discovered the extra occupants). One summer a group
of 6 or 7 from Columbae needed a place to stay, but the only room left was the Black Hole, so
they all “stuffed” in there and paid the house with leftover food from Columbae. After the
squatters were kicked out it became a party room, or a band room, and before it was converted to
storage (which Theta Chi badly needed) the very back part of it gained the nickname
“Fornicatorium” from the activities that used to take place there. Theta Chi has also had what
was known as an “Opium Den”, a crawlspace below the living room where people apparently
used to hang out.

Defunct Residential Stanford Co-operatives
The seven co-operative residences described above are not the only ones to have ever existed at
Stanford. Described below are four other Stanford co-ops, including one that began in the 1941.

Walter Thompson Co-operative
Spring 1941-Summer 1945
536 Alvarado Row
17 (men only)
Walter Thompson co-op was formed with an explicit recognition of the value of co-ops held by
Leland Stanford. It was named after Walter Thompson, a professor of Political Science who had
been a supporter of the co-operative movement. It was financed originally by 18 Stanford
According to an editorial in the Daily of August 23, 1945 (written at the time the house closed),
Walter Thompson was international and multi-racial in composition, and attracted students of the
highest moral and academic character. It also had good meals and low board bills.
The reason for the closing of the house is not clear, but it apparently coincided with the
institution of direct University supervision of the fraternities and other residences.

Jordan House
Fall 1970-Spring 1977
620 Mayfield (current Haus Mitt)
No records of the founding of Jordan have been uncovered yet, nor founding members located
for interview. Draw book listings are generally short and vague: “we enjoy working together, and
we’re cheap.”
According to an interview with a resident of the last two years, Jordan had a somewhat deserved
reputation as a drug house — he said it was sometimes known as “drugs, dogs and dirt.” He
described the house as being closest in spirit to Synergy, being strongly left of center yet also
“apolitical”. He also described it as “poly-sexual”, with many gay and lesbian residents.

      A co-op is a non-competitive living agreement between people. “Living
  agreement” can take the form of anything from a beer fridge to an entire social
      and economic system, and can be based on written, spoken, or intuitive
  agreement. In general, the more forms of competition that are excluded and the
       more harmony that is included, the more the co-op is a co-op. 

Androgyny House (aka Simone de Beauvoir)
Fall 1977 - Spring 1978
620 Mayfield (current Haus Mitt)
34 residents
Androgyny house was founded by students desiring to live a lifestyle consistent with the
principles of feminism. A SWOPSI course in the Spring of 1977 helped provide structure for the
founding group. The house was placed in what had been Jordan House the previous year.
Residents participated in consciousness raising groups; an undergraduate special on “Feminism
and Androgyny” was also taught in the house. The house operated by consensus, and sponsored
or supported a variety of feminist activities. There was some conflict between proponents of
androgyny, seen as a matter of lifestyle, and of feminism, seen as a movement for social and
political change; part of this was reflected in the adoption of the name Simone de Beauvoir.
One resident reflected on her experiences in the house as “an amazing mental experience,” and
that being a woman she was considered “by definition a competent leader.” She noted, however,
that at the time there was no feminist studies program to provide academic and intellectual
support; the house depended on a few sympathetic faculty spread through the University and on
the RF.
The house apparently was known for having great murals, including one of “Alice in
Wonderland” (probably remaining from Jordan), but for having lousy parties. Androgyny also
had co-ed rooms, but, according to a former resident, the house was “completely asexual — the
only PC sex was gay or lesbian.”
Androgyny was terminated at the end of Winter quarter of its first year, before it had a chance to
participate in the draw. The fact that it was replaced by Haus Mitt, a house which had been
approved but not housed the previous fall, led many residents and supporters to think that there
was a deliberate plan when it opened to close it within the year.

Ecology House
539 Cowell (now Terra)
Fall 1971 - Spring 1973
Ecology house was founded as a co-operative dedicated both to living an ecological lifestyle and
to fostering related academic interests. It was started the year after Columbae, and included
residents who had lived there. The house attempted to recycle everything and shopped at a
co-operative store that sold organic produce. Residents were required to take five units of related
They began the practice of baking bread, still an important tradition at Terra, and at first even
ground their own grain. They protested the University’s preventive use of pesticides outside the
houses, and they gave a big push to organized recycling at Stanford, beginning with the
collection of cans at football games. They had a garden in Escondido Village that they shared
with Columbae.
Ecology operated primarily by consensus, but held votes a few times as a last resort. There were
many long discussions of food policy, with the result being a policy of vegetarian/non-vegetarian
alternatives. The house also decided room assignments by consensus and had co-ed rooms.
Ecology lasted only two years before the theme was eliminated and the house renamed Terra.
The cause of the transition is not clear.

Other Co-operative Institutions at Stanford

The Co-op Council
From at least the early ’80s onward, there has been a Co-op Council that has tried with varying
degrees of success to coordinate activities between the different campus co-op residences. In its
active periods, the Co-op Council has helped co-ordinate outreach, organized inter-co-op social
and educational activities, and at times attempted to lobby the University on the behalf of the
co-op system or a particular concern of one or more of the houses.
The Co-op Council has always been a strictly voluntary body, with no compensation of any kind
for the representatives of the different houses, and has thus competed for the energies of the
same individuals most dedicated to their own houses. Furthermore, participation has tended to be
limited to the more “hard-core” co-operative houses (Columbae and Synergy), although in recent
rears Hammarskjöld has also been strongly represented.
Prior to the 1989 earthquake, a group of current co-op residents were working together on an
inter-co-op newsletter called The Co-oper. Two issues were published before the earthquake and
one afterward, before the energies of the participants disbursed into the quest for more basic
academic and community survival.

The Co-op Alumni Network
In the Summer of 1988, a group of co-op alums (primarily Columbae and Synergy residents)
came together for a potluck dinner to consider the formation of an ongoing co-op alum network.
The group brainstormed a list of possible projects, and for its first project chose to raise money to
send current co-op residents to the annual NASCO (North American Students of Co-operation)
conference in Ann Arbor in October 1988. Enough money was raised to send two students; the
fund-raising mailing also generated the beginnings of an updated co-op alum directory.
Later in the year the alum network held two “Oldsters Cook for Youngsters” dinners, one at
Columbae and one at Synergy. Work continued on compiling an alum directory. In the summer
of 1989, members of the alum network in Palo Alto worked with current students to help start a
co-op newsletter.
By the fall of 1989, more than 250 alum addresses had been gathered. After the earthquake, a
mailing to the list generated a substantial amount of mail to the University in support of
rehousing the closed co-ops. The list was also used for mailing the alumni survey described
below. There are currently more than 400 names and addresses in the directory, and more being
added constantly. Contacts for the alum network are Paul Baer, 4062 Second St., Palo Alto,
94306 (415-494-3006), Randy Schutt, 390 Matadero, Palo Alto 94306 (415-424-8559), and
Martha Watson, 1209 Villa St., Mountain View, CA 94041 (415-964-1468).

Non-residential Stanford Co-ops
Stanford has many other co-ops on campus besides the seven residential co-ops. The Associated
Students of Stanford University (ASSU) is a coop of all Stanford students. The Stanford
Bookstore is owned co-operatively by the faculty. Breakers Eating Club is also a cooperative,
and Jewish students recently created a Kosher Eating Club in the Governor’s Corner Suites.
In addition to these “official” co-ops, there are also many other institutions that are run quite
cooperatively. Fraternities and sororities are run co-operatively and are responsible for having
built all the current Frat houses and many Row houses. KZSU radio station and most of the other
student clubs and organizations on campus are also run co-operatively.

The Kosher Eating Co-op
Spring 1988 — Present
The kosher kitchen has had about 10 members since its inception in the spring of 1988. They
cook dinner every weekday evening and have open kitchen the rest of the time. Two people cook
and clean each day, and there is a kitchen manager who orders food and supplies. Board is $560
per quarter. On Fridays they have a somewhat special meal with wine when people have a little
more time to sit down and relax. About 35 extra people join the co-op for the duration of
The kosher kitchen was started in the spring of 1988 by Daniella Evans and two other students.
When they were looking for kitchens they were told that there were only three available in the
entire University, two Elliot Program Center kitchens and one in the suite of rooms above the
Wilbur offices; they ended up with the smaller Elliot kitchen. Daniella Evans said that Jean
Fetter and Donald Kennedy both took a personal interest in the project and that may have
eliminated some bureaucratic hurdles to setting up the kitchen. Norm Robinson and Alice Supton
in Res Ed approved the project and got the space for them.
They were informed that they got the kitchen during Dead Week winter quarter and so had a
couple of weeks to set it up. After some time and bureaucracy Food Service provided them with
a stove, a freezer, a Hobart, and some bowls; since then they have bought a barbecue, dishes, and
pots and pans.
Daniella said the community was very comfortable and supportive but it suffered from a lack of
continuity. Only two people have been there three years and a few have stayed for two. Part of
the problem is outreach; most people on campus don’t know about the co-op. In fact they could
probably serve 20 people if that many wanted to sign up. The people who join, therefore, tend to
be juniors and seniors who have heard about it through word of mouth. A second problem is that
Elliot Program Center is located a ways from the center of campus and people don’t want to go
that far to eat.
The kosher eating co-op welcomes new members; anyone interested in joining next year should
contact Michael Tylman, who will be next year’s kitchen manager.

Stanford Federal Credit Union
Late 1959 — Present
The Credit Union was formed in late 1959 by 6 faculty and staff members who deposited $268.
It was seen as an alternative for faculty and staff to regular banks. It pays dividends to depositors
and uses its assets to make home and auto loans to other shareholders. John Littleboy, a
personnel director, was apparently the guiding light. Originally housed in Encina Commons
Room 221, then 210, then 130, the Credit Union moved several more times until it built its own
building at the current location in 1970. In the early days it was only open Tuesday, Wednesday,
and Thursday for a few hours. Dale Hannen was hired as the first full-time director. After one
year the Credit Union had assets of $46,000, after 2 years $92,000, and after three years
$186,000. By 1965 it had assets of $1 million. The Credit Union now has assets of $100 million
and is in the top 2% in size of all credit unions. It has 66 employees.
In the early days, membership was limited to Stanford employees and faculty, but it has now
expanded to include students, alumni, and people who work on Stanford lands (the Industrial
Park and the Shopping Center).
The Credit Union still sees itself as a co-operative dedicated to serving its depositors/customers/
shareholders rather than the needs of bankers or corporate shareholders, and the employees “do
not just think of it as another job.” Every person with a deposit account in the Credit Union has
an equal share in selecting the Board of Directors (who are volunteers). The Supervisory
Committee that audits the books and oversees operations is also voluntary. The Board hires the
Manager of Operations who then hires other staff. The Board also approves dividend and loan
rates. Most of these volunteers are University employees with strong financial and management
skills thus aiding the Credit Union greatly. The Credit Union generally offers lower loan rates
and higher dividends, since it is a non-profit organization, its board of directors are volunteers,
and its depositors and loan recipients are relatively stable (and hence default less frequently).
The Stanford Federal Credit Union might be a source of funds for purchasing student co-op
houses. The Credit Union recently gave a low interest loan of $5,000 to the Washington Square
Credit Union that was recently organized by San Jose State University students.
Sources: Interview with Sam Tuohey, Marketing Manager, (694-1020), January 1990 (very

Co-ops in the Community
In addition to the on-campus co-ops, many Stanford students or recent graduates live or have
lived in co-operative houses in the surrounding area. These houses, often started by former
residents of the on-campus houses, typically house 4-7 people, and have a life of from 1-2 years
to as much as 10 or more.
These off campus houses have varying degrees of ties with the on-campus houses. In many cases
they identify themselves as part of the larger co-operative community, in other cases less so or
not at all. A brief description of some of the houses is contained in the Appendix.
One house worth special consideration is Magic House, located at 381 Oxford Street in Palo
Alto. In addition to a house, there is a non-profit Magic Incorporated, and a larger community all
dedicated to the principles of human ecology. One major focus of the group has been replanting
trees in the local area. The group recently published a report called “Stanford University: the
Second Hundred Years” that addresses the University’s future from a human-ecology
perspective. See the Appendix for further information.

Residential Co-ops at Other Universities
The Stanford co-ops are only one example of the variety of co-operative housing systems on
campuses all over North America. Different types of co-operative living options include houses,
dorms, and apartments, in sizes ranging from ten to two hundred. The management structure can
also take many different forms, beginning with the basic difference in university or co-operative
ownership of the properties. There is also an umbrella organization of student co-operatives
called the North American Students of Co-operation (NASCO).
Although there is a great deal of flexibility in the co-operative model, most structures contain
two types of participation. First, short term member participation in management is essential.
Members provide much or all of the routine custodial and maintenance labor, along with
dividing up leadership responsibilities through assignment of managerial positions. This process
is important because it not only empowers students with responsibility and control over their
own lives, but also ensures the low-cost, high-quality services of co-operative living.
Second, the continuity of long term management must be provided either through professional
management or direct affiliation with the university. The expertise and experience of these
people is helpful especially in the areas of long term maintenance and finance. The balance
between and teaming of these two aspects is essential in maintaining student co-operatives
within the given constraints: transience, inexperience, and limited finances.

UC Berkeley
The University Students Co-operative Association at UC Berkeley is a nonprofit, equal
opportunity corporation fully owned and operated by its 1500 member residents. The students
own their fifteen houses and are heavily centralized and organized at the Central Office (CO). A
system of points indicating how long an individual has lived in university co-ops determines who
has house and room priority; an elaborate system of workshift credit determines how much work
each individual must do; members elect representatives to the Board of Directors and different
committees which make decisions about various aspects of co-operative living.
The student-run bureaucracy and hierarchy seems to be the price of having not only such a
massive number of participants but also autonomy from the bureaucracy and control of the
university. Their system of “capital improvements” provides incentive for house members to
invest in house improvements like refurbishing, repainting, or remodeling. The result is a marked
difference from Stanford’s university-owned co-ops in the quality of the facilities.
Within the constraints of this unified system, each co-op has a character of its own. Lothlorien,
the only vegetarian and consensus-run co-op, shares two beautiful houses, one kitchen, and a hot
tub between fifty-seven people. Le Chateau contains nearly a hundred men and women, elects a
council to make decisions, uses fines to enforce house jobs, and sits in front of a pool and
carriage house. The thirty-four inhabitants of Davis House take great pride in the historic nature
and conventional beauty of their house. Each member is required to spend five hours a quarter on
capital improvements. Barrington Hall (now closed), an experiment in radical existence, housed
over 150 people within its mural- and graffiti-coated walls and served as a living affront to basic
tenets of U.S. society. These are merely four examples; Berkeley holds many other options for
co-operative living, including two all women’s houses.

  A co-op is a place inhabited by a group of people who realize that “education” is
    more than “academics.” Refusing to accept a dichotomy between school and
  residence, co-opers strive to create an environment wherein people can explore
    alternatives in lifestyle (as well as “normal” lifestyles). Indeed the idea of a
  co-op, to me, is a place where many different dualities are recognized as illusory
                 (school/home, normal/ abnormal, techie/fuzzy, etc.).
                                  — Classmember

There are currently two University-owned co-operative houses at Harvard: Jordan (about 15
people) and Dudley (about 50). The Jordan Houses (once three co-ops) were originally built as
Radcliffe housing so that young women could learn to cook and clean. They were converted into
co-operatives in the late ’60s. They were originally very competitive to get into, and the people
living there had some say over who got in. More recently, however, there has been less demand,
resulting in the conversion into regular housing for all but one.
The Dudley community is based in two neighboring semi-Victorian houses with stained glass
windows, cats, and a garden. Management is led by a president or co-presidents who are
compensated with reduced rent/board bills. Interests within the house vary widely: from
Marxism to bridge, gay and lesbian rights to dancing, recycling to baseball. Rent is very low
(e.g. $300 for the summer).

Cornell University, located in Ithaca, New York, has about 15,000 undergraduate students and
300 graduate students. There is relatively little on-campus housing available; about 7000 live on
campus. Forty-four percent of the student body are in Greek organizations. As part of the dorm
system, there are several program houses, including Ujamaa, Ecology house, the international
living house, and the theater, art, and music house.
It is in this context that the 8 University-owned and 7 off-campus co-ops operate. There are a
total of 168 students living in the University owned co-ops and about 90 off campus. The co-ops
are small living units in which no custodial services are provided; the residents cook and clean
for themselves. The residents sign contracts with the co-ops, not with the University, and the
University used to collect a single rent bill from each co-op, although now rent collection is done
through the University. They do call on the University to do repairs on the buildings. In addition
the University conducts health inspection, including food, sanitation, fire, and safety inspections.
A story is told by a former resident that a treasurer of one of the co-ops embezzled five or six
thousand dollars, so the University now bills the students directly for rent.
Rents in the co-ops are very cheap: They ran $110-140 per month a couple of years ago, plus
$50-70 for food; this year most singles range from $170 to $250 (including utilities), as opposed
to over $300 per month in the dorms. For years the co-ops kept only a small cash reserve on
hand; they kept no money for long term expansion. Starting in 1985 Cornell insisted that the
co-ops accumulate some funds to pay for improvements to the houses. In the last two years this
money has gone to pay for a new roof and a new porch (the latter of which cost $18,000), which
were built buy University hired workers.
The big draws to the co-ops appear to be the cheap rent, the relaxed and integrated lifestyle, and
co-op living. None of the houses has particular themes, and the politics were described as
vaguely left of center and as a response to the Greek system. Admission is done by lottery, so
that there would be no biases in preferential admissions policies. Recruiting is done by word of
mouth and a recruiting fair every spring. Because there are so few co-ops on campus, most
students have no impression of the co-ops whatsoever — students simply don’t know about them
— and this may be the co-ops biggest problem at present. There have occasionally been
problems filling the houses, as in 1984, when they resulted in the closing of one house. If they
don’t fill, the houses just keep advertising.
The different houses are managed using two basic systems: one in which there is a series of
elected officers — a president, vice president, house manager, food steward, and treasurer —
who run day-to-day operations, and another in which there are only a house manager and a
treasurer who do almost all managerial tasks and are compensated by room and board in return.
Decisions are made in the houses in meetings which are held at least once a month. People talk
until there is more or less consensus and then a vote is held. Consensus is not implemented as a
formal policy, however.
There is little formal interaction among the co-ops; they all act pretty independently. There has
occasionally been an organization called the Cornell United Co-ops, but it seems to have
produced few memorable results. Two years ago, the co-ops organized to fight the threatened
closing of two co-ops. As a result of this, only one of the co-ops was closed, and a list of
off-campus co-ops was compiled. This organization has faded from the scene.
The co-ops all started in the last 20 or 25 years, many as sorority or fraternity houses that wanted
freedom from their national organizations. Prospect of Whitby began as a sorority and quit in
1965 or ’66 which quit the national and let men in. There are no formal written histories of the
houses, just oral traditions and house journals.
Most of the students in the co-ops are undergraduates, although there are no policies restricting it
to be so. The balance of students of different ethnicities, classes, etc. has not been considered to
be an issue, but when I brought it up, a couple students said that co-opers were predominantly
Of the eight on-campus co-ops, four houses with about 50 students are all women and one of
these is an eight person house with only women of color. The rest balance men and women fairly

There are roughly a dozen co-operative houses in Madison, largely comprised of students of the
University of Wisconsin, but independent of the University. Many of the houses were old frat
houses, turned into co-ops in the ’60s and ’70s. The houses are owned by the MCC (Madison
Community Co-op?). Bulk food items for the different houses are purchased together. The
co-ops house both students and non-students, which is sometimes a source of tension. The
houses all have their own personalities, but by and large represent the
progressive/counter-cultural end of the spectrum (they’re called Granolas by the locals, whom
they call Cheeseheads).

Brown University
There is an association of co-operative houses at Brown Univ. (in Providence, Rhode Island)
called BACH (Brown Association of Cooperative Housing) which grew out of an independent
study project in 1971. It is made up of three houses — Carberry, Milhaus, and Waterman. Each
house is a former family home, and holds 15-20 people. The houses are fairly independent of one
another except for admissions and certain financial matters.
BACH owns Waterman, and the rent from all three houses goes towards the mortgage. Brown
University owns Carberry and Milhaus and leases them to BACH for some low sum. Rent has
gone up recently, but is less than University housing and less than most apartments in the area.
Some houses have extra food co-opers, people who don’t live there but share meals. Waterman
has been vegetarian in the past, and each house will provide a vegetarian alternative to any
meat-containing dinner. There are other co-ops which spring up around Brown which are often
associated with BACH — usually because they’ll order bulk foods together and split the costs.
These last as long as there are people to live in them and keep them going.

UC Davis
There are three sets of on-campus student co-operative houses at Davis, and at least two
off-campus student co-ops (which are associated with non-student houses). Altogether they
house about [56+25+28+18] 130 students, about 110 of whom live on campus.

The co-ops have recently formed a coalition called the Campus Alternative Housing Coalition
(CAHC) to facilitate inter-co-op co-operation and socializing and to lobby the University for the
co-op cause. CAHC will have to respond to threats to the continuation of both the Domes and the
Old Co-ops (see below). At present CAHC collects 25 cents per month from each co-op member
to be used to publish meeting minutes and a newsletter. CAHC is talking about incorporating and
perhaps accumulating financial resources (for an as yet unspecified use), but they are as yet “still
building the structure” under which they will operate.
One student from the Davis Campus Cooperatives told us that they had originally been really
interested in working with CAHC, but that they had been warned that they might be perceived as
trying to take over or dictate the direction of the organization since they have so much more
money than the rest of the co-ops. A student at the domes said that she was disappointed by the
lack of involvement in CAHC events by DCC members; she thought that a bar to further
inter-co-op development.

Old Co-ops
There are three “old co-ops” at Davis, the Davis Student Co-op, Pierce, and Agrarian Effort. The
Old Co-ops started around twenty years ago with twelve men who wanted a cheaper place to
live; at present they each house between eight and twelve people of both sexes.
The houses are three old Victorian houses located in a group that were originally built as
temporary housing. The University may tear at least one of them down in the next few years to
make room for the expansion of a neighboring building. The fact that there is no common facility
among the three co-ops makes it so they tend to have few ties.
New members are selected by consensus of the current co-op residents at that particular co-op.
The reason for this is to ensure that the new resident will fit into the community and be
committed to the co-op. Prospective residents come around to meet the present members and
may help cook a dinner, but there is no formal application process set up. The residents that I
talked to liked this system for the most part, preferring it to the lack of screening in the first
come, first serve system of the DCC. The fact that there are only nine people makes continuity
and history very difficult to preserve, and this has presented problems on at least one occasion.
The rent and board bills tend to be quite low: in January 1990 they were $170 at Davis student
co-op and $190 for a single or $220 for a double at Agrarian effort. The co-ops have
accumulated some money in a University account. In addition, they have loaned some money for
the off-campus J Street Co-op to buy its house.

Davis Campus Co-operatives
The newest of the Davis co-ops are the Davis Campus Co-operatives, a cluster of four houses
that opened in 1988. Each house holds 14 persons; they are located on University land, and are
part of a cluster of which the remainder are primarily frat houses. The houses are managed by a
co-op board which just took over formally on the first of February; prior to that, the houses were
overseen by a trustee group which arranged financing for the houses and still functions as an
advisory board.
The houses were actually built buy a developer along with some other houses on campus, and are
presently rented from the developer with some portion of the rent ($10 per person per month the
first year, increasing $11 the second year, $12 the third year, and so forth for ten years) being
collected in a co-op development fund to be used for the purchase of the houses. After six years
the co-ops will be bought outright, and the co-ops have a 60 year lease for the land on which the
co-ops are located, after which time the University may continue to allow the co-ops to live there
or may choose to do something else with the land.
Efforts to build the new co-ops took at least 8 years, and were led by two individuals who are
part of the Campus Alternative Housing Coalition. Financing came from a variety of sources,
including NASCO and the UC Student Association, and a Japanese co-op association. They are
all two story houses, with a fairly conventional style. They are named Pioneer, Kahweah,
Kagawa, and Rainbow, names that were given by the builders/trustees.
Admission to the co-ops is on a first come, first served basis, for students only. The houses have
varying character, but no specific themes. The rooms are singles and doubles; singles are mores
expensive, at $270/month. Leasing is on a twelve month basis; residents may sublet their rooms
for the summer. The houses run their food buying relatively independently, but are all affiliated
with the Davis Food Co-op. The houses collaborate on social activities such as parties and
picnics. The houses also all contribute work to the two gardens associated with the community.
The new board includes 7 members, one elected by each house and three elected at large, and
operates by consensus. Any resident may speak at the board meetings. The houses have hired a
manager responsible for finances and operations, who receives free room and board and
$500/month. Included in the rent is a $10/month tax on each room which goes into a
development fund; any spending proposal must be approved by both the Board and the Trustees.
The houses engage in no special outreach activities. A resident attested that they seem to be
relatively ethnically diverse without any special effort. Relationships with the other co-ops seem
weak, though there were some joint social activities; other co-opers referred to them as “the
yuppie co-ops” or “concrete court”.

Baggins End, aka “The Domes”
Baggins End is a community of 14 prefabricated fiberglass domes, each of which holds two
people, located on an acre of land at the edge of campus. The group calls itself a collective, not a
co-operative; the housing units are independent, but there are central work requirements, and the
community as a whole must approve new applicants. There is a fairly long written application.
The residents are primarily undergraduates, and include the stereotypical eco/deadhead types.
They all think their community is great, but spend most of their time involved in non-community
activities (such as the annual Whole Earth Festival) and wish they had more time to give to
community projects. Community dinners are organized most nights of the week on a fairly ad
hoc basis.
The domes themselves are very interesting. Each dome is unique on the inside, with lofts of
various shapes and sizes. They are all painted an ugly beige, and the University will not let
residents paint the interior or exterior walls (they were once all painted in different colors). The
setting is very attractive, sort of a small orchard, hidden from the streets.
The community does not expect to survive long, as the land is zoned for higher density housing
in the University’s plan. In fact, one of the residents at another co-op is working on a plan to
replace them with a type of cluster housing, with 8-10 person units clustered around a single
common building. The residents of the domes didn’t seem to be informed of this plan.

Off-Campus Co-ops
There are at least two off-campus co-ops which house mostly students, the J Street Co-op and
Sunwise Co-op in Village Homes. J Street may house organizers of a Davis area co-op umbrella
organization. Sunwise is part of a complex of alternative housing; the rest of Village Homes does
not house students.

