CoopAtStan-28W Weds May 16 7:00 pm Draft Only — Draft Only — Draft Only
Co-operative Living at Stanford
A Report of SWOPSI 146
This report resulted from the hard work of the students of a Stanford Workshops on Political and
Social Issues (SWOPSI) class called “Co-operative 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 combination).
Contributing to this report were:
Paul Baer (instructor)
Joanna Davidson (instructor)
Madeline Larsen (instructor)
Eric Rose (instructor)
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
Co-operative Living at Stanford Table of Contents
Table of Contents
II. Co-operation ................................................................................................................3
Theories, Models and Issues Concerning Co-operation........................................3
What is Co-operation?..............................................................................3
Five Kinds of Companies Co-operative in the Narrow Sense ...................4
Principles of Co-operation........................................................................5
Notes on Community, Co-operation, and Sustainable Living....................7
Leland Stanford’s Ideas on Co-operation.................................................7
Residential Education and Co-operative 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
Phi Psi House...........................................................................................22
Theta Chi ..................................................................................................33
Defunct Residential Stanford Co-operatives .........................................................35
Walter Thompson Co-operative................................................................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
Co-operative Living at Stanford Table of Contents
Stanford Federal Credit Union..................................................................38
Co-ops in the Community.....................................................................................39
Residential Co-ops at Other Universities ..............................................................39
Conclusion: Implications for the Stanford Co-ops....................................44
Survey of Stanford Co-op Alumni........................................................................49
IV. The Current Crisis ......................................................................................................57
Chronology of the Post-Quake Events..................................................................57
Effects of and Concerns about Closing Synergy, Columbae
, and Phi Psi Co-ops .........................................................................................61
The Structure of Decision Making........................................................................64
V. Recommendations and Alternatives..............................................................................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 Contract with the University...........................................................78
A Separate Co-op Housing Draw .............................................................81
Future Co-op Buildings............................................................................81
Outreach to Other Co-opers .....................................................................86
For Further Reference.......................................................................................................88
Co-operative Living at Stanford i Summary
The students of SWOPSI 146 believe that they
Overview have had an important role in the process that led
As a result of the October 17, 1989 earthquake, to these decisions and hope the University admin-
three Stanford residential co-ops were closed istration will continue to value their concerns and
indefinitely due to structural damage. A group of input.
co-op community members formed to monitor
the administrative process as it made crucial Co-operation
decisions regarding the future of the displaced The concept of co-operative living is hardly new.
communities and to rally for their successful con- Indeed, most people across the world live in some
tinuation. Several of them designed a SWOPSI type of co-operative housing (for instance, in a
(Stanford Workshop on Political and Social nuclear- or extended-family home). At Stanford,
Issues) class called “Co-operative Living and the however, the very word ‘co-op’ conjures up
Current Crisis at Stanford” and taught it during images of extremism and deviance. This occurs in
Winter Quarter, 1990. spite of the fact that Leland Stanford himself was
The uncertainty of the aftermath of the earthquake a strong advocate of co-operative associations and
made it imperative that the co-op community take considered the co-operation of labor to be, in
an active role in the University decision-making general, a leading feature lying at the foundations
process. It is only through the joint efforts of the of the University. The present co-operative
administration and concerned students that movement is not directly connected with
mutually satisfactory decisions are made. The Stanford’s vision, but with the student
“Co-operative Living and the Current Crisis at movements of the 1960’s. While this period was
Stanford” class filled this role by providing a a formative one for co-operation at Stanford, the
forum for co-op community members to actively Stanford co-operatives must transcend this
participate and by researching co-operation and pigeonhole and affirm those characteristics of
how it relates to Stanford University. co-operative living from which all students can
learn and which further the goals of Residential
The changes forced by the crisis of the earth- Education.
quake made it necessary to analyze the Stanford
University residential co-ops. It also provided an The co-operative community at Stanford is
opportunity to re-evaluate them. Although remarkable in its diversity, and there exists no
Stanford co-op community members tend to be unified manifesto of purpose for members of the
very satisfied with their residence experiences, the community. There do, however, seem to be some
members of the Co-operative Living at Stanford ideals shared by many of the co-operatives. These
class felt that an in-depth look at further co-ops strive to blur the distinction between
potentials was appropriate. The class produced school and home, between mental and physical
the following report based on their research. The labor, between the personal and the political.
report includes background research regarding Consonant with this ideal is the emphasis placed
co-operation and the Stanford community. It then on limiting environmental impact and rejecting the
treats the nature of the current crisis. Finally, it opposition between “nature” and human society.
recommends specific developments for the future Co-ops also act to encourage co-operation as a
and presents other possibilities for the future that viable and fulfilling alternative to competition, and
the class did not come to consensus on. serve as a forum where methods of co-operation
can be explored.
Since the commencement of the class, the
Stanford Administration has committed to repair Lastly, co-operatives take many of the goals of
one house, Columbae, and allow its displaced co- Residential Education and apply them within the
op community to return there in the 1990-91 framework of the house itself. Thus, goals like
academic year. The Administration has also social awareness and involvement, individual
committed to temporarily rehousing the other two responsibility, and tolerance are not imposed by
displaced co-op communities (putting Phi Psi in Res Ed, but are intrinsic to the ideals of co-
the Alpha Delt House and Synergy in the Grove operation itself. Co-operation can be a way of life
Houses), and to repairing their damaged houses which, while aware of its own history and origins,
by an unspecified time no earlier than 1991-92. looks forward and works to create tangible
Co-operative Living at Stanford ii Summary
change. It forms, we believe, an indispensable part Theta Chi is organized around the idea of self-
of a Stanford education. control — the house is owned by the co-op
(technically its fraternity alumni group), and
repairs, improvements, and all aspects of house
Background managing are done by students. The house is
Seven residential co-ops operated at Stanford known for having many singles and is close to
prior to the earthquake in 1989. Through campus (as well as being cheaper both for rent
extensive research, we explored their unique and food), a characteristic that usually brings in a
characters and spirits. Each house has special diverse crowd. Theta Chi stays open all year
features that make it unique structurally, and to round, and in the past has been a haven for
some extent this affects the student population. groups seeking escape from University red tape.
Columbae House still maintains its original theme Synergy and Columbae tend to stay away from
of Social Change Through Nonviolence — a processed foods and run non-hierarchically.
theme that has included ideas such as vegetarian- Many students mistakenly associate these traits
ism, consensus decision-making, and recycling. with all co-ops, an attitude that residents have
Columbae comes from a tradition of political attempted to change through outreach. In fact, the
activity, which varies from year to year, and the survey conducted as a part of the class discovered
house generally focuses on building a tightly-knit that some students thought a co-op (Synergy, I
community. The house has an extensive co-op suppose) had a goat!
library and archives.
Several co-ops previously existed at Stanford, but
Phi Psi House has a long tradition of “good are now defunct. Jordan House (now Haus Mitt)
living” which encompasses the large house and was started in 1970. Little is known about the
yard, and has in the past included traditions of house other that the fact that it had a few murals
house bands and wild parties. The house is con- (some from Alice in Wonderland, and a Rolling
sidered less political than other co-ops on Stones tongue on the door). Apparently the food
campus. was bad, and the house was unclean. In 1977 it
Hammarskjöld House was created to foster was terminated, and became Androgyny (or
“International Understanding”, and in order to Simone de Beauvoir) House, a “theme” house
further this goal has a separate draw which is focussing on feminism and gender issues. The
more self-selective (to insure a geographically house was not fully equipped until three weeks
and culturally diverse group). The small house into the school year, and was mysteriously
has many Eating Associates. terminated after Winter Quarter of its first year,
leading many people to suspect a conspiracy
Kairos House draws a more “mainstream” (Haus Mitt, which had been approved to become
group. Decisions are made by majority vote a theme house at the same time as Androgyny,
rather than consensus and it is the only co-op that was placed in Jordan the following year).
hires students from the house to cook. Kairos has Ecology House, an environmental theme house,
maintained independence from the other co-ops started in 1971, it became Terra in 1973. The
in the past, and only recently was officially listed reason for the name-change and loss of academic
as a co-op in the draw book. theme is not known.
Terra, once Ecology House, has become a more Stanford has many other co-ops on campus
“mainstream” co-op in the 1980’s. It was nearly besides the seven residential co-ops. The
closed by the administration after relatively Associated Students of Stanford University
unsuccessful Draw seasons, but has survived and (ASSU) is a co-op of all Stanford students. The
thrived since then. It is located in a large Cowell- Stanford Bookstore is owned co-operatively by
cluster house. Terra has several interesting the faculty. Breakers Eating Club is also a
murals. co-operative and recently Jewish students created
Synergy House, originally created with the theme a Kosher Eating Club in the Elliot Program
“Exploring Alternatives”, which included alter- Center.
native energy, organization (non-hierarchical), and In addition to University co-ops, there have been
sometimes vegetarianism. The house has a large a number of co-op houses in the local community
garden and keeps chickens in the back yard for in which many current students or recent gradu-
eggs. Also, the house boasts a large “Alternative ates live. These are usually transient (with a few
Periodicals Rack” as well as many murals. exceptions). The Food Chain, a network of these
Synergy residents tend to feel relatively detached houses, was started in 1978 so that food buying
from mainstream Stanford University life. could be combined. Five or six houses would buy
Co-operative Living at Stanford iii Summary
bulk food and have parties or potlucks together. community’s involvement with the long-range
The Food Chain lasted until about 1981. Magic planning of their future. By October 20, three of
was started in 1979, in order to explore “human the co-ops knew they would not be able to return
ecology”. Members of Magic work to organize to their houses for at least the remainder of the
community projects (such as planting trees) and academic year.
develop a larger community of people associated A difficult but often gratifying dialogue between
with Magic interested in service. A number of co-op community members and the University
other spin-off co-ops once existed, but no longer administration has continued till the present. Two
do. functioning student/administrator groups that
One of the most instructive aspects of the course formed in the aftermath of the quake were the
has been the exploration of co-ops and co-op “task group” and the “work group.” The
systems at other universities. For example, the co- former helped give student input, while the
operative association at UC Berkeley is a full second was a decision-making body. These
corporation with 1500 members, owns and even groups fit the consensus process of the students
builds its own co-ops. Most other co-op systems into the complex bureaucracy of the University.
are smaller — University of Wisconsin (at Madi- In January, it was announced that Columbae was
son), Brown, and Harvard all have small-scale co- scheduled to reopen the following fall, providing
ops, usually two or three houses. Probably the a boost to the co-op community. Soon thereafter,
most diverse co-op system is at UC Davis, which the University administration determined that they
includes off-campus co-ops and newer houses would fix the remaining houses within a few
constructed on campus (which are parts of years, and that the displaced communities would
different co-op organizations), as well as Baggins be rehoused temporarily. In March it was finally
End, known as the “Domes”. There is a lot to announced that Synergy would occupy the Grove
learn from the ways students have set up co-op houses and Phi Psi would occupy the Alpha Delt
systems at other universities. This report includes house in the coming year.
names of people who know in-depth about co-op
construction and funding.
The campus survey conducted as a part of the Recommendations and Alternatives
class sought to identify common ideas held about A major focus of this class from the beginning
co-ops by different student populations. Many was to consider and recommend alternatives for
students believed the houses to be dirty, or felt the short, medium, and long term futures of the
that co-ops were too large a time commitment, or co-ops at Stanford. This included both those
held extreme political views. Clearly there is a closed by the earthquake and the co-op commu-
need for education about co-ops, especially nity as a whole. This section presents the class’s
among freshpeople. recommendations and other alternatives for the
future. These sections should be read in full by
The survey of Stanford co-op alumni was those interested in possible future action on
responded to by members of many co-ops, but behalf of the co-ops.
especially Synergy and Columbae. The vast
majority considered living in a co-op a positive Some of the actions of the class have already
experience. Many alumni explained the benefits been completed, some are continuing, and some
they see in co-operative living. Their co-op are still in the form of recommendations or
experiences at Stanford influenced many alumni options for further consideration. Actions that are
in their lives and professions after graduation. completed need little discussion. The future
houses of Phi Psi and Synergy, after much debate
in the class and wrangling with administrators
The Current Crisis and cooks, have been decided: the old Alpha Delt
A chronology beginning with the quake on house for Phi Psi and the Grove houses for
October 17, 1989 points out those events which Synergy. Suggestions for the repair of Columbae
were particularly strengthening or disem- have been proposed but were rejected (although
powering, with the hope of reinforcing the further suggestions might still be appropriate).
former. Five of the co-ops were among a group What specifically have we done and do we
of University residences temporarily closed by recommend?
the quake. Co-op residents along with other
displaced students met on the lawn in front of Modifications to Columbae House
Columbae on October 19 to meet with the
University administration. This meeting began the We recommend bringing Columbae closer to
environmental sustainability by means of
Co-operative Living at Stanford iv Summary
insulation, passive and active solar energies, grey A Co-op Union
water, and a more flexible heating system. We
recommend returning temporary first floor rooms We recommend the formation of a co-op union.
to lounges, the removal of two walls, new sinks, a House participation in this union should be
new floor in the kitchen, and wheelchair voluntary. Each participating house would have 1
accessibility. We request that the individual – 2 representatives; the Union would be funded.
character of the rooms in Columbae be retained, The co-op union could serve as a spokes-
that the murals be saved, and that the size of the organization for the co-op community and a
kitchen not be diminished. liaison to the administration. It could arrange both
educational and hedonistic programs. It could
Phi Psi and Synergy Structures help co-ordinate outreach for the draw. Possibly
in the long term it could save money, perhaps for
We point out the importance of the quasi-rural an emergency or to hire a staffperson.
setting of these two houses, unique on the
Stanford campus, and the importance of students’ Ethnic and Cultural Diversity
living in a place with beauty and character. Their
homes must be personal and personalizable. The Why do few of the co-ops attract a substantial
murals, the chicken coop, pool table, wood floors, minority population, when generally these com-
chimneys, and the items that contribute to the munities value cultural diversity? We must strive
individuality of the houses must be preserved. to understand why racial and ethnic minorities do
The second-floor bathrooms might be made co- not come to the co-ops. We should reach out to
ed. Perhaps the Phi Psi attic and the Synergy roof ethnic communities in the form of joint programs
can be adapted in such a way that people may and discussions, and by offering information. We
safely make use of them as common spaces. could engage in workshops involving minority
issues, invite professors to dinner, and bring
Synergy and Phi Psi Transition ethnic bands to the houses.
Now that Synergy and Phi Psi have houses (the Alternatives for Further Consideration
Groves and the Alpha Delts) for next year, some
concrete actions need to be taken. We suggest We suggest a number of other possibilities for
that a “transitional manager” for each of the changes in co-ops in the coming years. For
houses be named to ensure the process goes example, we could have a co-op office, in a uni-
smoothly. The Alpha Delt kitchen should be versity space or in a co-op, staffed with paid
equipped with burners and additional cutting- employees or with volunteers. Such an office
board space. ASSU funds may perhaps be used. would presumably increase the clout and pro-
Summer storage needs to be found, the kitchens gramming of co-ops, but it would cost money and
must be assessed, managers and exempt spots perhaps introduce undesirable bureaucracy.
must be assigned for next year, the house The co-ops could set up a contract with the
belongings must be gathered from the offshoot University, clarifying mutual rights and duties on
residences, and so on. a variety of issues (maintenance, the draw, leasing,
unofficial practices, etc.). Such a contract would
Co-op Outreach be both liberating and constraining, as the current
We feel that a strong and united outreach effort ambiguity works sometimes against, sometimes
would help more students see co-ops as an in favor of the existing co-ops. An additional
attractive living situation and show the diversity problem is that one generation of co-op dwellers
that actually exists among the co-ops. We would might, in violating or unwisely signing a contract,
especially like to concentrate on making the cause unnecessary problems for future gen-
currently unhoused co-ops (Columbae, Phi Psi, erations.
and Synergy) more visible, providing them with Would we like to have “Resident Fellows” or
extra support to compensate for their lack of perhaps “visiting scholars/activists” in our
operational facilities. Among the specific plans co-ops? The relation need not be hierarchical. The
suggested are study breaks and dorm outreach term of stay need not be two years. Perhaps the
meetings, tabling in White Plaza and contacting house could select one themselves. They would
people who signed petitions of support after the cost money but could bring in valuable resources.
earthquake, updating and distributing the all-
co-op booklet Co-operative Living at Stanford, Do we need a separate co-op housing draw?
and holding a co-op week with various activities Co-ops (like Hammarskjöld) could be selective
in White Plaza. and use their own criteria of student placement,
but perhaps it would be exclusionary, and it might
Co-operative Living at Stanford v Summary
eliminate people interested both in U-op and co- existing co-ops (to limit liability). We don’t
op housing and who put a mix of selections on recommend purchasing houses, though, unless
their draw cards. the demand is sufficient and good management
could be assured. We do recommend the co-ops
We discussed the possibilities for building consider starting a fund that would be devoted
co-ops on Stanford land, but at present this exclusively to long-term projects, and that the
seems, if not unfeasible, at least far off in the co-ops consider joining NASCO as part of our
future. We could build behind the foothills, in old co-operation among co-operatives.
faculty areas close to campus, or between the
Alpha Delts and the frat cluster, for example. The Outreach Beyond the Class
University right now, however, is sinking its
money in Kymball Hall, and afterwards will The class made an effort to communicate the
probably focus on graduate housing or other ideas and actions of the class to the co-op com-
kinds of building. Faculty houses are expensive munity at large, both formally and informally.
to convert to full-scale co-ops, but they could be Although formal participation by people outside
rented to students and operated pretty much as the class was not great, discussion with friends
they are. A co-op or outside group could build on and acquaintances helped us in our decision-
Stanford land with its own money, but it would making process. Some concerns expressed by
have to meet strict safety codes and the University residents of Kairos are included.
could take over and convert the house under
certain conditions (much as they now take over Appendix
frats). If such a group did build a house, it would An appendix includes numerous original
be about as autonomous as Theta Chi, but its documents from the period of the earthquake and
architecture could be as funky and appropriate to from the research and activities.
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. A Late Note
As we went to press we learned the results of the
At any time, a group of students could take over housing draw:
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 consequences).
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
Co-operative Living at Stanford 1 Overview
Late on a cool clear Tuesday afternoon in of academic subject matter. The class was seen as
October 1989, a major earthquake shook northern inevitably becoming an interest group, advocating
California. From Santa Cruz and Watsonville to for the co-ops. But, at an October 1989
Oakland and San Francisco, the quake inflicted conference marking the 20th anniversary of
serious damage, leaving more than 60 dead, many SWOPSI at Stanford, a group of current and
more injured, and hundreds of homes and former SWOPSI participants were enthusiastic
businesses destroyed. The image of a collapsed about reviving an old SWOPSI idea: focusing
double-deck freeway in Oakland transfixed a SWOPSI classes on developing and implemen-
stunned population, and it took weeks before ting solutions to real, local problems. This class
almost anything else could be thought of or dis- would be a perfect re-incarnation of that spirit.
cussed in the media. Together with reading and research on co-op
history and theory, the group would prepare a
At Stanford, where only by luck were major report outlining alternatives for the three closed
injuries avoided, hundreds of students were co-ops and the Stanford co-op system in general,
displaced from their housing for a day, a week, or and would also put forward recommendations
more. Seven student residences were closed for among those alternatives.
the year, some perhaps never to be reopened.