Conclusion: Implications for the Stanford Co-ops
The experiences of these widely varying cooperative systems can be helpful in considering the
specific problems Stanford co-ops face and the ways in which alternative structures could
address those problems. These considerations seem to focus particularly on the questions of
autonomy from the University.
The Berkeley Co-op system is the opposite extreme from the Stanford system. It is large and
fully autonomous from the University. It is a mainstream housing option in the crowded
Berkeley housing market, and many of the houses are considered highly desirable places to live.
The system pays the price for its autonomy, however, with its own centralized bureaucracy. This
centralization has allowed the system to fund its own expansion, but residents may question
whether this goal meets their needs
Since the Cornell co-ops are not tremendously more successful than the Stanford co-ops, there is
perhaps little to emulate in their system; there may, however, be a few lessons to learn. The first
is one that we are already learning at Stanford: without the organization, energy, and resources to
improve the co-op system, it is likely to fade away. The Cornell co-ops have decreased in
number over the last few years, and have organized only in short bursts in response to threats
from the University. Their organizational structure and lack of themes and purpose have
prevented them from seeing the larger world in which their co-ops operate, the lack of energy
has prevented them from organizing to change this structure, and their lack of resources has
prevented them from being particularly effective in those moments when they do organize.
A second interesting note is that at Cornell, co-op rents are about half that of the dorms, as was
the case with the Davis co-ops, but they have to do their own major repairs. Perhaps we should
look at the rent structure of the Stanford co-ops to determine what we are paying for: how much
is rent on the kitchen, how much is room rent and utilities, how much are we saving by doing our
own cleaning?
The biggest implication of the Davis system is that it is possible to fund and build new houses.
Luke Watkins and David Thompson are great sources of information on building new student
co-op housing. They know about all aspects of the process: funding sources, dealing with the
University, getting the buildings built, etc. However, the top-down process by which the DCC
were built may stand as a warning to other co-ops: without student input from the very
beginning, it may be quite difficult to make the actual operating of the co-ops successful.
The Domes present an interesting, if difficult to emulate, model of student built housing. The
difficulties the Old Co-ops have had because of their small size, high turnover, and lack of
historical memory represent a problem we might face if we get small houses. Perhaps we should
make an effort to ensure that small houses will interact with other houses and will have a smaller
turnover rate than larger houses.
Finally, the Davis co-ops embody the conflict between selective and random admission which
we will have to deal with. We must ensure that new members are committed to the co-ops, but
may not want the exclusivity that member selection represents.

    The first human communities on this planet could be defined as co-ops. The
  problem is, society, as it were, still sees co-ops and community living lifestyles as
    tribal, which carries a host of misleading connotations. 
 — Classmember
The independent natures of each of the Stanford co-ops seem to propagate a myth of
individualism, difference from each other, and self-control. In fact, centralization could produce
much greater autonomy from the University and thus the ability to develop truly unique living
options. If Stanford co-ops, as a group, differentiate ourselves from other living options by
creating a separate draw, strengthening the co-op council as our mediator with the University
administration, and gaining control of maintenance and administration by developing our own,
co-operative, student-run system, we could empower ourselves, improve our facilities, and be the
ultimate authority about decisions that effect our lives and living conditions. Centralization and
organization are definitely options worth considering. Possibly, when we are eventually given
permanent housing for each of our programs, we could negotiate with the University over
developing our own administration.

Survey of the Stanford Community on Residential Living
To enhance our understanding of community views on residential living, we created a
questionnaire and distributed it to a broad range of Stanford students. A principle question
addressed by the survey was, “What prevents more students from joining Stanford’s co-ops?”
Survey results illuminate four contributing perceptions: time commitment, ignorance about the
co-ops in general, political beliefs of coopers, and residential cleanliness. Of these, lack of time
to cook and clean was the most prevalent response. Ignorance was largely on the part of
freshpersons, who are not given the option to live in a co-op when they get here. A lesser but still
significant level of responses reflected concern that co-opers were not open to conservative
political viewpoints and could not keep their residences clean.
Of the 400 questionnaires that were distributed in February, 366 were returned. Questionnaires
were administered to a broad sampling of the student body:

                                                 Copies                 Copies
                                               Distributed             Returned
  Stern residents                                   45                      45
  Toyon Eating Club members                         35                      35
  Mirrielees residents                              10                      10
  Branner residents                                 30                      30
  Manzanita residents                               25                      25
  Wilbur residents                                  45                      44
  Roble residents                                   35                      35
  White Plaza passing students                      60                      54
  Fraternity residents                              45                      23
  Co-op residents                                   20                      20
  Any other Row residents                           50                      45

What follows is the results of the questionnaire, numerical averages for the rating questions, and
finally some specific comments. A copy of the original survey is in the Appendix.

Numerical Averages and Results:

For question 3, the average rating is filled in, with the number of people who responded to that
category given in parentheses.

3. On a scale from one to six, rate the following in terms of importance to you and current
satisfaction: (Six is the highest rating; one is the lowest.)

                                                              Importance         Current Satisfaction

  A. Relationships to the people you live with:                 5.4 (363)           4.7 (359)
  B. The building you live in:                                  3.7 (362)           4.2 (356)
  C. The location of your residence:                            3.8 (363)           4.6 (359)
  D. Your studies:                                              5.1 (361)           4.3 (356)
  E. Your social life:                                          4.7 (363)           4.2 (358)
  F. Meals:                                                     4.2 (357)           3.5 (350)
  G. Low room and board bills:                                  4.0 (355)           3.3 (344)
  H. Residence responsibilities:                                3.1 (327)           3.9 (315)

For question 5, parenthetical values indicate the number of people who made that choice.
5. I’d rather live in a:

   Females (first, second, last choice)          Males (first, second, last choice)

   dorm                    (73,21,10)            dorm                     (76,24,10)
   other row house         (27,38,0)             apartment                (31,23,7)
   apartment               (16,20,0)             fraternity               (25,6,40)
   co-op                   (15,19,15)            co-op                    (20,10,19)
   theme house             (14,22,1)             other row house          (20,46,3)
   off campus              (7,6,39)              off campus               (18,13,25)
   trailer                 (1,3,42)              theme house              (12,28,7)
                                                 trailer                  (2,7,33)

For question 6, the number of responses to each category are filled in.

6. Not including your own residence, how often do you visit:

                                 daily       weekly        quarterly          yearly   never

   A. other dorms:                69           179             64               10      22

   B. fraternities:                6           83              112              27     108

   C. co-ops:                      6           27              94               50     161

   D. other row houses:           10           65              147              29      91
For question seven the average value is filled in, with the number of responses given in

7. For the following categories, please rate the average fraternity, co-op, and dorm resident on a
scale from one to six. Choose a six if the category is highly applicable, and a one if it is not at all

  A. Tolerance for different viewpoints.
Dorms: 4.5 (307)      Co-ops: 4.2 (220)        Other Row House: 4.2 (205) Fraternities: 2.8 (221)

  B. Weekly drug/alcohol use.
Dorms: 4.0 (302)    Co-ops: 3.8 (209)          Other Row House: 3.7 (213) Fraternities: 5.2 (238)

  C. Arrogance.
Dorms: 3.0 (288)       Co-ops: 3.1 (204)       Other Row House: 3.1 (201) Fraternities: 4.8 (229)

  D. Quality of intellectual atmosphere.
Dorms: 3.8 (296)       Co-ops: 3.8 (202)       Other Row House: 3.8 (197) Fraternities: 2.8 (201)

  E. Sexual close-mindedness.
Dorms: 3.2 (282)     Co-ops: 2.5 (197)         Other Row House: 3.0 (186) Fraternities:4.0(210)

  F. Low level of community involvement within the residence.
Dorms: 3.1 (281)     Co-ops: 3.0 (200)   Other Row House: 3.1 (191) Fraternities: 2.8 (211)

  G. Political diversity.
Dorms: 4.3 (291)       Co-ops: 2.8 (203)       Other Row House: 3.8 (191) Fraternities: 2.8 (201)

  H. Emphasis on good health.
Dorms: 3.2 (284)    Co-ops: 4.0 (206)          Other Row House: 3.3 (192) Fraternities: 3.0 (198)

  I. Outward friendliness.
Dorms: 4.2 (296)      Co-ops: 3.6 (205)        Other Row House: 3.6 (197) Fraternities: 3.3 (207)

  J. Cleanliness of their residence:
Dorms: 4.3 (294)       Co-ops: 3.1 (210)       Other Row House: 3.8 (201) Fraternities: 2.6 (216)

Unfortunately, many participants left question seven blank. Some of these people mentioned
discomfort with trying to imagine “average” residents, others found the wording confusing, and
some thought it was biased against fraternities. Each of these responses was unintended on the
part of the surveyors. Practically, the results of question seven should not be taken as a
definitively representative view of community opinion. In retrospect, it may be that the surveying
process could have been altered. Is it fair, or possible, to ask people about stereotypes in a
8. Have you ever considered living in a co-op? If you have, which one and why? If you haven’t,
why not?

  yes:             103 responses              no answer:     51 responses
  no:              179 responses              other:         33 responses

Specific Comments on Co-ops:
These quotations come from question nine. They were selected on a whim, and have no statistical
9. Any further comments???
  • “They’re filthy, flea-infested rat holes.” — Sophomore, Roble
  • “Vegetarian commies!” — Senior, Roble
   • “I think Stanford really needs the co-ops and self-ops. The house I live in presently, which is
a self-op, is by far the best in my four years here — the people are unusually diverse, open, and
creative.” — Senior, White Plaza
   • “I haven’t been impressed with the “cooperation” I’ve observed, and have no time or
tolerance for “consensus,” i.e. fatigue tactics for professional co-operatarians.“ — Graduate
student, White Plaza
  • A junior thought co-opers were too homogeneous.
  • A junior thought the co-op images would improve by emphasizing their themes.
   • “I have lost faith in the fraternity system and plan to live in Columbae next year. I hope to
enjoy the co-operative decision-making and theme of non-violence. I also want decent vegetarian
food.” — Fraternity group
  • “This survey is really biased against fraternities in choice and wording of questions.” —
Fraternity group
  • “Close-minded, self-righteous people live in co-ops.” — Fraternity group
   • “I think co-ops are every bit as close-minded as fraternities, but have a different orientation
in general terms.” — Fraternity group
  • “This survey is ridiculously directed toward eliciting negative stereotypes. Furthermore, its
ambiguity is also out of control.” — Fraternity group
  • “I live in Terra because that is where burned-out physics majors go to die.” — Co-op group
  • “Have a nice day!” — Co-op group.
  • “All humans should be forced to live in co-ops.” — Co-op group
  • “I lived in Synergy for three wonderful weeks and I cried when I realized I couldn’t go back
(post earthquake). I now live in Terra and I like it here as well, much more than my dorm last
year. Dorms are like impersonal hotels with no sense of continuation or community. I hope I
never have to live in one again.” — Sophomore, Co-op group
  • “I disagree with the politics and with the methods of persuasion found in co-ops.” — Senior,
Eating Clubs
  • “I didn’t know about the co-ops ’til too late.” — Senior, Eating Clubs
   • “This survey is absurd — it’s obviously designed to incriminate fraternities.” — Graduate
student, Eating Clubs
   • “I am attracted to the small nature of the community, the greater emphasis on ecological
practices, and the apparently less extravagant (compared to dorms and frats) nature of co-op
houses. Also, the shared responsibility among a group small enough so that you feel you are
recognized as an important part of it.” — Frosh, Eating Clubs
  • “I don’t clean up after other people!” — Graduate student, Manzanita
  • “I don’t know about any [co-ops] except the one with the goat.” — Frosh, Wilbur
  • “Someone with my political views (moderate to conservative) would not be allowed near a
coop.” — Graduate student, Wilbur
  • “What’s a co-op?” — Frosh, Wilbur
  • “I think a lot of co-op people are false — preach and feel morally correct but don’t really do
much.” — Sophomore, Wilbur
  • “This survey is a bit confusing.” — Sophomore, Wilbur
  • “I think I need my living space. I might go crazy.” — Frosh, Wilbur

Survey of Stanford Co-op Alumni
We designed a questionnaire for alumni of the Stanford Co-op system in order to gain a sense of
how co-operative living experiences have affected individuals as well as to gain additional input
and perspectives on co-operative living. We received responses from former members of Terra,
Phi Psi, Theta Chi, and Hammarskjöld, although the vast majority of the responses came from
Synergy and Columbae alums. These people had lived in a co-op as long ago as 1971 or as
recently as 1988. A copy of the survey can be found in the Appendix.
In general, the co-op alums surveyed cited community and responsibility as the primary benefits
to co-op living. Also learning about group problem solving, alternative lifestyles, and health
were important. One alum just appreciated having a place to “hang out.” Perceived drawbacks
were long consensus meetings, transience, uncleanliness, and encouragement of arrogance about
  Many alums saw room for improvement in ethnic and cultural diversity and outreach. Several
would have liked smaller houses or more experienced people.
   Today one finds former co-opers doing a wide variety of things that reflect co-operative
experience and ideals. Most do volunteer work or community service, many still recycle, are
vegetarians, or grow food. Some continue to be politically or environmentally active. Members
have carried ideas such as feminism, social responsibility, political awareness and practical
living skills and applied them to their current lives.
More than 300 surveys were mailed out to lists maintained or acquired by the Co-op Alum
Network. Out of 112 respondents, 84 called their co-op experience “very positive,” with 25
calling it a “positive” experience, and only 3 tagging it as being “negative.” None answered
“neutral” or “very negative.” The survey asked people to rate certain aspects of their residences
on scale of one to five (five being the highest rating, one the lowest), both in terms of importance
and their satisfaction with these topics as applied to the coop. The averaged results are as

                                                Importance               Satisfaction
  Sense of community:                                4.67                   4.08
  Awareness of gender issues:                        4.06                   3.90
  Ethnic/cultural diversity:                         3.68                   2.88
  Awareness of environmental issues:                 4.12                   4.19
  Intellectual stimulation:                          4.19                   4.02
  Residence responsibilities:                        3.97                   3.55
  Relationship/interaction with
                                            other house members:

The rest of the questionnaire asked recipients for their opinions on the benefits and drawbacks of
co-operative living, and how things could be improved. We also asked what people have been
doing since they left Stanford, and whether or not their co-op experience had affected them
beyond Stanford. Their comments have been compiled in the following pages.
In your opinion, what are the most important benefits of co-operative living?
  • A supportive community of friends…
  • Teaching people a sense of responsibility for how they live.
   • Students live more like real life — they aren’t babied by having things magically cooked and
cleaned for them.
  • Taking a stand, with a group of people, on how we want to live and interact with the world,
and then putting that vision into reality by living together in the co-op.
   • The strong sense of community and the support system it provides during a difficult and
rapidly changing time in one’s life. In short, it really felt like “home.” Not to mention fresh,
homemade bread.
  • Learning how to deal well with other human beings, while addressing important areas of

  [Co-ops sponsored a] sense of community, learning to live with other people and
    how to work together. Also, it was cheap — saved money. 
 — Co-op Alum
  • Learning to share work and ideas, solve problems collectively, spirit of play between equal
male and female members, cooking and eating together, feeling of openness with some members
to share problems, and seeing your problems in perspective with larger community and world
   • Learning how to co-operate with people, learning how to resolve conflicts honestly, buying
in bulk to reduce consumption, learning about alternative lifestyles.
  • Meaningful interaction with a lot of people. Close, stimulating relationships. Excellent
atmosphere for self-reflection and personal growth.
  • Sense of self-sufficiency, self-directedness. I learned my life and community could be as
good as I was willing to make it.
   • Allows for a more balanced maturation process during college… fostering a sense of social
responsibility, both to one’s immediate environment and to the world at large.
  • Finding other people like me.
   • Getting to exercise more responsibility and choice about living: food, cleaning, gardening,
etc. Changing room/roommate situation more often. Living (hopefully) with aware and
interesting people.
  • Channeling group energy to achieve more than individual goals.
   • An awareness of a world outside of the university — which is very important in Stanford’s
case because it is so isolated from the “real world.” Learning from fellow students and sharing
— being a student is a very self-involved process.
  • Interesting people.
  • I think the consciousness-raising quality or intent of co-ops is very important, with respect to
gender issues, environmental issues, and other political issues.
  • Eating healthily and learning about nutrition and food preparation, organizing ad hoc
political groups and actions, becoming more aware, making friends, having fun.
  • An alternative, experimental living/social structure from the rest of campus.

    [Co-ops were a place for] learning tolerance and responsibility toward others;
      learning to consider the good of the group; breaking down isolation and
              confronting new and different ideas. 
 — Coop Alum
   • In a word, awareness. Many of the thought processes tended to extremes, but this was the
time for it and all such digging changed my life.
  • Dialogue between house members.
  • Living in a group enables its members to act according to shared values more efficiently and
with more fun.
  • Environmentally conscious purchasing.
  • Living like a family with people who are not your biological family.
   • Flexibility and understanding of alternative views, beliefs, and lifestyles. Also, the space to
be creative in a supportive community.
  • I wasn’t a naturally gregarious person. In the co-op, cook crew and meetings gave us
something structured to do together, which helped break the ice.
  • To improve the quality of life by providing a supportive environment to think about and
improve human communication.
   • For me, the best part of student life was time spent hanging out. Because co-ops have open
kitchens, they have an automatic, homey place to gather. I always felt that I was living in a home
for which I had responsibility.

What are the biggest drawbacks?
  • Any situation where people live with one another is fraught with conflict and tension as
people have different needs, expectations, motivations.
  • None that I’ve thought of. Hindrances come to mind: student transience, inordinate length of
decision-making meetings.
   • None. It takes time to fulfill your group responsibilities, but lots of worthwhile things take
  • Independent people aren’t very good at coming to agreement — too many strong
   • The quality of the meals and the cleanliness of the house is dependent upon the willingness
of each house member to do his or her assigned task on time, which frequently did not happen.
  • Decreased privacy. Increased incidence of social/political dogmatism.
  • Getting to sleep.
  • Probably smugness, a certain separation, and holier-than-thou attitude.
  • Consensus. Frustrating, time-consuming, irritating, but a valuable learning process.
  • Botched meals by inexperienced cooks.
  • Some people never learn responsibility, and others must pick up their slack.
  • Messy house.
   • Unco-operative members, especially people who were assigned to the house by the draw but
didn’t want to live there.
  • Persecution by outsiders.
  • Generally higher level of domestic chaos (but then, that can be fun, too).
  • Starting from scratch every year.
  • Political homogeneity.
   • Isolation can be bred even in the midst of cooperative living, with some co-op extremists
rejecting anything “conventional.”
   • Academically, co-opers are expected to “compete” with students who take no responsibility
for anything except their studies.
  • Some complained of too much closeness — “incestuousness.”
   • It was difficult to focus on academics, but of course the most important learning occurred at
the co-ops!

How do you think things could have been improved?
  • More emphasis on ethnic/cultural diversity. More discussion of world issues in addition to
house issues.
  • More emphasis on practical running of things and setting sights on quality of daily life in the
houses. Meals and cleaning should take up the energy, not house meetings.
  • Smaller houses, clear consensus on standards before people move into the house.
  • More experienced people to provide direction and stability.
  • More moral support from the University.
   • Greater emphasis on individual accountability. This can still be incorporated into co-op
  • Focus on outreach to get people thinking about co-ops and interested in them — appeal to a
wider group.
  • No 006s [people who choose “any on-campus housing” in the housing draw].
  • Putting a lot of front-end energy into including and orienting newcomers.
  • Ideally, a higher degree of co-ordination among co-ops to exploit collective strength.
  • Meetings with some time frame so that the concept of consensus doesn’t become absurd.
  • More support from, and co-operation with the University administration.
  • More connections to alumni and more interaction with other co-ops in the area… Keeping
houses open and going during summer and winter breaks.

      [Co-ops could be improved by placing] more emphasis on ethnic/cultural
     diversity. More discussion of world issues in addition to house issues. 
                                    Co-op Alum
   • We often had a “fuck ’em if they can’t deal with it” attitude — not a great method of
spreading peace in the world. We need campus support.
  • Most of the problems I had were with certain personalities and not the system.
  • A Pied Piper to lead away the Mind Rats?
  • More hours in the day.
  • Changing human nature.

What are you doing now, and/or what have you done since leaving Stanford? (Occupation,
volunteer activities, etc.)
  • I’m in med school and live in a 4-5 person co-op.
  • Freelance writing. Environmental consulting. Teaching.
  • Computer programmer for research labs (non-military, of course).
  • Postdoc in astrophysics.
  • Counselor at Men Overcoming Violence, accountant for non-profits.
  • Waiting tables, working on getting more into my career.
  • I work for the Environmental Protection Agency.
  • I’m working toward an MBA at Stanford, focusing on non-profit management.
   • I am a grad student in physics at the U. of Chicago. I also helped start the university
recycling program, and am currently half-time recycling coordinator for the U. of C. I also live in
a new student co-op — we just bought our house after one and a half years of trying.
  • Teacher of English as a second language for adults. I lived on a kibbutz in Israel.
  • I build wooden boats with a boatyard in Martha’s Vineyard, MA.
  • Coordinate Stanford’s recycling program.
  • MBA candidate at Harvard.
  • I run a vegetarian cafe in a co-op food store in Taos, New Mexico.
   • Grad student now, volunteered with APSNICA building houses in Nicaragua, and
volunteered on a reforestation project in Costa Rica. Am starting in a volunteer middle school
tutoring program now.
  • Film — Editing documentaries, now filmmaker at Columbia.
  • Environmental health scientist — I work at the US EPA.
  • Union organizer/representative.
  • Information specialist, government energy office.
  • Teach high school.
  • M.D.— surviving internship.
  • Grad student in social psychology at Princeton.
  • Grad student, water resources program, Princeton.
  • I’ve worked as an English and Spanish tutor in the Stanford Literacy Project, been a
composition editor for McGraw Hill Educational Testing, and I’m now freelance and going to
have a baby. Also, I work for vegetables in an organic garden.
   • Presently a grad student in molecular biology, previously technical writer, recycling center
  • Physician. Volunteer with local midwives, board of local food co-op.
  • Served in U.S. Military. Computer programmer.
  • Attorney, mother of two children.
  • Social worker, and have lived in several coops in various cities.
  • Med student, U. of Arizona, high school teacher, bum in S. America.
   • I’ve been in graduate school at Columbia, doing research on global climate change. My most
significant (to me) volunteer activity has been working for the Rape Crisis Center.
  • I’ve been a nursery school teacher, gardener, mother, housewife— now I’m getting ready to
go to law school.
  • Rock and roll record producer.
   • Associate Media Director — Center for Population Options — work to prevent too-early
child-bearing among teens and the spread of HIV among teens.
  • Business Council for the United Nations.
  • Computer scientist, active with the environmental movement.
  • 2nd decade — Photojournalist, 3rd decade — carpenter, realtor, wife, mother of two.
  • Work for non-profit citizen diplomacy organization producing international television
“Spacebridges” on East-West, North-South, and environmental issues. Run own recycled paper
  • Physician, medical researcher, father, husband.
  • Attorney — CA public employment relations board; checkbook liberal.
  • Taught dance, danced professionally, wrote grants for performing artists, done graphic
design, presently own a restaurant.
  • Worked in ski industry for four years, presently a grad student in hydrology.
  • Running a special effects film studio, acting, healing work, philosophical questioning,
community volunteer work.
  • I’m getting a Ph.D. in the Dept. of Forestry and Resource Management at Berkeley.
Studying forest hydrology in AK.
   • 1980-86 (roughly) primarily as a political activist organizing direct action against nuclear
weapons, Central American interventionism, and corporate evil. Held jobs as a bike messenger,
recycler, carpenter. Mural painting in the Mission, performance art… tried to enjoy the hell out
of myself and foment revolution.
  • Founder of two social investment funds, PhD in Public Policy; board member of Tides
Foundation, League of Conservation Voters, Good Samaritan Community Center.
  • Substitute teaching at Boston inner-city school, teaching English in China at a Teacher’s
College, teaching math at a private all-girls school.
  • Worked as a legal assistant, then went to graduate school to obtain a masters in Public Policy
Studies. Now work at a not-for-profit organization studying public housing and urban
development issues.
   • Worked on non-profit co-op housing development in Seattle. Studied alternative housing
projects in Berlin for one year and worked for a S.F. non-profit housing developer.
 • Program Manager, Middle East Region, Save the Children. Was a Peace Corps volunteer in
Morocco, and worked with a Palestinian grassroots health organization.
  • Engineer giving science technology advice to U.S. Congress.
  • Now PhD candidate in Energy Policy as applied to developing countries. Was a Peace Corps
  • I am a public interest lawyer, currently teaching at a community-based law school — have
worked in women’s movement for last ten years.
   • Administrator at non-profit book publisher and international grassroots development
organization. Living in a co-op.
  • Currently medical student interested in public health, international medicine.
  • Dancer/admin. asst. with a children’s dance company. Now an administrative assistant at
Citizen’s Commission on AIDS and Lesbian & Gay Community Services Center.