Among them were three of Stanford’s seven Several alums provided resources for the course
student-run co-operative houses. Along with two planning; the student co-instructors worked on
fraternities and two other row houses, the resi- the planning while struggling to find new houses
dents of Synergy, Columbae, and Phi Psi all had and patching together their academic lives. The
to scramble for new quarters — tucked into result was a detailed 10-week plan outlining
converted rooms or guest spaces in dorms, or off- background reading, research questions and
campus. methods, and a process and framework for
exploring and evaluating alternatives.
Many of the residents of the co-ops felt strongly
that the continued existence of their communities Twenty five people came to the first class, and
could not be taken for granted. Deprived of the twenty remained all quarter. The first five weeks
shared living that is the substance of a were devoted to providing a common framework
co-operative community, students feared that the for discussion through reading different types of
ties and traditions that sustained the houses materials, learning about co-ops at other univer-
would erode to nothingness. The idealism that sities, and compiling and sharing histories of the
motivates students to co-operate thus was directed co-operatives at Stanford. Four task groups were
towards ensuring the future of co-operative living identified to organize different aspects of the
after the quake. work; these groups focused on compiling a
history of the Stanford housing co-ops,
With the larger tragedy of the quake as an ever- researching other co-ops at Stanford and else-
present background, students reconstructed their where, surveying students campus-wide and
lives. Dealing with the University Administration co-op alums, and monitoring the development of
became suddenly an everyday issue. Competing University policies affecting the future of the
demands, lack of communication and an unavoid- co-ops.
able uncertainty left student/administration
relations tense. In the second half of the course, a larger number
of groups was formed to pursue different areas
Madeline Larsen, a former resident of Phi Psi and and develop recommendations. From short-term
Theta Chi who now works in the SWOPSI office, questions such as “how do we communicate to
first suggested organizing a SWOPSI class as students not in the class?” to long term issues
part of a campaign to keep the co-ops open. Her regarding autonomy and alternative funding for
contacts with students and other co-op “alums” the co-ops, groups of 2 to 4 drew on what they’d
soon produced a core group that conceived and learned to form concrete proposals.
won approval for what became SWOPSI 146:
Co-operative Living and the Current Crisis at Controversial proposals were brought before a
Stanford. meeting open to all co-opers not in the class, or
discussed by the whole class. Those on which the
Some people felt that such a class stretched the class did not agree consensually were left as
boundaries of even SWOPSI’s broad definition
Co-operative Living at Stanford 2 Overview
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.
Co-operative Living at Stanford 3 Co-operation
control over a large amount of property. These
Theories, Models and Issues two basic forms of property may be combined
variously to yield the other forms of property,
Concerning Co-operation such corporations, state-controlled property, or
co-operative property over which certain people
have disproportionate control. Holding property
What is Co-operation? co-operatively requires the individual to submit to
Broadly defined, co-operation is interaction the group will, but by so doing allows large
harmonized for mutual benefit. Co-operation in resources to be effectively harmonized and direct-
this sense may be contrasted with competition. ed toward goals unattainable by the individual.
Co-operating organisms struggle together toward All companies are co-operative, at least in the
mutual goals. broad sense. That is, they are animated by a
Competing organisms struggle against each other common aim. This common aim may be artificial
toward mutually exclusive goals. or natural. A farm, for example, may be animated
by two purposes: first, to generate income for the
Clearly, both kinds of interaction are essential to owner; second, to meet a need. In general, the first
the proper functioning of society. For example, a reason will dominate. If the owner employs wage
corporation must have internal co-operation if it is labor toward fulfilling the first purpose, owner
going to succeed in external competition. and employees are animated by different (and to
Co-operation and competition are suited for some extent competitive) goals: the owner to
different goals. Any motion that is co-operative is maximize his or her profit, the employees to
necessarily not competitive. Co-operative and maximize their wages. The company will only
competitive companies must both co-operate and exist as a company so long as employee wages
compete with each other. are sufficient to motivate the employees to pursue
More narrowly defined, co-operation is quite the secondary interest that links them to the
literally, “co-operation” — that is, the collective owner: providing food. Since this interest is not
operation of a company. In a company collec- the first interest, it is sustained artificially by the
tively operated, (1) every person served by the motivation of profit (for the owner) or wages (for
company is a member of the company, and (2) the employees).
every member has (at least potentially) equal A collectively operated company, on the other
influence on the behavior of the company. The hand, is sustained naturally by the mutual interest
goals of the company are thus guaranteed to be of its members. Profit and wages are identical and
equivalent to the goals of its members, taken need not be reconciled. A collectively operated
collectively. company arises to satisfy the needs of all its
The word “company” is taken from the Latin members, and will be stable so long as the
“co(m)-” (together) and “pan-is” (bread), in members share their mutual goal and find the
origin identical to the word “companion.” A company an effective means toward their ends.
company is thus a group of people who take their Students keep company. Every student residence
bread together, a group of companions. Our is a company, animated by companions. Resi-
definition of “company” shall encompass the dents are united in the task of residential living
narrow use of the word in business, but shall also and share the goal of making their surroundings
go beyond it. By “company” henceforth we pleasant and livable. Thus, they form associations
mean any group of people keeping company for a of friends, floors, and halls, and act co-operatively
mutual purpose, such as making bread, or any to create social events or to adjudicate differences.
group of companions. They even hold co-operative property in the form
Property may be held by a company. In a purely of house funds. However, not every residence is
competitive system, each individual (or each co-operative in the sense of being collectively
individual company) has total control over a operated by the students. Residences go various
certain, generally small, bit of property. In a degrees in this direction, but none at Stanford is
purely co-operative system, each individual (or entirely outside University control (nor, if one
each individual company) has partial and equal was, would we call it a University residence).
Co-operative Living at Stanford 4 Co-operation
Residences tend toward co-operation as students where students cook and clean so that they might
gain control of their environment. When students save money.
band together to cook or clean, they act co-
operatively toward a mutual goal. When students Marxist
purchase their own food supplies, they maintain Marxist co-operatives are co-operatives initiated
and direct co-operative property. Hired labor is by communist governments. Membership is not
anathema to co-operation because it provides for voluntary, and control is so remote from the
the mutuality of goals only through the artificial individual members that all but a few of the
incentive of wages. Self-determination, on the members have, in effect, no control over the
other hand, is essential: co-operation is a means system. Without voluntary membership, it is
of directing resources and thus requires resources difficult to assure the singularity of the member’s
to direct. aims without artificial means.
In a competitive university environment, the Student housing may learn from Marxist
benefits of co-operation and mutual support may examples the advantages and disadvantages of
unfortunately be given slender attention. Co-op- enforced membership (a result of not filling in the
eration is a skill that must be learned and prac- draw), of enforced ideology, and of outside
ticed, and it is essential to the proper operation of control by those who “know better.”
society. If a student learns only competition and
never co-operation, he or she is not well prepared
for a constructive role in society. A co-op can be:
• a group of people coming together
to produce something that benefits
Five Kinds of Companies Co-operative all and that couldn’t have been
in the Narrow Sense produced otherwise
Drawing on and extending the work of George • an exploration of methods by
Melnyk1, we may distinguish five general types
of co-operatives in the narrow sense: the liberal which people can work together to
democratic, the marxist, the socialist, the com- improve their lives or others’ lives
munalist, and the informal. Each of these types • a method of saving $ by sharing
has a degree of bearing on the residential resources
co-operative companies at Stanford. • a method of empowerment, people
banding together to work towards a
collective goal and to gain strength
Liberal Democratic co-operatives are generally
businesses within a capitalist system, created as a unit — Classmember
primarily to reduce consumer cost, and competing
directly with more traditional businesses. They Socialist
play a very limited role in the members’ lives Socialist co-operatives, like Marxist co-operatives,
(unless the members happen to be employees), are multi-functional, serving more than one need
and serve a narrowly defined function. One joins (such as employment, education and community).
by paying a small fee, or even simply by entering Unlike Marxist co-operatives, however, they exist
the place of business, and generally receives in within mainstream society, and their membership
turn either reduced prices or periodic rebates. The is voluntary. The Basque Mondragon and the
managers of liberal democratic co-operatives limit Israeli Kibbutz are examples of socialist co-ops.
profit and return on investment, and return this They form full communities, and range over
money, instead, to the consumer. The Stanford almost every aspect of their member’s lives. They
Bookstore and the Stanford Federal Credit Union minimize private property. The members of
are both co-ops in this sense. socialist co-ops are often united in their concern
The student housing co-operatives, most narrowly for each other by a separate ideology, such as
defined, are co-operatives of this sort. To be a co- Basque Nationalism or Zionism. This unification
operative house at Stanford, one need only be a helps overcome the stresses put on the system by
house operated in a liberal democratic manner: 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
George. The Search for Community. (Montreal: example, the Stanford Bookstore), the company
Black Rose, 1985.)
Co-operative Living at Stanford 5 Co-operation
or companionship is pervasive in the student’s co-operation and a discussion of co-operation is
life and serves multiple functions. general, is to acquaint the reader with what
co-operation is in its ideal and to set the Stanford
Communalist housing co-ops in the larger context of the
Communalist co-operatives are small, utopian co-operative movement.
communes. The members are generally united by
common political or religious beliefs. The 1. Voluntary Membership.
“hippie” communes of the early seventies Because formal co-operation often also depends
belong to the political communalist tradition. upon informal co-operation (and thus trust and
Monasteries and Hutterite societies belong to the goodwill) and because all members are taken into
religious communalist tradition. Communalist account in decision-making, destructive influ-
co-ops are small, and generally stress total egali- ences in co-operative companies can be particu-
tarianism. They seek to dominate every aspect of larly damaging. For this reason, it is imperative
their member’s lives, and are often the product of that the Stanford housing co-ops not have empty
a single charismatic leader. They criticize and spaces that may be filled with people not
isolate themselves from the mainstream of interested in contributing positively to the com-
society. They control every aspect of ownership, munity.
production, and consumption. They allow little or
no private property. 2. One Person/One vote.
When the Stanford student housing co-operatives This principle is implied in the definition of
initially arose, they were associated with the co-operation. Every person must have the
communalist tradition, although they are less so opportunity to exert influence upon the decisions
now as communalism has waned in popularity. of a co-operative company, and this influence
Still, the co-ops are small and sometimes tightly- should be equalized as much as possible. Voting
knit communities, and Synergy and Columbae in per se is not essential. Most informal co-
particular have tended to promote idealism and operatives are run by consensus as opposed to
political involvement. voting, as are several of the Stanford housing co-
ops, and this is generally not seen as incompatible
Informal with co-operation.
Informal co-operatives are companies of people 3. Open Membership.
banded together for a specific, informal purpose,
such as to go on a ski trip, or for a formal That anyone who agrees with the object of a co-
purpose with largely informal attendant demands, operative company be admitted is in general a
such as marriage or membership in a club. good rule of thumb. However, cases may arise
Informal co-operatives are generally grounded in where exclusion (or selection, which amounts to
the trust of friendship, and last so long as the the same thing) based upon an objective principle
trust and the mutual goals remain. Informal co- such as ethnic diversity (Hammarskjöld) or based
ops may control one or many aspects of the upon subjective criteria may be justifiable.
member’s lives. They are generally the smallest
co-operatives and the co-operatives most respon- 4. Limited Capital Return.
sive to the demands of individual members. Companions working co-operatively may of
course save or make money by doing so. What
Informal co-operation appears constantly in this principle suggests is that investment, which is
student housing in general, although it is an open a competitive principle, not be the guiding motive
question whether it appears more or less for co-operation.
frequently in the co-ops. Much of the positive
experience of co-operation may be attributed to 5. Education About Co-operation.
informal co-operation. It is often the prop without If a co-op is to be successful the members must
which more formal co-operative companies would of course learn how to work co-operatively. If
fail. one agrees with the ideals of co-operation one
might be inclined to persuade others of these
Principles of Co-operation ideals, and so long as such persuasion is done
What makes a good co-op? Melnyk in The considerately, it is utterly appropriate.
Search for Community lists fifteen basic princi-
ples, which can serve as a good beginning for
reflection.The purpose of presenting them here,
along with descriptions of different kinds of
Co-operative Living at Stanford 6 Co-operation
the form of a co-op council or in the form of
6. Co-operation Between Co-ops. control by the Stanford administration).
Once co-operation is learned on a smaller scale, it
may be attempted on a larger scale. The results 12. Multifunctionalism.
will generally be beneficial. If one agrees with the principles of co-operation,
one would like to see these principles operative
7. Egalitarianism. on more than one plane of one’s life. Students in
This principle is tied to the second principle, but the Stanford housing co-operatives should seek
is considerably broader. The sentiment here is not only to co-operate about cooking and
that social and political inequalities are largely the cleaning, but also in other aspects of their
product of competition, and are anathema to interaction.
co-operation. Co-operative groups are in a
position to address these inequalities and should 13. Work Outside the Co-op.
strive to do so. Members should not only co-operate within their
communities, but should seek to promote positive
8. Nationalism. change in the larger community.
Co-ops should adapt as best they can to their
(national and other) environment. This does not 14. Self-Reliance.
mean that they should go against their moral Self-reliance generates an atmosphere of mutual
conscience or that they cannot strive to change commitment and responsibility. Self-reliance
their environments, but rather that co-operatives separates one from involvement with and depen-
should not be hostile or revolutionary, but rather dence on non-co-operative companies. Also, it
sympathetic and evolutionary — that is, they ties in with the eleventh principle. Stanford
should exist in a co-operative relationship as students should learn to take care of themselves,
much as possible with those around them. because soon they may find themselves taking
responsibility, not only for their own lives, but for
9. Class-Consciousness. the lives of others.
Co-operatives should be aware of social problems
(and not simply those of class) and do what they 15. Open Principle.
can to alleviate them. This should be the case for The co-operative communities should be allowed
people in general. The argument that co- to develop other principles as they wish. For
operatives should maintain political neutrality so example, one co-operative might develop a
as not to alienate members, however, also has specific principle of environmentalism, another
some weight. might wish to be an all women’s co-operative.
The ideology of a community should reflect the
10. Evolutionary Development. interest of its members, and should always be
Co-operatives should engage in peaceful social open to change and input from its members.
These principles are meant to guide, not to dictate
11. Decentralization. absolutely (nor could they dictate absolutely, even
Central control and central administration provide if we wanted them to). In general, they are already
the advantages of experienced decision-makers present in some form in the Stanford
and continuity and consistency in decision- co-operatives.
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
Co-operative Living at Stanford 7 Co-operation
ability to limit environmental impact. In practice,
Notes on Community, Co-operation, students who cook and clean for themselves are
and Sustainable Living often in a better position to reduce conversion of
resources. Choices made concerning type of
People living in a community share, learn, teach, foods (plant, animal; fresh, processed), utensils,
and grow in understanding as they cultivate an dishware, and handtowels (reusable, disposable),
appreciation of the unique contribution which waste (composting, recycling, throwing away),
each person has to offer. People who work to and soap (biodegradable, non-biodegradable) all
build community share common interests, values, make a difference in the total environmental
and purposes and also exhibit diversity in impact of the people living in a house.
expressing these. A community fosters support
for and from others, and encourages acceptance
and toleration. Leland Stanford’s Ideas on
Co-operation is an essential element of commun- Co-operation
ity. The essence of co-operation lies in the idea It is one of Stanford’s best kept secrets that
that people benefit more from sharing and Leland Stanford Sr. was himself a powerful
working together than from competing against booster of co-operation in his later years. In an
one another. Collectively, we can more fully article written in 1989 and published in the
realize our purposes than we can working alone. Winter 1990 edition of the Stanford Historical
Co-operation is an ongoing process which Society’s quarterly journal Sandstone and Tile,
requires communication and understanding former Stanford co-oper Lee Altenberg docu-
between members of the community. When we ments in detail the Senator’s beliefs about the
co-operate, we acknowledge and celebrate the values of co-operation.
interdependence of all the inhabitants of the Evidence of Stanford’s beliefs can be found right
planet. in the Grant of Endowment of the University,
People create a residential community when they which lists among the leading objects of the
share housing and the responsibilities of daily University “...the independence of capital and the
living such as cooking and cleaning. By engaging self-employment of non-capitalist classes, by
in these activities, people feel closer to each other such system of instruction as will tend to the
as they develop appreciation and understanding establishment of co-operative effort in the
of the other members of the community. industrial systems of the future.” Additional
sources Altenberg cites in his article include
The behavior of life, and increasingly the behavior Stanford’s address at the University’s Opening
of human life, affects the environment. Each time Exercises in 1891, a letter of Stanford’s to the
we act on ideas we carry inside of us, the first University President David Starr Jordan
environment becomes a more accurate mirror of from 1893, and an address from Stanford to the
human thinking. In turn, changes in the University Trustees. From the Opening Address
environment impose demands for changes in 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.”
Lifeforms interact with their
environment like lock and key. Lacking a close Stanford also sought to advance the practices of
fit, they cease to complement each other. When a co-operation through his role as a U.S. Senator.
sufficiently large gap opens between the pattern Stanford introduced a bill that would lend money
of a lifeform and that of the environment, death of to farmers on the basis of their land value, which
the individual or extinction of the species ensues. Stanford saw as supporting farm co-operatives
Humans are currently changing the environment and other small industrial ventures. Stanford’s
in ways unprecedented in both type and speeches to the Senate on behalf of the bill
magnitude. We will benefit by reducing the rate at further document his belief in co-operation and
which we change the environment. the desirability of the independence of labor from
People living in University-operated, self-
operated, and co-operated houses all have the Stanford’s beliefs had an influence on some early
students of the University, including those who
Co-operative Living at Stanford 8 Co-operation
founded the Stanford Co-operative Association in fundamental way to develop characteristics of
1891 (which later evolved into the Stanford responsibility, involvement, co-operation, and the
Bookstore, which is still legally a co-operative). A like — values which the Office of Residential
class on “Co-operation: It’s History and Education hopes to promote.
Influence” appears in the first year’s course At an institution like Stanford today, we run the
catalogue. But Stanford died just two years after risk of buying into the myth of the high-status
the University opened, and neither his wife Jane student who should be exempted from the
nor President Jordan appeared to share “grubbery” which those in the real world must
Stanford’s concerns. Moreover, the larger co- face. Many members of the Stanford community
operative movement dwindled in the 1890s, and (including many of the students themselves) have
Stanford made no provision to actually organize the attitude that students are here to do “mind
the University as a co-operative, giving it instead a work” and not “physical work.” This attitude
standard hierarchical Board of Trustees and an establishes inequality between students and the
executive President. physical laborers we hire. Yet physical activity is
Over time nearly all knowledge of his not a lesser form of labor than the mental activity
commitment to co-operation disappeared. Men- that goes on in classes, discussion groups, and
tion of Stanford’s vision appears in a Daily workshops. What we do (and do not do)
article concerning the closing of Walter physically is a very real basis for how we think
Thompson Co-operative in 1945 (see p. ???), and about the world. If we, as students, attend
was resurfaced by a founder of the Palo Alto Co- Stanford for several years with a squadron of
op in 1950, but when the student co-operatives we cleaners and cooks catering to our every need,
know today were founded in the early ’70s, there how can we expect to develop the skills of
is no mention of Stanford’s ideals. Perhaps with responsibility, working with others, or building a
the publication of Altenberg's article, this little true community?
known side of the famed “robber baron” might
once again find its way into the lore and life of A co-op house should be a house or
place where people can live together
and become good friends and
Residential Education and community by sharing the tasks of
Co-operative Ideals living. I’ve found that a tightly knit
A full residential education could encompass co-op can foster healthy discussion
such things as individual responsibility, social and can raise the consciousness of
involvement, openness to difference, co-operation,
and creativity. The Office of Residential the people living together.