Do you think your co-op experience had any effect on what you chose to pursue after
  • Supported the humanistic values which underlie most of what I’ve done.
   • It’s difficult to say, but my basic world view was forged during my co-op years, so it must
have had an influence; perhaps it’s more accurate to say it influenced what I refuse to do with my
life (who or what I’ll work for, etc.).
  • I’d say I chose living in co-ops because of who I am, more than that co-ops made me this
  • Not my vocation; however my lifestyle was profoundly affected — vegetarianism,
gardening, recycling, feminism, etc.
  • It helped me be myself at Stanford… which helped me be myself in the workforce.
  • No, but it definitely helped me persist at Stanford. Without the co-op experience, I probably
would have transferred.
  • I would say the inverse — what I wanted to do after college influenced my desire to live in a
  • Yes. I think co-op life at Stanford exposed me to alternative lifestyles and career interests.
   • Definitely. I’m hooked on co-op living. I’ve done it ever since… And I’ve had the examples
of other co-opers doing jobs that are in line with their values and “good for the world” — and
I’ve gone “out into the world” with a clearer belief that I can so the same.
  • Yes. It helped strengthen and focus my objectives in the field of conservation and
environmental issues.
  • Yes! The experience taught me the power of collective action.
   • Yes. I’m now studying architecture and brushing up on engineering and hoping to get
technical and continue work on non-profit and alternative housing projects.
      [My co-op experience] very much affected my values and sense of self and
                    responsibility in the world. — Co-op Alum
   • My experience helped confirm that one’s life should truly integrate ethical & political ideals,
creativity, and work. Although I haven’t achieved this balance yet and am still learning what it
means, I feel the co-op gave me ideas about some possible ways of doing so.
  • Not really — I was already interested in environmental issues — but I enjoyed living in a
co-op and living those values.
  • Yes. I have gravitated to co-op situations as a participant and consumer.
   • Working with my peers in creating a community has been invaluable in terms of experience
and wisdom. The most important education that I got at Stanford, especially when viewed in
practical “real world” terms.
  • Some effect in the form of favorable light on helping run the government.
   • The alternative lifestyle in the co-op assisted in legitimizing my alternative life as an artist in
our society. Overall my attitudes on the mundane sharing of housework with my wife and family
reflects the equality experienced at the co-op.
  • Yes, more aware of inter-relatedness of systems and much more environmentally aware.
   • Yes — made me more inclined to look for a non-profit co-operative organization dedicated
to genuine community service.
  • It helped me see options other than “You must get a job right after school that is very
   • Certainly the truly amazing people I lived with influenced me, but in subtle ways. I was
inspired and supported by them to travel afar and explore.
  • As far as lifestyle goes, it had an immense impact. I have lived in co-operative or “semi”
cooperative houses ever since college.
   • Definitely. Though already politicized, it provided avenues and inspiration for me to pursue
direct-action and creative living. Gave me tools to continue to live and work collectively and
provided some of the seeds of my current community.
  • Solidified my willingness to go out on a limb and… create a life and line of work for myself.
   • That was decided in advance, but yes, the ideals within my dream career got grounded in
reality in the co-ops. Also, I met my husband through the co-op network and our co-op
experience helps bind us.

Are there any ideas or values that you learned or explored through the co-ops that you
have applied to your life beyond Stanford?
   • Many. Consensus has come up over and over again in my political work. My cooking skills
flowered at the co-op. Also, the notion of working in tight-knit affinity groups, not necessarily
called that. And finally, nonviolence.
  • The way I treat money. Instead of thinking “This is my money and I can spend it however I
want,” I try to think “Is this a business or product I’d like to support?” Seeing money disappear
into a worthy business is like putting a fruit rind into the compost instead of the trash. —The way
I treat food. I avoided Columbae and Synergy at first because I thought I could never live on a
vegetarian diet. Once in Synergy, I was careful to eat lots of hot dogs when away from the house.
But after I learned about protein complementarization, and after I realized I’d forgotten to eat
meat for a week and didn’t miss it, I decided to see how long I could keep it up. I’ve been
vegetarian for eight and a half years now.
  • Living in a group is a great way to get stimulation and interaction with people, and the world
needs more people working and living together, talking, thinking, and doing together — I’ve
continued to apply the co-op style to my living style.
   • I learned the importance of community and co-operative enterprise. For the first time I
realized how much stronger a group of people working together is than a single individual. I was
also introduced to the worlds of politics and low-consumption living. It gave me ideals I’ve been
trying to live up to ever since.
   • Still a vegetarian. Still recycle. Still bike as much as possible for transportation. Still believe
in consensus decision-making. Still live in a coop. It’s more fun! Still psyched about sustainable

   I have lived in co-op type houses ever since [my Stanford coop experience], still
   vegetarian, environmentally-oriented career, and I’ll never look at chickens the
                           same way again. 
 — Coop Alum
   • Most importantly, co-ops taught me to sublimate ego, listen, compromise, and facilitate
solutions for the benefit of the group instead of the individual.
  • Yes. Tendency to non-authoritarian decision-making within my Union and awareness of
ecology which influences my consumer decisions.
  • Socially responsible employment and investment, issues of individual needs/rights versus
community needs/rights.
  • Patience and respect for others.
   • Co-operation — necessary in all organizations. Commitment — feeling it and developing it
in others. Ingenuity — searching for a better way.
  • The importance of homemaking — making a home. Listening to my needs for my home as
well as the needs of my housemates.
  • The co-op experience reinforced my innate sense of trusting myself and not getting caught
up in life’s compulsions.
  • I learned to appreciate reggae music.
   • The importance of community and the knowledge that community has to be nurtured, not
taken for granted.
  • Consensus, playfulness, the necessity of providing food for people every day.
   • Yes. Meeting techniques, active listening (okay, I didn’t apply that too well when I was
there), getting along, crisis intervention, baking and cooking in massive quantities.
  • Temper idealism with practicality.
  • The co-ops were my first exposure to ideas like feminism, global social responsibility, and
environmental awareness. All of these have a large affect on my day-to-day life, as well as my
world view.
  • Awareness of environmental issues, increased interest and awareness of international
events/domestic issues affecting home countries of Hammarskjöld residents.
  • Consensus only works when everyone plays fair. Sharing with people enriches your life far
beyond anything materially received.
  • The value of good cooking, good food, fresh vegetables, etc. Thinking about different
people’s ways of doing things.
  • General acceptance of a much less materialistic lifestyle.
  • Yes, in terms of “lifestyle can make a difference (and does).”
   • The act of collaboration — learning to work effectively with others is an immensely useful
skill. Also: Life is meant to be fun!
  • The application of politics to daily life.
   • Definitely. It is therapeutic and mutually beneficial to express emotion and to work through
differences by finding what your purpose and the other’s purpose have in common… Sharing is
easier than you think.
  • Yes. I learned that liberals can exert as much conformance pressure as conservatives.
  • Interest in more egalitarian work situations where everyone’s input is valid.
   • I learned everything I know about group process and group decision-making — very useful

                         IV. The Current Crisis
George Melnyk said that change and even catastrophe is beneficial for a co-operative, for from
this can come rebirth and growth. Well... perhaps an earthquake was overkill, yet our
co-operative communities have not died and are not going to, because people from these
communities have come together to ensure the future of Stanford co-operatives. It isn’t a
complete exaggeration to say that this report stems from a crisis and may be the first step in the
growth of our communities. So let us now take a look at the effects of the earthquake.

A Chronology of the PostQuake Events
By Sally Otto, Columbaen (with Joanna Davidson, Synergite)
In this section, I chronicle the events which have affected the Stanford co-operative community
since the earthquake at 5:04 PM on October 17, 1989. My purpose is two-fold: to record events
which rapidly fade from memory, and to point out those events which were particularly
strengthening or disempowering with the hope that we may reinforce the former. I draw my
information mainly from notes taken by Joanna Davidson and myself.

October 1989
Tuesday 10/17 — QUAKE. Nobody in the Stanford community was seriously injured. We heard
by word of mouth (Row Office -> RAs -> residents) that Columbae, Hammarskjöld, Kairos, Phi
Psi, Synergy, Theta Chi (all the co-ops but Terra) as well as other residences may be severely
damaged and should not be entered. Many students, having no place to sleep, camped in their
front yards.
Wednesday 10/18 — Classes were canceled. Students were allowed into the houses for ten
minutes to retrieve bare essentials. At around 5 PM, President Donald Kennedy announced that
classes would be held Thursday and mentioned that some of his china had broken. We then
found out our temporary housing assignments. Several co-opers felt dehumanized when they
learned that classes would be held before learning where they could sleep or when they could
retrieve necessities (including books) from their homes. Out of this frustration came the
studentorganized meeting on Thursday.
Thursday 10/19 — A couple of hundred displaced students gathered at 2 PM on the Columbae
front lawn to discuss our situation and to set an agenda for 4 PM, at which time several members
of the administration were to join us. “Movers and Shakers”, written by Robert Abrams, was a
summary of these meetings (See Appendix). The mood was very positive and
non-confrontational considering the circumstances. Generally, both the students and the staff
expressed a desire and willingness to work together. A task force was created to assist in this
process. Notable presences: Jim Lyons, Diana Conklin (who promised and later delivered an
extension of the pass/no credit option and temporary meal cards for EAs as well as residents),
Jack Chin. Notable absences: Don Kennedy, Alice Supton.

  The contrast between the lawn of Columbae and the podium, between discussing
    and being told, between working together and being excluded struck me so
                             strongly and painfully...
Friday 10/20 — The first task force met at 11:30 AM. A damage estimate for Stanford was
placed at 150-160 million dollars. No kitchen was made available to the displaced students
despite students’ concerns. However, the Elliott Program Center and Bechtel kitchens could, as
always, be used by making prior arrangements. It was our understanding at this point that
“Students will be involved in long-range planning” as Joanna noted. At 5 PM, an informational
meeting was held at Kresge at the invitation of staff. Donald Kennedy started by reading a five
minute speech (and then promptly leaving)...
Please allow a short digression here so that I may explain why this meeting is imprinted on my
mind so heavily. The contrast between the lawn of Columbae and the podium, between
discussing and being told, between working together and being excluded struck me so strongly
and painfully...
Understand that most of my pain during this meeting was caused not when I learned that
Columbae would be closed for the year but when I realized that the power and strength of
co-operation had been cast away and a hierarchy reimposed.
   Houses Closed for the Year:
   Columbae, Delta Tau Delta, Phi Psi, Synergy
   Houses Closed for the Quarter* :
   Durand, Roth, Theta Xi (The Taxi)
   Houses Opening on Saturday 10/29:
   French, Grove-Lasuen, Hammarskjöld, Kairos, Phi Sig.
Thus leaving around 260 students without housing. Moving arrangements were essentially made
for all houses (30 minutes allotted per person) except Columbae, which was considered too
dangerous to enter. Students were released from their housing contracts, while if they wanted to
remain in on-campus housing, a draw was scheduled for the upcoming week. An all co-op dinner
was hosted at Terra. For me, the unity among the Stanford co-ops was at an all time high.
Saturday 10/21 — A morning task force meeting took place with Michael Jackson (M.J.), Jack
Chin, and representatives of the displaced residences. On-campus housing options were
discussed. Students proposed increasing the size of the draw group from eight to twenty to
accommodate a community. M.J. voiced a concern about “taking over” the community into
which we entered. Co-op representatives proposed that the Draw be held among the students by
consensus. M.J. is concerned that some students would be railroaded by this process. Members
of other displaced houses voiced concern about the time involved. Co-op members meet to
discuss off-campus housing at 2 PM. The group agrees to work together rather than to edge each
other out of possible options. [This meeting was later criticized by M.J. for not having included
the other closed houses.]
Monday 10/23 — Yet another meeting...The Draw was to take place as always (not by
consensus). Moving vans would be supplied only for those students remaining on-campus.
Madeline Larsen (SWOPSI staff, Theta Chi and Phi Psi alum) began the organizing group for
this Co-op SWOPSI class.
Tuesday 10/24 — The draw is explained to all students interested. Eventually, about half of the
displaced coopers remain on-campus while several co-op communities were started off-campus,
including Casa Hermosa, Eudaemonia, and Iris Corner. I can’t begin to describe the headaches
involved in the off-campus housing hunt. We were hung-up on, laughed at, and pitied, but
generally not offered housing. Alice Supton, Diana Conklin, and Michael Jackson helped by
writing letters of recommendation. Donald Kennedy said he would write and could be contacted
by phone.
Wednesday 10/25 — A meeting about academic concerns for students affected by the
earthquake took place (jointly organized by co-op students, Jim Lyons, and members of the
Academic Standing Office) [repeated on Thursday].
Thursday 10/26 — The Draw took place. All those students who had requested exemptions
from University Food Service were allowed to do so. Students had requested this exception so
that they could become Eating Associates at the open co-ops. Surprisingly, it had been a struggle
to get this exception.

November 1989
Sunday 11/5 — Weekly Co-op Coffee House: About 40 co-opers gathered in the evening at
Elliott Program Center to study, to drum and play guitar, and to consume caffeine and sugar (or
Wednesday 11/8 — Well, I’ll lift coverage of this task force meeting straight from the Cooper:
                           Displaced Co-ops: A “Task Force” Update
Phi Psi, Synergy, Columbae and Taxi representatives met with Jack Chin on Wednesday (11/8)
to chat about the current state of affairs in displacement-ville. For brevity’s sake I’ll just list
items of interest:
*Keys should be returned to the Row Office.
*Cyclone fencing will be put up around the closed houses.
*There have been no new structural reports since we went in to remove our belongings... No
decision has yet been made as to whether our houses will be torn down... No commitment has
been made to reinstate the closed co-ops.
*The Row will stop collecting mail on November 17th. At that point, all mail will delivered to the
houses will be returned to sender [emphasis in original] unless alternative arrangements can be
made with the Postmaster. You can try to forward your mail though the Post Office by noting
your house’s name (e.g. 549 Lasuen rather than Columbae). The Post Office generally doesn’t
forward mail from student residences on-campus.
*The window on the inside of S.O.S. [Student Organization Services] on the second floor in
Tresidder is the new message board for displaced students.
*Displaced Communities have the second highest priority (out of eight) for reserving Elliott
Program Center (first priority goes to Res Ed and Governor’s corner).
* Call Row Facilities for info on how to get any remaining personal stuff out of the co-ops or out
of Durand (where the boxes finally went). There is still no news as to whether we can get our
personal furniture out.
* Have a Nice Day.
Jack Chin also mentions that the Draw book goes out in mid-Winter Quarter, by which time the
1990-1991 housing options should have been decided.

December 1989
Monday 12/4 — By our request at the last meeting, Keith Guy (Director of Facilities) joined this
task force meeting (arranged by Jack Chin). He explained that in the latest estimates, Synergy,
Phi Psi, and the Delt house (on San Juan hill) would each cost about three million dollars to
repair while Columbae was on the order of one million dollars. The cost to rebuild is about
two-and-a-half million for the type of houses involved. Since the Federal Emergency
Management Association only supplies aid for repairs if repair costs are under half of the
rebuilding costs, it was doubtful that all the closed houses would be repaired. If these houses
were to be fixed, they would probably not be ready by fall 1990, while if they were to be rebuilt
they would probably not be ready by fall 1991. Durand, Roth, and Taxi are still slated to re-open
by fall 1990. Blueprints for all the houses had to be re-drawn, which was causing a big delay.
As far as decision-making goes, according to Jack Chin, 1990-1991 housing options on the Row
would probably be decided by Jack Chin, Diana Conklin, and Roger Whitney, while long-term
decisions would be made by a host of people including the above mentioned, Norm Robinson,
Keith Guy, the Housing Operations Advisory Committee (HOAC), the Housing Office, the
Programs Office, and the Administrative Council. By this time it had become crystal clear that
while the task force may offer suggestions, it is not a decision-making group. One rather
depressing message was that University officials had chosen to give the fraternities a higher
priority for rehousing because of a past agreement made between fraternity alums and Stanford.
Monday 12/11 — Co-op representatives take home-baked bread to the Board of Trustees’

January 1990
Tuesday 1/9 — “Reliable rumor” had it that none of the houses can be fixed by the fall of 1990,
leaving seven houses competing for re-housing.
Tuesday 1/16 — Task force meeting with Jack Chin and Roger Whitney (Director of Housing).
Roger was hopeful at that point that at least some of the houses would be re-opened in the fall.
He talked of each of the co-ops as distinct programs saying that the Housing Office would “try to
keep a program going in some some degree and somehow.” Yet he added that the Uop
and self-op options would also have to be retained. We were told to plan on being included in the
draw book.
Thursday 1/25 — A back-page article in the Daily claims: “Columbae to reopen next year”.
Keith Guy confirms the possibility, although building would not start until May.
Friday 1/26 — About 150 co-opers attend a fantastic co-op dinner sponsored by Hammarskjöld
(esp. Bob Abrams).
Sunday 1/28 — The poor Co-op Coffee House takes its final gasp after weeks of attendance by
only those few die-hard bohemians.
Monday 1/29 — Calls to Jack Chin reveal that displaced students who were guaranteed this year
would be given another guaranteed year (believe it or not, this had actually been a bone of
contention) and that all displaced residents would be given an alumni priority essentially
guaranteeing that they would have a spot in their house.

February 1990
Tuesday 2/6 — The task-force reconvened with Diana Conklin and Roger Whitney as guests.
R.W. confirmed that Columbae, The Taxi, Roth and Durand were scheduled to re-open in the
fall. D.C. mentioned that, to her surprise, nobody within the administration had recommended
eliminating any of the closed “programs” during the various meetings which had taken place
since the earthquake. D.C. also said that there was hope that Synergy and the Delt house could be
rebuilt, although this process would take at least a couple of years. They recommend that the
co-opers write a proposal in order to have student input into structural improvements in the
houses, especially environmentally sound improvements.

The Rest of February
Around this time, classmembers started discussing which Row houses were preferable homes for
Synergy and Phi Psi next year. We talked about the relationship between architecture and
community, and came up with a list of suggested houses for the Row Office to consider.
Somewhere along the way, Dave Boat (the cook at Phi Sig) heard that the class was deciding to
move into Phi Sig, removing him from his job. He came to class the following week and made a
statement expressing his concerns.
Dave awakened our collective consciousness and made us acutely aware of our negative impact
on the Row. This started an involved and intense three week debate about our housing
suggestions for next year. The discussion was often heated; some people thought we should put
off housing the co-ops for another year until all of the houses were fixed, while others insisted
that we were going to have an impact somewhere and somehow and that it was futile to try to
decide who we were going to put out of a job.
Everyone agreed that more information was crucial, so people went to visit the cook at 553
Mayfield, talk to the Delts (who were also in need of a temporary home), and find out about
current student manager positions in the potentially affected houses. After gathering this data, we
reminded ourselves of our position in this decision - we could merely make suggestions to the
row, while the administrators still had all decision making power. This was the most frustrating
aspect of the process - we were being held accountable for a decision in which we had limited
We decided that the best course of action would be to include everyone in the decision making
process. We scheduled an open meeting, and invited all potentially displaced cooks, cleaners,
residents, the Delts and the relevant administrators. The purpose of the meeting was to create a
forum where everyone could discuss their concerns with those “in power,” in order to minimize
the negative impacts of the relocations.
Unfortunately the administrators from the Row that we invited vetoed the idea and refused to
participate. Realizing that it would be an ineffective meeting without them, we drafted a letter
which described our attempted meeting and explained our role in the decision making process,
and distributed among the people we had invited. (See Appendix).
Finally, on the 28th of February, the class held a meeting open to all members of the co-op
community in order to discuss our research and get feedback on our recommendations. In
addition to class participants, a few members of the Phi Psi and Columbae communities attended.
The main topics were ethnic and cultural diversity and the relocation of houses for the following
year. After extensive discussion, the group agreed to put 553 Mayfield, Durand and Phi Sig on
our list of preferred houses to be given to the Row. (See Appendix for meeting agenda.)
Overall, the issue of rehousing Synergy and Phi Psi next year was extremely time consuming and
often frustrating. However, the discussions were valuable in that we learned a great deal about
consensus and once again affirmed our much our process differs from University decision
making. Ultimately, our input had little impact on the Row’s final decision.

March 1990
Tuesday 3/6 — Present along with the task force representatives were Jack Chin, Norm
Robinson and Keith Guy. We are told that the communities of Columbae, Phi Psi, and Synergy
will be rehoused the following fall in the Alpha Delt House, Columbae, and the Grove houses in
an order to be chosen by the co-op community. It was stipulated that the Grove houses had to be
University cleaned, although it was unclear whether or not a compromise could be struck.
Construction for Columbae, as well as Durand, Roth, and The Taxi, was scheduled to begin in
May and end by the first of September. Information about Open Houses and outreach was also
provided at this meeting.
Wednesday 3/7 — During the class following this task force meeting, we decided that Synergy
would move into the Grove houses, Phi Psi into the AD house, and Columbae back home.
Special Note 1: Although not specifically mentioned, the displaced students were given free
meal cards and Oak Lounge in Tresidder for two weeks as promised on 10/20. These amenities
made the period much more tolerable and deserve a word of thanks.
Special Note 2: The task force did in fact consist of actual human beings: among the co-op
students who attended were Chip Bartlett, Jon Birnbaum, Joanna Davidson, Michelle Duran,
Sally Otto, Matt Price, Ken Sakaie.
Special Note 3: Perhaps because of all the bureaucratic hoops we were jumping through, the
Cooper newsletter and the Inter Co-op Council failed to become avenues of expression and
Conclusions: The Stanford co-operative world manages to avoid hierarchy in part by ignoring
that structure in which it is imbedded. Although I have been very quick above to point out acts
which led to frustration on the part of co-opers, I must point to our own culpability. Since we
didn’t interact with people in the administration on an individual basis before the earthquake, it
became close to impossible to establish mutually respectful, co-operative relationships after the
crisis. Hence, I move forward from this point believing that outreach efforts must extend to all
members of Stanford and that open and all-encompassing discussions should take place about the
role and the power of a co-op within Res Ed and of the role and the power of Res Ed “over” a

Effects of and Concerns about Closing Synergy, Columbae,
and Phi Psi Coops
The earthquake of October the 17th, 1989 brought a temporary end to Columbae, Phi Psi, and
Synergy. The closing of our houses and the aftermath caused us to realize that our communities
were overlooked by some and our needs misunderstood as insubstantial by some. The
significance of these communities’ absence — not only to their members, but to the larger
campus — must be adequately explored. The reasons residents value these three co-ops
correspond directly with the value of the co-operative system to the Stanford community. This
presentation reveals the serious concerns surrounding the closing of these co-ops and the
closing’s effect on former co-op residents and the entire campus community as a whole.
Instead of presenting the interviews as commentaries on predefined categories, we have chosen
to let each community speak for itself, each interview in its own unity.

Columbae Co-op
Our interviewee from Columbae is now relocated on campus in a dormitory setting. She begins
the interview saying, “It’s not as simple as just choosing housing on campus, or even cooperative
housing on campus. It’s the idea of choosing specifically where you want to live.” “All co-ops
are by far not the same... Co-ops are just another kind of theme house (Columbae is the
non-violence theme house). Each co-op has its own character and each serves as a specific
support group for those who become part of that community.”
What makes co-op life important for her is that “it’s a real community, not just an isolated
existence.” Which compared to a dorm is very different, she explains: “It’s [living in a co-op]
like putting out a conscious effort to create a communication between those of a mutual
understanding, to walk outside your security without having to walk into someone else’s four
walls, to find a common space, a communal together space.” “More often than not,” she says,
“the kitchen is such a central meeting place.” The way work is managed in the co-ops is
important to her too because “when you make your own food, or when your friends make your
own food, it puts you in touch with what you put inside your body.” She expressed that a
common denominator among the co-op communities is that they are all groups of people who
practice ways of life distinct from the mainstream dormitory atmosphere.
Our interviewee points out that what she describes as a basic similarity between the co-op
systems serves a dual purpose, the same dual purpose that Residential Education wishes to
establish in creating theme houses. She notes, “The co-ops are a support group for the members

 of that community and also inherently complement the diversity of the larger community.”
That is, the co-operative work system adds diversity to the array of campus housing options, and
each specific co-op, each community of people-who-know-each-other, functions as a support
group which has adapted over time and through co-operative interaction to the particular needs
of its members.

Phi Psi Co-op
“Fragmentation” was the word used by our interviewee from Phi Psi to describe the effect of the
closing of his co-op. Post-earthquake, “The members of the community don’t see each other
anymore.” Relocated off-campus, he says, “I don’t see anyone from the house (besides
drawmates from the house) except by coincidence, but it is really nice when I see them.” He
notes what may be seen by some as more serious impacts: “My grades went down, I drank more
alcohol than usual, and I had trouble sleeping, because I was . . . ill at ease.” He qualifies, saying,
“You can never attribute general problems to one cause, but not being part of a community
definitely was a factor.”

How has he adapted? “To try to keep the co-op atmosphere, I am an E.A. [eating associate] at Theta
Chi, but if you don’t live with the people, it is really hard to be a part of the community.” He noted
that “Some people can fit in anywhere, but some people thrive in specific situations. And not being a
member of a co-op really affected me academically and in my personal life. And it just disrupted
things.” The specificity of co-op living situations, that is, their character as unified support systems
which tailor themselves to fit the individual character of that community, is important to co-op
residents and can be easily destroyed by “fragmentation” of the community.

Synergy Co-op
One of our interviewees, a Synergy resident at the time of the earthquake, has relocated in Chi
Theta Chi, another campus student co-operative. He relates having “recaptured much of what
was lost,” adding, “that I have been accepted so warmly reinforces the ideals of a kind of
community we wish to create, and its significance.” “Hearing the stories of my fellow coopers
who miss that community brings me to lament for its scarcity.” Asked what in particular those
fellow co-opers might be experiencing, he characterizes it as “a sense of place and belongingness
that’s lacking.” He explained that being part of a community, he has an easier time
communicating because people know where he is coming from, and that he “has something to
look forward to” when he is “down.” Explaining further, he says, “In a co-op, there is centrality
and identity. The kitchen is the centrality; the food, the social patterns surrounding food. These
responsibilities give a locus of interaction, a sense of identity.”
Comparing the co-operative food plan and cleaning system to the corresponding systems in a
dorm setting, he noted that he felt the cooperative system to be “more natural — it’s the dorm
that’s nonconventional, that’s artificial. But I haven’t lived in a dorm in years.” Echoing similar
feelings, another displaced Synergy resident, now relocated in Terra, described her decision to
live in a student co-operative after two years living in a dormitory setting. Initially making this
decision, she recalls that she felt it “would be a good idea to work, clean in the house; more
responsible living compared to the pampering in the dorms, as well as the closeness between
people.” Even as a prospective co-oper, the connection between the co-operative work system
and “the closeness between people” were important to her.
She looked at several co-ops, and chose Synergy because she liked the house, thought it was
“pretty random,” [it is a rambling old house filled with brilliant murals on the inside] and was
situated in a “nice location.” The physical environment at Synergy, rare on campus, was an
important ingredient of house life.
Because Synergy wasn’t “hard-core ‘hippie,’” as she put it, she found it appealing at this initial
stage of investigation, whereas Columbae was initially “too intimidating.” She liked Synergy
because it was less political than Columbae but still promoted ideas concerning rape education
and resource conservation. Her statements reflect the University’s loss in sum-total diversity not
only due to the cumulative closure of three co-ops but also due to the (one hopes, temporary)
disappearance of these co-ops’ particular spirits, their historical character as distinct
Now relocated in a campus student co-op with a very different character and history, she
summarizes by saying that she is still in a community which does the cooking and cleaning for
itself (her original motivation for living in a co-op) but that now she realizes that what she liked
most about co-ops was living with those who shared your ideas and commitments —
commitments of putting those ideas into practice everyday. “Co-ops are thought of as places
where you cook and live and work together but the spirit is much more of a prevalent aspect of a
co-op.” Without the special combination of cooperative cooking, cleaning, and decision-making
systems and the ‘spirit,’ different for each co-op, that went with Synergy, Phi Psi, and Columbae,
the campus will be lacking an outlet for students who themselves share this kind of Synergy
spirit, Columbae spirit, or Phi Psi spirit.