Education has been successful in promoting a — Classmember
myriad of speakers, workshops, and programs
which encourage these values. Student residences, In the University’s founding grant, Leland
however, have the potential to provide an even Stanford himself stated a commitment to
greater and more complete educational establishing and maintaining co-operative institu-
experience. tions at Stanford. While it is true that several
Students at Stanford might more fully explore the student-run housing co-operatives have been in
ideals of responsibility, co-operation, and operation on the campus for decades, they are still
creativity if they are able to cook and clean for the exception rather than the rule. The rule is that
themselves. The policies concerning the day-to- unless students express a strong desire to live co-
day operation of student residences at Stanford operatively, they will be provided with cleaners
reflect a wider cultural belief that students, and cooks who will take care of their “dirty
especially at Stanford, have certain rights which work” for them. Unfortunately for the co-ops,
the rest of the population lacks. One of these student housing is currently approached from a
“rights” is the right to avoid such day-to-day market analysis standpoint. If student demand for
inconveniences as cooking for themselves and co-operative housing exists, then so does
cleaning their own house. The fact that the University support for this type of residence. But
University supplies cleaning and meal service to if demand seems to wane, then so does University
the majority of student residences inadvertently enthusiasm. Regardless of student demand,
condones irresponsibility and unco-operativeness certain things might be regarded as fundamental
among students. Asking students to cook and to a worthwhile education. Is co-operation funda-
clean for themselves (and each other) is a mental?
Co-operative Living at Stanford 9 Co-operation
Co-op houses face an obstacle in recruiting new
members and promoting the ideals of co-opera-
tion 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 contri-
butions 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
On the next pages we present a comparison of the
official goals of Stanford University’s Residen-
tial Education program and the the goals and
practices of co-operative living at Stanford.
Co-operative Living at Stanford 10 Co-operation
Co-operative Living at Stanford 11 Co-operation
THE CO-OPERATIVE HOMES 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 imple-
ment 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 assistance.
• 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
Co-operative Living at Stanford 12 Co-operation
cation. Working together, the co-operative homes
The Co-op / Res-Ed Relationship and Residential Education could revitalize general
The co-operative housing experience dynamically interest through outreach programs (on the part
fulfills Stanford’s goals for Residential of the co-ops) and commitment to making co-ops
Education. Co-op homes build consciousness of more attractive by improving facilities or
the union between living situations and education. augmenting programs (on the part of Res-Ed).
Co-ops are then motivated internally by the Further tensions in the co-op / Res-Ed relation-
desires of their members to build supportive and ship are the product of a mutual lack of trust. Co-
healthy environments. Their independent agendas ops fear the encroachment of University authority
coincide with the stated ideals of Residential on the independence they need to exist. We
Education at Stanford. currently depend on Stanford for support, but we
Why, then, are co-ops repeatedly compelled to recognize that self-determination is an integral
justify themselves and assert their value within the component of co-operative living. Residential
residential system? Since the problem is Education, conversely, must fear this very self-
apparently not a conflict of values, it must determination. The University is held accountable
necessarily lie in the relationship of the co- for its students’ living conditions, and it is
operative homes to Residential Education. consequently reluctant to relinquish direct control
over us. Although we share the purposes and
One detrimental factor in the relationship arises ideals of Residential Education, we are inhibited
from the perceived low demand for co-operative from developing a healthy relationship due to bad
life by the student body as a whole. Residential faith. Both parties must work to re-establish their
Education must cater to the desires and needs commitments through open communication.
expressed by the student community, because it is
basically useless to create a potentially ideal The co-operative homes at Stanford are a unique
residence environment if it cannot attract experience in Residential education. To preserve
members. Co-ops are not the highest priority of the co-op alternative, effort must be made to build
Res-Ed because they are not the highest priority a relationship of goodwill and understanding
of the student body. The solution to this problem between Res-Ed and the co-ops. Together we can
could emerge from commitment and communi- generate a climate for growth and improvement.
Co-operative Living at Stanford 13 Background
One of our aims in compiling this report was to first was distributed to current Stanford students.
provide a fairly comprehensive description and From the results of this survey, we have a fairly
history of the co-operative movement at Stanford. broad view of the images which the co-op houses
Towards this aim, we present descriptions of past have within the various Stanford communities.
and present residential co-ops, co-op The second was distributed to co-op alums. With
organizations, and non-residential co-ops within their hindsight, we are better able to understand
the Stanford community. We also take a look at all the various pros and cons of co-operative
co-operative living arrangements within other living as it is takes place at Stanford. By careful
universities for comparison’s sake. Finally, we self-examination, we are more likely to improve
present compiled versions of two surveys. The 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
70-71 Jordan Columbae
71-72 Jordan Columbae Ecology
72-73 Jordan Columbae Ecology Synergy Hammarskjöld
73-74 Jordan Columbae Terra Synergy Hammarskjöld Theta Chi
74-75 Jordan Columbae Terra Synergy Hammarskjöld Theta Chi
75-76 Jordan Columbae Terra Synergy Hammarskjöld Theta Chi
76-77 Jordan Columbae Terra Synergy Hammarskjöld Theta Chi
77-78 Androgyn Columbae Terra Synergy Hammarskjöld Theta Chi Phi Psi
78-79 Columbae Terra Synergy Hammarskjöld Theta Chi Phi Psi
79-80 Columbae Terra Synergy Hammarskjöld Theta Chi Phi Psi
80-81 Columbae Terra Synergy Hammarskjöld Theta Chi Phi Psi
81-82 Columbae Terra Synergy Hammarskjöld Theta Chi Phi Psi
82-83 Columbae Terra Synergy Hammarskjöld Theta Chi Phi Psi
83-84 Columbae Terra Synergy Hammarskjöld Theta Chi Phi Psi
84-85 Columbae Terra Synergy Hammarskjöld Theta Chi Phi Psi
85-86 Columbae Terra Synergy Hammarskjöld Theta Chi Phi Psi
86-87 Columbae Terra Synergy Hammarskjöld Theta Chi Phi Psi
87-88 Columbae Terra Synergy Hammarskjöld Theta Chi Phi Psi
88-89 Columbae Terra Synergy Hammarskjöld Theta Chi Phi Psi Kairos*
89-90 Columbae Terra Synergy Hammarskjöld Theta Chi Phi Psi Kairos
*Kairos was first listed in the Drawbook as a cooperative in 1988, but it had been organized co-operatively for several
years prior to that (see p. 27???).
Co-operative Living at Stanford 14 Background
Co-op Vacancy Statistics: 1980-89
Year Columbae Synergy Phi Psi Kairos Theta Chi Terra
1980 5/2 3/3 0/0 0/0 0/0 0/0
1981 0/0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0/0
1982 12/8 19/19 1/1 0/0 0/0 12/11
1983 3/0 4/0 0/0 0/0 0/0 2/0
1984 5/0 12/6 0/0 0/0 3/0 22/19
1985 7/1 11/2 0/0 0/0 0/0 0/0
1986 16/7 11/3 2/0 0/0 0/0 5/0
1987 0/0 24/14 0/0 13/7 0/0 10/0
1988 6/0 3/0 7/0 0/0 0/0 2/0
1989 2/0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0/0 6/1
(The two entries in the table correspond to first and second rounds of the draw).
plans, but for people on the full meal plans
Columbae House rebates usually amounted to about $50 per
quarter. Board bills were paid directly to the
Physical Structure House, but rent was paid to the University.
Columbae, built in 1896 and moved to its present
location in 1973, is now centrally located, 2 Food Policy
houses away from the Post Office at 549 Lasuen. At the time of the Earthquake, Columbae had not
There are 20 student rooms (5 singles, 10 yet reached consensus on its food policy for the
doubles, 4 triples, 1 quad, officially, although year. In two house meetings totalling 4 1/2 hours,
different configurations were common, e.g. a 10 food policy had been discussed without
person, 3 room, “commune”, etc.). Columbae conclusion, and another meeting was scheduled
has a large kitchen, pantries, many fire escapes, a for October 18, 1989. In the meantime, food was
large common room, a dining room (used to serve being ordered according to the ’88-89 policy, in
dinner, not really eat it there— dinner was usually which Columbae was completely vegetarian.
eaten on the front porch or, in bad weather, in the Vegan alternatives were served at all common
common room), a good roof for sleeping, a large meals. The house avoided buying any types of
front hall, and a library with books and archives. drugs (caffeine, sugar) and most processed foods
Two first floor common rooms were converted (we had no name brands, except for Enrico’s
into doubles for Roble Refugees in 1987-88 and salsa). Table grapes, sugar, and General Electric
have remained as student living spaces since. products (I know it’s not a food, but I thought
Outside are an organic vegetable garden, a I’d mention it anyway) were being boycotted.
compost pile, rose bushes and some lemon trees. Dry goods were ordered from Sierra or Fowler
Brothers. Milk was delivered in returnable glass
Financial Status bottles.
Before the quake, Columbae had a savings of
about $1300. Dues to the house and payment for Governance Policy
supplies were $57.50 for residents, $32.50 for All decisions were made by consensus, and had
Eating Associates. The Board plan was extremely been since the house’s founding.
flexible, with house members paying from
$367.50 for a full meal plan (6 dinners a week, Rooming assignments were also made by
open kitchen for all lunches and breakfasts) to $0 consensus at the beginning of each quarter
if they wouldn’t eat there at all. People could talk (rooms changed each quarter). Typically the
to the Financial Managers about how often they largest groups had priority over smaller groups,
would be eating at the house and figure out how i.e. first the four people living in a quad picked a
much to pay. Rebates varied for the different meal room, then the people in triples picked rooms,
then doubles, and lastly, singles. A separate
Co-operative Living at Stanford 15 Background
meeting was held with all people desiring singles Special Features
to decide who would get singles that quarter.
Columbae is the only completely vegetarian
House Work Division house on campus, and one of the very few in
which rooms are changed each quarter. A library
Columbae began a new system in fall ’89 on a holds Co-op Archives and the archives from
one-quarter trial basis. There have been different Project Synergy, as well as books and textbooks
systems in the past. about politics, the environment, economics, and
Food-making jobs — 5 times/quarter — This other subjects and a collection of periodicals.
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/ History
quarter — vacuuming, gardening and In April, 1970, a group of students met in Mem
whatever else people thought needed to be Chu to discuss nonviolence as a way of life, a
done. commitment to achieving social change through
peaceful activism, as opposed to the violent means
Managers—Columbae had 5 exempt that characterized many student movements
spots—a theme associate, 2 other alleging to work for peaceful ends. To heighten
manager positions were volunteered for awareness of the nonviolent option and to protest
and included Compost, Library, Garden, the presence of ROTC on campus, they decided
Dairy and Egg, Dry Goods, Produce, to fast for three days. Thirty people moved into
Menu managers. White Plaza with blankets and bongos and
Other systems had been used in the past, together planned to start a nonviolent group on
including an unstructured system in which people campus and hopefully obtain an on-campus
cleaned whenever they were inclined to do so and residence. In the Autumn of that year, academic
thought things were too dirty (used in the early year 1970-1971, the group moved into a
1970’s). University house in the Cowell Cluster to build
Relations with the University The Columbae Community was housed in what
The University assigns residents through the had been the Chi Psi fraternity house at 517
draw. Row Facilities does some maintenance Cowell Lane (in what is now Whitman House).
work (asbestos removal, fixing windows, The 50 members of Columbae chose the house’s
groundskeeping, etc.) and provides furnishings. name from several sources, including the Latin
Columbae is University owned but does its own name for (peace) doves, Columbidae family, and
cooking and cleaning. The house is usually the Woody Guthrie song “Columbia”
closed over Winter break and over the summer. describing his thoughts about America as it
should be. Nonviolence meant many things to the
Theme house’s founders, encompassing all levels of
Columbae’s theme is “Social Change through nonviolent action, including respect for other
Nonviolence.” “Nonviolence” translates into all people and the natural environment, political
aspects of house life, the philosophy being that action, a communal life, a non-manipulating, non-
people can unthinkingly do violence to others consumer, and non-materially oriented world
through overconsumption. To lessen their nega- view. The idea was to change society in the larger
tive impact, Columbaens have a compost pile, sense while at the same time building an
recycle, conserve energy and water, try to reduce alternative, nonviolent community. To this end,
consumption, etc. the group ate only about $1.00 worth of food per
Columbae has an exempt spot for a theme person per day, reused products, gave up other
associate, and this year as part of house jobs there unnecessary products (like paper napkins),
was talk of house members doing theme projects. recycled, had an organic vegetable garden in
The theme project was not a part of priority Escondido Village, tried to buy the least
assignments or signed house agreements. processed food (including grinding their own
flour to bake bread), had a compost pile, and did
all their own cooking and cleaning. The house
Co-operative Living at Stanford 16 Background
abided by the Quaker idea of consensus instead there, and therefore 80 people instead of 37 were
of voting because voting was thought to affirm displaced, was that Columbae persuaded the
one point of view while denying others. For many housing office that if their group were to have a
years Columbaens baked dozens of loaves of chance to succeed, they needed a house and an
bread at the beginning of each quarter and gave independent kitchen, and the housing office
away slices to students at Registration. understood this and acted accordingly. Finally, in
mid-November, Stillman House was ready for
Members of the house organized both political Columbae to move into it, so Columbae members
and non-political actions throughout the years. moved out of the Delt House and into Stillman
Some Columbaens refused military induction and House (which became Columbae) and the Delt
were arrested in March, 1971 for blocking entry residents were finally able to move into the Delt
to the San Francisco Draft Board and were given House.
five day suspended jail sentences. Others
researched and published accounts of U.S war Columbae continued to be a community resource
crimes in Indochina, worked in ecology and for nonviolence. They maintained a good library
conservative projects, investigated Stanford of books, newspapers, and magazines concerned
finances, and studied legislation to repeal the with alternative psychological, spiritual, and
draft. The next year, 1971-72, Columbae political themes. They harbored and fostered
organized the Peace Fund, which (among other many groups interested in various aspects of
things) encouraged the Stanford Community not social change by providing volunteers to work
to pay the 10% Federal phone tax on their phone with them, making rooms available for meeting
bills (legislated in 1966 specifically to pay for the and giving them direct monetary support.
war), sending a note to the phone company Columbae was the base for the Stanford Coalition
explaining the action, and donating the saved Against the B-1 Bomber, the Trident Concern
money to the Peace Fund to support organi- group, and the Stanford Community
zations working towards a peaceful world. In Coordinating Center for the David Harris
1972-1973 Columbae collected more than 2500 Campaign, the Alliance for Radical Change
pounds of clothing and raised money to fund its (ARC), Against the Grain (the alternative publi-
transportation to Mud Creek, a large area of small cation of the Black Rose Anarchist Collective),
towns in the Appalachian Mountains. and the Radical Film Series Group. Classes met
at Columbae to discuss political organizing,
It was decided to move the Columbae Community sexism, communal living, and holistic health.
to Stillman House, with residents moving in
Autumn 1973-1974. To complicate matters, In the Fall of 1976, the Stanford Committee for a
Stillman House (built in 1896, formerly Kappa Responsible Investment Policy (SCRIP), with
Alpha Theta sorority house) itself was to be many Columbae residents, challenged Stanford to
physically moved to its present location at 549 divest itself of its stock in J.P. Stevens company
Lasuen to make room for Campus Drive. The (a textile manufacturer with a record of horrible
house was uprooted from its foundations in labor relations — portrayed later in the Sally
summer, 1973, moved in two pieces down the Field movie, Norma Rae). Members of SCRIP
road to its new foundation, then pieced back put on a Winter Quarter SWOPSI course at
together with new wiring and appliances. This Columbae focused on South Africa and U.S.
was all supposed to be completed in time for the companies that did work there. In the spring, this
37 Columbae residents to move in in the class grew into a campaign to have Stanford
beginning of Autumn Quarter. It wasn’t. divest itself of stock in companies that did work
in South Africa. This was an extensive campaign
The Columbae residents were temporarily involving leafletting every dorm on campus three
relocated to the Delt House, originally told that times, dozens of showings of a film about South
they would be able to move into Stillman Africa in dormitory lounges, a dozen rallies, an
“October 15 at the latest”. The Delta Tau Delta overnight vigil in White Plaza, a day-long fast in
fraternity was on suspension and was forced out which hundreds of students participated, and a
of their house for at least one year following week-long fast by 8 students.
many complaints of misconduct from neigh-
boring houses. The house was to be filled that The campaign climaxed in a sit-in in Old Union
year with 43 men and women who were in which 294 students were arrested. Just about
unassigned in the housing draw. Those 43 indi- all members of the Columbae community were
viduals stayed with friends or found other involved in some capacity (as were many
housing until they were finally allowed to move residents of Synergy and other co-ops). Many of
into the Delt House. The reason Columbae was the students involved in these campaigns went on
Co-operative Living at Stanford 17 Background
to live together in households in Palo Alto and of his face to prevent identification so that his
San Francisco for many years. Many also family (who were still living in El Salvador)
worked with the South Africa Catalyst Project (to would not be murdered in reprisal.
organize on the issue of South Africa at Columbae asked that the University recognize
California universities). About 10 Columbaens Columbae as a Sanctuary and waive some normal
from 1976-77 met every New Year’s Day for housing rules, but the University chose to
about 8 years. respond to the matter as though it were a normal
In the fall of 1976 year Randy Schutt built a solar housing policy issue, saying that University regu-
oven that could bake 3 loaves of bread. The oven lations allow guests to stay for only three days. If
has resided at Columbae or Synergy for about Columbae hosted refugees for longer than that
half the years since then. This was also the year time, Dean of Students James Lyons said they
that Bryan Coleman designed the Columbae could lose their housing privileges. Columbae
T-shirt and cut a silk-screen stencil. Most Colum- remained active in various aspects of the
bae residents since then have made themselves a Sanctuary movement, and Herman himself stayed
shirt with this stencil or its duplicates. in various Row Houses after leaving Columbae.
Columbaens were also very involved in the May of 1989 brought an occupation of President
proposal to start Androgyny house, which opened Kennedy’s office and the arrest of 58 students
its doors in Autumn 1977. In early 1977 the (including 4 Columbae residents), and then on
Subcommittee on Residences of the Committee October 14, 1989, SWOPSI held a party at
on Services to Students (COSS/R) considered Columbae to celebrate its 20th birthday. Three
housing the approved Androgyny House in days later, there was an earthquake...
Columbae, suspecting that Androgyny House
would cut into Columbae’s constituency. Jordan
House, Whitman House, ATO, and ZAP were Hammarskjöld House
also considered as possible locations. At a house Physical Structure
meeting’s poll only 4 of the 37 Columbae Hammarskjöld is a large house at 592 Alvarado
residents said they would leave Columbae for Row. It is is the smallest of the co-ops, with 17
Androgyny, and after much action and many student rooms (9 singles, 8 doubles). Hammar-
letters to the Stanford Daily from Columbae skjöld has a large lounge, a smaller TV room and
residents, Jordan was picked as the location for a large dining room. The kitchen is small but has
Androgyny House. a large pantry and dish-room. Behind the house
Political activity and community building there are a study room (poorly heated) and a
continued in Columbae, and in Autumn, 1985 guest room with a bathroom (currently housing 3
representatives from the different co-op houses Columbae refugees).
met at Columbae to look into ways that they Hammarskjöld has a large front porch with tall
could provide meals for students affected by the columns many fire escapes, and a large fireplace
then possible United Stanford Workers (USW) whose chimney was destroyed in the earthquake.
strike. They hoped to educate people about a Exterior amenities include a large lawn, basketball
possible strike and, at the very least, perform a hoop and a volleyball court.
service for other students, estimating that they
could serve up to 150 extra students. Financial Status
In April, 1986, Columbae consensed to declare At the beginning of the year 1989-90 Hammar-
itself a sanctuary for Central American refugees, skjöld had an operating budget of $18,300/
possibly in violation of federal and Stanford quarter, somewhat higher after the earthquake.
regulations. They did this to call attention to the Board for residents and eating associates is
U.S. policy of returning El Salvadoran and $375/quarter. Rent (approximately $950) is paid
Guatemalan refugees to their native countries to the University. Hammarskjöld has approxi-
where, according to Amnesty International mately $12,000 on reserve in various savings
reports, at least one third of those individuals are accounts.
kidnapped, tortured, or murdered. Herman, a 40
year old refugee from El Salvador, came to stay in Student Composition
Columbae and to speak of how oppression and As of October 17th Hammarskjöld had 26
death squads are forcing people to leave their residents including 2 female grad students and 4
homes. Throughout all of the abundant media male grads. There were 10 female undergraduates
coverage that this received, Herman wore dark and 9 male undergraduates. 3 female
glasses and a red bandana covering the lower half
Co-operative Living at Stanford 18 Background
undergraduates were added after the earthquake. from some house jobs, such as the weekly
As part of its theme of “International dish crew.
Understanding” Hammarskjöld seeks to create a
community of diverse national, religious and Theme
ethnic backgrounds. This is accomplished The theme of “International Understanding” is
through a special draw. International diversity is very important at Hammarskjöld. All residents
also reflected in the house’s 30 eating associates. agree to present a theme project at some point
during the year, and applicants are asked to
Draw Statistics submit possible ideas for theme projects. Theme
Hammarskjöld operates its own draw (see Special projects have included preparing a meal from
Features, below). The house always fills through one’s native country, to slide presentations of
this system. different countries, to story-telling. The desire to
create a truly diverse house is the reasoning
Food Policy behind the separate draw.
Dinner is prepared every night of the week.
Meals are always vegetarian with a vegan Relations with the University
alternative, and a carnivorous option every other The University has final say in the draw, although
night. Meat is also stocked for individual use. the University usually follows the
Food is purchased from S.E. Ryckoff and Sierra recommendations of Hammarskjöld in assigning
foods. House food boycotts are rare, but have students. Hammarskjöld does its own cooking
been proposed (e.g. tuna). The rules in food and cleaning and some minor repairs, but Row
selection seem to be convenience (foods that Facilities does major work (repairing the Hobart,
require minimal preparation) and cost (the least fixing flooding toilets, mowing lawns). The
expensive option is usually preferred. University also chooses and assigns a Resident
Assistant to Hammarskjöld.
House decisions are usually made at weekly Special Features
house meetings. Issues are discussed, then a One of Hammarskjöld’s attractions is its
decision is made on a one-person/one-vote hand residential setting—the house feels like a part of
vote. Some decisions are made by the managers. the neighborhood. There is a volleyball court and
a TV with a VCR (both very popular with
House Work Division “Hammies”). There is a nice piano in the living
The current system has been in effect for several room, and the large wooden table in the kitchen
years with a few modifications. becomes the center for late night socializing. The
second floor has a co-ed restroom and shower
Food preparation: 1/ cook crew cycle (3-4 room. Before the earthquake, residents could have
weeks) — 3 people on cook crew, “head a week’s worth of guest housing (in 3 day
cook” plans meal, makes sure menu is increments) in the guest room at minimal cost.
posted so managers can order food
The Hammarskjöld draw is a unique feature —
Kitchen cleanup: 1/week— 2 Saturday dish students apply in the spring to live in
crews/ quarter Hammarskjöld. The applications asks about the
Bathroom clean: 3/ quarter (residents only) student’s international background and
international experiences (travel, or otherwise),
Special jobs: 1 large job (usually clean-up) at what it means to live in a co-op. Applicants are
the beginning of each quarter, then 2 also asked to submit possible theme projects.
weekend clean crews/ quarter Many applicants come and eat a meal at
House members are also expected to Hammarskjöld and help prepare food or do a
participate in Cook and Clean crews for dish crew. The applications are then reviewed by
Hammarskjöld’s two traditional large the Resident Assistant, the House managers and
dinners. any interested residents who then submit their
collective recommendations to the Row office.
Managers; There are exempt spots for 2 The University then reviews the applications and
house managers, 1 financial manager, and assigns one half of the residents to reflect
2 theme associates geographic diversity, for instance, at least one
Volunteer manager positions include produce resident is from each of the major continents. The
and dairy, dry goods and meat, bread and other half of the residents are U.S. citizens with
tea, and soda fridge. Managers are exempt international experience or interests.
Co-operative Living at Stanford 19 Background
at Thanksgiving and Chinese New Year. For
History these parties, house members decorate the house
Hammarskjöld opened as the International co-op and prepare food for 200 people, including past
in the academic year 1973-1974, and is named members of Hammarskjöld who are invited, and
after Dag Hammarskjöld, a Secretary General of assorted other guests. Hammarskjöld’s
the United Nations. The house was formerly the personality has changed from year to year. One
home of the Phi Kappa Sigma fraternity. The current eating associate mentioned that the house
plan for the house was initiated by several foreign used to be more “co-opy.” Resident satisfaction
students who were actively involved in the Bechtel with and pride in Hammarskjöld reached an all-
International Center. Clifford Clarke, the foreign time high in March 1990. After many challenges
student advisor said of Hammarskjöld, “This bravely fought and hurdles valiantly overcome,
new concept of a living group (will be) composed the Ping Pong table arrived, and the joyous sound
of people from other cultures who want to of rubber connecting with white plastic echoed
participate in educational and social programs to throughout the halls of Hammarskjöld.
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
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. —
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
Co-operative Living at Stanford 20 Background
year, there are eighteen females and seventeen
Kairos House males. It is a three-class residence.
[Note: A detailed study of the current residents of
Kairos is included in the appendix] Food Policy
There are two food managers who order all food.
Physical Structure Kairos has twenty eating associates. There is a
Kairos is an old fraternity house located on wish list for residents and E.A.’s to request food
Mayfield a block south of Campus Drive. It is on they would like to eat. The food managers try to
“The Row”, close to the center of campus, but satisfy residents’ desires, but make final
removed from the larger dormitories. It stands decisions about what the house can afford, when
between the DKE house and Grove-Mayfield. to buy it, what “tastes like dog food” or any
other factors. Some food choice decisions are
There are thirty-five residents in Kairos in brought to vote if it involves a costly item that
twenty-two rooms. This includes twelve singles, people cannot agree upon.
nine doubles and one quint. The house has three
stories. The first has one single bedroom, a piano For dinner, meat is served quite often, and
room that was temporarily converted into a vegetarian residents’ needs are taken into
bedroom after the October 1989 earthquake, a account. There is normally a vegetarian alternative
pool/bar room, a TV room, a laundry room, a co- available if there are people in the house who
ed bathroom, a dining room, and a large kitchen. want it, and generally any special requests are
The second floor has men’s and women’s directed to the cooks. Historically, Kairos buys
bathrooms, four doubles, ten singles, and a sun processed and junk food if enough residents want
deck accessed through bedroom windows. The it. There is not an emphasis on food boycotts,
third floor has men’s and women’s bathrooms, although when residents decide, alternative foods
five doubles, a quint, and a sun deck. are bought.
The first floor is unusually well-endowed with Governance Policy
community space. This is especially appropriate The managers meet before the residents arrive to
for the community atmosphere important to decide how the house will be run. They decide
Kairos, and makes the temporary conversion of how food will be ordered, how house jobs will be
the piano room into a bedroom an uncomfortable distributed and enforced, and any other structural
arrangement. The kitchen is spacious, although it decisions necessary to make the house work.
has the same appliance features as most Traditionally most things remain the same year-
residences: two industrial refrigerators, a freezer, to-year because they work and the managers like
a drink fridge, ice machine, gas range, grill, two them. The residents are free to change any of
ovens, five large sinks, a sterilizer, cabinet and these decisions, but they generally do not.
Room draw is done on a priority system designed
Financial Status by Kairos residents in a previous year. All other
The House spends roughly $54,000 annually, decisions that require resident input are voted
about $1,550 per person (This excludes a rebate upon on a majority basis. All decisions are
that averages $250 per year. Eating Associates contestable and can be reconsidered if the
are charged $1.50 per lunch and $5.00 per residents so decide. Managers and others often
dinner. The house balance averages between make smaller decisions on their own if they feel
seven to ten thousand dollars at any given time. the house will not object. This works because the
The board bill is calculated with a 12-15% house has a general disposition to put up with the
overhead fee to allow the house the freedom to desires of others, and if someone objects
make choices such as extravagant food, social afterwards, the situation can be reevaluated.
activities or increased rebates at the end of the
year. The house has never had any financial House Work Division
troubles according to University and student The Kairos managers take a strong role. Not only
sources. do they make many decisions independently of
the residents, but they are required to do a
Student Composition considerable amount of work. They receive an
Kairos has not admitted graduate students. There exempt spot in the draw for that year, and receive
is no information indicating that this has ever a full or two-thirds reduction in the board bill.
been considered. During the ’89-90 academic They also are given priority in room choice. The
managerial jobs are outlined as follows:
Co-operative Living at Stanford 21 Background
House Manager — does all finances, deals Kairos was listed in the Draw Book as a special
with the University upon occasion, legally program house that is co-operatively run, but with
responsible along with the R.A. for the no special sign-ups. Although house
house, does some shopping, and is a management, upkeep and cooking policies were
backup for the Operations Manager. not changed, in 1978-79, Kairos ceased to be
identified as co-operatively run.
Operations Manager — Coordinates house
jobs and enforces their execution, handles In 1980 or ’81, Kairos began the kitchen policy it
all work orders and orders cleaning and now has. Reportedly, in the fall no one liked the
bathroom supplies. cook. The house took a vote and decided to fire
her at the end of the quarter. They decided that
Food Managers (2) — Order and shop for all everyone would cook each week until they found
food. a new cook. Over Christmas vacation, everyone
All residents do one dinner hashing job per week was to go home and find a recipe that could easily
(about 45 minutes), one house job per week (1/2- be cooked for fifty people. During winter quarter
1 hour), one house work day per quarter (about people liked cooking, and it worked so well that
three or four hours), one weekend hashing per they decided to continue it, only hiring cooks
quarter, and one job for every party. Cooks are from within the house instead of everyone
hired from within the house. Generally two cooking. At this point, as Diana Conklin, Director
people cook each night and are paid $25 each. of the Row, put it, Kairos began its evolution into
a co-op. It remained a self-op until 1986-87 when
Relations with the University it was listed as a row house with a special
The University owns the house, runs and pays for priority. In 1988-89 it was first listed as a co-op
central heating, electricity and gas, pays all repair with special priority. The management of the
bills except for student-caused ones, owns all house never changed, though.
furniture, ovens, industrial refrigerators, and
chooses the Resident Assistant. The residents A co-op is a haven for people who
own the kitchen utensils, plates, pots and pans, want to make decisions for
etc, all small kitchen appliances, the TV, VCR, and
small refrigerators. They run the kitchen themselves as an autonomous group.
themselves, and do all cleaning in the house. In a co-op we have a special ability
to create our own futures to suit us
Special Features as a group. A co-op
The dining room has two murals. One has an community/atmosphere allows us to
Egyptian theme and was painted before 1981. interact in an unusual way:
The other, a Doonesbury cartoon, was painted somehow to value others as people
during the Autumn quarter of the ’89-90 school
year. In the front of the house is a porch that was for what they contribute. —
boarded up after the earthquake. In the past this Classmember
was a center for eating dinner. The second and
third floors each have a sun deck that is widely In 1981-82, Kairos received the large pool table
used for social purposes. There is a one-ton pool that now sits in the back common room. It had
table on the first floor. previously been in one of the Toyon eating clubs.
That club closed that year, and the University
History needed a place for the table. At Toyon the table
Kairos House was originally built and used by was used exclusively for the game “squash,” a
the Delta Chi fraternity. The house was built in rowdy game often involving twenty people where
1910. The construction and furnishing was one rolls the cue ball with the hands to hit the
supervised by student member Earle Leaf. In active ball, the point being to never let the active
1935, the house was rebuilt to roughly its modern ball stop or be sunk. The table was in very bad
condition in what was called at the time “French repair as a result, and so the University offered to
Chateau” architecture. give Kairos the table if the residents would
refurbish it. For two hundred dollars, the table
The house became a self-op in 1968 because the was removed from the eating club, redone, and
Delta Chi fraternity did not fill the house and delivered to Kairos. It is an incredibly heavy table,
could not pay its bills. As a self-op, the residents with three large slates of marble. After a very
managed all house upkeep and hired a cook. difficult time, it was moved into the house. The
From the 1971-72 school year through 1977-78, only problem was that it warped the floor. Pieces
Co-operative Living at Stanford 22 Background
of wood stuck under the legs on one side remain strict, kind of easy-going, comfortably and
the solution. friendly. It is a positive image, but with no detail.
“It is the one house I shrug about,” she says.
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 Phi Psi House
quad. He moved in, stretching an extension cord
in with him. Eventually the University discovered Physical Structure
him and kicked him out. Afterwards, though, they Phi Psi is a large house at 550 San Juan Road. It
decided that the space could be made into a room. is nestled among the trees on a hill overlooking
The wall was opened up and a window was the campus. The house was built by Mr. and
installed. Mrs. Cooksey and is one of the oldest residential
buildings on the Stanford campus. We believe the
In 1984-85, Facilities completely renovated the house was acquired by the Phi Kappa Psi
house. According to a resident, relations between fraternity in 1897. A floorplan exists dated 1900.
the house and facilities were very good at the
time, so the process was friendly and done to Phi Psi has 24 student rooms (7 singles, 16
everyone’s advantage. They redid the carpets, doubles, and 1 triple), two lounges, a study room,
walls, and most notably remodeled the kitchen. a dining area and a large kitchen. The house has
several fireplaces, and two large porches, which
According to a resident, the house used to have a were popular with students. Phi Psi’s attic was
strong tradition of athletics. In the early eighties, off-limits to residents, while 2/3 of the basement
almost the whole women’s crew team lived there. was used for University storage.
Around 1984 and ’85, most of the women’s
volleyball team lived there. Financial Status
In the early eighties, the first female house In 1989-1990 Phi Psi had an operating budget of
manager was elected. There was a managers’ log approximately $24,000 and board was $400. The
book that caused severe difficulties this year. It house had a safety fund of $1,000.
contained many secret passages that those
holding the book did not want a female to see, Student Composition
most likely because they were chauvinistic Phi Psi had 44 residents, including 3 male grads,
statements. An attempt was made to erase parts, 1 female grad, 19 male undergraduates, and 20
but that didn’t work. The previous manager female undergraduates. In fall 1989 Phi Psi had 8
decided to hold the logbook until the next male eating associates, but the number of eating
manager was elected, but it has never been seen associates varied from year to year.
The house was never particularly “co-opy.” It Food Policy
never co-operated with other co-ops. Reportedly Phi Psi served dinner 5 nights a week. The meals
it is more involved with the other co-ops now than were mainly vegetarian, although meat with a
it has ever been. The character of the house used vegetarian alternative is served 1-2 times a week.
to go in a three-year cycle. A new group of Residents were composting their biodegradable
sophomores would draw into the house, bringing refuse, and there were some food boycotts, grapes
with them new ideas and energy. Because of the in particular. Food was purchased from Ryckoff,
now abolished returning resident priority, they Sierra Natural Foods, and Cal Fresh Produce.
would live there for the next three years and
become the house officers. When they graduated, Governance Policy
a new group would draw in. All decisions are made by consensus, with the
The house has had consistently good relations exception of room selection. Room assignments
with the University. Around 1986 and 1987 it did were decided at a consensus meeting, with the
not do as well in the draw as usual, but other than knowledge that seniors and then juniors would be
that it has filled without any problems. Kairos has given priority in choosing rooms.
been a mystery to Diana Conklin as long as she
has been in the Row office, since 1978. She has House Work Division
never heard it referred to by students, and she Residents had one major house job each week.
cannot pin it down in her mind. She senses it is These jobs included cleaning the bathroom,
different from other houses and fraternities, but vacuuming the living room, breaking down
she does not know why. She describes it as low- cardboard, and were usually done in teams of
key, with an ethos of not being demanding or two. Residents and eating associates did one food
Co-operative Living at Stanford 23 Background
preparation/clean-up job each week. House According to Peter Fox, president of Phi Psi in
members signed up either to cook or do dishcrew 1976-77, they remained a fraternity for the benefit
for a given day, with three or four students of the national chapter and to have control over
cooking and two or three cleaning each day. the selection of residents until the 1977-78 school
year. Although they did participate in the draw
Theme prior to this, they still had control because priority
Phi Psi has no official theme, but it is known as a was given to fraternity members. In 1976, the
co-op whose personality is truly defined by each national chapter sent a representative out. He saw
year’s residents. When asked what was the uni- that Phi Psi was not behaving like a fraternity,
fying force for the Phi Psi residents of 1989-90, precipitating a letter of reprimand. According to
one resident responded, “Location.” Fox, the national chapter never revoked its charter,
but rather Stanford ceased to recognize the house
Relations with the University as a fraternity. At some point in the late 70’s,
Students do their own cooking and cleaning, but ownership of the house was transferred to
the University performs major repairs and Stanford. The only notable structural change that
groundskeeping. The University also assigns a occurred with the change in ownership was the
Resident Assistant to Phi Psi. Several years ago removal by the National of two large stained glass
University storage took over the basement, much windows sporting the fraternity’s emblem above
to the dismay and anger of Phi Psi residents. the front door.