The interviews here represent a portrait of former co-op residents’ attempt to cope with the
current crisis. The detailing and explanation that make up the interviews are representative of the
questions and evaluations that one thinks about once one has lost something. What exactly was
it? Why was it so important, and why do I feel this way about it? How did it work, that I might
reconstruct it, or find it again?
The former Columbae resident interviewed, now living in a dormitory setting, explains the
importance of the self-contained support ethos and personal friendship in a co-op. She stresses
that this support function fulfills the dual purpose for theme houses set out by Residential
Education, especially because each co-op has its own character. Our Phi Psi interviewee also
emphasizes the importance of the “specific situation” provided by the co-op setting that he lived
in, and explains the significance of the absence of community interaction by way of what may be
recognized by some readers as more “serious,” concrete crisis symptoms: decline in academic
performance, increase in alcohol consumption, sleeplessness.

    Co-ops are places where people work together and take responsibility for the
   mechanics of daily life — they live together in a very real sense, thinking about
     cooking and cleaning and making their house a home. — Classmember
Our two interviewees from Synergy (to keep gender balance in the interviews we made four
interviews for three co-op communities) struck a slightly different tone. Both relocated in co-ops
and fairly well re-adjusted, they focussed more on the operative aspects of co-ops as they have
them now. The interviewee relocated in Theta Chi lamented for the scarcity of communication
other residents not rehoused in co-ops undergo, linking the positive communication which
co-ops foster to the shared responsibility which characterizes the co-op work system.
Similarly, the other Synergy interviewee noted that this work system meant to her an alternative
to what she had experienced as “pampering in the dorms,” and the opportunity for “closeness
between people” in a residence. But relocated in a campus student co-op with a history and
character very different from Synergy, she explains the gap left by the absence of her old
community, its “specific situation,” in the words of our Phi Psi interviewee. In her words, a
significant part of the current crisis is the absence of the “spirit” unique to each co-op —
Synergy, Phi Psi, and Columbae — that, at least for the time being, prevails over all former
residents of these three communities.

The Structure of Decision Making
By Alan Hayne, Columbaen
This report is an evaluation of the decision-making process both after the Earthquake and in
general. It is primarily based upon five interviews, conducted with the following administrators:
   • Jack Chin, Assistant Director of the Row
   • Michael Jackson, Assistant Dean of Student Affairs
   • Jim Lyons, Dean of Student Affairs
   • Alice Supton, Director of Residential Education
   • Bob Hamrdla, Assistant to President Kennedy
The comments of these folks will be incorporated into an analysis of the basic issues that affect
our participation in the Stanford environment. Understanding the relationship between the
interests of the University and the interests of the co-op community seems to be vital both in
defining the relationship that we have with the University, and in planning for the future of our

Work Group and Task Force
After the earthquake, there were two groups functioning: the “workgroup”, which consisted of
Alice, Jack, Michael, Jim, Diana Conklin, Roger Whitney, and several other administrators with
whom we had little contact, and a second group formed later, the “Taskforce”, which consisted
of Michael Jackson, Jack Chin and one or more representatives of each displaced House.
Michael and Jack would listen to the comments of the students in the Taskforce, then take these
comments as suggestions to the Workgroup, where he would “attempt to present them in the
manner they had been presented.”

Democracy? and Power!
What was the interaction between these two groups? Clearly the Taskforce was an input device
and the Workgroup was a decision-making body. All of the members of the Workgroup felt that
they had adjusted to student input, by “allowing” students to live in dorms without buying a
board plan and in allowing groups of up to eight to draw together. Thus, there were changes
made due to student input. This is not democracy, however, which everyone I spoke with readily
conceded. Jack notes that “The University is not a corporation,” but as Jim puts it, there were
“choices that needed a fair amount of student input, but really weren’t up for vote.” Jack also
added that “administrators make decisions.”
If students weren’t making the decisions, who was? This is an issue that was very unclear during
the period of dislocation, and seems to be enigmatic to most of the people in the Stanford
community. Jack said that his “most memorable moment” in this experience was reading in the
Daily that Columbae would reopen. He explains that we are “working across divisions...
therefore it gets confusing — Can’t point at any one person.”
Upon learning that I was with the co-ops, Bob asked if I was part of “the blitz”. Apparently, our
letter writing to the President’s Office was one of the more substantial collections of fan and junk
mail that they have received in some time. He said, however, that it was perhaps somewhat
misdirected. “The decision whether there will or will not be co-ops is not made by the Board of
Trustees, and it is not made by the President.” Who is making decisions, Bob? “The Dean of
Student Affairs.”
He points to Dean Jim Lyons, who feels that he makes decisions by weighing the needs of the
different parties involved. His first impulse after the earthquake was to “set up structures,” such
as the phone network at Tresidder. Because this was a crisis, the first priority of most of the
administrators was health and safety, and therefore expediency. For this reason, democracy and
consensus were sacrificed for a need or perceived need to immediately rehouse students. Did this
sacrifice really act as a catalyst towards realizing the goal of “business as usual?”

Hierarchy and Consensus
Alice’s most memorable moments were “the two meetings,” which were the Friday (10/20)
meeting in Kresge and one of the meetings in Tresidder. In evaluating what works in
decision-making, she is without the benefit of the Thursday (10/19) meeting at Columbae, which
seems unfortunate. This gives a hint of the problems with communication that have occurred.
Our only existing model of what a meeting should be was the Thursday meeting on the lawn of
Columbae. Everyone appeared to have had the opportunity to speak their minds and to talk to
one another. The next day, at the Kresge meeting, a stage and an audience replaced a grassy
Our system of consensus is seen as a way of living that needs to be fitted into the hierarchy of the
University. This is “a reality,” as Michael put it explicitly. He “would give students a B” in their
manner of relating to administrators. All of the administrators interviewed saw the need for an
efficient administrative hierarchy during the period of displacement. It would have been nice if
this hierarchy had been planned before the earthquake.

Education and Economics
One competition that exists throughout the University, and throughout any organization for that
matter, is between educational quality and the availability of funding. This was one reason that
immediate answers were not available to our questions. We may ask why there was not someone
available who was able to make decisions about everything — in effect we were asking for a
consolidation of power. This desire was much due to the tremendous anxiety that we faced over
school, a fact which Alice and others recognized.
Bob spoke a great deal about the importance of “viability” when evaluating the worthiness of a
particular program. This means to him that a program, be it co-op, fraternity, or theme house,
“must have a plan about how it will contribute to the education of its members.” We have made
it clear how valuable our communities are to us, but need to continue to express to the University
as a whole the necessity of our retaining our communities.
There is an auxiliary budget, separate from the general budget of the University, that determines
the operation of housing. This budget has “very little forgiveness,” to use Jack’s words. The rent
from housing and from Summer conferences must cover the expenses of housing. Thus Jack says
that the need to fill houses is “totally market driven... well not totally... well, mostly.” Jim sees
the primary need as being the housing of students, though he admits that he does not have to deal
with the aspect of finances as much as others.

Community in the Co-ops, The Need to Fill, Autonomy, and Expansion
Those who live in the co-ops feel that they are different than other University communities. This
is certainly understood by the people with whom I spoke. Jack feels that co-ops have “much
greater commitments by individuals to communities” and “have different goals in mind.” Each
time Jim has visited a co-op, it was quickly apparent to him that “There is something special
about this place.” Everyone recognizes the difficulty that co-opers have “fitting into” the
hierarchy, though they seem to feel that, as Michael said, “everything has worked out in the
Jim and I spoke about the possibility of a long term contract between houses and the University,
which would ensure the continued existence of the co-ops. We would be able to have many of
the advantages of ownership, while Stanford could retain the ownership which it so obsessively
desires. One of the conditions of such a contract, and of the preservation of all of the programs is
the filling of the houses. We do not have a “Dean of Co-operative Affairs” who is hoping to have
70% of Stanford in co-ops (as is the case with fraternities) but it is apparent that co-ops would be
allowed to expand if demand developed.

       V. Recommendations and Alternatives
In this last section of our report we look forward: How can we ensure the survival and growth
of our co-op communities, especially those unhoused this year? What do we seek to improve in
the individual co-operatives and the links between them? How can we increase the use of
co-operative consensual decision-making within the university framework? What roles can the
coop community have within the Stanford community?
Our proposals are for both immediate and longer-term improvements. Each proposal includes
pros and cons, reflecting the range of opinions that were expressed in our discussions.
   • We communicate which structural changes we envision as desirable, while understanding
that the university is limited in the amount of money it can currently invest in the remodeling as
well as repairing of our houses.
  • We focus on some of the special issues which arise from the rehousing of Synergy and Phi
Psi in different locations.
  • We propose various organization-level improvements. Acting in unison would increase our
power and effectiveness...yet we must not undercut the diversity and self-determination we
currently have within the co-op world.
   • We examine various sites for the possibility of housing future Stanford co-operatives to
determine which options may be feasible.
  • We address the need for outreach and communication with those outside of the co-ops.

Recommendations of the Class
Repair of Buildings
Columbae’s Building
Recommended Changes to the Structure of Columbae
The following petition was submitted to administration officials with the aim of increasing
communication about the long and short term goals of our co-operative and how those relate to
our physical environment. While most changes reflect a desire for greater environmental
sustainability, others reflect a desire to promote a sense of community, open to all.
The reception was especially good when it was understood that the petition was not a set of
demands but of recommendations. Unfortunately there is little money available for the upgrading
of current Stanford housing, although the long-term goal of the housing office is to create equally
attractive housing for all by renovating current houses/dorms (Keith Guy). Hence, while there is
little hope for the immediate implantation of our recommendations, we believe that they can
serve as a preliminary plan for future changes to Columbae.
There were some positive outcomes. Thanks especially go to Jack Chin for following up on our
recommendation to return the rooms taken during the Roble housing crunch. Because of his
efforts, one of the two rooms will be returned for programmatic use. Further, both Ben Assaro
(project manager) and Keith Guy feel that if insulation can be put in with little additional cost, it
will be done.
For future reference, student volunteers were not as desirable as finding funding for our
recommendations because of the liability involved in having non-contracted workers.

Synergy and Phi Psi Structures
Repair of Synergy and Phi Psi
The University has decided to repair Synergy and Phi Psi. The reasons for this seem to be mainly
financial. It currently costs about $65,000/ student room to build a new row house, while a larger
dormitory costs about $55,000/student room to construct. Repairing Synergy and Phi Psi will
cost more like $25,000/student room. Also, if any FEMA support is obtained, it can only be
applied towards repair, and not towards the construction of new buildings. In repairing Synergy
and Phi Psi the University wishes only to bring the houses up to life-safety standards, and will
use University-contracted labor (probably current Row workers). The houses are expected to
reopen for the 1991 academic year, but this time frame is only an estimate; no project manager
has been assigned to either house, and no comprehensive structural damage reports have been

Historical Landmarks
The main way for a building to be registered as an historical building is to be on the National
Registry. This is a list of all the historic buildings in the nation. There might also be one for the
state. An example of a building that is on this registry is the Lou Henry Hoover House (now the
University President’s Residence). Getting on this registry takes a large amount of time, money,
and involves political lobbying. It also has very little power other than a mere recognition of the
fact that a particular building has historic value. The owner still retains power over the structure,
although any plans for exterior changes may require review. The only building that would be
worthy of this kind of recognition would be Phi Psi — about which very little is known.
The University itself, however, keeps records in the planning office of past campus evaluations
(see Appendices for documents). Buildings on campus are evaluated in terms of value to the
University, outside community, students, history, etc. A list of “untouchables” including the
Quad and Stanford Mausoleum was compiled, including evaluations of older campus buildings.
After the earthquake evaluations were made for some of the damaged buildings (including Phi
Psi, Synergy, Delta Tau Delta). The evaluations serve only to inform the decision-makers of the
value of the structures, and no recommendations were made either for or against their
preservation. Considering that only extremely valuable buildings such as the Quad are
considered “Untouchable” (even the enforcement power behind this term is unclear), it is not
likely that any of the co-ops could ever get this status.

Future Prospects/Recommendations
Project managers will be assigned to Synergy and Phi Psi sometime either near the end of next
quarter or summer (it will probably be Ben Assaro, who is project manager for most of the other
buildings). At this time students can approach him and suggest possible alterations/
modifications that could fit within the proposed budget. I have already compiled a list of
suggested changes for Synergy and Phi Psi — perhaps some of these can be implemented. Any
students taking CE176 (Small Scale Energy Systems) next quarter might want to work on a solar
water heater system for either house. In any case, active student involvement is needed for the
next year to monitor the repairs and work with the University.

Some Thoughts about Aesthetics and Student Housing
The closing of Synergy and Phi Psi as a result of the earthquake left many former residents
dismayed and confused. What was lost was more than just a house, but a very special home.
Both Synergy and Phi Psi are notably secluded and integrated with their natural surroundings,
and both houses represent an older style of architecture which cannot be built today. The fact that
many of the displaced students regret the loss of their quiet, beautiful homes brings up the
question of the importance of these qualities in student housing.
A natural setting is important to members of Synergy and Phi Psi. Both houses have large lawns
and are surrounded by trees. Synergy has fruit trees, a garden, compost bins, and chickens —
features not found in most other row houses — which contribute to a farm-like rural atmosphere
very much removed from the faster pace of activity closer to campus. Both Synergy and Phi Psi
are located on hills, and offer spectacular views of the foothills, campus, and the South Bay area.
Synergy house is quite noticeable from the foothills as a large red house with white windows
which complements its setting in the tall eucalyptus and pine trees. Three tall palm trees grow at
Synergy, and can be seen rising above the roof of the house. The large garden area and generally
secluded space allow residents the opportunity to engage in outdoor projects and enjoy the space
for recreation.
Having a natural setting has a soothing effect on residents. Just being able to watch the sunset
from one’s window or swing in a hammock at dusk for a short time can leave one feeling
refreshed and renewed. Synergites often ate dinner or lunch outside.
The houses themselves offer an affinity to residents also. Phi Psi is a special case of this, it being
a beautiful large house, but Synergy can also be included. Phi Psi is known for its large rooms
and fireplaces, and the house is constructed in a farmhouse-style architecture that many other
houses can match in shape, but not in scale. Synergy, with its white pillars, French doors, and red
shingled exterior is also a beautiful house. Living in an aesthetically pleasing situation begins to
foster a community just by the residents’ attachment to the location itself. The fact that one has
to walk through the common areas to get to one’s room lends a natural inclination to stop and
chat, or just hang out, an activity that builds community. Synergy and Phi Psi also have murals
painted by former residents, a feature that has helped intensify bonds to the houses. Sometimes
students would even paint their own murals, or even their own rooms, knowing that their
changes would last for others to enjoy in the future.
We find increasingly a trend in student housing toward compartmentalization, toward large
student dormitories, toward carefully landscaped gardens. Perhaps this was why students
preferred alternatives such as Synergy and Phi Psi — to escape the long dormitory halls or the
cookie-cutter rooms, or just to live in a place that seemed more like home, a place with a kitchen,
a living room, a yard.

Phi Psi Structural Improvements
  • Convert the 2nd floor bathroom to be co-ed (it is currently quite small when divided in two).
  • More lighting in biggest common room on first floor.
  • Fireproof the attic so that it can be used for house activities.
Valuable Aspects of Phi Psi:
  • Please save murals wherever possible.
  • Please save the pool table if possible (it is a very valuable antique).
  • The wood floors/walls are important to Phi Psi.
  • Chimneys/Fireplaces are very important to Phi Psi.

Synergy Structural Improvements
  • Convert the 2nd floor bathroom to be co-ed (it is currently quite small when divided in two).
  • Install TIP or Ethernet wiring in any rebuilt walls.
  • A sundeck on the roof would be nice.
Valuable Aspects of Synergy:
  • Please save murals wherever possible.
  • Please save the chicken coop if possible.
  • The wood floors/walls are important to Synergy.

Changes in Co-op Programs This Year
Synergy and Phi Psi Transition
Phi Psi Transition
At a dinner with Chip Bartlett, RA at the AD house (soon to become Phi Psi), the only structural
recommendation we came up with was a need for increased cutting board space. A wood table
might remedy this situation. Also, burners are needed on the stovetop.
Chip and I discussed setting up a meeting at the beginning of Spring Quarter at the AD house for
anyone who is interested in the house next year. Exempt spots, house positions, and house
government will be topics of conversation.
I talked with Lara Rosenthal, who was food manager at Phi Psi before the earthquake. She
strongly recommended Cal-Fresh Produce as a supplier of produce. For house and bathroom
supplies, they used Faunders. For dairy products, they used the Creamery. For dry goods, they
used Rykoff, although they were considering switching to an organic food supplier.

Synergy Transition
For a smooth transition into “Synergy at the Groves,” I recommend the following steps, in no
specific order (in a weak attempt to avoid hierarchy). This is by no means a comprehensive list
— I am sure other items will arise as the time draws nearer and we dwell on this some more. But
for now:
   1. Obtain ASSU displaced household funds for spending on transitional purposes (i.e. kitchen
items, paints for murals, retreat/advance).
   2. Figure out how many Synergites are returning, sort out exempt spots and some managerial
positions. I suggest one of the exempt spots be allocated to a “transitional manager”, who will be
responsible for many of these items.
  3. Locate possible storage spaces for incoming Synergites.
  4. Assess the kitchen in every way, shape, and form. Find out how much of the University
food service equipment remains, how much we have to gather, etc.
  5. Locate all of the dispersed Synergy stuff among the offshoot houses.
  6. Print ample copies of Living In Syn for incoming residents.
  7. Write up a one sheet consensus description.
   8. Draw up a “blueprint” of the rooms in both houses and propose various organizational
strategies (i.e. communal living options, doubles, singles, octuples, etc.)
  9. Co-edify the bathrooms.
  10. Set up the Alternative Periodicals Rack and Synergy Library in Lasuen’s back room.
   11. Make sure the transitional manager and at least one other person arrive at least one week
prior to Autumn Quarter in order to set up various accounts (dry goods, dairy, produce, phone),
set up the kitchen, start the garden, order the chickens, visit the bees, establish an opium den,
bake bread, change the world.
   12. Have a weekend advance with all residents (maybe at Point Reyes?) the weekend before
classes commence or the first weekend of the quarter. Perhaps this can be organized by the RAs.
  13. Dream up all sorts of co-operative/ communicative exercises for the first house meeting.

Outreach to the Stanford Community & Priorities Until the End of the Year
We believe that the problem of filling the co-ops in the past has been largely due to lack of
information or misinformation about the co-ops. We feel that a strong outreach effort would help
more students see co-ops as an attractive living situation. We would like to muster a united co-op
outreach program this spring, in order to show students the diversity that actually exists among
the co-ops. We would especially like to concentrate on making the currently unhoused co-ops
(Columbae, Phi Psi, and Synergy) more visible, providing them with extra support to compensate
for their lack of operational facilities.

Our fist task was to prepare the list of priorities for the closed co-ops to be placed in the 1990
draw book. The following list was submitted to Jack Chin late in February.

Proposed Special Priorities for Columbae, Phi Psi, Synergy 1990
2nd Priority: Students who:
  A. Attend a community discussion/informational meeting (dates to be announced.)
  B. Participate in a house related job or project (to be explained at the meetings)
   OR do a house job (cook crew/ dish crew) at one of the open co-ops
  C. Sign a house agreement for Columbae, Phi Psi or Synergy
3rd Priority: Students who attend a discussion/ informational meeting and sign a house
If you have questions or are unable to attend one of the meetings, please call:
Columbae: Raquel Stote 328-1954, Sally Otto or Matt Price, 321-5135.
Phi Psi: Bruce Wooster 328-1040, Chip Bartlett 328-7118
Synergy: Eric Rose or Eric Schwitzgebel 494-9058, Maggie Harrison 856-8568

Our next undertaking will be to plan the meetings, write up the house contracts, and design
priority-obtaining activities. Dates for the meetings haven’t been set yet, but will probably be
assigned by the Housing Center from their calendar of open houses. We envision at least three
meetings, at which people from Synergy, Columbae, and Phi Psi will make presentations, answer
questions and explain the special house jobs. Prospective residents will be able to sign the house
agreements at these meetings. Contact people for each house will also have agreements that
prospectives can sign on an individual basis. Ideas for special jobs have included “Columbae-
Phi Psi-Synergy Nights” at open co-ops, massive bread-baking sessions at Elliot Program Center,
Bechtel, or open co-ops, watering trees in the foothills, decorating the fences around the closed
co-ops, or helping in a house job at an off-campus co-op. We will probably host the meetings in
a classroom, Tresidder or on the Columbae lawn.
  Turning to united co-op outreach, at the February 28th meeting we formulated and
commenced several plans of action.
  1. Study breaks and dorm outreach meeting.
Representatives from each co-op will visit dorms and talk about the different co-ops. They will
either do the presentation at dinner or other specified times, or guest host dorm study breaks at
house meetings, providing food representative of each co-op. The presentation could either be
made to a cluster of dorms or to individual dorms.
  2. Tabling in White Plaza, and contacting people from the petitions.
In the weeks before the Draw, a co-op table will be set up in White Plaza, with food and
information about the co-ops. Students may be able to sign house agreements at this time.
During December and January signatures were collected to gather support for the re-opening of
Phi Psi, Synergy, and Columbae. Signers were asked to mark whether or not they would put a
co-op on their draw card in the future. Members of this task group will contact those people, to
see if they are still interested.
  3. Co-op booklet.
1989, the Inter Co-op Council, produced an informative brochure entitled Co-operative Living at
Stanford. This group will update the brochure and distribute it to people on the petition, to all
dorms containing frosh, and to other potentially interested folks.
  4. Co-op week — a.k.a. “Seven Days of Co-operation.”
During this week representatives from all the coops will be doing all sorts of fun,
attention-getting stuff in White Plaza during the lunch hour. Suggested activities include making
food, playing games, musical performers (we might be able to get one of the old Phi Psi house
bands to come play); basically making ourselves visible as fun, happy people. There was a
suggestion that one day be devoted to each co-op, but that idea has been put on the back-burner
for fear that a potential Terran might be turned off by “Hammarskjöld Day.”

The Co-op Union
We Recommend the Formation of a Coop Union
The Union would be structured of 1-2 representatives from each member house. Membership
would be voluntary for each house, renewable at the beginning of every academic year (in
September). The Co-op Union would not take away the autonomy of individual houses, but
would foster co-operation and community between those houses. This would not be a governing
board setting rules for individual coops, rather it would be a place to discuss issues that will
affect all co-ops, and a place to support the efforts of individual co-ops. Each house must
maintain their autonomy in making decisions on issues that affect only their own house.
A strong and active co-op community is our best outreach tool. A co-op union would be a good
way to get this out. Instead of one house sponsoring or hosting an event, the Co-op Union could
host an event. Frosh often don’t know that a particular house is a co-op. The Union would
provide the community with a higher profile and better publicity.

The functions of the Co-op Union could be as follows. There are many possible directions that it
could go, but we feel that in order to build a strong and diverse community, the following
functions are necessary. The examples listed with each function are merely to illuminate some of
the ways in which the Co-op Union could act in a given area. They are not recommendations for
future agenda items. All examples come from discussions with other co-opers, imagining how a
Co-op Union might work.
• Liaison between the Larger Co-op Community and the University and Row Administration. In
the union tradition, we support collective bargaining as the way to gain more power and
legitimacy. In the same way that a letter signed by 18 black students carries less weight than a
letter signed by those same 18 as the BSU; so would a letter or proposal signed by the Co-op
Union carry more weight than one signed by 5 or six co-ops. In this role, the Union could
support and lobby for a need of the entire community (graduates student spots, more program
funding, hot tubs for every house..), or it could speak in support of a proposal from one particular
house (“The Co-op Union supports Columbae’s proposal to have an RA collective instead of an
RA.”) This group could also lobby the Row office to keep more co-ops open in the summer since
Theta Chi is always oversubscribed.
• Organize Free and Accessible Co-operative Education and Skills Sharing Programs based in
the co-ops, primarily to meet expressed needs and desires of co-op members, but open to the
whole campus community. Examples of programs: Reading/Discussion groups on Co-operation,
Women’s and Men’s issues; workshops led by co-opers on breadmaking, crafts, car repair,
gardening, aerobics, bicycle repair, and any other skill that we can share. There is nowhere in the
University where you can learn any of these and other useful skills. In the Co-ops, we have a vast
wealth of knowledge; we should share this with each other and non-coopers.
• Sponsor Co-op-Related Programming: Speakers, arts, music, dance, political events, public
service events, barbecues, parties, etc. The Coop Union could plan joint events between the
Co-op community and other non-co-op housing groups throughout the year which would
strengthen our position in the housing draw. In addition, the Union could be a tool for
strengthening the multicultural programs and appeal of the co-ops. As a Voluntary Student
Organization (VSO), there is a great deal of funding that we can solicit in order to sponsor larger
events, or more frequent events, or a series of events.
• Coordinate Outreach for the Draw: In addition to all of the work throughout the year, at Draw
time, the Union could organize the necessary all-co-op outreach and publicity, perhaps with a
better eye to the diversity between the co-ops than we have had in the past. The Union could be
the mechanism through which we present all of the co-ops and their differences, with each house
still responsible for their own outreach as well. We are each distinct communities, but we do
have some things in common in how we live.

Some Additional Discussion on Function
There are many other possible functions that have been mentioned during the course of this
process: Establishing an emergency fund; providing financial support for the projects of the
entire community, or individual houses; establishing relations with other co-ops in the area and
working with them on programs, or events; establishing an office and part-time staffperson;
leasing or buying additional houses. We do not feel that it is wise to recommend that the Co-op
Union take on any of these functions in its initial charter. Many of these, while perhaps good
ideas, seem to be functions that the Co-op Union should consider adding at a later date. At this
point, there is very little long-range planning ability among the members of the campus co-ops
and in order for any of these functions to be maintained, the co-op union must be functioning
strongly on its own feet first. There needs to be a strong and empowered vision of the present
and imagination about what is possible to do tomorrow before one can dream about what might
be possible 2 or 5 or 10 years from now...