From 1976-81, Phi Psi is reported to have had a
Special Features very laissez-faire co-op mentality. There were few
When asked what was Phi Psi’s best feature, imposed attitudes such as environmental
nearly all residents named its location and sense awareness or nonviolence; instead, there was a
of seclusion. Phi Psi is on a hill, away from most real variety of people with contrasting lifestyles.
of the campus, and residents really felt like they They moved into Phi Psi seeking more autonomy
were out in the woods. The large porches and from the University, escape from dormitory food
lawn were residents’ next favorite features of the and University-hired laborers, a quiet yard for
house. Phi Psi has a darkroom, a piano and a frisbee, and a good view from the roof. Also, Phi
1911 pool table that was known around the Psi was famous for its mellow friendliness, its
campus. Phi Psi’s murals, painted over the years drugs, and its wild (and often illegal) parties.
by different residents, also helped define the During this period, the house was heavily
house’s personality. Among other special involved in music. Many of the residents from
features mentioned by residents were the co-ed this period reported that the house had a strong
bathroom on the second floor and the sense of rock tradition, and was one of the contemporary
mystery surrounding the house (e.g. what’s in music centers on campus. In the beginning, a
the attic?). bunch of friends in the house all happened to
play complementary instruments. They rehearsed
History together in the living room. After awhile, they
In the late 1960’s, the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity built three practice rooms in the basement. This
had troubles filling its house. At the time, the was a major project for those involved. The
fraternity owned the house. By 1969, there were rooms would flood in the wet winters of the
only eight or ten members living there. They had period (Lyle Zimmerman, ’81, once caught a
a cook and a local fraternity advisor. To solve salamander in the basement). The musicians did
their problem, and in keeping with the character cement repairs, wall patching, and got wooden
of the current members, beginning in 1972 they pallets to cover the floor, raising the equipment
allowed women to live in the house. The fraternity above water level. They covered the pallets with
advisor and student members applied to the carpeting, and lined the ceilings with carpeting
national chapter for women to be allowed in the and egg cartons for sound insulation. There was
fraternity. In a desperation move to keep the only one bedroom in the house that was affected
house open, they were officially made a co-ed by the noise, so a band member usually tried to
fraternity, possibly the first in the country. In occupy it. University permission to have the
1972-73, Phi Psi was run completely co- practice rooms was eventually secured.
operatively. The next year, though, a cook was
hired because people were tired of doing it The first band from the house was The Phi Psi
themselves. In 1975-76, the house once again Band which first played in Spring of ’79. It
became a complete co-op with student cooking. evolved into Rooftop Magic and Claude Monet.
These two lasted for two years. They merged
Co-operative Living at Stanford 24 Background
again in ’81 as the Druids. They played until ’83. RA, their ability to organize and do extra projects
The band then went through the following increased dramatically.
progression: Missy and the Boogieman, The During this general period, a number of high
Heptiles, The Blenders, and finally Zsa Zsa quality murals were painted in public areas by
House (still playing, one album released). The residents. Mimi Wyche painted a 20’ by 30’
early band members and the current ones are still mural of the Last Supper with residents of Phi
good friends and all keep in close contact. 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
Traditions from this time period parties, Halloween parties, and the Druids as
include a Tom Jones Party (named after a scene highlights during her time at Stanford. At this
in the movie based on the Henry Fielding novel) time, house managing was done by all residents.
where people dressed in old English costumes There were a long list of management positions
and messily fed each other large amounts of food that residents volunteered for, such as dairy,
(called a “glorious tradition” by a resident of the produce, bread, and dry goods. This contrasts
time). The Halloween Parties were mentioned by with earlier times when there were a few
participants as consistently the best parties they managers who did all the work. At this time, there
ever attended at Stanford or since (“legendary”). was still meat in the house with vegetarian
Haunted houses were held in the Phi Psi attic. alternatives.
Frost Amphitheater was opened for all co-op
parties. Every night at 6:00 was a community Phi Psi was hit particularly hard by the closure of
viewing of Star Trek. At one point, Phi Psi had a Roble in 1987-88. Seven spaces were added to
sauna, but a Marilyn Monroe poster in it caught the house. The large Phi Psi doubles were
on fire and burned it down. In ’79 Phi Psi had converted into triples, and the residents of these
six people starring in Hair. doubles forced to accommodate new, unfamiliar
The residents of this early period are described as
easy-going, “artsy mega-pre-professional” From the earliest times through the late eighties,
(most have since gone on to get advanced degrees Phi Psi has reportedly had good relations with the
or high-paying positions), aristocratic, not University. The house tended to be isolated and
particularly political or organic, non-hierarchical, independent, making the residents feel like the
diverse, and as a silent majority dominated by a University largely let them do as they wished.
vocal minority who wanted meat and cold cuts Previous residents report that Phi Psi was always
around. (The people belonging to this “vocal more mainstream than others such as Synergy or
minority,” however, described Phi Psi as primar- Columbae. It has been called the “beautiful
ily vegetarian.) The house was also described as people’s co-op” because it has tended not to be
inconsistent in its dedication to house work. For dedicated to co-operatives at Stanford or
example the house was relatively dirty compared conscious viewpoints. The experience has been
to many other houses, and especially in Spring, described as pleasure-oriented and decadent.
dinners were often not cooked at all. House
management was done by a few residents while Synergy House
the majority was uninvolved due to lack of
interest. For example, Nicki Roy, ’79, says he Physical Structure
hardly remembers how the house was organized. Synergy House, built in 1910, is a large 25-room
At the time, it seemed to him that no one house at 664 San Juan. The house has three
specifically managed the house. Nevertheless, the floors and a semi-basement, which had windows
house did well in the draw and consistently filled. facing out the back. Usually, there is one triple
One resident described the role of RA as and five singles, and the rest are doubles, but
important to the general success of the house. these figures can vary depending on how the
Around 1976-77, RA’s were assigned from house decides to break up rooms. The house has
outside of the house, whereas later around 1979, a large dining room and two spacious common
RA’s were selected from the community. When rooms on the first floor, as well as a smaller
the community was able to get along well with the common or guest room to one side. The kitchen
is fairly small compared to most co-ops.
Co-operative Living at Stanford 25 Background
Originally, the house had a sleeping porch, since and also attempts to buy from local growers or
removed. The back yard is large enough to distributors. The house ordered virtually no
contain a garden and space for chickens. name-brand processed foods, and no red meat.
Milk was delivered in returnable glass bottles. As
The house is not registered with any historical of this year, the house has not decided to boycott
associations. It was built in 1910 or 1911 as a any specific foods, but last year the house
house for the Sigma Nu fraternity (Beta Chi refrained from buying canned tuna, table grapes,
chapter). The kitchen was enlarged in 1953. The Coors, GE, and Nestle products.
three singles and double on the second floor used
to all be part a sleeping porch, but this was Governance Policy
converted into rooms in 1971 before the house
opened as a co-op. A large chapter room for the All major decisions in the house are made by
fraternity in the basement was also divided into consensus. Sometimes committees will be created
rooms (numbers 001 and 002). The second floor to handle the organization of house parties.
bathroom, currently divided into two very thin Managers make most of the day-to-day
bathrooms, used to have a stairway leading up to decisions. Rooms this year were decided on a
it, presumably removed in the conversion process. lottery system (draw a number, pick a room), with
The house, which is currently painted red, is house members re-drawing each quarter.
clearly visible from the foothills and some parts
of campus. House Work Division
Synergy is well-known for multitudes of manager
Financial Status positions. Everything from keeping the bees to
The house funds now amount to about $700. ordering food is done by a “manager”. Five
Before the quake, about $12-15,000 were in the manager positions had exempt spots this year:
bank from resident’s board bills. Bills for this dry goods, outreach, kitchen, house, and financial
year and last were about $250 per quarter for a managers. Others, such as produce, dairy, garden,
full plan. House members contributed another compost, and condom managers were filled from
$100 per quarter for social fees and a deposit, house volunteers. Manager positions can change
making a total house member’s contribution every quarter, and often are taken by more than
$350. Last year most of the deposit (about one person at a time. Members of the house are
$48/per quarter) was returned. After the quake, expected to do the following jobs: one kitchen job
residents who had paid their board bills were per week (cooking, cleaning, bread-baking), one
refunded $300. Rent, at a fee set by the Saturday kitchen-cleanup per quarter (group of
University, was $1114,$1018, and $991 for four), and one work-crew per quarter (group of
Autumn, Winter and Spring quarters. 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
Student Composition be more academic (a change that occurred
sometime after 1977), Synergy continues to
Generally Synergy has 42-45 spaces, 10 of which explore alternatives. The house has organized
are reserved for graduate students. This year, the alternative career speaker series, an organic
house had 6 grad students (4 men, 2 women), and gardening class, built solar collectors, and done
39 undergraduates (19 men, 20 women). Racially other projects that help residents explore
the house is mostly Caucasian. alternative ways of living.
Food Policy Relations with the University
This year Synergy decided to serve fish or Synergy used to be a full co-op, but since its
chicken at meals once a week. Lunch meat would near-termination in 1987 Synergy has been
also be available in the refrigerator. Synergy cleaned by the University. The past two years
principally orders food from Sierra or Fowler (including this one) the house has attempted to
brothers, and occasionally from S.E. Rykoff resume full co-op status, but to no avail. This
(produce from Palo Alto produce, dairy from year, however, the house had succeeded in
Peninsula Creamery). The house tries to order returning to full co-op status prior to the
organic produce when cheaper than non-organic, earthquake. The University owns the house and
Co-operative Living at Stanford 26 Background
collects rent money, and also does repairs. The SWOPSI course “New Vocations and New Life
University keeps the house closed over Christmas Styles” in Winter 1972. The action project of
break and usually over summer. that course was Project Synergy, whose goal was
to create a counseling and resource center on new
Special Features ways to live and work.
The house has many spectacular murals painted The concept of “synergy” was one of the hot
by former co-op members. Also, Synergy is new ideas floating around at that time. Synergy
unique because of its 20-30 chickens from which means “together energy” (syn-ergy), i.e., the
the house collects eggs for cooking. Synergy has energy released by bringing things into
a very large roof with flat areas where people relationship, creating something new which is not
would often congregate or sleep (although this is predictable from the original things which were
not sanctioned by the University). An “Alter- combined. Bringing ideas, people, and resources
native Periodicals” magazine rack and ecology into new relationships was then recognized as a
library was started by Glenn Smith several years basic strategy for achieving innovation, for
ago. It contains many hard-to-find and back- creating alternatives, and for restoring ones own
issues of radical, anarchist, gay/lesbian, ecologist, spirit, which is why “synergy” was chosen as
feminist, and spiritual magazines. A smaller right- the name of the action project.
wing rack was started in 1988 by Chris Balz to
provide an alternative. Meanwhile, the alumni of the Beta Chi fraternity
had become fed up with the “Beta Chi
History Community for the Performing Arts” that the
Synergy House began as a SWOPSI action fraternity had evolved into, and sold the house to
project in 1972 and embodied new directions that the University for $11,000. Larry Horton, Dean
the cultural movement for social change took as of Residential Education, told Alan of the
the Civil Rights and anti-war movements became available house. So Project Synergy decided to
exhausted in the early ’70s. Ten years of psychic create Synergy House, a community where
shocks to the country, the main one being the students could explore new ways to live and work
Vietnam War, and ever growing visions of better for real. The organizers described their vision
ways that life and the society could be left thus:
students extremely ambitious about effecting “Our attempt is to create here and now at the
change, about the possibilities for how their lives Stanford community a society we envision where
could be. co-operative relationships and collective actions
The years 1968 to 1971 saw the energy of are encouraged, where all the aspects of out lives
student activists going toward ever-increasing can be integrated. ...[Synergy House] has been
violence, mirroring the increasing use of violence organized around the theme of alternatives.
by authorities and in the war itself. A counter- ...Here people will live and work together to
vailing spirit, that of nonviolence and constructive create a community integrating work, study and
action, began taking root at Stanford in 1970 and interpersonal relationships and maintaining close
coalesced in the creation of Columbae House that contact with other alternatives.”
year. The miserableness of the war, the Beginnings
miserableness of throwing rocks at police in What exactly would be the new ways to live and
protest, and miserableness of giving up one’s work that everyone would be exploring? The
personal freedom to become a cog in a open-endedness of Synergy’s theme made for
corporation called out for redemptive, positive, some initial vagueness but ultimately for vitality.
action. To escape from dependence on the life Choices and diversity were the root of the theme,
choices offered by the status quo, students were so it functioned basically to give individuals
determined to create their own choices — in permission to share and pursue their own visions.
careers, ways of living, goods and services, and And it gave the community the ability to respond
ways of running business — and this became over the years to the current issues of the day.
known as the “alternatives movement”.
Synergy started right out with many of the
Alan Strain, a draft counselor at Stanford and a practices pioneered at Columbae, including being
long time pacifist and Quaker, had helped place a co-operative, consensus decision-making, bread
many conscientious objectors to the war into the baking, vegetarian cooking, avoidance of
required alternative service, and many of them processed foods, co-ed bathrooms, and organic
started to wonder how they could live their whole gardening. In addition, Synergy started a “Guest
lives “conscientiously”. So Alan organized a in Residence” program, in which people working
Co-operative Living at Stanford 27 Background
in alternatives could stay at the house for one or Radical Change, which in turn gave birth to the
more weeks. One of the first real debates in the Black Rose Anarchist Collective, which published
house was whether to continue the Beta Chi “Against the Grain” to which several Synergy
tradition of having a bowl of acid punch at the people contributed. The 1976 South Africa
Halloween party. After long discussion the divestment movement, the forerunner of the
consensus was yes — but it would be kept 1980s movement, grew out of a SWOPSI course
upstairs so as to be more responsible about it. at Columbae and climaxed in a sit-in in Old
Union in which 294 people were arrested. Cook
Along with Synergy House, the Synergy Center crew at Synergy didn’t happen that day, since 27
opened up in Old Union with a library and a members of the house had been arrested at the
counseling program. The big project for the first sit-in. A number of the Synergy and Columbae
year was the Synergy conference on Alternatives, residents would go on to help organize the anti-
which Project Synergy and Synergy house nuclear Abalone Alliance the next year, taking
organized. Five hundred participants from the with them the principles of consensus and
Rockies west assembled under big tents in the nonviolence they had learned in these houses.
Cowell Cluster during May 9-13, 1973, to share
their experiences in such areas as: new ways to In 1977 the Synergy Journal was started, which
work and alternative vocations; communes and added a whole new dimension of discourse to the
alternative living groups; access to resources and house. The Recycling Center started that year,
information; third World peoples; the activist and another SWOPSI action project, and recycling
social change; approaches to personal and became an avidly pursued activity at Synergy.
interpersonal relations; co-ops, food conspiracies Though not the original organizer, Synergy
and land trusts; new options in the professions; member Bob Wenzlau became the Recycling
women’s concerns; new technology and Manager the next year, and went on to create Palo
alternative world futures; and alternative media. Alto’s Curbside Recycling Program. Throughout
the 80s Synergy would be the source for all the
Synergy was one of the most popular houses on Recycling Managers and a good deal of the
campus until the culture began to move in the late workers at the center.
‘70s toward the “Reagan era”, and until 1981
experienced an uninterrupted period of Co-ops had established the concept of theme
development. housing at Stanford, first with Columbae
(nonviolence) in 1970, then Ecology House in
Growth 1971, then Synergy and Hammarskjöld (interna-
Many Synergy members were interested in solar tional understanding) in 1972. Whitman (intellec-
energy and studied it with Professor Gil Masters. tual culture) followed, and when the French
In Spring 1976 (?), they built a solar water House proposal was being considered in 1975,
heating system and installed it on the roof, Larry Horton (Dean of Residential Education)
making Synergy one of the first solar dorms in had said to the Daily, “Above all, we want to
the country. A group called “Ecology Action” maintain a spirit of vitality and innovation. If we
had been working to get people into growing their did not have a policy of innovation, we would not
own food as they had during the two World have some of the successful houses we do now,”
Wars, and was teaching people “biodynamic/ pointing to Whitman, Columbae, Synergy, and
French intensive” horticultural techniques from Hammarskjöld as examples.
their experimental garden at Syntex. Synergy
incorporated these techniques into its gardening Clouds on the Horizon
(described in “How to Grow More Vegetables” In 1977 Larry Horton went on to become the
by John Jeavons). In 1976 and 1977 the drought University Lobbyist, and Norm Robinson became
hit California, and water conservation became a the Dean of Residential Education. That time also
new imperative. Synergy built a “gray water marked a change in campus climate. A few
system” that allowed used laundry water to be vacancies started showing up in some of the co-
used to water the trees. In the Spring of 1977 a ops. Alan Strain closed the Synergy Center. In
local resident donated a glass greenhouse to the 1978 Stanford Informational Bulletin,
Synergy which greatly improved the gardening Synergy had been mysteriously deleted from the
system. list of theme houses, along with Terra (ecology)
and Whitman. A new co-op theme house,
Campus political activity was centered at Androgyny (transcending sex roles) had been
Columbae, but a large number of Synergy terminated by Residential Education in Winter
members were involved in political actions. The 1978 just a few months after it had opened, to be
1974 union strike spawned the Alliance for replaced by Haus Mitteleuropa. When Norm
Co-operative Living at Stanford 28 Background
Robinson, explained his decision he said, “ I an introduction to the co-ops in the draw book.
don’t believe a strong theme house and a co-op The co-ops were among the most popular houses
are compatible. Each requires a great deal of time. in the draw that Spring, and Synergy applied and
Its hard to focus on important things to be done was able to stay open in the Summer.
for each.” Synergy’s theme was embodied in One Synergy member organized the co-op
how people lived in the house, which fell outside council in the Fall 1981-82. The co-ops helped
the newly emerging definition of what constituted host the annual California Co-operative Confer-
an “academic theme house”. ence that was held at Stanford that year. Synergy
Attitudes on campus were changing as well. also requested that graduate students be inte-
Sororities were permitted back on campus again. grated into the house as part of its theme of
Animal House energized interest in the Greek “Exploring Alternatives”. The house requested
system. A vignette: when flow-reducers were to be open again during the summer and this was
installed in the dorm showers to conserve water granted.
during the drought, a group of students protested Meanwhile, cultural changes were taking place on
by leaving their showers on all night. In the 1978 campus. The results of the Spring 1982 draw left
draw, Synergy had 3 vacancies for the first time. Synergy with 19 vacancies, Terra with 12, and
Because of this, the house was placed on pro- Columbae with 12. It was an unprecedented
bation and a review was made of the program. If result. Fortunately, Residential Education chose
Synergy did not fill in the 1979 draw, it was told not to terminate any of the co-ops. Synergy was
it could face termination. Faced for the first time occupied with 19 “006” students: those who as
with this threat, the house mounted an put down “assignment anywhere” on their draw
“outreach” effort to interest students in the card. They demanded that meat be served at least
house, and it worked; the house filled. three time a week, and the pro-vegetarian mem-
Synergy was very active that year. Some bers realized that they had to give in or else there
members wrote the original version of “Living in would be mutiny. Most of the “006” people
Syn: A Handbook for Residents”, which moved out after Fall, but Synergy filled due to an
introduced members to all the things that were outreach program done in anticipation of this. In
going on in the house. The house helped produce the midst of this crisis, Synergy celebrated its
the video “Working against Rape”. Martha tenth anniversary at the Halloween Party. The
Watson heard that the Biology Department was return of the people who had lived in the house
giving away a bunch of chickens, so the house five and ten years before helped bolster the sense
built a coop and she brought them to Synergy. among the current members that Synergy meant
The house now had fresh eggs every morning. something and was worth preserving for another
An unusually strong bond formed between generation of students.
residents that year, and they still continue to go in Synergy, Columbae, and Terra pulled together
large numbers to each other’s parties, picnics, and put on a “Co-op Week” in the Spring as a
weddings, and so forth, and have been Synergy’s joint outreach effort, and it worked. They all filled
strongest alumni allies. by the second round of the draw. Residential
1980-81 was a flagship year. Many people who Education finally agreed to allow graduate
had been away from Stanford and who had lived students to live in co-ops.
in Synergy two, three or even four years ago The summer of 1983 dealt a hard blow to
returned to the house. They had a strong sense of Synergy, though. The house was denied its
where Synergy had been and knew they wanted request to stay open that summer, and a former
to go further. New ideas were incorporated into eating associate volunteered to take care of the
the consensus process. A biology graduate from chickens, but was negligent. Row Facilities
Cornell who had come to stay at Synergy created decided to “clean up” Synergy’s back yard. It
a circular “medicine wheel” herb garden in the gave the chickens to Hidden Villa Ranch, tore
back yard. A second “bread box” style solar down the green house, bulldozed the Herb
collector was built. Nineteen members of the Garden, knocked out some fruit trees, threw away
house went to Santa Barbara for the wedding of a the oil drum barbecue used by the carnivore club,
couple in the house. The house artists had a “bag and then piled dirt dug from street repairs in the
event”. Synergy made its first T-shirt, “If it back yard. When students returned in the fall, the
moves, hug it. If it doesn’t, compost it.” One back yard was a “moonscape”. Plastic had been
member who had lived in Berkeley’s co-op laid down all around the base of the house with
system organized the other co-ops into producing red volcanic rocks over it, much to the dismay of
a promotional pamphlet on the co-ops, and added the people who liked to walk barefoot in the back
Co-operative Living at Stanford 29 Background
yard. Workers cleaning out the house had also Draw. Both houses mounted intense outreach
taken some of Synergy’s house items, including campaigns and managed to squeak by.
a pair of stereo speakers in the kitchen, cast iron There were some notable innovations that year.
pots, and the house job board. The director of The house had a retreat to Hidden Villa before
Row Facilities was replaced a month later, and the Winter Quarter, with various sorts of recreation
new director offered to make amends to Synergy — a group painting, “Mind Vomit”, milking the
by removing the red rocks and dirt, and by paying cows, and so forth. In the Spring a group of 10
for a new chicken coop and greenhouse. The red people decided to create “the commune” and
rocks were taken away, but the piles of dirt divided the third floor into one room for partying,
remained and were finally just spread out over the one room for studying, and one room where all
back yard. Gardeners still find chunks of asphalt 10 people slept. It had its advantages and
when digging. disadvantages, but the participants agreed it had
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
Renewal science movies such as “Donald Duck in Mathe-
1983-84 was a year of renaissance. The new grad magicland” and “Our Friend Mr. Sun”. The
students added a new dimension to the house house decided to build a new, permanent chicken
(e.g. Jose Giner’s 3-D slide shows). A big cohort coop. Due to a successful outreach campaign,
from Branner got the sense of community started Synergy squeaked by with only 3 vacancies.
right away, and one member donated her family’s Lee Altenberg stuck around that summer to build
portable chicken coop. Eight new chickens were the coop, and Row Facilities contributed $300.
bought. One member built an Indian Hogan hut The chicks were ordered by mail and Louis, Lee,
where the Herb Garden had been. Synergy even and several other residents raised the chicks in
held a benefit party for Nicaragua, and was storage rooms at Hammarskjöld and Phi Sig. A
accused in the Daily of helping to arm the chicken collective was organized in the Fall to
Sandinistas. Even a Hoover Fellow joined in the care for the chickens. Lee led a SWOPSI course
accusation! with a person from Columbae which many
Even though Synergy was renewed in vitality, it Synergy residents took. Henry Bankhead and
had lost many of the concepts that founded it. several other members formed a band “Henry
People carried on many of the house traditions and the Vegetables”.
such as consensus, the garden, and recycling, but Unfortunately, Synergy again had a disastrous
without knowing that they grew out of a draw in the Spring of 1987. Round one left
conscious exploration of new ways of life. Synergy with 23 vacancies, which dropped to 14
Ironically, just as the American Medical after round two. The axe finally fell. Synergy was
Association was starting to say that the hippies terminated. Quickly house members such as
had been right about eating legumes, whole Glenn Smith and Louis Emery organized a “Save
grains, less meat, and less sugar, Synergy began Synergy” campaign. A petition drive collected
baking white bread, using sugar, and eating meat. 700 signatures. Alumni across the country wrote
The house failed to mount an effective outreach in letters of support. A full-page add appeared in
campaign that year, and the realities of the rest of the Daily, asking why Residential Education
campus came penetrating the warmth of the would terminate a house with such an outstanding
house: Synergy had 12 vacancies after the first academic reputation that seemed to embody its
round of the Draw, which shrank to 6 after the principles. Finally, in the summer, the house was
second round. Terra was left with 19 vacancies. saved, but with several program alterations. Henry
Throughout the 1984-85 year Synergy and Terra Levin became the faculty advisor, and the house
lived under the sword of Damocles, otherwise was forced to accept University cleaning service
known as COSS-R, the committee that would (Residential Education believed that the house
review them. COSS-R wanted to terminate one drew badly because it was not kept clean
co-op, and they chose Terra. Norm Robinson enough).
took the Synergy RA’s alternative proposal, that Over the summer, some members recruited Peter
Synergy and Terra would both be allowed to Donelan of Ecology Action to teach a SWOPSI
continue if they filled 90% by round two of the course on sustainable agriculture in the Fall, and
Co-operative Living at Stanford 30 Background
they took to work on the garden with miraculous was so successful that a few residents who had
effort. That Winter Laura Bonk and Greg lived in Synergy could not get back in the house.
Cumberford also taught a SWOPSI course on 1989 Started as a good year. The house had an
environmentalism To celebrate Synergy’s fif- early retreat to Point Reyes. The new members
teenth anniversary Lee organized a reunion, and were enthusiastic and willing to learn how to bake
Glenn Smith organized an “Alternative Career bread and participate in consensus. The house
Speaker Series”. The house had its best draw in almost decided to have vegetarian meals. A few
seven years, a trend that has continued since. The residents began to work in the garden and
house that year had only three Sophomores, and organize the composting. Then the earthquake
there were many extra spaces (which made for happened...
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 Terra House
saw the arrival of the “Alternative Periodicals
Rack” set up by Glenn Smith. Glenn noticed a Physical Structure
large wooden magazine rack in near White Plaza Terra is located in the Cowell Cluster on Campus
and, after discovering that the Jewish Center did Drive, across the street from Wilbur Hall. Fifty-
not want it, he took it back to Synergy (despite five people live in Terra in 28 rooms, mostly
the scoffs of Jose) and stocked it with an doubles. The house is divided into two parts, one
incredible array of alternative magazines he had of which is composed almost entirely of student
collected over the years working at the Recycling rooms, the other of which is almost entirely
Center. Since then the rack has grown (including common area. Students seem to feel that having
a right wing/military rack added by Chris Balz in the common area separated from the student
1988), and several smaller rotating book-racks rooms reduces house interaction. The kitchen is
have been added. large. Two years ago the house was renovated for
earthquake safety. In ’87 - ’88, after the closure
The 1988-89 house had many new Sophomores, of Roble, the guest room off the lounge was
leaving only a few house members to preserve the converted into a double, and again after the
old traditions. Nonetheless, the house continues earthquake of October ’89. Some Terrans have
to be active in the Stanford community: members argued that part of the reason Terra has tended to
of SCAAN, STAND, and REP were in the house draw a more mainstream group of people than the
and brought in a good political contingent. The other co-ops is because it is built like a dorm and
house followed the 1988 election, with activities located on the main drag of campus.
including the throwing of a “George Bush”
pumpkin from the roof. The house attempted to Financial Status
get off University cleaning, only to get a letter
back from Diana Conklin stating essentially that Terra was group charged (the University sent a
the University needed the extra money generated composite bill to the house, and it was the
by charging for cleaning. Dominique Snyers, a financial manager’s duty to collect the rent from
graduate student, posted a letter calling for a new the residents) until the ’88 - ’89 school year, at
Synergy, emphasizing a search for new which time the University began to charge each
alternatives to consensus and living, and calling resident independently. Terra currently collects
for an active program to change the “drug $390 from its residents, of which $335 goes to
counterculture” stereotype of Synergy. The food and $55 goes to house and social. Typically
house erupted into conflict over personal issues, the students hope for a $50 rebate per quarter, at
and held a large emergency house meeting to the end of the year. Terra currently has about
discuss how people relate to diversity and $8000 in the bank. In ’86 - ’87 Terra’s finances
difference of opinion. Spring quarter outreach were computerized.
went smoothly as the house organized garden
parities, and a giant paper-mache chicken was Student Composition
constructed and left in White Plaza to advertise a Terra has fifty-five residents, 30 males, 25
party. (The chicken was damaged by a storm that females, of which sixteen are returning residents.
came the next couple of days, and was moved to Terra has an additional thirty eating associates.
Columbae where it stayed for three weeks. The house has no African-Americans, a few
Residents moved it back to Synergy). The house Chicanos, a few Asian-Americans, two students
RA organized a dinner with the Delta Tau Delta from India, and one from Pakistan.
fraternity (Synergy’s closest neighbor), but it fell
through due to a scheduling problem. Outreach
Co-operative Living at Stanford 31 Background
Food Policy Relations with the University
Terra serves dinner six days a week, and serves The University owns Terra, and collects rent from
meat at each of these meals (but offers an its members. Terrans are permitted to cook and
alternative, for the few vegetarians in the house). clean for themselves, and do a few exterior jobs
The Terrans proudly purchase many more on the house, but all repairs and outdoor
processed foods than such co-ops as Synergy maintenance must be done by the University.
and Columbae. They do not have long food Most of the furniture also belongs to the
policy discussions at the beginning of the year. University. Several Terrans have complained that
Food policy is decided by the head cooks (one Row Facilities neglects them, and gives the other
for each day, called clowns) and by the food Cowell Cluster houses better treatment.
managers who do the purchasing, and by wish
lists. Eating associates must be full time, and, like Special Features
the other residents, are charged $390 each Guests at Terra must tell a joke at dinner.
Terra has a mural entitled “Let’s Eat!” that dates
Governance Policy back to sometime after the Ford campaign (one of
the characters wears a “WIN” button). The
Until ’82 - ’83, the house made decisions by mural has been the source of much Terran lore,
consensus. In ’83 - ’84, Terra switched to voting, and seems perpetually in danger of being painted
with a twist. Three-fourths of those present at the over. It is a frame from Zap Comix #2 by Robert
meeting must vote, and they must be able to Crumb, but (contrary to the rumor of some years)
obtain a two-thirds majority, or the status quo was not actually painted by Mr. Crumb. The
prevails. Currently the house manager (“beast character “Chet” is the hero/villain of the house,
master”) leads discussion. Generally, issues are and the house receives mail (such as “Mellow
decided by majority vote, or, in some cases, a two- Mail” and the Weekly World News in the name
thirds majority (if it is a big issue). In extreme of Chet Terra). In ’88 - ’89 Susan Starritt painted
situations, a person may call for consensus. At two murals, one of a sunset in the dining room,
the end of the year after the draw, returning and one of the Starship Enterprise in the TV
residents have a rooming meeting, which is room.
“more or less consensus.” These students select
roomed based roughly on an informal priority History
system. The incoming residents go to a happy
hour and fill out a questionnaire. The house In 1971 the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity
manager assigns them to the remaining rooms on moved out of the Cowell Cluster back to the row
the basis of their answers to this questionnaire. (its brother fraternities in the Cluster died, so this
was probably a wise move). From 1971 until
House Work Division 1973 the house was used for the Ecology co-
operative. Ecology house had a five unit theme
Currently, everyone must serve on one kitchen requirement, satisfied by a class taught in the
crew each week. Kitchen crews consist of a head house. They began the practice of baking bread,
cook, five assistant cooks, four cleaners, one still an important tradition at Terra, and at first
lunch cleaner, and two bread bakers. Also, even ground their own grain. They protested the
Terrans must perform one job every weekend. University’s preventive use of pesticides outside
These jobs rotate between people, and mostly the houses, and they gave a big push to organized
consist of cleaning duties. House officers are recycling at Stanford, beginning with the
exempt from weekend jobs. House officer collection of cans at football games. They shared
positions are: financial manager, house manager, a garden with Columbae.
social manager, two food managers, eating
associate co-ordinator, and a beverage manager. In ’73 - ’74 Ecology House was de-themed and
Every Tuesday and Saturday, two people go to Terra began. Little is known about the Terra of
Safeway and two people go to the Price Club. the seventies, except that the mural “Let’s Eat”
This excuses them from one job. Terra also was drawn. Terra is absent from the Daily. The
orders food from Palo Alto produce and the house journals they kept are lost, and alumni
Peninsula Creamery. contacts are sparse. It is, however, known that
Terra kept up good relations with other co-ops in
Theme these years, and held all co-op coffee houses.
Terra does not have a theme. Between 1971 and In the ’81 - ’82 year Terra went through a period
1973, it was Ecology theme house, hence the of crisis. Although the journal of this year begins
name “Terra,” meaning “earth” in Latin.
Co-operative Living at Stanford 32 Background
optimistically, it ends fragmented and hostile, and never had.” The Terrans managed to fill two and
many of the pages are torn out. Throughout, but a half journals that year, primarily with gossip,
especially in the beginning, there is much open sexual innuendoes, and private jokes. At the end
talk about drugs and political issues. At this time, of this year, however, most of the Terrans moved
and in the year previous, Terrans debated over, out. The sophomores of ’81 - ’82 had become
and decided against allowing red meat in the seniors, and the house did horribly in the draw,
house, although people typically sneaked private with nineteen spaces still remaining to be filled by
supplies in. A Terran from previous years the end of the second round.
comments on finding tuna, hamburger, and As a result, the University threatened in ’84 - ’85
Cheetos in the kitchen, and of hearing “offhand to shut Terra down. Stanford seemed to be at the
sexist remarks.” The agenda for the only house peak of its conservatism, the co-ops were doing
meeting in this journal includes such topics as poorly in the draw, and Terra was the largest and
consensus, drugs, food philosophy, and faction- most readily convertible into standard University
alism at Terra. One Terran commented that the housing. Through the diligent efforts of the
year was a sequence of bad events, culminating in Terrans and Jack Chin (former Terran and R.A.
the suicide of a “roofer” (someone who sleeps at Synergy), Terra was able to postpone its fate
on the roof). for a year, arguing that the University should see
Conflict centered around the RA, who Terra felt what happened in the next year’s draw, and close
was imposed on the house against their will, and Synergy or Terra if they filled less than 90%.
around the division of the old Terrans from the Outreach was stepped up and the two houses
new Terrans (many sophomores drew in that survived. Terra has filled adequately since then,
year). The old Terrans felt that Terra was losing and unlike Synergy, has received no further
its older ideals and mood. The new Terrans felt threats of closure. Nevertheless, few of the alumni
that they should be able to change the house from this period have kept in contact with the co-
however they liked, regardless of the tradition op alum network, and the entries in the the journal
they felt the old Terrans were imposing on them. seem impersonal and distant. Only six Terrans
Throughout the eighties, such conflict existed in wrote final entries to the house.
Terra, each generation of Terrans accusing the In ’85 - ’86 a new period in Terran history
previous generation of being too much like the began. The journal records open war. Jeff
people in Synergy and Columbae. (Each Philiber’s Monday Crüe (loud, and all male,
generation also places Terra in the center of the enduring with changes of personnel over a span
spectrum between the dorms and the more radical of several years) was cooking traditional middle-
co-ops.) American dishes and meating with popular suc-
The ’81 - ’82 year took its toll. For the first time cess, but the vegetarian contingent complained.
in its history, Terra did not fill, but still had eleven The house, already owning a TV, now had a VCR
empty spaces in the second round of the draw and a microwave. Mike Hahn threw cardboard
(which resulted in people ending up in Terra who away, expressing his distaste for the attitudes of
ordinarily would not have chosen to live in a co- the environmentalists.
op). Most of the older Terrans were gone, and a The years following brought further success to
new group of Terrans, more in the mainstream, the efforts of those trying to bring Terra more
dominated the house. These new Terrans were toward the mainstream, and the house has stabi-
determined to make the house more “fun,” and lized somewhat. Ballroom dancing has become
less crisis- and conflict-ridden. The journal for popular, volleyball, and keg jousting (trying to
that year is almost empty. There were many beach push each other off empty beer kegs). Still, Terra
trips and house activities. There is talk of getting is frequented by old Terrans who feel a
a barbecue and of increasing the number of sentimental attachment to the house.
“meat nights” each week from two. The new
Terrans also worked on restructuring the work
division and manager systems, and switched the Theta Chi
house from consensus to voting. Terra begins to
see itself as the co-op that can appeal to students Physical Structure
more in the mainstream than Synergy or Theta Chi is a large white building on Alvarado
Columbae. Relations were good with Theta Chi, Row. The core of the house (kitchen, dining
which was a co-op of the same ilk. ’83 - ’84 was room, library and several rooms) was built in the
much the same way, and house enthusiasm late 1910s by the Alpha Epsilon chapter of the
continued to rise. One Terran described it as Theta Chi fraternity, and in 1935 the house was
“happy and hyper, like the freshman dorm I enlarged and took on more of its characteristic
Co-operative Living at Stanford 33 Background
Spanish architecture. In 1949 the living room, Food Policy
with its columns and fraternity embellishments,
was expanded, and the entrance area with the Unlike co-ops such as Synergy or Columbae,
arched front door was added. The house normally Theta Chi has a history of not having a
has room for 29, with 19 singles and 5 doubles. “Politically Correct” food policy. They serve
Eleven spaces were added to accommodate meat regularly and buy bread and groceries from
students left unhoused by the quake. The house Safeway or the Price Club (and occasionally from
has a prominent Spanish architectural theme, with S.E. Rykoff). Vegetables are purchased from Cal
a large front lawn and a secluded courtyard Fresh. Theta Chi has a large number of eating
behind the house. The large living room and a associates (approx. 30) and has a reputation for
row of singles facing the alley were added in the good food (although this hasn’t always been true
’40s or ’50s. Common rooms include a fraternity in the past). Alternatives for vegetarians and
chapter room (formerly for fraternity rituals, later people with allergies are served along with meals.
the TV room, and now a double), a pool room
which houses the infamous “Speed 1 hit $ 5 ” Governance Policy
(constructed from a “Speed Limit 35” sign), and A 3/4 majority voting system was decided on
a small Library. The pool room was originally a before the quake. The house decision-making
porch/patio. There are two sleeping porches, policy varies from year-to-year, but most often
where fraternity members would sleep as a group end up being some sort of voting system. Rooms
(using their rooms for study) in order to promote are selected with a priority point and lottery
bonding. The two large showers are co-ed. The system. Three points are granted per quarter for
fraternity seal remains above the fireplace, along residents (including summer residents), and one
with letters “Theta Chi” embedded in the for EAs per quarter. A lottery resolves any
concrete walks near the house. conflicts once priorities have been determined.