We Recommend that the Union be Funded, but as yet there is no general consensus on where
that money should come from, or, in fact, how much is necessary. One suggestion is that each
house pay a flat membership fee each year, but the individual houses get to determine from
whence that money should come. Another suggestion is that as each house joins the Union, that
each house member pay a small fee for the year to help fund the activities (perhaps
$10.00/year?). Half of this money could be spent on the current year and half on the following
year. This little altruistic twist is to insure the continuity of the Union; it is a commitment on the
part of the members to the future existence of the Union. After the first year, however, current
members would be spending the money of the members from the prior year and giving money to
the following year...Clever? We think so. There are also ASSU and Program Board funding that
might be available. Below are listed possible ways to spend some of this money.

                                     Ideas for Projects
                                  (of the Hella-cool Hypothetical)

                                   Co-operative Union
The FALL —
  Workshop on “Approaching Co-operation?”
  All-co-op weekend semi-educational retreat
  Evening festivity (lunar event?)
  Student-led Skills Sharing—expenses,                        materials
  Printing up Co-op Handbooks for the Draw
  Co-operative Education Program
  Student-led Skills Sharing
The Lovely SPRING (Since we all know that more happens in the Spring):
  Outreach program to dorms (materials, food?)
  Other outreach stuff: flyers, White Plaza                   Happenings. . .
  Chat with Administrators
  Student-led Skills Sharing
  All-co-op hedonistic retreat
  Forum discussion: Marginality and                           Counterculture?
  Refund or Savings (purchase of a solar                      Winnebago?)
The general idea is to sponsor one program, one fun activity, and one skills sharing each quarter
initially, adding outreach in the Spring. Or less if that seems too ambitious.

Some Additional Questions, Objections, and Possible Solutions
Some additional discussion seems to be called for to respond to some of the most common
problems raised.
Q. Is this just a new name for the Co-op Council?
The Co-op Union springs from the same needs that the Co-op council has attempted to meet,
however, it is significantly different in structure, agenda and commitment. It should be looked on
as a new organization. One notable difference is that it will have some independent funding. It is
also an organization that each house will have to make a conscious decision to join and
membership carries with it obligations — one or two representatives and a possible monetary
contribution. The Co-op Union is also designed to fill a specific role in the community and as
such has a very clear agenda. Much of the criticism of the Co-op Council seems to stem from the
problem that it was a group without an agenda. It primarily surfaced in times of crisis or around
outreach time. It is hard to get people active and excited about a group which they see as serving
little real purpose. We have attempted to develop a recommendation for a group with a specific
set of functions to meet what we see as needs of the co-op community.
Q. If we had such a hard time getting people to be interested in the Co-op Council, what will
make this any different?
The house representative to the Union could be compensated for their activity in behalf of the
house and community by treating it as a house job, or even as a managerial position. It is perhaps
advisable that this position rotate every quarter, but this decision is up to the individual houses to
Q. Will this detract from the vitality of the individual houses and the commitment of members to
their own individual communities?
Although once a house joins, every student in the house is a member, the Co-op Union should
not really place any additional burden of commitment on anyone other than the house’s
representatives. The commitment of the representatives should not draw them away from the
house, and could even draw them deeper into the house community. The time commitment of the
Co-op Union representatives shouldn’t be any more involving than SCAAN, the Women’s
Center, the Mendicants, or the crew team.

Ethnic and Cultural Diversity
Summary of Recommendations
In order to encourage ethnic diversity in the co-ops, we have broadly outlined three areas that
merit our attention and action. Firstly, in Spring 1990 we should launch an educational and
informational campaign about co-operative living at Stanford directed towards the ethnic
communities. Secondly, when we are rehoused we should make a creative and concerted effort to
raise issues of multiculturalism and interact more with the ethnic communities. Thirdly, we
should consider the possibility of adopting an affirmative action policy which gives priority to
students of color in the draw.

   A co-op is a place where people live together and learn to accept and appreciate
                              differences among them.
                                  — Classmember

Lack of ethnic diversity and multiculturalism has been a problem in many of the co-ops,
particularly Synergy, Phi Psi, and Columbae. Heterogeneity, cultural diversity, and the
celebration of difference are concepts theoretically aligned with and essential for the true
manifestation of our co-operative ideals. This inconsistency between our ideal and our actual
constituency points to an aspect of our program that merits considerable analysis and revision.
What is it about co-operative living at Stanford (although this problem is not limited to our
campus co-operatives) that is at most alienating and at least unattractive to ethnic students?
Although the theoretical ideals of co-operation are far from exclusionary, the co-ops are
historically rooted in the white male “back to the land” movements of the sixties. Ethnic
communities are instrumental in advocating and enacting change in many facets of progressive
politics, but the co-operative movement has remained primarily Anglo. Granted, co-ops are not
popular living options for the majority of Stanford students. This fact undoubtedly contributes to
the reluctance of many students of color to voluntarily separate themselves further from the rest
of the University by choosing to live co-operatively. We recognize also that many students of
color who are interested in co-operation are, understandably, drawn to their own ethnic
communities. Still, these realities do not alleviate the necessity for examination of and action to
overcome our own homogeneity.
A. Outreach in the spring of 1990 offers an ideal forum for members of co-op communities
concerned with our lack of ethnic diversity to address students of color and heighten awareness
about the benefits of co-operative living and the variety of ways it is manifested at Stanford. We
have already begun by posting literature at the ethnic theme houses which explained our concern
about the lack of multiculturalism at co-ops, hypothesized about its causation, and asked for
suggestions and creative solutions to the problem. The flyers were followed up with informal
dinner discussions on these issues. Future plans for outreach should include specifically targeting
the four ethnic theme houses with flyers about co-operative living.
In addition, we have paved the ground at each of these communities for their hosting Spring
informational programs about the co-ops. These programs could be panel discussions with
representatives from several different co-ops who have varying perceptions of co-operation.
Ideally, co-opers of color would be participants in the panel. Along with scheduling the programs
at Lathrop, Okada, Ujamaa, and Zapata, we could do programs or at least make announcements
at AASA, BSU, MEChA, and SAIO meetings. The co-ops should also sponsor late night study
breaks with fresh bread, home-made beer, and enthusiastic co-opers at each of the dorms. The
need for outreach programming is urgent, given our lack of houses as bases for our activities.
Lastly, other Spring outreach activities could include formal gatherings between co-op and
ethnic communities which would provide opportunities for communication. This could be
manifested through inter-community parties with music from various cultures or
community-wide service projects with sponsorship by and participation from both the co-ops and
the ethnic communities (such as the AIDS Education Project or the student support for the Webb
Expanding the theme of ethnic diversity into a broader theme of general diversity and celebration
of difference, we should do similar outreach programs in other “different” communities which
have traditionally been better-represented in the co-ops. This would include informational
programs or study breaks at the Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Community Center, Hillel, and
meetings of the newly-formed support group for students in financial distress.
We need to communicate with the ethnic communities on campus about co-operation, the
diversity of meanings it has for us, and the variety of ways it is enacted in our houses. Diversity
and celebration of differences are essential for co-operative living: we must strive to reach a
mutual understanding with ethnic communities of our common and divergent goals.
B. Along with generating awareness in ethnic communities about co-operative living and the
options available at Stanford, it is essential that we, as co-op residents, question our own roles in
making our communities culturally sensitive and conducive to ethnic diversity. One obvious
forum for change is the increased discussion of racism and multiculturalism within our houses.
This can be encouraged from a variety of routes: sponsoring workshops in the houses such as
“Unlearning Racism,” inviting Ethnic Studies professors and students to dinner for informal
discussions on specific related topics, working in coalition, as the co-op council, with ethnic
student groups on campus, celebrating diversity by bringing ethnic musicians to our houses for
parties, and generating discussion and analysis of these issues by writing in the house journals,
painting murals, or even putting scratch pads for ideas on the bathroom walls. Next year, when
we are at last rehoused, we must follow-up the spring outreach programs at Lathrop, Okada,
Ujamaa, and Zapata with specific programs or celebrations organized collaboratively with these
houses. For example, Phi Psi could sponsor a Kuumba dance performance or Columbae could
co-sponsor or participate in the annual Chicano “Celebration of Resistance.”
C. Along with initiating changes within our co-ops, we could adopt a policy which gives priority
to underrepresented groups in the draw, therefore guaranteeing that any minority student who
chooses to live in a co-op is able to. Although this policy may arouse considerable controversy, it
is a clear statement of our priorities and the importance we deem to multiculturalism in our
communities. In informal discussions with co-op residents and members of Stanford’s ethnic
communities, we have heard both encouraging and skeptical opinions about the viability and
desirability of this route to enacting change. Next year, after the implementation of the suggested
solutions outlined above, this issue should be re-evaluated. A concerted and true effort to change
our communities by making them more conducive to multiculturalism and celebratory of
difference is a pre-requisite to the adoption of this policy.

Options for the Future
Co-op Office
Establish a co-op office that would provide infrastructure and perhaps staff for various co-op
There are several different possible models for a co-op office. One is that of the community
centers, in which staff paid by the University operate in space that is supplied with office
equipment, phones, etc. Another is an independent space operated in one of the existing co-ops,
with equipment obtained by donations, etc. A third is a separate subunit of residential education,
as there is now the Row Office. A primary concern is that any staff would be selected either
directly by co-op residents, or with substantial student input.

Currently, the only support the co-ops receive from the University is that common to all row
houses. Diana Conklin and Jack Chin of Residential Education have responsibility for the co-ops
as part of their larger responsibility to the row, but their role is typically limited to benign neglect
or to representing the interests of the University when there is conflict. They do at times serve as
advocates for the co-ops within the larger Residential Affairs and University systems, but only
out of the basis of personal commitment, not any structural relationship to the co-ops.

  A co-op is a house and it’s inhabited by people. They co-operate. They want to be
          there. A coop is anything people want it to be. —Classmember
In terms of facilities, there is also little support for the co-ops. Such basic office equipment as
computers, copiers and phones could be as useful to the co-op community as they are to the other
University community centers.

• Any level of staffing could provide support to co-op programming.
• The staff position is flexible — it could be part-time students, as at the LGBCC (Lesbian, Gay,
  and Bisexual Community Center), a half-time co-ordinator as at the Women’s Center, a part-
  or full-time dean as at the other community centers, an official such as the Fraternity Affairs
  adviser, or a Residential Affairs person.
• A professional level person could provide invaluable liaison and advocacy within the Un• An
  office could provide a central location for resources such as books, periodicals, etc.
• Volunteers working in an office would increase our sense of inter-co-op community
• There is precedent in the Women’s Center, the LGBCC, and the Chicano Community for
  students having an input in selecting staff.

• Any such proposal would cost money. The University has little these days. The co-ops have till
  now never chosen to spend substantial amounts on centralized activities/facilities.
• The largest gains (the added clout from professional-level staff) have the largest costs.
• There is some conflict between co-operative egalitarianism and the power vested in staff of any
• There is not a lot of space in the University.
• The University administration acts like it really doesn’t like more than token student input in
  decision making.

Any proposal that includes staff will cost money. One possible hook is replacing some of the
responsibilities that existing Res Ed personnel have for the co-ops. Another is outside
fundraising — would the co-op alum network support a staff position? The houses themselves
could contribute a substantial amount, perhaps as “matching funds” to a University contribution.
It should also be noted that the University does provide funds to other communities in the form
of free room and board to RFs, a full-time fraternal affairs adviser, etc. Leland Stanford’s
commitment to co-operation also provides leverage for arguing for such a position, as well as for
democratic selection of any persons hired.

This proposal needs to be raised in Residential Education and in the broader Student Affairs
bureaucracy early on. Inasmuch as the University is cutting its budget in the current period, it is
not likely to commit any significant funds in the near future. However, as with all demands for
University support for the various community centers, it takes time for the University to see
things as priorities, and the earlier we start making the case, the sooner we can hope to see our
goals (or some of them) accomplished.
In the interim, the houses could do things themselves to create a de facto office — set aside some
space in one of the houses for inter-co-op resources, contribute to the hiring of a student staff
person on a part-time or trial basis, etc. With one of the houses living over the Row Office next
year, some of the facilities questions may be amenable to compromise (can we use their office
equipment? In the evenings?).
More generally, however, this whole idea depends on there being a consensus evolved that
having any kind of inter-co-op infrastructure is a good idea. Supporters of co-op unity and
expansion need to communicate their vision and a sense of its viability to the broader co-op (and
non-co-op) community. The advantage of this proposal is that it could be self-reinforcing; it
would bring resources to the efforts to create a stronger and more visible community.

Co-op Contract with the University
That a contract be established between co-op residents and the University clarifying the
responsibilities of each party.
Such a contract could cover any number of issues, from responsibility for maintenance and
cleanliness, to a lease on one or more of the houses. The basic goal is to clarify the obligations
and responsibilities of both the co-op residents and the University, to eliminate distrust and
hostility caused by ambiguity about expectations. Establishing honesty about expectations,
mutual accountability, and clear channels for grievances could bring a major benefit to all
Such a contract could be negotiated by either residents of a single house, or by the Co-op
Council or Union on behalf of as many of the houses as wished to participate. Among the issues
which are likely candidates for inclusion are:
• Maintenance and cleanliness. What are mutually acceptable standards? What maintenance is
  the University’s responsibility, what is the co-ops responsibility?
• Respect for co-op initiated improvements. Guaranteeing the preservation of murals, gardens,
• Expectations for the draw. How many unfilled slots in how many consecutive years can the
  co-ops have before they face termination?
• Leasing. Could one or more of the co-ops lease their houses from the University, increasing
  their autonomy, taking responsibility for utilities, certain maintenance, etc.?
• Other unofficial practices. The University has long turned its back on widespread co-op
  practices which bend standard University housing policy.

Ambiguity about responsibilities and expectations has long been a source of tension between the
co-ops and the University. Issues such as the preservation of murals and gardens have been
frequent points of contention. Unfilled spaces in the Draw have repeatedly led the University to
threaten to close one or more of the co-ops, and have drawn co-op residents into extensive and
distracting battles to preserve their existence. Conflicts over standards of cleanliness have in
recent years led to the University’s imposition of its own cleaning service on Synergy.
The establishment of a contract or contracts between the University and the co-ops would make
mutual obligations clear, would limit arguments about what is or is not appropriate and make it
possible when necessary to spend more energy on solutions. Jim Lyons, Dean of Student Affairs,
has said that there is no reason in principle that such a contract could not be established,
including the possibility of one or more of the houses being leased from the University.

• Increase honesty and trust between co-ops and University.
• Clarify and protect rights of co-op residents.
• Increase sense of collective responsibility among co-op residents.
• Establish clear process for grievances and conflict resolution.
• Reduce time and energy spent defending co-ops.

• Ambiguity of responsibility on behalf of co-ops: who signs each year? Who is accountable?
• Elimination of flexibility: if contract says “X open spots in Y years and you’re closed,” you
lose your space to argue
• Some practices that are currently ignored might be explicitly prohibited in establishment of

Possible solutions
There is no simple answer to “who signs for the co-ops?” Especially since not all co-ops may
wish to participate in such a contract, or might have different needs, they might have to be done
on a house-by-house basis. Ideally each house would renegotiate/ratify its contract in the fall,
when all new residents are present.
The question of loss of flexibility is going to remain, as it is the main trade-off for eliminating
the ambiguity of expectations. The contract would simply have to be such that co-op residents
understood and took responsibility for maintaining their commitments, and felt comfortable that
expectations and sanctions for their violations were reasonable.
The final issue about currently ignored practices is also difficult to solve in advance. There is in
fact no way to predict what issues the University might find objectionable if they were raised
explicitly. This would require extensive discussion among co-op residents in advance of any

This spring would be a good time to establish this process, as the interim situations established
for the 1991-92 school year provide greater ambiguity than usual in expectations. Immediate
discussions with Residential Affairs staff and those who will be living in the co-ops next year
could address such issues as responsibilities for cleanliness and expectations for the draw. This
would provide a useful precedent for further elaborations of such contracts.
The long term issues such as inter-co-op responsibilities in such contracts, and the possible
leasing of houses, are properly discussed at either a co-op council meeting or by the individual
houses at such time as they deem appropriate.

Resident Fellows
That one or more of the co-ops establish a Resident Fellow or similar non-student position, such
as “visiting scholar/activist.”
A Resident Fellow (as currently defined by the University) could live in any of the existing
co-ops, if s/he were willing to live in a regular room and participate fully in the process of the
house, and forego some of the kinds of authority that RFs typically exercise. Alternatively, an
equivalent position of “visiting scholar/activist” could bring many of the same advantages,
primarily bringing the kind of resources typical of older persons, without having to fit the
existing RF definition so precisely.
Such a person could serve both for a single house, or alternatively for more than one, or all, of
the co-ops. They would serve as educational, programming and counseling resources to the
individual house and/or the co-op community. They would be expected to have an expertise in
some area relevant to the co-ops or to the theme of a particular house, and a commitment to

RFs are currently chosen from University faculty or “senior administrative staff.” They live in
cottages attached to University residences, and receive free room and board. They are expected
to select the RAs for their residence, to foster programming of various kinds, particularly related
to their own field and interests; to serve as academic and personal advisors, and promote
pluralism within the residences. They are expected to serve for two years, with possible
reappointment. They are selected each spring by the Associate Dean of Student Affairs and the
Dean of Undergraduate Studies, on the basis of recommendations from a selection committee.

     Co-op: A house of ‘co-operative’ living, where people ‘co-operate’ with one
    another to achieve the common goals of the house, dividing the larger chores,
    almost impossible or at least rather difficult for a single person to do, amongst
   all the residents to allow everyone to contribute towards providing food, shelter,
                    entertainment and education. — Classmember
Currently, Diane Conklin, Dean of the Row, serves as RF equivalent for the Row, inasmuch as
she selects RAs and receives student transcripts, and is the first recourse for serious crises.

• Bring substantial resources and continuity to the co-ops.
• Provide an additional liaison to the University on issues of concern to the co-ops.

• Difficulty of finding persons willing to live/participate in co-ops.
• Creating non-hierarchical role for a traditionally hierarchical position.
• Getting University to expand definition of eligible RFs, or to embrace a new program for
non-students living in student residences.
• Cost to the University of losing housing spaces.
• University expects to select RF independent of house concerns.

The issues are different depending on how close we choose to conform to the existing model. If
we want a more-or-less traditional RF, the hierarchy issues will have to be addressed, as well as
those of finding candidates. One option is simply to make the program contingent on finding
acceptable candidates. Then the University also faces the question of costs; in the current
climate, one student-year of room and board is not trivial. We would have to argue that the same
benefits that other houses get from RFs, which are not disputed by the University (on the
contrary, they are highly acclaimed as successes of the Res Ed system) would apply in co-ops as
If we chose a more radical model, where the “RF” didn’t have to be faculty or “senior” staff, we
have the option of having the person pay their way as well as participate fully; we would also
possibly have a larger pool of candidates. We would have to sell the program on the basis of the
same benefits that RFs bring. In either case, arguing for residents’ input into the selection
process would require specifying the unique nature of the co-op communities, although the
selection process for the Chicano Dean has established a very helpful precedent.

Future/Implementation Process
Implementation for the 1991-92 school year is probably impossible at this point; conversations
with the relevant persons (Jack Chin, Diane Conklin, Alice Supton, Norm Robinson) could begin
this spring, with an eye to feeling out the University’s concerns and possible support. A
consensus would have to be developed next year as to which of the various models to strive for,
and for which houses. An individual house could pursue this process on its own, or the co-op
union could negotiate for the whole co-op community.

A Separate Co-op Housing Draw
That the co-ops have a separate housing draw.
The concept of a separate housing draw for the co-ops at Stanford has been considered. The idea
was talked about once in class and was further discussed at one of our task group’s Coffee House
meetings. It has not been made clear, as of yet, that this is the direction in which the Co-op
Community should be going. Further, it has not been a priority of our group so it is probably
unlikely that we have considered all of the details that such a choice might entail. There are
clearly a number of questions that we must ask of ourselves:
A. Would a Co-op draw contribute to creating a better, more ideal community, or would it work
against the non-exclusionary values of co-operation?
B. Would there be a demand for such a draw?
C. What would be the format of the draw?
D. How is this issue connected with other issues of housing, such as priorities and exempt spots?
In response to question A, the majority of our class saw the concept of a draw as being
segregational, which is not at all the desired effect. However, confusion has abounded in our
discussions more than clarity. Would a draw allow us to have a community of “neat co-operative
people?” Do we want to try to make the decision about who should live in our houses?
Though there is some danger of elitism that is threatening, making choices possibly ensure a
more co-operative and therefore better functioning community. Would enough people want to
live in such a system? Many of the most active residents of the houses in the past have been
people who chose another University house above co-op’s. Would the elimination of 006’s
(those who select “any University housing” as an option in the campuswide housing draw) be
worth the sacrifice of self-selection?
How would such a draw be structured? Hammarskjöld’s draw selects from students who have an
interest in international relations. Would it be appropriate for Columbae, in similar fashion, to
ask “who is the most nonviolent?” Should the Co-op Draw be prior to the University Draw and
allow only those with a commitment to cooperative housing?
Another possibility would be to simply assign a higher priority to people who put co-op’s as their
first choices in the draw. This would ensure self-selection and would allow more people who
want very much to live in co-ops to do so. A possible drawback would be that there would not be
as many random surprises.
This issue, as the above discussion portrays, now raises considerably more questions than
answers. It has been viewed by our group with considerable skepticism, but it might in fact some
day be an idea worth addressing again.

Future Coop Buildings
Faculty Houses and Stanford Land
If the co-ops at Stanford wanted to expand could they obtain more old fraternity houses on the
Row, rent faculty houses, or lease land from the University and build new houses? What is
possible? We asked these questions of Charlotte Strem of the Stanford Planning Department,
Larry Horton, formerly Director of Residential Education, and Norm Robinson, current Director
of Res Ed.

Locating New Student Housing on Stanford Lands — What’s Physically Possible?
Stanford’s land holdings extend from Arastradero Road to Sand Hill Road, and from El Camino
Real to out past Interstate 280, excluding College Terrace (the residential neighborhood between
Page Mill Road and Stanford Avenue). There are thousands of acres of land, some leased to
ranchers and farmers, some dotted with telescopes and radio receivers, some with research
companies, some leased to commercial business for income, and some sporting faculty housing
[see map].
The Land Use Plan for the University allocates the land to these different uses, trying to keep
similar functions together. But the plan is flexible and can be changed if necessary. In particular,
land can always be switched over to academic use (including, presumably, “residential
education”) since education is the highest goal of the University.
Land near SLAC, the Research Park, or the Shopping Center are probably not desirable for
student housing, but most of the other land would be acceptable. For example, a house like
Synergy, with an emphasis on living in tune with the natural environment might fit well in some
of the more rural ranch lands (Piers Ranch, Webb Ranch, Guernsey Field, Stanford North and
South). A traditional house might fit well on land near existing faculty housing on Junipero Serra
Boulevard or near other houses on Alpine Road, Sand Hill Road, or Arastradero Road. But land
close to the academic central campus or in the faculty ghetto area is probably most appropriate
and most convenient for students. The Planning Office has tried to concentrate student housing
within the circle defined by Campus Drive to minimize traffic and safety dangers and to make it
easier to administer. But, like Hopkins Marine Station and overseas campuses, unusual situations
could probably be accommodated.

Central Campus
There are two parcels of land where new houses might be built: (1) in the faculty area across the
street from Governor’s Corner — the faculty houses will eventually be converted into academic
program houses (like Owen House, etc.) and (2) the land on Campus Drive behind the Knoll and
between the Alpha Delt House and the fraternity cluster — this space is too small for a dorm, but
about the right size for three row houses.
The reason they have not yet built on the land behind the Knoll is that row houses are
considerably more expensive per student to build than dorms, so it would seem the possibility
would be closed until Kymball is fully built. After Kymball is fully built, however, the
University expects to be able to guarantee four years of undergraduate housing. If this is the case,
then the University will not feel pressure to build new houses and will concentrate on other

Other Academic Lands
There are other places outside of Campus Drive, but still within the main academic area where
houses could be built, primarily in the medical center, Searsville, and West Campus areas. It
might be possible to secure one of the dwellings (apartments?) planned for construction in the
Stanford West area (currently slated to house Stanford employees and employees on Stanford

Faculty Ghetto
There are some parcels of land in or near the faculty area on which small student houses could be
built. It might be possible to lease a house from Stanford in this district or sublease from a
faculty member. Although Stanford owns all the land, faculty members own their houses. When
faculty members move away or die, their houses are sold to other faculty members in a complex
procedure overseen by the administration.
The Planning Office would be concerned about the noise and different lifestyle of students living
in a faculty neighborhood, but it would be possible if the neighborhood did not mind and the
student house was more-or-less contiguous with current student housing.