Financial Status House Work Division
Theta Chi is unique because it owns its own The house is primarily run by people in three
house, and is able to determine how much money manager positions: financial manager, kitchen
to charge for housing. The house currently sets manager, and house manager. Each of these
its rent payments as 90% of Terra’s rent positions gets free rent. If more than one person
(Autumn: $894, Winter: $817, Spring: $794). takes a manager spot (which happens quite
Rather than itemizing all the items that the rent frequently), the rent is split between those people.
goes to, the financial managers consider the cost Kitchen managers co-ordinate food buying
of Terra to be a good approximation to what the (making shopping runs) and make sure that
actual costs of Theta Chi are, less 10% because people plan meals, as well as draw up a food
Theta Chi is student-run (in the past, though, budget. The financial manager deals with collect-
Theta Chi used to be by far the cheapest place to ing house rent and pays bills. House managers
live on campus, with bills up to $200 less than take care of the house (including repairs and
they are now). Board is $350/quarter. The Theta general maintenance). Regular house jobs include
Chi Alumni association actually owns the house, house cleaning (about 1 hour/week), kitchen jobs
and pays the taxes and insurance every year, as (about 2 hours/week) and a quarterly work-
well as funds major capitol improvements. Of the weekend (a work-week at the beginning of the
money collected for rent from members, 45% is school year). Meals are planned by head cooks,
paid to the Alumni association. The rest is spent who rotate through house members.
on power, gas, water, land rent ($5133/month to
the University), and supplies and maintenance. Theme
The house tries to maintain a $10,000 reserve for The house has no official theme. Past members
emergencies, and the Alumni association keeps have enjoyed the diversity of the people who live
money in reserve for long-term improvements. at Theta Chi. The house has always had a very
independent mood, and attracts people who like
Student Composition self-management and self-control.
The house is split almost equally between males
and females. There were four graduate spots Relations with the University
before Roble closed, but none were filled. 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
Co-operative Living at Stanford 34 Background
repairs. The University leases the land to Theta because of this, used to assure that incoming
Chi, and charges a land-use fee ($5133/month groups are interested in the co-op and not in
after the quake) that the house pays. Periodically taking over the house. The house continued to
the University will request that the house comply live under the shadow of the national chapter
with safety regulations, which the house has to (which was still donating money for repairs and
fund (such as a smoke-detector system installed pressuring the house to convert back), until
several years ago at $38,000, the money for members discovered that the Alumni association
which the University loaned to the Alumni really owned the title of the house. With this
association). The University fills the house information, in the ’82-83 year the house called
through the draw. an alumni meeting (mostly co-opers came) and a
set of old co-op alums were voted into the Alumni
A co-op is a house where interaction Association. In 1984-85 the fraternity president
Eric Williams, who had been pledging a token
among members is essential to the number of men to the fraternity, joked about
set of goals it sets for itself. These pledging a female (whose name was Manley,
may include living in balance with nicknamed Lee, making it even more of joke) to
the environment, exploring the National Chapter. That summer a Theta Chi
alternative personal relationships, fraternity member from Davis stayed at the house
gender dynamics, incorporating edu- (needless to say, he and his girlfriend especially
didn’t get along well with the co-op crowd), and
cational ideals with lifestyles, either served as a spy for the national or informed
operating entirely by consensus. Co- them about this “joke” to be played. Eventually a
ops are essential support regional representative came to the house and
communities in a world of power interrogated the president specifically about Lee
imbalances and alienation. — (of course Eric denied any knowledge of such a
Classmember 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
Special Features changed its name to “Chi Theta Chi” (X-Theta
Theta Chi has many special features. Because Chi).
they own the house, it stays open all year round, Old members have told interesting stories about
and in the past has become a haven for groups Theta Chi’s basement rooms — one in particular
seeking to avoid University red tape. The called the Black Hole, a small room in the
Viennese Ball floorboards are stored at Theta Chi basement. From the time it became a co-op it was
(entitling the house to some free tickets), and two occupied for seven years by Keith Nelson, a
years ago the house let the Stanford Orchestra graduate student. After he left it became a haven
stay several nights after University residences for stuffers, until Diana Conklin cracked down on
closed. Theta Chi has also given office or storage them in 1982 or 1983 (one reason was that the
space to other campus organizations in the past. basement flooded and University workers
An old coke machine sits in the dining area, and discovered the extra occupants). One summer a
students can purchase beer and soda by inserting group of 6 or 7 from Columbae needed a place to
the correct number of quarters (in 50 cent stay, but the only room left was the Black Hole,
increments). so they all “stuffed” in there and paid the house
with leftover food from Columbae. After the
History squatters were kicked out it became a party room,
Theta Chi house was originally a fraternity, but, in or a band room, and before it was converted to
the early 1970s with the decline in popularity of storage (which Theta Chi badly needed) the very
fraternities, the house had few actual members back part of it gained the nickname
and many boarders. The boarders decided to take “Fornicatorium” from the activities that used to
control of the house by pledging as a group, and take place there. Theta Chi has also had what was
once successful made a deal with the University known as an “Opium Den”, a crawlspace below
to be co-ed and filled from the draw. The national the living room where people apparently used to
chapter, while not happy with this, agreed to go hang out.
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,
Co-operative Living at Stanford 35 Background
agreement” can take the form of
Defunct Residential Stanford anything from a beer fridge to an
Co-operatives entire social and economic system,
and can be based on written, spoken,
The seven co-operative residences described or intuitive agreement. In general,
above are not the only ones to have ever existed at
Stanford. Described below are four other the more forms of competition that
Stanford co-ops, including one that began in the are excluded and the more harmony
1941. that is included, the more the co-op
is a co-op.
Walter Thompson Co-operative — Classmember
Spring 1941-Summer 1945
536 Alvarado Row Androgyny House (aka Simone de
17 (men only) Beauvoir)
Walter Thompson co-op was formed with an Fall 1977 - Spring 1978
explicit recognition of the value of co-ops held by 620 Mayfield (current Haus Mitt)
Leland Stanford. It was named after Walter
Thompson, a professor of Political Science who 34 residents
had been a supporter of the co-operative Androgyny house was founded by students
movement. It was financed originally by 18 desiring to live a lifestyle consistent with the
Stanford faculty. principles of feminism. A SWOPSI course in the
According to an editorial in the Daily of August Spring of 1977 helped provide structure for the
23, 1945 (written at the time the house closed), founding group. The house was placed in what
Walter Thompson was international and multi- had been Jordan House the previous year.
racial in composition, and attracted students of the Residents participated in consciousness raising
highest moral and academic character. It also had groups; an undergraduate special on “Feminism
good meals and low board bills. and Androgyny” was also taught in the house.
The reason for the closing of the house is not The house operated by consensus, and sponsored
clear, but it apparently coincided with the or supported a variety of feminist activities. There
institution of direct University supervision of the was some conflict between proponents of
fraternities and other residences. 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
Jordan House adoption of the name Simone de Beauvoir.
Fall 1970-Spring 1977 One resident reflected on her experiences in the
620 Mayfield (current Haus Mitt) house as “an amazing mental experience,” and
that being a woman she was considered “by defi-
No records of the founding of Jordan have been nition a competent leader.” She noted, however,
uncovered yet, nor founding members located for that at the time there was no feminist studies
interview. Draw book listings are generally short program to provide academic and intellectual sup-
and vague: “we enjoy working together, and port; the house depended on a few sympathetic
we’re cheap.” faculty spread through the University and on the
According to an interview with a resident of the RF.
last two years, Jordan had a somewhat deserved The house apparently was known for having great
reputation as a drug house — he said it was murals, including one of “Alice in Wonderland”
sometimes known as “drugs, dogs and dirt.” He (probably remaining from Jordan), but for having
described the house as being closest in spirit to lousy parties. Androgyny also had co-ed rooms,
Synergy, being strongly left of center yet also but, according to a former resident, the house was
“apolitical”. He also described it as “poly- “completely asexual — the only PC sex was gay
sexual”, with many gay and lesbian residents. or lesbian.”
Androgyny was terminated at the end of Winter
A co-op is a non-competitive living quarter of its first year, before it had a chance to
agreement between people. “Living participate in the draw. The fact that it was
Co-operative Living at Stanford 36 Background
replaced by Haus Mitt, a house which had been The Co-op Council has always been a strictly
approved but not housed the previous fall, led voluntary body, with no compensation of any
many residents and supporters to think that there kind for the representatives of the different
was a deliberate plan when it opened to close it houses, and has thus competed for the energies of
within the year. the same individuals most dedicated to their own
houses. Furthermore, participation has tended to
be limited to the more “hard-core” co-operative
Ecology House houses (Columbae and Synergy), although in
539 Cowell (now Terra) recent rears Hammarskjöld has also been
Fall 1971 - Spring 1973 strongly represented.
Ecology house was founded as a co-operative Prior to the 1989 earthquake, a group of current
dedicated both to living an ecological lifestyle and co-op residents were working together on an
to fostering related academic interests. It was inter-co-op newsletter called The Co-oper. Two
started the year after Columbae, and included issues were published before the earthquake and
residents who had lived there. The house one afterward, before the energies of the
attempted to recycle everything and shopped at a participants disbursed into the quest for more
co-operative store that sold organic produce. basic academic and community survival.
Residents were required to take five units of
The Co-op Alumni Network
They began the practice of baking bread, still an
important tradition at Terra, and at first even In the Summer of 1988, a group of co-op alums
ground their own grain. They protested the (primarily Columbae and Synergy residents)
University’s preventive use of pesticides outside came together for a potluck dinner to consider the
the houses, and they gave a big push to organized formation of an ongoing co-op alum network.
recycling at Stanford, beginning with the The group brainstormed a list of possible
collection of cans at football games. They had a projects, and for its first project chose to raise
garden in Escondido Village that they shared with money to send current co-op residents to the
Columbae. annual NASCO (North American Students of
Co-operation) conference in Ann Arbor in
Ecology operated primarily by consensus, but October 1988. Enough money was raised to send
held votes a few times as a last resort. There were two students; the fund-raising mailing also
many long discussions of food policy, with the generated the beginnings of an updated co-op
result being a policy of vegetarian/non-vegetarian alum directory.
alternatives. The house also decided room
assignments by consensus and had co-ed rooms. Later in the year the alum network held two
“Oldsters Cook for Youngsters” dinners, one at
Ecology lasted only two years before the theme Columbae and one at Synergy. Work continued
was eliminated and the house renamed Terra. The on compiling an alum directory. In the summer of
cause of the transition is not clear. 1989, members of the alum network in Palo Alto
worked with current students to help start a co-op
Other Co-operative By the fall of 1989, more than 250 alum
Institutions at Stanford addresses had been gathered. After the earth-
quake, a mailing to the list generated a substantial
amount of mail to the University in support of
The Co-op Council rehousing the closed co-ops. The list was also
From at least the early ’80s onward, there has used for mailing the alumni survey described
been a Co-op Council that has tried with varying below. There are currently more than 400 names
degrees of success to coordinate activities and addresses in the directory, and more being
between the different campus co-op residences. added constantly. Contacts for the alum network
In its active periods, the Co-op Council has are Paul Baer, 4062 Second St., Palo Alto, 94306
helped co-ordinate outreach, organized inter-co- (415-494-3006), Randy Schutt, 390 Matadero,
op social and educational activities, and at times Palo Alto 94306 (415-424-8559), and Martha
attempted to lobby the University on the behalf of Watson, 1209 Villa St., Mountain View, CA
the co-op system or a particular concern of one or 94041 (415-964-1468).
more of the houses.
Co-operative Living at Stanford 37 Background
They were informed that they got the kitchen
Non-residential Stanford Co- during Dead Week winter quarter and so had a
couple of weeks to set it up. After some time and
ops 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
Stanford has many other co-ops lack of continuity. Only two people have been
on campus besides the seven residential co-ops. there three years and a few have stayed for two.
The Associated Students of Stanford University Part of the problem is outreach; most people on
(ASSU) is a co-op of all Stanford students. The campus don’t know about the co-op. In fact they
Stanford Bookstore is owned co-operatively by could probably serve 20 people if that many
the faculty. Breakers Eating Club is also a wanted to sign up. The people who join, therefore,
co-operative, and Jewish students recently created tend to be juniors and seniors who have heard
a Kosher Eating Club in the Governor’s Corner about it through word of mouth. A second
Suites. problem is that Elliot Program Center is located a
ways from the center of campus and people don’t
In addition to these “official” co-ops, there are want to go that far to eat.
also many other institutions that are run quite
co-operatively. Fraternities and sororities are run The kosher eating co-op welcomes new members;
co-operatively and are responsible for having anyone interested in joining next year should
built all the current Frat houses and many Row contact Michael Tylman, who will be next year’s
houses. KZSU radio station and most of the kitchen manager.
other student clubs and organizations on campus
are also run co-operatively. Stanford Federal Credit Union
Late 1959 — Present
The Kosher Eating Co-op The Credit Union was formed in late 1959 by 6
Spring 1988 — Present faculty and staff members who deposited $268. It
The kosher kitchen has had about 10 members was seen as an alternative for faculty and staff to
since its inception in the spring of 1988. They regular banks. It pays dividends to depositors and
cook dinner every weekday evening and have uses its assets to make home and auto loans to
open kitchen the rest of the time. Two people other shareholders. John Littleboy, a personnel
cook and clean each day, and there is a kitchen director, was apparently the guiding light.
manager who orders food and supplies. Board is Originally housed in Encina Commons Room
$560 per quarter. On Fridays they have a 221, then 210, then 130, the Credit Union moved
somewhat special meal with wine when people several more times until it built its own building at
have a little more time to sit down and relax. the current location in 1970. In the early days it
About 35 extra people join the co-op for the was only open Tuesday, Wednesday, and
duration of Passover. Thursday for a few hours. Dale Hannen was
hired as the first full-time director. After one year
The kosher kitchen was started in the spring of the Credit Union had assets of $46,000, after 2
1988 by Daniella Evans and two other students. years $92,000, and after three years $186,000.
When they were looking for kitchens they were By 1965 it had assets of $1 million. The Credit
told that there were only three available in the Union now has assets of $100 million and is in
entire University, two Elliot Program Center the top 2% in size of all credit unions. It has 66
kitchens and one in the suite of rooms above the employees.
Wilbur offices; they ended up with the smaller
Elliot kitchen. Daniella Evans said that Jean Fetter In the early days, membership was limited to
and Donald Kennedy both took a personal Stanford employees and faculty, but it has now
interest in the project and that may have expanded to include students, alumni, and people
eliminated some bureaucratic hurdles to setting who work on Stanford lands (the Industrial Park
up the kitchen. Norm Robinson and Alice Supton and the Shopping Center).
in Res Ed approved the project and got the space The Credit Union still sees itself as a co-operative
for them. dedicated to serving its depositors/customers/
Co-operative Living at Stanford 38 Background
shareholders rather than the needs of bankers or spective. See the Appendix for further informa-
corporate shareholders, and the employees “ d o tion.
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 Residential Co-ops at Other
aiding the Credit Union greatly. The Credit
Union generally offers lower loan rates and Universities
higher dividends, since it is a non-profit
organization, its board of directors are volunteers,
and its depositors and loan recipients are Introduction
relatively stable (and hence default less The Stanford co-ops are only one example of the
frequently). variety of co-operative housing systems on
campuses all over North America. Different types
The Stanford Federal Credit Union might be a of co-operative living options include houses,
source of funds for purchasing student co-op dorms, and apartments, in sizes ranging from ten
houses. The Credit Union recently gave a low to two hundred. The management structure can
interest loan of $5,000 to the Washington Square also take many different forms, beginning with
Credit Union that was recently organized by San the basic difference in university or co-operative
Jose State University students. ownership of the properties. There is also an um-
Sources: Interview with Sam Tuohey, Marketing brella organization of student co-operatives called
Manager, (694-1020), January 1990 (very the North American Students of Co-operation
Although there is a great deal of flexibility in the
co-operative model, most structures contain two
Co-ops in the Community types of participation. First, short term member
In addition to the on-campus co-ops, many participation in management is essential. Mem-
Stanford students or recent graduates live or have bers provide much or all of the routine custodial
lived in co-operative houses in the surrounding and maintenance labor, along with dividing up
area. These houses, often started by former resi- leadership responsibilities through assignment of
dents of the on-campus houses, typically house managerial positions. This process is important
4-7 people, and have a life of from 1-2 years to as because it not only empowers students with
much as 10 or more. responsibility and control over their own lives, but
also ensures the low-cost, high-quality services of
These off campus houses have varying degrees of co-operative living.
ties with the on-campus houses. In many cases
they identify themselves as part of the larger co- Second, the continuity of long term management
operative community, in other cases less so or not must be provided either through professional
at all. A brief description of some of the houses is management or direct affiliation with the
contained in the Appendix. university. The expertise and experience of these
people is helpful especially in the areas of long
One house worth special consideration is Magic term maintenance and finance. The balance
House, located at 381 Oxford Street in Palo Alto. between and teaming of these two aspects is
In addition to a house, there is a non-profit Magic essential in maintaining student co-operatives
Incorporated, and a larger community all dedi- within the given constraints: transience, inexpe-
cated to the principles of human ecology. One rience, and limited finances.
major focus of the group has been replanting
trees in the local area. The group recently pub-
lished a report called “Stanford University: the UC Berkeley
Second Hundred Years” that addresses the The University Students Co-operative Associ-
University’s future from a human-ecology per- ation at UC Berkeley is a nonprofit, equal
opportunity corporation fully owned and operated
Co-operative Living at Stanford 39 Background
by its 1500 member residents. The students own recognized as illusory (school/home,
their fifteen houses and are heavily centralized normal/ abnormal, techie/fuzzy,
and organized at the Central Office (CO). A
system of points indicating how long an etc.).
individual has lived in university co-ops — Classmember
determines who has house and room priority; an
elaborate system of workshift credit determines
how much work each individual must do; Harvard
members elect representatives to the Board of There are currently two University-owned co-
Directors and different committees which make operative houses at Harvard: Jordan (about 15
decisions about various aspects of co-operative people) and Dudley (about 50). The Jordan
living. Houses (once three co-ops) were originally built
The student-run bureaucracy and hierarchy seems as Radcliffe housing so that young women could
to be the price of having not only such a massive learn to cook and clean. They were converted into
number of participants but also autonomy from co-operatives in the late ’60s. They were
the bureaucracy and control of the university. originally very competitive to get into, and the
Their system of “capital improvements” people living there had some say over who got in.
provides incentive for house members to invest in More recently, however, there has been less
house improvements like refurbishing, repainting, demand, resulting in the conversion into regular
or remodeling. The result is a marked difference housing for all but one.
from Stanford’s university-owned co-ops in the The Dudley community is based in two neigh-
quality of the facilities. boring semi-Victorian houses with stained glass
Within the constraints of this unified system, windows, cats, and a garden. Management is led
each co-op has a character of its own. Lothlorien, by a president or co-presidents who are compen-
the only vegetarian and consensus-run co-op, sated with reduced rent/board bills. Interests
shares two beautiful houses, one kitchen, and a within the house vary widely: from Marxism to
hot tub between fifty-seven people. Le Chateau bridge, gay and lesbian rights to dancing,
contains nearly a hundred men and women, elects recycling to baseball. Rent is very low (e.g. $300
a council to make decisions, uses fines to enforce for the summer).
house jobs, and sits in front of a pool and
carriage house. The thirty-four inhabitants of Cornell
Davis House take great pride in the historic
nature and conventional beauty of their house. Cornell University, located in Ithaca, New York,
Each member is required to spend five hours a has about 15,000 undergraduate students and 300
quarter on capital improvements. Barrington Hall graduate students. There is relatively little on-
(now closed), an experiment in radical existence, campus housing available; about 7000 live on
housed over 150 people within its mural- and campus. Forty-four percent of the student body
graffiti-coated walls and served as a living affront are in Greek organizations. As part of the dorm
to basic tenets of U.S. society. These are merely system, there are several program houses,
four examples; Berkeley holds many other including Ujamaa, Ecology house, the interna-
options for co-operative living, including two all tional living house, and the theater, art, and music
women’s houses. house.