Ranch land — Piers Ranch, Webb Ranch, Guernsey Field, Stanford North and South
These areas are largely undeveloped and further from campus than the faculty housing. There are
existing ranch houses and buildings that could be converted to housing or new structures could
be built. Generally these lands are leased for 51 or 99 years, but probably a small parcel of land
could be released, if necessary. Student houses in these areas should probably be small, because,
being farther away, they might have trouble attracting large numbers of students. Also, to
develop in these areas it would be necessary to persuade environmentalists both on and off
campus that the impact would be minimal.
Reasonable Options
Given that almost anything imaginable is possible, what are the advantages and disadvantages of
the most reasonable options?
The University Converts an Existing Row or Fraternity House to a Co-op House
This has been the traditional way of setting up new co-op houses and would probably be the
easiest. Res Ed is most convinced of the need for new co-ops by very strong demand in the
Draw, but it may also be possible to argue on educational grounds — particularly if one makes
reference to Leland Stanford’s founding grant and point out that co-operative living teaches
students important things. The decision to build Kymball as a mid-size dormitory (rather than a
group of Row houses or some other configuration) was based on the strong demand for Roble
and Toyon and the types of educational programs that are possible in such a structure.
To decide what new housing is needed, Norm Robinson forms a committee of students, faculty,
and staff who discuss the advantages and disadvantages of different options. It might be
advisable to get a member of the co-op union on such a committee next time one is formed.
Residential Education also decides to what use houses with dying programs should be put, but in
a less formal manner. They will probably be open to lobbying and constructive suggestions.
The University Converts an Existing Large Faculty House
Faculty housing only becomes available when a professor moves out. These houses are probably
in great demand, so we would probably have to make a very convincing case for student co-op
The big, old houses near the Row, if converted, would have a nice, homey atmosphere with
personalizable spaces just like the existing Row houses.
The larger houses located further away from the Row would be quiet and more removed,
providing access to nature, and a less urban environment, but it would be necessary to persuade
the neighbors and the Planning Office that students would not be noisy or disruptive.
The biggest difficulty is that most of the larger houses are not designed for a student residence.
According to Norm Robinson, for moral and liability reasons, the University requires student
housing to meet stringent health and safety requirements (fire sprinklers, fire escapes, multiple,
wide stairways, industrial-size kitchens, etc.) which often costs more than tearing them down and
rebuilding. Norm told us that they had considered converting houses to residences before (such
as Owen and Mariposa), but determined that it simply made more sense to convert them to
program offices since this required relatively little expense.
The University or Co-op Group Converts an Existing Small Faculty House
We could perhaps convert a smaller faculty house to a small co-op for only a few students
(4-10). This way, it would be easier to meet University health and safety requirements. A small
house like this would not have a Resident Assistant or Resident Fellow and so might not be able
to provide the same educational programming opportunities, but it would provide a different kind
of educational experience (equivalent to living off-campus).
If the house were personally subleased from a faculty member, the house could be completely
independent of Res Ed and so would demand complete responsibility by the residents for all
operation, maintenance, and governance. They would also be required to find replacements for
anyone who leaves. But it would probably be possible to include graduate students (perhaps only
grad students), staff-members, or other non-students (especially if they were somehow Stanford
A Co-op Union or Alumni Group Builds New Houses on University Land
If there were a strong Co-op Union or Alumni group it could, perhaps, build a house on land
leased from Stanford. The University does not have a policy against this, but because building
codes and contract demands are so stringent (the University maintains control over the structure
and function of the house, and over rent prices) no group in recent years has pursued this option.
Arguments in favor of co-op union ownership (or subleasing)
If we built a house ourselves, with our own money, we could do it regardless of the University’s
opinion about whether we needed more co-ops.
We could personally select the people who live in the house, rather than subjecting people to the
draw. (The University does not like this aspect of fraternities, but perhaps they would be
We could paint the house whatever color we wanted, mow our own lawns, sleep on the roof, stay
open year-round, design the rooms in whatever fashion we wanted; we could implement our
ideas of the architecture of an ideal coop: environmentally sound, large kitchen, etc.
We could do our utilities independently and reduce energy consumption to lower rates.
Also, if successful, the co-op union would eventually pay off the debt, after which time rent
would be profit, and the union would gain money and power.
Arguments against co-op union ownership (or subleasing)
It would be very difficult to build a house from outside for less and keep it up to University
housing standards; they estimate about $55,000/ student for a row house.
If demand lagged, the University could take over and change the theme of the house (the
University would not allow a house to be built with the proviso that it always remain a co-op or
The University wants to control the pricing structure and standards (the University distributes
debt service and utilities, for example, equally across students — they do not want class
differences determining where people live; the only reason houses may differ slightly is that the
services vary, e.g. maintenance, cleaning, cooking). The co-op group could have about as much
control as Theta Chi does now, but could not expect much more independence than that.
The University wants every student residence to be run by the same set of University guidelines.
It is difficult to run a 25-person row house economically (especially if it has food service, RA,
RF) and for the University the smallest economical size is now 60-person. The University would
be reluctant to have more smaller houses in existence that, if the co-op failed, they might
eventually try to run like a Row house
The University puts a high value on academic programming as led by a Resident Assistant (RA)
and Resident Fellow (RF), so they would want this to be part of the deal.
Arguments in favor of University ownership
The University has money and power, so they will guarantee the solvency of the co-op, provide
insurance, and do extensive repairs and major modifications that perhaps a student group could
not afford. When things go to hell, University can clean it up. The co-op union avoids financial
If the house participates in the draw, it can be assured of filling, with 006’s if necessary; if it is
not in the draw outreach would be much more difficult (we would have to persuade people not to
participate in the draw).

We have no particular recommendations. If, however, students do want eventually to implement
some of these options, it would be advisable to have a strong co-op union and a strong outreach
program. We might want to push the University into encouraging students to take responsibility
for their own lives. If it ever becomes the case that there are a good number of students who want
to live in co-ops but are unsuccessful in the draw, they might form a lobbying group, keeping
these various options in mind.

Off-Campus Houses
Potential idea: Establish an off-campus student co-operative house.

House would be autonomous and not dependent on University support.
A house such as this would be a wonderful demonstration of the strength of the Stanford coop
Being exempt from University regulations, this house could be kept open year-round, and could
theoretically see less resident transiency and turnover (no guaranteed year rules), and could
increase the diversity of ages and backgrounds of residents of the house by allowing students and
non-students to live together.

Current student demand for co-op living is not high enough to warrant another house.
Funding difficulties (obviously)
Few already existing houses are physically suited to our vision of an effective co-op (especially
regarding size limitations)
Legal difficulties: It’s more expensive and difficult to insure a house with such transiency among
residents and no single owner.
Administrative difficulties: Purchasing and running a house is a long term obligation and would
require a strong organization or group of individuals committed to the long haul.
Any mistakes or failures on the part of the co-op or its backing could have serious consequences:
bankruptcy, lawsuits, and the like.
Possible solutions to these problems:
Demand is not an unalterable constant. It is strongly affected by outreach, and is also affected by
the supply of houses. The fact that several off-campus co-ops kept operating until their leases ran
out indicates that there is still some demand for co-operative houses off campus. This is still a
formidable concern, however, and should be considered carefully if ever the co-ops decide to try
buying their own houses.
There are a number of possible sources of funding the co-ops could pursue, and the two student
co-operatives which have recently built student co-operative housing offer two models for how
we could proceed. The new co-ops at U.C. Davis were built buy a developer along with some
other houses on campus. Presently the houses are rented from the developer with some portion of
the rent ($10 per person per month the first year, increasing $11 the second year, $12 the third
year, and so forth for ten years) being collected in a co-op development fund to be used for the
purchase of the houses. After six years the co-ops will be bought outright, and the co-ops have a
60 year lease for the land on which the co-ops are located, after which time the University may
continue to allow the co-ops to live there or may choose to do something else with the land. The
main feature of this method of funding is that there is a long period during which funds are
collected so that the co-ops have some equity with which to buy the houses. David Thompson,
one of the organizers of this funding, strongly recommended to me that we set up a similar such
development fund; $10 per month, he pointed out, is about 3% of rent.
At the University of Chicago a group of students started Qumbya Cooperative “to provide
cooperative living for students and others in a friendly, democratic environment.” They bought a
house that now houses 13 of the 22 members of the co-op; it cost $206,300 including
renovations, and the students had very little equity. The National Cooperative Bank gave
NASCO Properties (which owns the co-op) a mortgage loan for $144,000; the Berkeley and
Madison student cooperative associations loaned them $27,500; the Kagawa Fund of the NCBA
lent them $20,000, and the remaining $14,800 came from Qumbya member loans and shares.
These examples point out some of the resources available for funding and expertise. Both of
these co-ops had a lot of expert assistance from NASCO and the NCBA in sorting out their
funding. The National Co-operative Bank provided a mortgage to Qumbya. Other possible
sources of funding may include philanthropic organizations in the Stanford area.
To give an idea of the sums of money that can be collected by students (neglecting alum
donations and other sources of money for the downpayment), if 250 people paid $10 per quarter
for 10 years, the group would have over $100,000 (including interest). It’s easy to invent other
scenarios for collecting money, but specifics are not very meaningful until a further plan is
The availability of houses for sale which fit our criteria is impossible to predict five or ten years
before such a house might be bought. Fairly large houses do exist in the vicinity of Stanford (and
in fact one 7,700 square foot house was recently offered by Foothill College for the cost of
moving it from the site on which it sat), but the selection of houses is somewhat of a problem. It
should be noted that co-ops at other colleges are often 10 to 15 people instead of Stanford’s 30 to
50 people. If the Stanford co-ops were to build a house there is no way we could afford to
duplicate the architecture of the present Row houses.
As far as administrative, legal, and insurance difficulties go, we would be well to join NASCO
and utilize their expertise dealing with these problems. The house could be owned independently
of the Co-op Union so as to avoid direct liabilities to the remaining co-ops.
We don’t recommend the purchase of an off-campus co-operative unless demand seems to
necessitate it, and unless a very strong, well-established, well-staffed, highly organized co-op
union exists to administer such a house.
We do suggest that consideration be given to starting a fund devoted exclusively to long-term
projects for the co-ops. This fund would be jointly administered by the Co-op Union and the
Co-op Alum Network.
We also suggest that the co-ops consider joining NASCO so that we have access to people with
expertise in exactly the kinds of problems that we are likely to face if we decide to undertake
such a project.

Outreach to Other Co-opers
In an attempt to solicit community input for the issues discussed by the SWOPSI class, flyers
were sent to all unhoused co-op community members and posted on large poster paper with pens
attached in the four housed co-ops. Accompanying them were draft copies of the first half of this
report. Unhoused members were asked to call, mail or drop off their comments to the members
of the Class Outreach committee. Another flyer was distributed to advertise the Community
Meeting. Copies of these flyers are in Appendix ???. No responses were received except on the
poster at Kairos. Three in-depth comments were written.
Kairos is noted for remaining independent from the other co-ops at Stanford. [For more detailed
information about the character of Kairos House please see the Appendix] Kairos has repeatedly
been an exception in our class discussions about the future of co-ops at Stanford. The majority of
class members are from Columbae and Synergy houses. In our discussions we often found it
difficult to know if our ideas represent the interests of the co-op community at large. Kairos
served as a constant reminder that cooperation can take on diverse forms.
The three responses received from the poster at Kairos follow. Their tendency to disagree with
the class’s tentative suggestions became a focus of class discussion. We deliberated about what
we should recommend and what we should not because it might not represent the desires of the
co-op community. Class members feel the following responses are important and valid opinions.
We incorporated the expressed disfavor of a co-op union by formulating the union in such a way
that it would be totally voluntary by each house, and that its existence would not harm either
members or non-members.
It is important to note that Kairos, having very little involvement with the co-op community, was
the most responsive to the class’s outreach efforts.

               *         *         *
• I don’t think we need a large co-op council and I certainly don’t want to finance one. Doesn’t
Stanford have enough bureaucracy already.
• There is no significant need to justify a co-op office.
• Unless you’re interested in paying for the damages, let the University repair the damaged
• Unless significant demand is proven, students should not even consider requesting relocation of
faculty housing.
• Off-campus co-ops are a good idea, but it is not the University’s place to manage or finance
• Find a more effective and attractive outreach program than a bunch of hippies hanging out in
White Plaza.
               *         *         *
I feel that a co-op council would be more detrimental than constructive. Kairos (and the other
co-ops) has its own character. I didn’t draw into Columbae or Synergy for a reason — I wouldn’t
have been comfortable there. A co-op council would in all likelihood be controlled by members
of these houses, and I wouldn’t want them making decisions for me. Support for the displaced
co-ops is important, but not to the point of establishing a structure (the council) that will result in
the demise of Kairos’ current makeup.

               *         *         *
• Outreach is imperative! From reading some of the comments regarding the co-ops, I think it is
obvious that a significant portion of the Stanford residence community has a very blurred view
of what co-ops are and how they operate. Suggestion: each house selects representatives to go
out to the dorms (frosh especially) and discuss co-operative living at their respective residence.
White Plaza harassment and idiocy just don’t do anything for the community.
• Infrastructure good for implementing above mentioned program, but very restrictive in most
other areas. No $$. “All co-op” events are not for me.
• Are any civil engineers qualified and knowledgeable enough to evaluate plans? Are any of us
professional engineers?
• Off-campus houses? Stupid idea! We can’t even fill the houses we have now on campus!

                         For Further Reference

Below are listed some places to go for more information and some of the most useful sources
that we used in the class. There is a wealth of information on the Stanford Co-ops that has been
accumulated in the archives and libraries of Synergy and Columbae. In addition, Columbae has
an extensive library of books and periodicals on co-operatives and co-operation including almost
every book published by the North American Students of Co-operation (NASCO). All of the
materials from the class, including all of the readings can be found in the co-op archives at
Synergy and Columbae. Professor Henry Levin, in the School of Education, is a good resource
person on workers’ co-operatives. The Stanford University Libraries also contain many useful
books on the subject of co-operation.

Altenberg, Lee, An End To Capitalism: Leland Stanford’s Forgotten Vision, 1989. In
       Sandstone and Tile, Journal of the Stanford Historical Society, February 1990.
       Documents Leland Stanford’s advocacy of co-operatives as a “leading feature lying at the
       foundation of the university”. [Printed

Synergy House, Living in Syn, 1978, 1988. An in-depth look at a specific co-op community,
      combining the history of the co-op with a manual for its operation.
 Blimling & Schuh, Editors, “Increasing the Educational Role of Residence Halls,” New
       Directions for Student Service, Number 13, 1981.
 Provides a philosophical base for
       evaluating the educational benefits of campus co-op living from the point of view of
       residential administrators.

Levin, H., “Economic democracy, education, and social change”, in Prevention Through
       Political Action and Social Change, G. Albee and J. Joffe, eds. University Press of New
       England, 1981, pp. 164-185.

Melnyk, G., The Search for Community: From Utopia to a Co-operative Society, Black Rose
      Books, 1985. Melnyk looks at a variety of co-operative traditions — liberal, marxist,
      socialist, and communalist — and presents a theory of “social co-operatives”.

North American Students of Co-operation (NASCO), various publications. Ann Arbor,
       Michigan: NASCO.

In the following pages you will find a collection of articles and papers that contain information
about the crisis, the class, individual co-ops and our attempts to come to terms with the
constantly changing situation.
“Movers and Shakers,” a brief summary of the meetings with the Administration after the
earthquake, compiled by Robert Abrams.
“The Co-oper,” November 1989. The first issue after the Quake.
Syllabus, SWOPSI 146: Co-operative Living and the Current Crisis at Stanford.
A Community Survey.          This survey was distributed to a broad range of the Stanford
Co-op Alumni Survey. This survey was sent to more than 300 former Stanford co-op Residents
using lists from the Co-op Alum Network.
Two flyers produced by the Class Outreach Committee to inform the other co-opers of the
doings of the class, and to provide updates on the negotiations with the administration.
Community Meeting Agenda, February 28.
Kairos: An Ethnography of an Unknown Stanford Co-op, describes in some detail the
attitudes and practices of residents of one of Stanford’s co-ops which sees itself as different from
the others.
Off Campus Co-ops.        Brief descriptions of several off-campus co-ops, many spin-offs of
campus co-ops.
Historical Values Index. University documents compiled after the earthquake that assess the
historical values of the closed houses. The work was done by a committee in the Stanford
planning office, including a student. The first two pages are the results of a quick compilation of
material from University archives on the houses. The “Historic Values Index” sheet attached to
the end gives an indication of how the University views houses such as Synergy, Phi Psi, and

As you may know there is a SWOPSI course in progress (SWOPSI 146) that is studying
“Cooperative living and the current crisis at Stanford”.

In the first part of the class we have studied the history and theory of co-ops and the current
status of all co-ops at Stanford. A report on this work will be available next Wednesday (14th
Feb.). At that time we will distribute copies of the report to all co-op houses on campus and to
the larger groups of unhoused co-op members off campus. Anybody else is welcome to pick one
up at the class next Wednesday (7 pm, 4th floor Sweet-hall). If you want more copies please call
Dave Nichols at 856-8568 and I will try to get them to you.

The second half of the course will study future options for co-ops at Stanford. This will include :
  • Rebuilding options for Columbae
  • Transition of Synergy and Phi-Psi into new houses
  • The relationship between Res-Ed. and the co-ops
  • Co-ops in the Draw
  • Co-op outreach programs
  • Innovative options for new co-ops
  • Development of the co-op council

We would like all co-op community members to be able to participate in this process. There will
a co-op community meeting on Feb. 28th at 7 pm, location to be determined. In the meantime
there will be a newsletter which addresses specific issues distributed around the 16th Feb.

Decisions are being made based on our class reports. This may affect your future. Any input you
have will help us represent the community more effectively. If you have any general comments
on the future of co-ops at Stanford please write them on this sheet.

                      SWOPSI 146 : NEWSLETTER 1

The SWOPSI course “Co-operative living and the current crisis at Stanford” is organizing a
public meeting for all co-op community members and other interested parties.

The meeting will be
7 pm on Feb. 28th at education 133 (Cubberly).
The purposes of the meeting are :

1) To keep the community informed about decisions that the University has made about the
future of co-ops at Stanford.
2) To get input on possible future directions for the co-op community.

At this point we would like your views on topics that we will be covering in the second part of
the course. The following task groups have been set up.
We would like you to express your opinions on these topics. The results of this work will be
included in the final report of the course.

You can contact
Dave Nichols : (856 8568) 3339 St. Michael Drive, Palo Alto, CA 94306
or Jim Welch : (329 1079) Kairos House, 586 Mayfield Ave., Stanford

Columbae Structure
To make idealistic and concrete suggestions for structural changes and improvements to
Columbae when it is repaired.

Synergy and Phi-Psi Transition
Keep tabs on University decisions regarding the two programs next year.
How to make the transitions easier based on the character, history and goals of the programs.
Once new houses are chosen, make assessments of space usage, organize kitchens, gardens etc.

Preparation for the 1990 draw. Organize new priority mechanisms, meetings for prospective
co-op members. Prepare housing agreements.
Dorm outreach, presence in White Plaza, articles in “Daily”.

Co-op Infrastructure
This task group recommends:
A newly organized co-op council to,
Plan “All co-op” events                      Educate on co-operation
Social events and programming                Public service/political events
Organize outreach                            Establish a financial base
A $10 per person, per quarter charge to finance the above
A strong unified co-op voice to communicate with Red-Ed and the administration.

Co-op housing / Stanford
Development of a co-op office as a separate establishment to coordinate students. A co-op
representative to be present at all University closed door
meetings. This could be an RF or there could be RFs in addition to this post.
Consider a housing contract for co-ops, a long term guarantee of housing.
Affirmative action to increase ethnic diversity in co-ops.
Possible changes in the draw procedures for co-ops, a separate co-op draw?

Synergy and Phi-psi structures
Obtain plans and document damage. Analyze plans, cost, budget, repair time line. Consider
alternative repair options, e.g. student involvement.
Investigate possibility of getting houses declared historic landmarks. Analyze the aesthetic
values of the houses.

Faculty houses and Stanford land
Long range possibilities of increasing the number of co-ops by obtaining new housing on
Stanford land. Convert large faculty houses to co-ops, construct new co-ops on Stanford land.

Off campus houses
Possibilities of increasing the number of co-ops by obtaining off campus houses. Research
funding sources, loans, grants, alums. Investigate legal

Co-op outreach
Keep everybody informed about what is going on. Provide a mechanism for
community input. ( That’s us ).
                       7-9 PM WEDNESDAY FEB 28
                             CUBBERLY 133

                                       All welcome



Report / Updates

Housing for fall ’90
Report on process and discussions so far concerning locating Synergy and Phi Psi; discussion of
any questions remaining open.

Co-op / University relations
How should co-ops interact with Res-Ed? Should there be an independent body, representing all
co-ops, to present the co-op point of view? Would co-op relations with the University be
improved if there was a written housing contract? Consider the possibility of a “co-op fee” to
fund an independent all co-op group, support joint co-op activities and provide capital for co-op
improvements. Should there be a separate co-op draw?

What can be done to foster multiculturalism in co-ops? Lack of ethnic diversity and
multiculturalism is a problem facing the co-ops, particularly Columbae, Synergy and Phi Psi. We
are in the process of talking with members of ethnic communities at Stanford about reasons for
and ways to ameliorate this problem. Should we institute some form of affirmative action policy?

How should we do outreach? Why we want to have unified co-op outreach this spring.
Emphasize presentation of the diversity among co-ops. How can we improve the
multiculturalism of the co-ops? What sort of outreach does this involve? Program suggestions?

                         A Community Survey
Participants in SWOPSI 146 will be writing a report about residential living at Stanford. By this
survey, and personal interviews, we hope to understand Stanford community perceptions of
residential living. Please help us by answering the following questions. Then return the survey to
the person who gave it to you, or at the SWOPSI office in Sweet Hall. Thanks!
1. Circle your class:   frosh sophomore        junior          senior graduate

2. A) What is the name of your current residence?

  B) In which other residences have you lived while at Stanford?

3. On a scale from one to six, rate the following in terms of importance to you and current
satisfaction: (Six is the highest rating; one is the lowest.)

                                                            Importance            Current Satisfaction

  A. Relationships to the people you live with:                ___                        ___
  B. The building you live in:                                 ___                        ___
  C. The location of your residence:                           ___                        ___
  D. Your studies:                                             ___                        ___
  E. Your social life:                                         ___                        ___
  F. Meals:                                                    ___                        ___
  G. Low room and board bills:                                 ___                        ___
  H. Residence responsibilities:                               ___                        ___

4. Circle your sex: female male

5. I’d rather live in a: (Rank your top two choices; circle your last choice.)

  ___trailer            ___off campus ___theme house            ___co-op

  ___apartment          ___fraternity                    ___dorm                 ___other row house

6. Not including your own residence, how often do you visit:

                                daily              weekly          quarterly        yearly

  A. other dorms:                 ___              ___             ___              ___           ___

  B. fraternities:                ___              ___             ___              ___           ___

  C. co-ops:                      ___              ___             ___              ___           ___

  D. other row houses:            ___              ___             ___              ___           ___
7. For the following categories, please rate the average fraternity, co-op, and dorm resident on a
scale from one to six. Choose a six if the category is highly applicable, and a one if it is not at all

  A. Tolerance for different viewpoints.

       Dorms: ___      Co-ops: ___ Other Row House: ___ Fraternities: ___

  B. Weekly drug/alcohol use.

       Dorms: ___      Co-ops: ___ Other Row House: ___ Fraternities: ___

  C. Arrogance.

       Dorms: ___      Co-ops: ___ Other Row House: ___ Fraternities: ___

  D. Quality of intellectual atmosphere.

       Dorms: ___      Co-ops: ___ Other Row House: ___ Fraternities: ___

  E. Sexual close-mindedness.

       Dorms: ___      Co-ops: ___ Other Row House: ___ Fraternities: ___

  F. Low level of community involvement within the residence.

       Dorms: ___ Co-ops: ___ Other Row House: ___ Fraternities: ___

  G. Political diversity.

       Dorms: ___      Co-ops: ___ Other Row House: ___ Fraternities: ___

  H. Emphasis on good health.

       Dorms: ___      Co-ops: ___ Other Row House: ___ Fraternities: ___

  I. Outward friendliness.

       Dorms: ___      Co-ops: ___ Other Row House: ___ Fraternities: ___

  J. Cleanliness of their residence:

       Dorms: ___      Co-ops: ___ Other Row House: ___ Fraternities: ___

8. Have you ever considered living in a co-op? If you have, which one and why? If you haven’t,
why not?

9. Any Further Comments?

                                                                   printed on recycled paper

    Kairos: An Ethnography of An Unknown
                Stanford Co-op

by Jim Welch

Kairos House is a Stanford University cooperative housing facility for thirty-five sophomore
through senior undergraduates. As a community, it is ideal for anthropological study. It is a
closed community, limited to registered students, and is a focus of most residents’ social lives.
Many residents eat, sleep, study and socialize primarily within the house. The community, as it is
considered in this paper, is composed of a varied group of students inhabiting the house from the
end of September, 1989, through the present time, March, 1990. This time span includes two
academic quarters, Fall and Winter. Between the two quarters two women and two men left and
were replaced by new residents. I am a resident of the house and am among the majority having
never lived here previous to the 1989-90 academic year.
My research included interviews with a random sample of fifteen percent of the residents
(chosen by who was available at the specific times I conducted the interviews), a two-page
questionnaire distributed among the residents at the end of the first quarter, a five page survey
distributed during the second quarter, and observation and participation as a native of the
community. The first survey was returned by ninety-one percent of the residents while the
second was returned by only fifty-four percent. The first supplied all the statistical data, while
the second is only used as an indicator of perceptual ranges and a source of specific opinions.
The lower return rate of the second survey may be caused by numerous factors. The five-page
length was cause for a number of comments by people who thought it was too much to ask
(although others said it only took a few minutes and was a reasonable thing for me to request).
During winter quarter I was also less involved in the house on a social level. This may have
caused some people to feel less motivation or obligation towards my survey.
There are a number of permanent characteristics about Kairos that contribute to the unique
cultural scene among its residents. Kairos is relatively unknown to the Stanford community at
large. When asked by non-resident students where they live, residents are often required to
explain where the house is located, and why they ever decided to live there. Some say the house
has a reputation in wider student circles as the “house of love,” and in the co-op community as
apathetic and mainstream. The two reputations generally keep people from wanting to live in
Kairos. It is, though, one of the easiest houses on the Row (the section of campus where
fraternities and old fraternity houses are located) to draw into, and has a room priority system
that guarantees fifth-year seniors and returning residents singles.
In addition, the house is run as a co-op, although quite a bit differently than other co-ops on
campus. Residents hire cooks from within the house and have complete responsibility for
maintaining their house. There are four managers elected at the end of each year for the
following year. These are Financial Manager, Operations manager and two Food Managers.
They meet before the residents arrive each year to decide how the house will be run. They decide
how food will be ordered, how house jobs will be distributed and enforced, and any other
structural decisions necessary to make the house work.
Room draw is done on a priority system designed by Kairos residents in a previous year. All
other decisions that require resident input are made by majority vote. Managers and others often
make smaller decisions on their own if they feel the house will not object. Unlike other coops,
Kairos has no official theme such as vegetarianism, or political or environmental activism, or
alternative lifestyles. Traditionally most of these organizational structures are perpetuated
year-to-year because residents have thought they work and the managers like them. The residents
are free to change any of these decisions, but they generally do not.
One main result of this structure is that Kairos draws an eclectic group of students each year. The
current makeup of the house is seven returning residents who were guaranteed either a single or
were elected last year to management positions and receive both singles and waived or reduced
board bills, four transfer students who for the most part requested co-ops but had no specific
knowledge of Kairos House, seventeen students who were restricted in their choice by bad draw
numbers or unguaranteed status and had no previous conception of Kairos other than that it is a
less ‘granola’ co-op than some of the others, two students who had not known much about
Kairos but were strictly attracted to the fifth-year student guarantee of a single, and two students
who wanted to be in one of the more “hard-core” co-ops but were excluded by the draw. I do not
have data for the other three students.
There are a few important trends here. The first is that residents had either bad draw numbers or
unguaranteed status. Second, they appreciated the fact that Kairos is a co-op, but did not want to
live in those with stronger reputations. Third, the residents tended to draw in by themselves or in
small groups. Very few new residents seemed to believe before living here that this would be an
optimal environment. As we shall see, after living here for one quarter, the majority of residents
considered this the best dorm and the most exciting and supportive community they have lived in
during college. During winter quarter people’s perspectives changed somewhat. There became a
growing dissatisfaction with the Kairos environment for many people.
It is appropriate to mention at the start that one of the most important things about Kairos fall
quarter was that it was closed for twelve days after the 7.1 earthquake in October, 1989. The
social dynamics of the house were quite unique and profound before this incident, but were
hurled into a rare transition that set many standards for the remainder of the year. The earthquake
provides a good contrast to the behavioral changes that have occurred in winter quarter.
I would like to note briefly what my agenda is in this paper. Recent anthropological theory has
often equated social analysis with identifying the metasocial in culture. That is, finding the
underlying layers of significance that are at the root of cultural behavior. This seems to me to
often be an anthropologist’s search for causes of behavior that even the participants themselves
would not recognize. It seems to be a search for ways that people are tricked by their culture to
act a certain way. Although I am not willing to completely toss this method out, I have identified
some problems with it through the study of Kairos.
As a member of the community I am studying, I can see that there may be levels of cultural
significance that I cannot recognize because I am embedded. I will maintain, though, that this
does not make my analysis worthless. When I assume that there is a ‘culture’ of Kairos active
during this academic school year, I am asserting that there is a system of commonality and
behavior that a non-member does not participate in. Furthermore, only as a member can one truly
understand what it means to function within this system.
As a member of the culture, I can identify perceptions that other members hold and relate this to
my own experience of non-Kairos culture. Kairos culture is unique in that it is a brief
improvisation by students from varied backgrounds. Rather than being a fully entrenched
lifestyle, it is a series of year-long participations. It thus seems to me that Kairos is not so much a
case of culture forming the individuals, but of individuals forming their culture. I cannot
determine, therefore, how Kairos residents are tricked into behavior by their culture, but I can
analyze what Kairos culture is to its members and how it got that way.

The history of Kairos is important in its surprising continuity with the present. The student
makeup of Kairos is largely random, but what seems to remain throughout time is a tendency to
be discreetly deviant. Kairos has not been a co-op for long, and as the present house manager
said, it doesn’t matter if it is a co-op or a self-op, it has always been the same and always will. To
a large extent this is probably true. Kairos does seem to have occupied a specific niche in the
University for years. But the fact that it is now a co-op is important to its character, and will
probably be more important as time goes on.
Kairos House was originally built and used by the Delta Chi fraternity. The house was built in
1910. The construction and furnishing was supervised by student member Earle Leaf. In 1935,
the house was rebuilt to roughly its modern condition in what was called at the time “French
Chateau” architecture.
The house became a self-op in 1968 because the Delta Chi fraternity did not fill the house and
could not pay its bills. As a self-op, the residents managed all house upkeep and hired a cook.
This is reputed to be the beginning of “the Kairos as we know it”. Its fundamental organizational
structure was set at this point, and according to rumor so was the personality of the house. From
the 1971-72 school year through 1977-78, Kairos was listed in the Draw Book as a special
program house with no special sign-ups that is co-operatively run. Although house management,
upkeep and cooking policies were not changed, in 1978-79 Kairos ceased to be identified as
co-operatively run. This may indicate the presence of an ambivalence about Kairos’ identity as a
co-operative that has persisted to the present time.
In 1980 or ’81, Kairos began the kitchen policy it now has. Reportedly, in the fall no one liked
the cook. The house took a vote and decided to fire her at the end of the quarter. They decided
that everyone would cook each week until they found a new cook. Over Christmas vacation,
everyone was to go home and find a recipe that could easily be cooked for fifty people. During
winter quarter people liked cooking, and it worked so well that they decided to continue it, only
hiring cooks from within the house instead of everyone cooking. At this point, as Diana Conklin,
Director of the Row, put it, Kairos began its evolution into a co-op. It remained a self-op until
1986-87 when it was listed as a row house with a special priority. In 1988-89 it was first listed as
a co-op with special priority. The management of the house never changed, though.
In 1981-82, Kairos received a large pool table that now sits in the back common room. It had
previously been in one of the Toyon eating clubs (student-run eating co-operatives). That club
closed that year, and the University needed a place for the table. At Toyon the table was used
exclusively for the game “squash,” a rowdy game often involving twenty people where one rolls
the cue ball with the hands to hit the active ball, the point being to never let the active ball stop or
be sunk. The table was in very bad repair as a result of this activity, so the University offered to
give Kairos the table if the residents would refurbish it. For two hundred dollars paid by the
residents, the table was removed from the eating club, redone, and delivered to Kairos. It is an
incredibly heavy table, with three large slates of marble. After a very difficult struggle it was
moved into the house. The only problem was that its weight warped the floor. Pieces of wood
stuck under the legs on one side remain the solution. The pool table is an example of what has
always been a trend at Kairos: the willingness to be extravagant if everyone agrees.
In 1984-85, Facilities completely renovated the house. According to a resident, relations between
the house and Facilities were exceptionally good at the time, so the process was friendly and
done to everyone’s advantage. They redid the carpets, walls, and most notably remodeled the
In 1983, the quad on the third floor was turned into a quint. Apparently there was a person who
wanted to live in an attic space adjacent to the quad. He moved in, stretching an extension cord
in with him. Eventually the University discovered him and kicked him out. Afterwards, though,
they decided that the space could be made into a room. The wall was opened up and a window
was installed.
In the early eighties, the first female house manager was elected. There was a managers’ log
book that was used by the managers and was never seen by anyone else that caused severe
difficulties this year. It contained many passages that those holding the book did not want a
female to see, most likely because it contained chauvinistic statements. An attempt was made to
erase parts, but that didn’t work. The previous manager decided to hold the logbook until the
next male manager was elected, but it has never been seen since.
The house was never particularly “co-opy.” It never invested energy into participating with other
co-ops. Reportedly it is more involved with the other co-ops now than it has ever been. The
character of the house used to go in a three-year cycle. A new group of sophomores would draw
into the house, bringing with them new ideas and energy. Because at this time returning residents
were guaranteed a place in the house, this group would live there for the following three years.
They would manage the house and determine the social character of the house. When they
graduated, a new group would draw in.
The house has had consistently good relations with the University. Around 1986 and 1987 it did
not do as well in the draw as usual, but other than that it has filled without any problems. This is
in contrast to some of the other co-ops which have had a difficult time filling in the Draw and
have had their status as co-op threatened by the University. It seems that Kairos seems attractive
to a larger student population than some other coops. Although the house has never been hard to
get into, it has consistently been filled.
The character of the house has never been typical of other Row houses or dorms. Kairos has been
a mystery to Diana Conklin since 1978 when she began working at the Row office. She has
never heard it referred to in conversation by students, and she cannot pin it down in her mind.
She senses it is different than other houses and fraternities, but she does not know why. She
describes it as low-key, with an ethos of not being demanding or strict, kind of easy-going,
comfortable, and friendly. She says hers is a positive image, but with no detail. “It is the one
house I shrug about,” she says.

Where We Come From
In the first quarter survey, the residents consistently and repeatedly stated that Kairos is
incredibly diverse. Of course many different things were meant by this comment. The diversity
was generally considered in relation to other residences on campus and to each person’s place of
origin. Often what was being referred to was people’s viewpoints such as political orientation,
their interests and personalities, or their backgrounds. Asked again in the winter, many residents
have a different view of diversity at Kairos. Although people remain content that there is a
higher level of diversity at Kairos than in many other residences, especially the other co-ops,
many feel the need for more.
The members of the Kairos community come from an assortment of backgrounds. The majority
is of course mainstream white. Thirty percent of the house is non-mainstream in culture or
ancestry, but this sector is comprised of eighty percent women. The economic class break-up, as
defined by residents’ own definitions, is nearly half upper-middle class, a quarter middle class,
with the rest roughly equally divided between lower, lower-middle and upper classes. Most
members of the non-mainstream ethnicities and economic classes have expressed an awareness
of their differences, but satisfaction that they are not significant because the house is itself so
diverse. No one has expressed a feeling that s/he has been treated unfairly because of any such
difference. This is a trend that will be discussed in greater detail later, but is important to keep in
mind throughout the analysis.
I mentioned earlier the categories of residents’ motivation for living in Kairos. The two largest
groups were strangers to Kairos who chose the house as the best environment given a
disadvantage in the housing draw, and the returning residents. The ethnic and economic groups
cut through these motivational groups with no differentiation. Both motivational groups, though,
expressed a unanimous desire for a “home” or “house” as opposed to a dorm. Due to the
Residential Education program, all residents except transfer students have experienced dorm life.
Everyone, whether or not they enjoyed that life at the time, has come to want a place to feel at
home or to avoid the “sterile, calculated life” of the dorms. A number of people have divorced
parents or unstable families and feel the need for support and consistency. Many others have
home lives they appreciate and would like to approximate as much as possible at college. The
co-op communities at Stanford are well-known as stable, supportive houses. But the sentiment of
virtually all Kairos residents, as mentioned earlier, is that most are too extreme, “isolated from
reality”, and exclusionistic to the mainstream types most “Kairosians” consider themselves. To
most members, Kairos seemed the most comfortable, relaxed and accepting house available.
This mutually shared expectancy of Kairos has shaped the community in many ways. One of the
earliest manifestations of this is the attitude of “our house”. Residents think of our ugly and
more-than-slightly run-down house as their home. Being a co-op, we are very independent in
how we maintain our house and how we use its features. Intervention from the University is
minimal, but when it occurs, residents are critical and resentful. This attitude is common with
college students, but in a large dorm the presence of the University is so strong it is impossible
not to yield to it. At Kairos on a number of occasions residents attempt to do what they want
anyway or challenge the University’s decisions. At other times, they mostly forget that the house
is owned by the University.
It may seem a coincidence that while virtually all residents attribute their arrival here in large
part to default or logistical advantage (a guaranteed single), there was a virtually unanimous set
of expectations of and hopes for the community. I believe the fact that people came here
individually or in small groups as a nearly last resort and had no idea who else would be in the
house determined to a large degree what their attitude would be. First of all, people who are not
open to close association with random people would have opted for a less mysterious house even
though the options were very limited. Secondly, not knowing at all who would be here made
people hope for the best and try to create a positive environment with whatever they were
handed. This hypothesis will be explored in greater depth later.

No one knew what Kairos would be like before they arrived in the house. Yet, the returning
residents knew pretty much what they wanted it to be like. The returning residents for the most
part occupy management positions and are thus in a powerful position to form what they want.
At the beginning of the year, they made a concerted effort to start things out right. They
presented the way the house is run as crucial to all of our well-being, not really opening the
structure of management to community formulation. They had a clear idea, derived from their
experience the previous year, that things could be really bad if everyone didn’t work hard for the
house as a whole.
In response, many people rapidly realized that Kairos requires a high level of participation from
each member. Although there have been numerous problems, especially at first, with people
doing all their jobs and volunteering for work that was not officially required of them, the norm
was set: it is not okay to neglect the house. This type of participation in the house is one example
of a Kairos theme. That is, it is expected that residents make Kairos a priority in their lives.
At Kairos there seems to be a priority to have fun together, and the generous funds allocated to
do so seem to demonstrate this. While most residents dislike the fraternity lifestyle, Kairos
early-on developed (or perhaps perpetuated) the distinctly non-co-op attitude that “we are
Kairos, and we like to rage.” From some residents’ perspectives, this priority has subsided
somewhat during winter quarter. To reflect upon the strength of the concept, though, the
perception that people have not participated as much in house social activities has created
emotional conflict for those residents.
Kairos residents are very aware that they are different and that they have their own way of doing
things, but in contrast to other co-ops, as one resident put it, they don’t have the attitude that “we
are a co-op, and this is our aura”. Perhaps instead they think of themselves as a pleasantly unique
group of random people who choose to do things their own way. As will be apparent later, this
attitude is not unanimous, but forms a prevalent attitude from which some people deviate.
Perceptions of Co-operation
Kairos’ status as co-op was not a singularly important factor in people’s decision to live here as
it may be in some other co-ops. Yet, it is a large contributor to the make-up of the house. It is
important to remember here that Kairos first became a co-op in 1988, and never changed its
organizational structure in the process. As one member put it, it is a co-op “by a fine line.” It is
the only Stanford co-op to hire cooks from within the house. The others require weekly cooking
shifts from all residents. Because cooking is optional at Kairos there is a lower work
commitment than at the other co-ops. For example, even when Synergy, another Stanford co-op,
had University cleaning, weekly work commitments averaged two and one half hours. Kairos
does its own cleaning and cooking, but requires only an average of one hour per week of work.
The difference is that Kairos residents pay roughly two to three hundred dollars more per quarter.
A couple of residents did not even know that Kairos is a co-op before they moved in. One such
person said that when she found out, she thought she might have to grow tomatoes or something.
The other residents are divided between those that say co-op status had an effect on their living
here and those that say it had no effect. Because most people that live at Kairos did not place it
as a first choice, it must be remembered that their decision was often based upon a shortage of
choices. Those that say co-op status had a large effect on their choice mention the advantages of
required involvement in the house, the small community, the value of working together and
being responsible for oneself.
The advantages of a non-dorm atmosphere was mentioned by one resident. He said that he was
“psyched to deal with cooking and cleaning provided that it didn’t take too much time.” This
parallels the attitudes of other residents who said they liked the idea of co-operation and leaving
the ‘mainstream’, but did not want to join the co-ops with reputations they considered
Those that say co-op status had no effect on their choice to live here cited varied alternative
reasons. Some include the promise of a single, the open kitchen, the lesser work commitment,
and the house-style structure. One person said that if anything, the co-op status was a negative
feature. These people seem to have viewed co-op status as unrelated to the character of the
house, or as a work agreement that was neither good nor bad.
Most residents did not draw into Kairos for the extended definitions of co-operation:
environmental awareness, political revolution, social change, feminism, deviancy, or consensus,
for example. They either did not care that Kairos is a co-op, cared only that it is a small and
interactive community, or that the cooking and cleaning organization was more appealing.
Kairos residents, without exception, do not actively try to create an alternative co-operative
lifestyle in the house. There is no explicit concept of co-operation as a process for social
interaction and residents do not associate it with larger social or political goals in their expressed
What Kairos as a co-op does mean to many residents now that they have lived there for six
months is that people depend upon one-another, and are responsible for themselves
independently of the University. They feel they have the freedom to make choices, and many
feel that a sense of ‘community’ has developed.
The definitions residents have of co-operation in the context of Kairos tend to be limited to what
one resident called the administrative level. It is a commitment to work together, and for some it
is to want to be a community and to be independent of the University. The meaning of co-op
status, however, goes beyond this for many people. On the positive side, many people feel that
co-op structure fosters a strong social bond. One woman who did not care that Kairos is a co-op
noticed that the house is more unified and requires co-operation, trust and honesty as a result.
Another resident said that there is a more conscientious crowd that draws in because they are
willing to work with everyone else.
Because many residents tend to appreciate that self-reliance and autonomy are important, they
also find that people who do not fulfill their responsibilities add a negative quality to
co-operation. One person who said the problem with Kairos being a co-op is that he hates house
jobs is the subject of many others’ complaints about the lack of co-operation. Those who don’t
contribute, they say, make the whole system frustrating. At Kairos, this is a legitimate complaint.
There are those who are the constant foci of complaints about irresponsibility. Statistical data
about who missed their house jobs support these complaints. As one resident who feels strongly
that people tend to contribute inadequately said, “...some people decide that their own needs are
more important [and] it puts a strain on others.”
There are some in the house who feel that being a co-operative is negative in other ways. One
person said that the problem is that some people do not want to be part of the community. Here
he identifies that co-ops are a more involved form of community. Another believes that being a
co-op is associated with the placement of too much pressure on people to participate socially in
the house. This dilemma will be discussed in greater detail later. Another resident feels that the
house is too “hyper-liberal” as a result of its co-op status. As a result he feels afraid to voice his
moral views.
Most of the people mentioned above define co-operation in a very limited sense, but associate
more involved social processes with it. They do not, however take the ideal as far as it can go.
This will appear as a trend in a later analysis of residents’ perceptions of themselves in
comparison to other co-ops. Despite the negative characteristics expressed about Kairos being a
co-op, virtually everyone still favors being a co-op. Because Kairos was not a co-op before 1988
but had the exact same structure, the effects of Kairos being a co-op are to a significant degree a
result of the effect on its reputation.
There seem to be three primary factors mentioned by residents that they believe relate to the
reputation of Kairos. First is the association with the other co-ops. The second is the idea that
Kairos is often considered the most “mainstream” of the co-ops. The third is that Kairos is in
general unheard-of in the Stanford community at large. Diana Conklin’s comments mentioned in
the History section are indicative of a defiance Kairos has of classification. It is easily clumped
with the other co-ops or with row houses in general by mainstream Stanford students. It is also
easily regarded as the un-co-op by members of other co-ops. In general, though, it seems to most
residents that no one even knows it exists.
As a co-op, Kairos seems to attract people who are willing to contribute and are “mellow” or
“laid-back.” Many residents consider this a positive factor. They feel that if Kairos were not a
co-op, people who are unwilling to do their share of the work or who are unwilling to be
involved in the house would draw in. It is also notable that Kairos is not as ‘hard-core’ as some
of the other co-ops and does not have a theme. For those who had more than a vague awareness
of the co-ops at Stanford, Kairos seemed to present an option of co-operative living to the more
moderate population. For those who had never heard of Kairos, it was an appealing structure
with many benefits such as single rooms and an open kitchen.
Those who feel that being a co-op has a positive effect on the reputation of Kairos say that it
serves as a self-selection process in the Draw and tends to attract a more unique mix of people.
There is also an appreciation by many residents that Kairos does not attract the “hippy, granola
types” that they perceive are attracted to some of the other co-ops. The many people who draw
into Kairos as a low choice seem to pick it as a house that offers a lot as a co-op, but a more
attractive solution to them than the other co-ops.
Perhaps the importance to Kairos of being either easily clumped together with the ‘hard-core’
co-ops or seen as the non-co-op is its role in the process of prospective residents who do a
limited amount of research for their decision about where to live. Many of the people that draw
in are willing to participate and like the idea of co-operation, but are not looking for a high work
As a co-op, Kairos has a very authoritarian management structure. As mentioned in the
introduction, large decisions are made by majority vote, while smaller decisions are made by
managers on their own and presented to the residents as made. Part of this is due to the
personalities of the specific managers in office this year. It is also due to the job descriptions
themselves. The managers receive exempt spots in the draw (automatically are assigned to
Kairos), first room pick, and either a full or seventy-five percent board bill reduction. In
exchange for this, and in order to decrease the amount of work the other residents are required to
do, the managers are expected to completely manage their specific areas. Thus, for example, all
kitchen needs including food ordering, shopping, menu planning, and organizing cooks are done
by two people.
By choosing this organization, Kairos is fulfilling its full responsibilities as a Stanford co-op:
self-organization and student cooking. The choice is, though, to maintain a minimum level of
commitment with the maximum benefits. Cooperation is a priority, but happens within a
hierarchical structure of managers and residents. The managers are in practice often given license
to make smaller decisions because the residents figure they know more about the issue (only the
shoppers know what the prices are) or because they care more (because they are more involved
with many of the processes of the house). Yet, residents are not all satisfied.
Although some residents respond with complete approval of the management system, the
majority say that the managers make too many decisions on their own. Both managers and
residents say there is too little communication between managers and residents. People express
the desire to have more input in what food is bought. As it stands, there is a wish list for food.
The food managers use their own discretion to decide what they will buy. This is not an objective
process. For example, a reason cited for not buying a certain food was that “it tastes like dog
food.” Similarly, one day a box of corn dogs appeared in the freezer. When asked why it was
bought, a food manager said that one of the people that went shopping saw it and liked it.
“Besides,” she said, “anyone who takes the time to shop has the right to buy whatever he wants.”
Some residents emphasize the efficiency of such a system. It takes a minimum effort by the
majority of the people. The trade-off, though, is that people feel decisions are being made for
them. The problem is that it does not seem that people are willing to put in the effort to make the
changes. As one resident stated, those that make the decisions are the few that care. For example,
a resident complained to a manager that the kitchen should be reorganized. The manager
suggested that it would be a good idea if he were to reorganize it himself. The resident
responded, “Never mind.”
The general dissatisfaction with the co-operative structure is explicitly due to people not
contributing enough, or not communicating enough. The contradiction is that the same people
say, as will be seen later, that they moved into Kairos or like Kairos because it is not as fully
co-operative as some of the other co-ops.

Kairos Defines Itself
Kairos is most easily defined in comparison to other living options at Stanford. There is a
prevalent attitude among residents that Kairos is different than everywhere else. Residents cite
autonomy, a home-like feeling, a laid-back character, diversity and a sense of ‘community’ as in
contrast to dormitories. Most residents say the advantage over a dorm is great. The contrast with
other co-ops is perhaps more telling about the community, though.
In a general sense, Kairos residents identify the other co-ops as “too granola, spaced out, not in
touch with reality,” “earth-loving feeling,” “dogmatic, impractical,” “granola and hippy,” “more
co-opy than us,” and “more homogeneous.” There were many comments that residents like the
other co-ops but wouldn’t want to live there, or like lots of the people in the other co-ops but
think the scene is too much. One person emphasized that the other co-ops are a good idea, but
simply do not work. He feels that Kairos is more realistic. Impressions and perceptions Kairos
residents have of the other co-ops can illustrate how they perceive themselves.
The perceptions of Terra were split between those that think of it in a negative sense and those
who think of it positively, and a couple of people who said they know nothing about it. One
person who considers Kairos more laid back than the other co-ops also feels that Terra is a bit
more laid back than the ‘hard-core’ co-ops. One other identifies it as “cool, but mainstream.”
Those who conceive of it as a negative place call it “large, not much community, boring,” “too
dark,” “lame,” “and as consisting of “video games types.” In these comments there is apparent
both a rejection of normalcy and an appreciation for moderateness.
Columbae was seen in a more generally negative light. Only thee people expressed an
appreciation for or approval of how they perceive the character of Columbae. These three called
it interactive, politically involved and funky. The others expressed dislike based on concepts that
it is “too emotional,” “overly ‘earthy,’” “very counter-culture, concerned with process,” “a good
idea taken too far by nearsighted zealots,” and “dirty.”
Hammarskjöld did not receive comment by many people. There were no negative comments
about it. Most people that said anything noted that it is the international theme house and has a
lot of graduate students. Most people who knew about it felt there were interesting people there.
Phi Psi was unknown to two people. Those who commented on it for the most part had positive
things to say: “cool,” “nice people,” “awareness, activism,” “mellow.” Four people commented
that they perceive it as a drug haven, and one person said that the co-ed showers there are
strange. It was equated by one person to Theta Chi.
Theta Chi received largely good comments. A few people considered it closest to Kairos in
character. Comments included, “interesting people,” “less co-opy than Synergy or Columbae,”
“artsy,” and “gorgeous.” Theta Chi also was identified by one person as strange because it has
co-ed showers. Another feels that it is cliquish.
Synergy was considered equal to Columbae in its “counter-culture, anti-mainstream” quality.
People called it “weird,” “off the wall, real participatory,” the “most extreme,” and the “ultimate
stereotype co-op.” It is interesting that the general comments people made about other co-ops
were roughly the same as those made about Synergy and Columbae. Similarly, the comments
about co-ops in general often included Synergy and Columbae as examples. The fact is,
Columbae and Synergy were the only two that received many comments about counter-culture
and extremeness. The only co-ops that came close were Phi Psi for its supposed drugs and co-ed
showers and Theta Chi for its co-ed showers.
It is clear that Kairos defines itself as mainstream and moderate in comparison to the other
co-ops, although there are two co-ops that people felt are similar to Kairos: Terra and Theta Chi.
Although there is a sentiment that the co-ops “like Synergy or Columbae” are too extreme and
alternative, there were a large number of comments referring to the other co-ops as having
interesting and “mellow” people. The co-op status thus is seen by many people at Kairos as a
positive thing that creates an appealing atmosphere, but also as an ideal that can be taken too far
or can be mistakenly associated in a general sense with counter-culture.
This same viewpoint is apparent in the opinions Kairos residents had about joining an all co-op
council. The majority said they were not in favor of joining such a council. Most of these
residents cited Kairos as too different from the other co-ops for it to gain anything, or that joining
could threaten the individuality of Kairos. References were made to how ‘granola’ the others are,
and to the political nature of the other co-ops. Two people believed that Synergy and Columbae
would probably dominate such a council, and said they perpetuate “an acceptable co-op mold”
and are dogmatic. These people did not want to participate in such a council. Two people pointed
out that the University is not apprehensive, and thus we do not need to organize against an
imaginary common enemy.
Those who believe Kairos should join felt there are things that all the co-ops have in common to
gain, but emphasized that the individuality of Kairos must be maintained. Some felt a larger
co-op community feeling would be good, but they doubt if many Kairos residents would want to
participate. Two people felt that it would be advantageous only for cost sharing or to improve
living conditions, but that there was no substantial need.
Another standard for self-identification by Kairos is diversity. As mentioned earlier, in the first
survey residents almost unanimously felt that Kairos is very diverse. I asked this question again
in the winter and received a very different answer. Only a few people feel that Kairos is not at all
diverse. One such person referred to cultural diversity, the other to diversity in social relations.
The latter feels that friends in the house tend to be alike. The others were split between those
who think Kairos is very diverse and those who think it is more diverse than many other places
on campus, but not diverse in all respects.
The shared view of all these people is that there is a wide variety of interests and personalities in
the house. One person mentioned that shy people are included and encouraged. Another said
there are many different political views represented. One other said that although there are not
many extremists in the house, many different views are accepted and represented. The only
person who felt uncomfortable in the house because of a political orientation or interest is one
who is very religious and conservatively oriented. This person says that people in the house
assume that there is no higher being and probably do not pray. His feeling is caused by what he
considers the moderate-liberal make up of the house. In contrast to Kairos residents’ perceptions
of the other co-ops, though, they feel that more diversity, especially on the moderate or
conservative side are respected and tolerated.
While many of those who feel Kairos is diverse state that there are many minority groups
represented, those who feel Kairos is not diverse in all respects specifically state cultural or racial
diversity as lacking. A few people said that there may be more minorities represented in Kairos
than in Stanford in general, but that it is not enough. Regardless of the actual diversity of Kairos
(this can hardly be determined in an objective way), the standard is set: people at Kairos want
diversity. Those who say that Kairos is not diverse enough are saying that they desire more.
Those that say it is diverse unanimously say that they they like that factor and consider it an
important part of the Kairos environment.
Kairos’ identity as diverse, mainstream, realistic, laid-back and independent characterize the
sentiment that Kairos is a unique living environment. One important trend here is that many
Kairos residents see themselves as too unique to have a commonality with the other co-ops. As
we saw above, though, the contrast is with two specific co-ops, Synergy and Columbae. The
antagonistic attitude against perceived control by co-ops is similar to that of management of
dorms by the University. Kairos is seen as autonomous from the University to the necessary
degree, and similarly autonomous from other residences. This trend will resurface in the section
on social life where people feel that as a unit Kairos needs no participation from outsiders. It is
important to keep in mind at this point that residents do not consider Kairos’ status as co-op all
that important. Most people do favor the designation, but it is not a primary criterion for
self-definition. People believe in the organizational structure of Kairos, but do not identify with
the other co-ops to any significant degree, and do not think of the designation as a determining
factor in the character of the house.

Social Life and Personal Interactions
Kairos can be described as a community in the sense that people live together. To what degree
can this definition be expanded for Kairos? ‘Community’ can be seen as a form of unity based
either upon location or upon common interest. Most all residents say that they do look for
‘community’ in a residence, and would like there to be ‘community’ at Kairos. The degree to
which they are satisfied may perhaps indicate how they perceive the concept of ‘community.’
The responses were varied. A few people consider Kairos to have a very good level of
‘community.’ One such resident attributed it to the amount of co-operation required by the work
residents do. Others called the community supportive, caring, trusting, reliable, and full of people
who get along well. These people seem to value the emotional interaction and stability of the
community environment. Others felt that Kairos has an average or fair level of ‘community.’
These residents felt that there is not a lot of mutual co-operation, consideration and that people
seem to be too concerned with themselves.
If it is taken as fact that a significant number of people do perform their house work below the
community’s standard, the split level of satisfaction may be due to different ideals. Those that
are satisfied focus on the emotional support they find here, considered by all these residents to be
much greater than in their past experiences at Stanford. Those that are dissatisfied may look for
‘community’ in mutual obligation and participation, which they feel are lacking.
There were a few who say they do not look for ‘community’ in a residence. They say either that
they simply cannot expect it from a house this large or that they find it elsewhere. For those that
do seek ‘community,’ especially a direct level of involvement with the house, these people who
do not look for ‘community’ are a source of dissatisfaction. This attitude is paralleled by
comments on the ‘social scene’ in the house.
There are those who feel very content and fulfilled by the specific scene here. One such person
says she does not expect much from a residence, but finds that Kairos has a good balance
between being supportive and people not being invested one hundred percent. Others find that
there is always enough appealing social events going on to meet their desires. These people also
do not have high social expectations. One resident in this category said, “my wild is pretty mild.”
Another does not enjoy large crowds, but rather individuals that are willing to talk and interact.
At the other end are those that are not content with the social life. A few complain about the
people who do their own thing. As one other said, his one regret about living in Kairos is
indicated by the question, “why would people rather study on a Saturday night than come to their
own house’s party?” Others comment that there should be more in-house activities. The problem,
though, is that people do not show up when there is a party. Especially during fall quarter, but
also during winter, many people have commented that the best fun they have had in the house is
at small in-house gatherings or parties. For an all-campus party during the winter, people were
supposed to distribute flyers to advertise it throughout campus. By the time the party started,
only a few had been taken from the stack. People commented later that they just didn’t care if
other people came. They had invited their friends, and other than that, they just wanted to party
with Kairos people. These are the people that look for involvement from other people in the
house. To their disappointment, the party was almost empty of Kairos residents as well as
The other source of dissatisfaction with the Kairos social scene is a perception of disjointedness
and cliquishness. In the fall quarter survey, many residents express the opinion that Kairos is
uniquely lacking in exclusive cliques within the house. Because the house is small and there is a
strong tone of acceptance of diversity, the social associations that did exist within the house
presented a problem for some people. The norm as I analyzed it was togetherness, and when
certain people perceived any level of exclusion, they explicitly considered it an obstacle. I took
seating charts of who sat next to each other at dinners for a three-week period. Although the data
sample was small, a number of personal preferences were revealed. These preferences related
directly to an explicit and often discussed second-third floor dichotomy.
The third floor was socially dominated by the quint, a five male room. With several strongly
associated people on the third floor, their room served as a gathering place for many third floor
people and a few second floor people who were close friends. The second floor housed all of the
second year residents who formed a cohesive social group. There were also a few smaller
clusters of friends that lived on the second floor, but who did not interact to any significant
degree with the third floor group. The second and third floors both had a number of people that
did not interact with any group in specific or did not spend much time in the house at all.
There are innumerable reasons why the members of each group participated as they did. An
obvious one was room locations. People tended to associate with those who lived close-by even
when they might have gotten along just as well with many other people. Similarly, those who did
not feel any particular gravitation towards their nearest neighbors may associate themselves with
the rest of the house in a broader way rather than forming strong bonds with particular people.
Another is familiarity. Those who are returning residents for the most part knew each other
before this academic year started, and naturally felt a bond. Those who did not spend much time
in the house all say they have significant lives elsewhere and think of Kairos as a place to sleep
or eat more than anything else.
These groups were not characterized by any major personality, economic status or ethnicity
trends. Seeking an alternative trend might be appropriate. At the time I figured that Kairos
residents may have grouped themselves by the types of interaction they desired from each other.
It seemed that those who needed a responsive affiliation with a group and were ready for such a
commitment tended to participate in the tighter groups. Those who did not need the affiliation
within the house, were not ready for a close web of dependency, or were satisfied with a broader
sense of community participation did not associate themselves specifically within the two
strongest groups. Quite admittedly there were deeper psychological motivations present in the
groups. Those mentioned, though, were directly related to the more significant trend of
acceptance and inclusion of diversity.
It seemed that none of the groups were considered less “okay” or less a part of the house. For
many, they were rather different ways that many people felt a part of the house. For example, the
two more cohesive groups, the quint cluster and the returning residents contributed the most to
the second-third floor dichotomy. This dichotomy was simply a perceived difference between the
make-up of each floor, reflecting the mutual exclusion of the social groups that dominated the
floors. The dichotomy took on a pseudo-territorial nature. The fact is the two groups liked and
respected each other very much. They liked working together and had very similar desires for the
house as a whole. This is what made the two groups an explicit and talked-about dichotomy. The
members wished the distinction between them could be broken down.
In the winter quarter, as a few residents noted, many friendships have shifted. Some people have
become more interactive with people they had never been close to before, and some old
associations became less involved. Although one resident mentioned that the third floor still
seemed isolated, most others felt that there are many smaller cliques and groups that now act
independently. One notable change serves as an example for the general trend that people are not
interacting in the house in winter as much as they were in the fall. The quint which served as a
social center for a large group no longer hosts many gatherings. The quint residents tried having
two room parties during the quarter in a specific attempt to rekindle the spirit that they felt had
disappeared since the first quarter. The first party enjoyed a reasonable attendance, but everyone
left soon after midnight. The second party was very poorly attended.
This change is due to people being busier than they were in the fall, to their dedicating more time
to friends outside of the house, and I will argue to the passage of time after the earthquake crisis.
In the surveys in the fall, many people stated the importance of the earthquake experience.
People relied on each other and found a community of people that cared. Many trends began at
this time that were important factors for the first quarter, but have dissipated somewhat through
the winter. Behavioral trends may have changed, but dominant expectancies of behavioral trends
have not.

House-Wide Trends
One of the most important trends is the social pressure to be in the house a lot. As mentioned
earlier, many people expect and hope that others will make Kairos a priority in their lives.
Although this was a stronger factor during the first quarter, the standard remains in the form of
disappointment in those who do not involve themselves and the feeling by those who don’t
participate a lot that they are disliked because of it. This point is best demonstrated by a
peripheral member of the community who spends very little time in the house. Other residents
have expressed that she seems like a very “cool” person and they wish she were around more.
From her perspective, though, Kairos is saying something very different to her.
Her most memorable experiences at Kairos are when she has been persecuted for not being more
a part of the house. Strikingly, this woman drew into Kairos for similar reasons to everyone else.
Knowing that she wouldn’t be around much, she wanted a house with a “relaxed, open-minded
atmosphere”. She hoped it would be okay to be a less-than-fully-integrated member of the
community. These are standards that the fully-integrated members continue to expect and
uphold. But the acceptance of diversity seems to stipulate that you participate fully in the
community. Of those that returned the winter survey, the two people who spend a significant part
of the time out of the house expressed the feeling that they were not accepted in the community.
Another trend is the wish that the house were closer and more intimate than it is. This seemed
curious during the fall when most residents were also very pleased and surprised by the unusual
degree of unity that did exist. Likewise, as the level of participation decreases by many members
of the house, the wish grows even stronger. It seems that the one follows from the other in that if
there were not such an obvious potential for unity and support people would not consider it
possible in University housing. In other words, people only want it more because they have
already had so much of it.
The returning residents seem to have instilled in the rest of the members a common Kairos
identity that includes a self-awareness that they are different than most other campus dorms and
co-ops. Residents believe that they are realistic in how they approach the house, and that the very
fact that they aren’t idealistic makes it work even better. For example, during one house meeting
during the earthquake crisis we were discussing how we could help other co-ops who would not
be returning to their houses. A number of comments were made such as “I’m an ass-hole, but an
honest one,” and “let’s face it, we’re anal compared to the other co-ops.” Residents talk about
how they are relatively apathetic to campus and political issues, more materially-oriented, and
eat lots of meat. These attitudes are not universal, but most everyone believes it is perfectly okay
to be that way, and that there is no reason anyone should be willing to change. These attitudes
contribute to Kairos’ marginal role on campus and its internal cohesion.
The Kairos community is also especially conducive to trying things this set of people wouldn’t
normally venture into in a more “normal” environment. This happens within relatively
conservative limits. Different people have said that they chewed tobacco, smoked a cigarette,
smoked pot, did alcohol drinking rituals, drunk to an excess, or went to a bar for the first time.
Others have neglected school work like never before, tried to surf, have expressed a willingness
to take the drug XTC if others would, and have expressed deep feelings and problems to people
they would normally never open-up to. These residents find this a unique situation, most
specifically because most of these practices are not common within the house. There is no social
pressure to do these specific things, and yet there is a sense of support for such experimentation.
A nearly universal trend is an awareness that you have to get drunk with everyone before you
really bond with them. Kairos residents drink often and most everybody included at least one
drinking event in their most memorable experiences with the house. There are residents who do
not drink, but even they have said that some of their strongest bonding experiences with other
residences were when the others were drunk. A primary cause of the drunk bonding experience is
the nature of the drug. But another has to do with residents’ attitudes towards the community. It
seems apparent that many people in the house feel dependent on the house and are extremely
grateful for what it offers them. Alcohol allows them to express this. It is quite characteristic of
the house to be talking informally with people in a small group of drunk residents and have
someone with whom you have little affiliation to come up and say they love everyone, or hug
you and say they just wanted to say how much s/he appreciates you.
This standard is reiterated as the house grows more fragmented. In order to initiate social
bonding experiences, people tend to buy alcohol. The quint, as mentioned before, bought kegs
for its two second quarter parties, advertising that it was time once again to get drunk together
like the quarter before. Similarly, at the traditional quarter end party, the house always elects to
buy a large quantity of alcohol in anticipation of the uninhibited interaction that will result.
The nickname the “house of love” is generally referred to as a regrettable stereotype we have
inherited from the past. Residents in general dislike the hippy connotations it carries but find it
humorous that it persists despite the stubbornly mainstream make-up of the house. As a few
residents expressed, the great thing about the name is that they all continue to be themselves, as
mainstream as they care to be, but they feel they have experienced the freedom to feel emotions
as a community that are stereotyped to the extremist “crunchy, vegetarian thing”.
In the next section I will explore a case that is identified by every resident as one of the most
memorable experiences of the first quarter at Kairos. The earthquake crisis and its aftermath was
probably the single-most influential factor in the development of Kairos culture. It involved most
every positive community standard I have mentioned. Although some of the trends begun during
the earthquake have begun to reverse themselves in the opinions of many residents, the standards
were set. The residents may be changing their behavior, but they perceive the difference and
wish it could be improved.

The Earthquake
The residents were scattered throughout campus when the earthquake hit, but soon afterwards
most everyone convened on the lawn in front of the house. Our Resident Assistant told us the
house was officially closed until further notice. The experience at this point was primarily happy
and exciting due to strong community support, although we all had the typical emotional
difficulties. When it became apparent that we would most likely not be allowed in the house for
the night, people ran inside against the RA’s wishes and grabbed a few possessions, some food
and all the alcohol in the house.
That night we were the only house on the upper Row to remain congregated in front of our
house, and we had a “blow-out” drinking party with a bonfire. The next day and a half were
fairly confusing. We were told the house would be closed for a week or two at the minimum, and
we were not immediately given any place to stay. This period was very difficult for Kairos
residents because we received progressively worse news about the status of our house. At one
point we were told the house would almost surely be closed for the year.
The residents of Kairos were very devastated. People talked at length about how important the
community had already become to them and that they wanted more than anything to live with the
same community for the remainder of the year. On the third day we were given the Casa Zapata
lounge to stay in, and a majority of the house decided to forgo other more comfortable temporary
housing options in order to stay together in the lounge. The lounge became a center for the house
including many of the people who opted to live elsewhere. Prejudice against these others was
blatant, though. They were unreservedly called traitors and deserters. Many of the “traitors” felt
this was an expression of their desire for them to be a part of the group, but others found this
alienating and were very uncomfortable even walking into the lounge.
The house displayed a surprising involvement with the other co-ops during this crisis. The
Stanford co-op community made a huge effort to plan for its joint future. Kairos joined the
discussions, attended all the meetings and actively shared information. At the same time, though,
Kairos had a unique attitude that it would not wait for the University or the other co-ops to
decide its fate. A number of residents did everything in their power to locate off-campus housing
to accommodate most of the Kairos residents. We were ready at any moment to lay thirty
thousand dollars down on a house. This period of time is quite memorable to all residents. Those
who lived in the lounge feel they formed the strongest bonds with other residents then. Many
others saw the positive experience those in the lounge were having and expressed the desire to be
able to join in it (extreme work loads or other social commitments were cited as preventing
At the end of the first week out of the house, we were told that Kairos would reopen the
following week. The ecstasy everyone felt is indescribable. That night we threw a party in the
Zapata lounge that remains many residents’ most memorable party. Some Kairos residents
continued to have strong involvement with the other co-ops that would not be let back in the
house. We made decisions to change a common room in the house into a new room for a
displaced student and to open up fifteen eating associate spots for displaced co-op residents who
wanted an alternative community affiliation. These decisions were consciously not as generous
as they could have been. Residents were aware that they didn’t want to change the character of
the house by admitting too many ‘hard-core’ co-opers, and that they would be unwilling to
forfeit many of the comforts of the house that would be required by opening up more living
When we returned to the house, the mood was very different. There were new friendships,
stronger group affiliation, and significantly deteriorated clique barriers. At the same time,
schoolwork that had been neglected during the period of displacement forced most residents to
work harder than ever. This was a difficult thing for many because they had come to depend on
the community for social and emotional support. As a result, schoolwork continued to be ignored
throughout fall quarter, and yet people say that they suffered because they were not spending
nearly enough time together.
It is hard to convey just what I felt and what many other residents explain what they felt during
this experience. The most significant factor is that it remains such an important memory for
everyone, and was the single-most important time in the formation of Kairos culture.

Because I am a resident of Kairos, it is impossible for me to effectively distinguish between my
view of the community and any other. Everything I have written here has been supported by the
statements of other residents or what I believe is self-conscious observation. I regret if I have
construed my own view of the community or that of a few people as the view of the whole.
Kairos is a unique place if for no other reason than that its members consider it to be. The
potential that the members feel they have to create a supportive and fulfilling community
continues despite the apparent decrease in behaviors that foster such a feeling. They have
experienced involvement in the type of community that many desire, and know what they wish
would return. The obstacles are that, as one resident mentioned, the residents are flaky about
contributing to the house, and that there are many residents who simply do not desire to make
Kairos the main focus of their social lives.
The residents this year consider themselves very different than any previous year’s group. Yet, in
a sense, the strong sense of affiliation most people feel from the house ties them to what is
analogous to a fraternal tradition. There are numerous traditions at Kairos that are expensive,
require work or are a troublesome inconvenience that have not been opposed by a single resident.
For example, a huge effort is made on a variety of occasions to welcome previous residents back
to the house in a very costly way, even though only a handful of residents ever met them before.
Similarly, people at Kairos tend to accept decisions that are handed to them because they were
made by previous residents. According to a number of older residents of Kairos, the importance
of ‘community’ has always been a tradition, and likewise, the dedication of ‘mainstream’ types
to the community has always set Kairos apart.

                           Off-Campus Co-ops
381 Oxford, Palo Alto
1979 - Present
Currently 6 members
Magic, Incorporated was founded in 1979 by David Schrom, Corinne Powell, Erica Prince, and
Santiago Escruceria to research and teach human ecology. They use the term human ecology in a
literal sense, to mean scientific study of interaction (1) among individual humans, (2) between
humans and other life, and (3) between humans and the abiotic elements of the environment.
They focus upon human ecology because they consider it to be without equal for illuminating
questions of purpose, value, and good, and as a method for predicting the consequences of
human behavior, and thus enabling the meaningful choice upon which freedom depends. The
four Magic programs are ecological philosophy, personal awareness, co-operation, and
environmental protection.
David Schrom, Daniel Bartsch, Robin Bayer, Dave Muffly, Andrew Halparin, and Ben Lipman
currently live in the Magic household. They are the core of a group of people who see
themselves as providing a service to the larger community. Part of this service involves oak tree
regeneration on Stanford lands and contributing to more and healthier trees in the region by
organizing Peninsula Releaf. Service is a reason people are drawn to the house, and if they
change and want something else, they tend to move on. David Schrom has been living at Magic
for ten years, while Daniel has been there eight years and the others have lived there less than
two years.
These suggestions were brought up during an evening discussion at Magic:
Ways to Eliminate Conflicts within the House
1. Social service to the community and each other
2. Emphasize right livelihood (allows each person enough time in their life to focus on conflicts
and resolve them)
3. Encourage a scientific, ecological world-view
4. Be sensitive to the needs of others
5. Regard self as a model for others and attempt to live an exemplary lifestyle
6. Try to notice and avoid typical pitfalls of group houses
  • Sexual intrigue
  • Ideas held beyond question
   • Knowledge domination
Recommendations to Stanford Co-op Houses
1. Write a social contract which includes commitments and expectations of each member to the
house. This contract might be updated when housemembers decide to change it.
2. Students might receive academic credit for living in the house. In a co-op, students learn
valuable management and decision-making skills, practical skills (food preparation,
housecleaning, maintenance, carpentry), and interpersonal skills. By giving academic credit, it
might validate the experience in the eyes of both University people and students, and also
encourage students to take their responsibilities more seriously.
Magic Social Contract (in brief)
1. Be positive
2. Develop one’s self, intellectually and physically
3. Be scientific
4. Be directed
5. Communicate
6. Be regular in animal functions (eating, exercise, sex, sleep)
7. Love unconditionally
8. Maximize service
9. Minimize demands
10. Build this community
                                                                                  — Randy Schutt

Guinda House
365 Guinda, Palo Alto (by the creek)
Guinda House was a vegetarian co-op from sometime until about 1982. When I moved in in
1978 it had been occupied mostly by Stanford dancers, but I was not, and other more political
people lived there around that time. Stacey Greenberg lived there the same time I did (and I think
she still lives in Palo Alto). She had lived in Columbae in 76-77 when I did, and may have for a
few years after. Lynn de Paar also lived there, and I think she had lived in the co-ops. Peter Nye,
Bill Scott, Susan Friedland, and Jeff Oxley were not co-opers (I think)., but were politically
minded and travelled in similar circles. Guinda House still exists, but it is no longer a co-op.

The Food Chain
Jim Lutz set up the Food Chain, a network of mostly Stanford spin-off co-ops, while he was at
Fulton House about 1978. Houses in the Food Chain bought food together wholesale and then
divvied it up. We also had regular potlucks and parties. The houses I remember were Guinda
House, Bryant’s Bend, 2001 House, Ananufa House (A Non Nuclear Family), Anarres House
(named after the anarchist utopia in Ursula LeGuin’s The Dispossessed), and Oxford House.
There were other houses too. The Food Chain lasted till about 1981, I think. All of these houses
except the first two were Stanford spin-offs (I think).

Oxford House
570 Oxford, Apt. E (ground floor)
Oxford house was set up around 1975 by a group of politicos. People who lived there originally
were Larry Litvak, June Cooperman and Chris Coleman. Chis worked at SWOPSI and now lives
in San Leandro Later residents included Chris Gray, Kaki McTigue, maybe Laura Wagner (all
from Columbae) and Steven Mentor (Synergy). Still later Robin Severns, Kim McCall and I (all
from Columbae) all moved in; I lived there from June 1980 till Sept. 1981. Many people working
in the anti-nuclear movement crashed at Oxford, including Bob Thawley and Marian Doub
(Synergy), Matt Nicodemus and Ron (Breakfast) Boyer (Columbae). Mary Alexander now lives
there with one other woman.
try contacting Chris Coleman, 726 Fountainhead Dr., 94578, 891-8301

Dragon House
(Middlefield near Loma Verde)
Dragon House existed from roughly 1979 to 1981. I think Chris Gray, Kaki McTigue, Laura
Wagner, and Steven Mentor all lived there. It was the center for an anarchist group associated
with Stanford and Synergy called the Black Rose Collective. They formed a group called Roses
Against a Nuclear Environment (RANE) which became very active in the Abalone Alliance. Jeff
Hook of Synergy was in RANE and later lived in Magic House.

Camp Channing
627 Channing Ave, Palo Alto
Camp Channing existed from June 77 to June 78. Many of us had lived in Stanford co-ops. Tom
Wainwright had lived in Columbae for 3 years and spent summers at Theta Chi (now in
Seattle?). Jim Lutz was there the summer of ’77; he lived in Columbae 76-77 and helped set up
Androgyny house and lived there ’77-78. Phyllis Brown may have lived in a Stanford Co-op; she
lives in Oakland and is the PR person for Highland (?) Hospital. Paul Framson and Bert Bauer
had lived in Columbae several years earlier. We finally had to move out when an architect with
five children bought the house and built four condos in the backyard.

Tish Kuljian, Lee Shoop (from Columbae) and others lived in a house on Bryant St. around
1980. Tish now lives in Palo Alto, Lee is in Red Bluff (see alum list).
Several Stanford co-opers lived in Urban Stonehenge in San Francisco. Contact Steven Mentor
(now a prof at SFSU).

Maddux (“Mad Ducks”) House
3112 Maddux Dr., Palo Alto
September 1986 (?) - December 1988
Residents included Randy Schutt, Madeline Larsen, Susan Sandler, Jen Grant., all from various
Stanford co-ops.
— Randy Schutt

Ponderosa House
College Park (Stanford and Birch?)
Ponderosa House lasted from at least 1982 till 1984 or ’85. It may have been part of the food
chain. Residents included Seth Zuckerman and Sushma Govindarajulu (Columbae), Cynthia and
Clark Vitt-Jarvis (Synergy) and others. The dining table from Ponderosa is now at Acorn. The
house is still a student house (as of Spring 1989), but not a co-op.

Acorn House
Acorn was started in the summer of 1985 by a group of nine people, largely former Columbae
residents. It was located originally in a 5 bedroom house on Oak Hill Dr., near Foothill
Expressway and Arastradero Rd; it moved from there to Hanover St. in College Terrace in 1986,
and then to Arastradero Rd. in July of 1989. More than 25 persons have lived in Acorn at one
time or another. The house currently has seven residents including several co-op alums and
current Stanford staff members and graduate students.
— Paul Baer

                                      A Little Ditty
A little ditty ’bout Jack and Diana
Caught between bureaucracy and the wrath of Joanna
Jackie’s gonna be a big administrator
Diana thinks with his skills he should just be a waiter.

Oh yeah, life goes on
After Columbae, Synergy and Phi Psi are gone (x2)
Sippin’ on diet cokes, a-walkin’ by the Quad
They’re talkin’ with Michael Jackson, but the man thinks he’s God
Jackie says, “Hey Diane, let’s invade Building 10
And substitute Don for Presidents Conklin and Chin.”

Oh yeah, life goes on
After Columbae, Synergy and Phi Psi are gone (x2)

Jackie sits back, collects his thoughts for the moment,
Scratches his head and does his best Matt Price —
“You know, co-operative living really subverts the
          institutionalized hierarchical power structures that fragment our society, don’t you
Diana says, “Uh, Jackie, isn’t that ....‘nice’?”

Oh yeah, Life’s a bitch
When three of the Co-ops are sleepin’ in a ditch (x2)

Feel the aftershocks, down the Row,
Leave Grove-Mayfield, get your mail at the Knoll
Until next year, you can do what you please
Then start it all up again at the Groves and AD’s!

Little ditty ’bout Jack and Diana
Two administrators doing the best that they can...

Lyrics by Ethan Pride; Music stolen from John Cougar Mellancamp

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