It is in this context that the 8 University-owned
A co-op is a place inhabited by a and 7 off-campus co-ops operate. There are a
group of people who realize that total of 168 students living in the University
owned co-ops and about 90 off campus.1 The co-
“education” is more than ops are small living units in which no custodial
“academics.” Refusing to accept a services are provided; the residents cook and
dichotomy between school and
residence, co-opers strive to create an 1The information in this section was provided by Kurt
environment wherein people can Hulander, 100 Sheldon Court, Cornell University, Ithaca,
explore alternatives in lifestyle (as NY 14850-4666, who works for the Department of Resi-
well as “normal” lifestyles). Indeed dential Life in the Small Residences Office. He is very
interested in strengthening the Cornell co-op system,
the idea of a co-op, to me, is a place hoping eventually to enable them to buy their own
where many different dualities are houses, and he was quite helpful. He used to live in the
co-ops at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
Co-operative Living at Stanford 40 Background
clean for themselves. The residents sign contracts which there are only a house manager and a
with the co-ops, not with the University, and the treasurer who do almost all managerial tasks and
University used to collect a single rent bill from are compensated by room and board in return.
each co-op, although now rent collection is done Decisions are made in the houses in meetings
through the University. They do call on the which are held at least once a month. People talk
University to do repairs on the buildings. In until there is more or less consensus and then a
addition the University conducts health vote is held. Consensus is not implemented as a
inspection, including food, sanitation, fire, and formal policy, however.
safety inspections. A story is told by a former There is little formal interaction among the co-
resident that a treasurer of one of the co-ops ops; they all act pretty independently. There has
embezzled five or six thousand dollars, so the occasionally been an organization called the
University now bills the students directly for rent. Cornell United Co-ops, but it seems to have
Rents in the co-ops are very cheap1: They ran produced few memorable results. Two years ago,
$110-140 per month a couple of years ago, plus the co-ops organized to fight the threatened
$50-70 for food; this year most singles range closing of two co-ops. As a result of this, only
from $170 to $250 (including utilities), as one of the co-ops was closed, and a list of off-
opposed to over $300 per month in the dorms. campus co-ops was compiled. This organization
For years the co-ops kept only a small cash has faded from the scene.
reserve on hand; they kept no money for long The co-ops all started in the last 20 or 25 years,
term expansion. Starting in 1985 Cornell insisted many as sorority or fraternity houses that wanted
that the co-ops accumulate some funds to pay for freedom from their national organizations.
improvements to the houses. In the last two years Prospect of Whitby began as a sorority and quit
this money has gone to pay for a new roof and a in 1965 or ’66 which quit the national and let
new porch (the latter of which cost $18,000), men in. There are no formal written histories of
which were built buy University hired workers. the houses, just oral traditions and house
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
The big draws to the co-ops considered to be an issue, but when I brought it
appear to be the cheap rent, the relaxed and up, a couple students said that co-opers were
integrated lifestyle, and co-op living. None of the predominantly white.
houses has particular themes, and the politics
were described as vaguely left of center and as a Of the eight on-campus co-ops, four houses with
response to the Greek system. Admission is done about 50 students are all women and one of these
by lottery, so that there would be no biases in is an eight person house with only women of
preferential admissions policies. Recruiting is color. The rest balance men and women fairly
done by word of mouth and a recruiting fair every equally.
spring. Because there are so few co-ops on
campus, most students have no impression of the Madison
co-ops whatsoever — students simply don’t
know about them — and this may be the co-ops There are roughly a dozen co-operative houses in
biggest problem at present. There have Madison, largely comprised of students of the
occasionally been problems filling the houses, as University of Wisconsin, but independent of the
in 1984, when they resulted in the closing of one University. Many of the houses were old frat
house. If they don’t fill, the houses just keep houses, turned into co-ops in the ’60s and ’70s.
advertising. The houses are owned by the MCC (Madison
Community Co-op?). Bulk food items for the
The different houses are managed using two different houses are purchased together. The co-
basic systems: one in which there is a series of ops house both students and non-students, which
elected officers — a president, vice president, is sometimes a source of tension. The houses all
house manager, food steward, and treasurer — have their own personalities, but by and large
who run day-to-day operations, and another in represent the progressive/counter-cultural end of
the spectrum (they’re called Granolas by the
1These locals, whom they call Cheeseheads).
later stats are from interviews with residents and
Co-operative Living at Stanford 41 Background
Brown University The co-ops have recently formed a coalition
There is an association of co-operative houses at called the Campus Alternative Housing Coalition
Brown Univ. (in Providence, Rhode Island) called (CAHC) to facilitate inter-co-op co-operation and
BACH (Brown Association of Cooperative socializing and to lobby the University for the co-
Housing) which grew out of an independent op cause. CAHC will have to respond to threats
study project in 1971. It is made up of three to the continuation of both the Domes and the
houses — Carberry, Milhaus, and Waterman. Old Co-ops (see below). At present CAHC
Each house is a former family home, and holds collects 25 cents per month from each co-op
15-20 people. The houses are fairly independent member to be used to publish meeting minutes
of one another except for admissions and certain and a newsletter. CAHC is talking about
financial matters. incorporating and perhaps accumulating financial
resources (for an as yet unspecified use), but they
BACH owns Waterman, and the rent from all are as yet “still building the structure” under
three houses goes towards the mortgage. Brown which they will operate.
University owns Carberry and Milhaus and
leases them to BACH for some low sum. Rent One student from the Davis Campus
has gone up recently, but is less than University Cooperatives told us that they had originally been
housing and less than most apartments in the really interested in working with CAHC, but that
area. Some houses have extra food co-opers, they had been warned that they might be per-
people who don’t live there but share meals. ceived as trying to take over or dictate the direc-
Waterman has been vegetarian in the past, and tion of the organization since they have so much
each house will provide a vegetarian alternative to more money than the rest of the co-ops. A
any meat-containing dinner. There are other co- student at the domes said that she was disap-
ops which spring up around Brown which are pointed by the lack of involvement in CAHC
often associated with BACH — usually because events by DCC members; she thought that a bar
they’ll order bulk foods together and split the to further inter-co-op development.
costs. These last as long as there are people to
live in them and keep them going. Old Co-ops
There are three “old co-ops” at Davis, the Davis
Student Co-op, Pierce, and Agrarian Effort. The
UC Davis Old Co-ops started around twenty years ago with
There are three sets of on-campus student co- twelve men who wanted a cheaper place to live; at
operative houses at Davis, and at least two off- present they each house between eight and twelve
campus student co-ops (which are associated with people of both sexes.
non-student houses). Altogether they house about The houses are three old Victorian houses located
[56+25+28+18] 130 students, about 110 of in a group that were originally built as temporary
whom live on campus.1 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
people for the Davis co-ops include the three co-ops makes it so they tend to have few
Davis Campus Cooperatives: Students New members are selected by consensus of the
Denice Dade current co-op residents at that particular co-op.
340 Parkway Circle
Davis, CA 95616
The reason for this is to ensure that the new resi-
dent will fit into the community and be committed
Domes to the co-op. Prospective residents come around
Tullen Bach to meet the present members and may help cook a
7 Baggins End dinner, but there is no formal application process
Davis, CA 95616 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
Todd T. Jordan
T.B. 13, UCD (Davis Student Co-op)
Davis, CA 95616 More Davis contacts on file with the course
(916) 754-0433 archives.
Co-operative Living at Stanford 42 Background
of the DCC. The fact that there are only nine social activities such as parties and picnics. The
people makes continuity and history very difficult houses also all contribute work to the two
to preserve, and this has presented problems on at gardens associated with the community.
least one occasion. The new board includes 7 members, one elected
The rent and board bills tend to be quite low: in by each house and three elected at large, and
January 1990 they were $170 at Davis student operates by consensus. Any resident may speak
co-op and $190 for a single or $220 for a double at the board meetings. The houses have hired a
at Agrarian effort. The co-ops have accumulated manager responsible for finances and operations,
some money in a University account. In addition, who receives free room and board and
they have loaned some money for the off-campus $500/month. Included in the rent is a $10/month
J Street Co-op to buy its house. tax on each room which goes into a development
fund; any spending proposal must be approved
Davis Campus Co-operatives by both the Board and the Trustees.
The newest of the Davis co-ops are the Davis The houses engage in no special outreach activi-
Campus Co-operatives, a cluster of four houses ties. A resident attested that they seem to be rela-
that opened in 1988. Each house holds 14 tively ethnically diverse without any special effort.
persons; they are located on University land, and Relationships with the other co-ops seem weak,
are part of a cluster of which the remainder are though there were some joint social activities;
primarily frat houses. The houses are managed other co-opers referred to them as “the yuppie
by a co-op board which just took over formally co-ops” or “concrete court”.
on the first of February; prior to that, the houses
were overseen by a trustee group which arranged Baggins End, aka “The Domes”
financing for the houses and still functions as an Baggins End is a community of 14 prefabricated
advisory board. fiberglass domes, each of which holds two
The houses were actually built buy a developer people, located on an acre of land at the edge of
along with some other houses on campus, and are campus. The group calls itself a collective, not a
presently rented from the developer with some co-operative; the housing units are independent,
portion of the rent ($10 per person per month the but there are central work requirements, and the
first year, increasing $11 the second year, $12 the community as a whole must approve new appli-
third year, and so forth for ten years) being cants. There is a fairly long written application.
collected in a co-op development fund to be used The residents are primarily undergraduates, and
for the purchase of the houses. After six years the include the stereotypical eco/deadhead types.
co-ops will be bought outright, and the co-ops They all think their community is great, but spend
have a 60 year lease for the land on which the co- most of their time involved in non-community
ops are located, after which time the University activities (such as the annual Whole Earth
may continue to allow the co-ops to live there or Festival) and wish they had more time to give to
may choose to do something else with the land. community projects. Community dinners are
Efforts to build the new co-ops took at least 8 organized most nights of the week on a fairly ad
years, and were led by two individuals who are hoc basis.
part of the Campus Alternative Housing Coali- The domes themselves are very interesting. Each
tion. Financing came from a variety of sources, dome is unique on the inside, with lofts of various
including NASCO and the UC Student Associ- shapes and sizes. They are all painted an ugly
ation, and a Japanese co-op association. They are beige, and the University will not let residents
all two story houses, with a fairly conventional paint the interior or exterior walls (they were once
style. They are named Pioneer, Kahweah, all painted in different colors). The setting is very
Kagawa, and Rainbow, names that were given by attractive, sort of a small orchard, hidden from the
the builders/trustees. streets.
Admission to the co-ops is on a first come, first The community does not expect to survive long,
served basis, for students only. The houses have as the land is zoned for higher density housing in
varying character, but no specific themes. The the University’s plan. In fact, one of the residents
rooms are singles and doubles; singles are mores at another co-op is working on a plan to replace
expensive, at $270/month. Leasing is on a twelve them with a type of cluster housing, with 8-10
month basis; residents may sublet their rooms for person units clustered around a single common
the summer. The houses run their food buying building. The residents of the domes didn’t seem
relatively independently, but are all affiliated with to be informed of this plan.
the Davis Food Co-op. The houses collaborate on
Co-operative Living at Stanford 43 Background
Off-Campus Co-ops utilities, how much are we saving by doing our
There are at least two off-campus co-ops which own cleaning?
house mostly students, the J Street Co-op and The biggest implication of the Davis system is
Sunwise Co-op in Village Homes. J Street may that it is possible to fund and build new houses.
house organizers of a Davis area co-op umbrella Luke Watkins and David Thompson are great
organization. Sunwise is part of a complex of sources of information on building new student
alternative housing; the rest of Village Homes co-op housing. They know about all aspects of
does not house students. the process: funding sources, dealing with the
University, getting the buildings built, etc.
Conclusion: Implications for the However, the top-down process by which the
DCC were built may stand as a warning to other
Stanford Co-ops co-ops: without student input from the very
The experiences of these widely varying beginning, it may be quite difficult to make the
co-operative systems can be helpful in consider- actual operating of the co-ops successful.
ing the specific problems Stanford co-ops face
and the ways in which alternative structures could The Domes present an interesting, if difficult to
address those problems. These considerations emulate, model of student built housing. The
seem to focus particularly on the questions of difficulties the Old Co-ops have had because of
autonomy from the University. their small size, high turnover, and lack of histor-
ical memory represent a problem we might face if
The Berkeley Co-op system is the opposite we get small houses. Perhaps we should make an
extreme from the Stanford system. It is large and effort to ensure that small houses will interact
fully autonomous from the University. It is a with other houses and will have a smaller turnover
mainstream housing option in the crowded rate than larger houses.
Berkeley housing market, and many of the
houses are considered highly desirable places to Finally, the Davis co-ops embody the conflict
live. The system pays the price for its autonomy, between selective and random admission which
however, with its own centralized bureaucracy. we will have to deal with. We must ensure that
This centralization has allowed the system to fund new members are committed to the co-ops, but
its own expansion, but residents may question may not want the exclusivity that member selec-
whether this goal meets their needs tion represents.
Since the Cornell co-ops are not tremendously
more successful than the Stanford co-ops, there is The first human communities on
perhaps little to emulate in their system; there this planet could be defined as co-
may, however, be a few lessons to learn. The first ops. The problem is, society, as it
is one that we are already learning at Stanford: were, still sees co-ops and
without the organization, energy, and resources to community living lifestyles as tribal,
improve the co-op system, it is likely to fade
away. The Cornell co-ops have decreased in which carries a host of misleading
number over the last few years, and have connotations.
organized only in short bursts in response to — Classmember
threats from the University. Their organizational
structure and lack of themes and purpose have The independent natures of each of the Stanford
prevented them from seeing the larger world in co-ops seem to propagate a myth of individual-
which their co-ops operate, the lack of energy has ism, difference from each other, and self-control.
prevented them from organizing to change this In fact, centralization could produce much greater
structure, and their lack of resources has autonomy from the University and thus the ability
prevented them from being particularly effective to develop truly unique living options. If Stanford
in those moments when they do organize. co-ops, as a group, differentiate ourselves from
A second interesting note is that at Cornell, co-op other living options by creating a separate draw,
rents are about half that of the dorms, as was the strengthening the co-op council as our mediator
case with the Davis co-ops, but they have to do with the University administration, and gaining
their own major repairs. Perhaps we should look control of maintenance and administration by
at the rent structure of the Stanford co-ops to developing our own, co-operative, student-run
determine what we are paying for: how much is system, we could empower ourselves, improve
rent on the kitchen, how much is room rent and our facilities, and be the ultimate authority about
decisions that effect our lives and living
Co-operative Living at Stanford 44 Background
conditions. Centralization and organization are
definitely options worth considering. Possibly, Survey of the Stanford
when we are eventually given permanent housing
for each of our programs, we could negotiate with Community on Residential
the University over developing our own Living
To enhance our understanding of community
views on residential living, we created a ques-
tionnaire 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 co-opers, 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
Of the 400 questionnaires that were distributed in
February, 366 were returned. Questionnaires
were administered to a broad sampling of the
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.
Co-operative Living at Stanford 45 Background
Numerical Averages and Results:
For question 3, the average rating is filled in, with the number of people who responded to that cate-
gory 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)
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
Co-operative Living at Stanford 46 Background
For question seven the average value is filled in, with the number of responses given in parentheses.
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 applicable.
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)
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 discom-
fort 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 survey?
8. Have you ever considered living in a co-op? If you have, which one and why? If you haven’t, why
yes: 103 responses no answer: 51 responses
no: 179 responses other: 33 responses
Specific Comments on Co-ops: • “They’re filthy, flea-infested rat holes.” —
These quotations come from question nine. They
were selected on a whim, and have no statistical • “Vegetarian commies!” — Senior, Roble
grounding. • “I think Stanford really needs the co-ops and
9. Any further comments??? self-ops. The house I live in presently, which is a
self-op, is by far the best in my four years here
Co-operative Living at Stanford 47 Background
— the people are unusually diverse, open, and • “I am attracted to the small nature of the
creative.” — Senior, White Plaza community, the greater emphasis on ecological
practices, and the apparently less extravagant
• “I haven’t been impressed with the (compared to dorms and frats) nature of co-op
“co-operation” I’ve observed, and have no time houses. Also, the shared responsibility among a
or tolerance for “consensus,” i.e. fatigue tactics group small enough so that you feel you are
for professional co-operatarians.“ — Graduate recognized as an important part of it.” — Frosh,
student, White Plaza Eating Clubs
• A junior thought co-opers were too homoge- • “I don’t clean up after other people!” —
neous. Graduate student, Manzanita
• A junior thought the co-op images would • “I don’t know about any [co-ops] except the
improve by emphasizing their themes. one with the goat.” — Frosh, Wilbur
• “I have lost faith in the fraternity system and • “Someone with my political views (moderate
plan to live in Columbae next year. I hope to to conservative) would not be allowed near a
enjoy the co-operative decision-making and co-op.” — Graduate student, Wilbur
theme of non-violence. I also want decent vege-
tarian food.” — Fraternity group • “What’s a co-op?” — Frosh, Wilbur
• “This survey is really biased against fraterni- • “I think a lot of co-op people are false —
ties in choice and wording of questions.” — preach and feel morally correct but don’t really
Fraternity group do much.” — Sophomore, Wilbur
• “Close-minded, self-righteous people live in • “This survey is a bit confusing.” — Sopho-
co-ops.” — Fraternity group more, Wilbur
• “I think co-ops are every bit as close-minded • “I think I need my living space. I might go
as fraternities, but have a different orientation in crazy.” — Frosh, Wilbur
general terms.” — Fraternity group
• “This survey is ridiculously directed toward Survey of Stanford Co-op
eliciting negative stereotypes. Furthermore, its
ambiguity is also out of control.” — Fraternity Alumni
group We designed a questionnaire for alumni of the
• “I live in Terra because that is where burned- Stanford Co-op system in order to gain a sense
out physics majors go to die.” — Co-op group of how co-operative living experiences have
affected individuals as well as to gain additional
• “Have a nice day!” — Co-op group. input and perspectives on co-operative living. We
• “All humans should be forced to live in co- received responses from former members of
ops.” — Co-op group Terra, Phi Psi, Theta Chi, and Hammarskjöld,
although the vast majority of the responses came
• “I lived in Synergy for three wonderful from Synergy and Columbae alums. These
weeks and I cried when I realized I couldn’t go people had lived in a co-op as long ago as 1971
back (post earthquake). I now live in Terra and I or as recently as 1988. A copy of the survey can
like it here as well, much more than my dorm last be found in the Appendix.
year. Dorms are like impersonal hotels with no
sense of continuation or community. I hope I In general, the co-op alums surveyed cited
never have to live in one again.” — Sophomore, community and responsibility as the primary
Co-op group benefits to co-op living. Also learning about
group problem solving, alternative lifestyles, and
• “I disagree with the politics and with the health were important. One alum just appreciated
methods of persuasion found in co-ops.” — having a place to “hang out.” Perceived draw-
Senior, Eating Clubs backs were long consensus meetings, transience,
• “I didn’t know about the co-ops ’til too uncleanliness, and encouragement of arrogance
late.” — Senior, Eating Clubs about outsiders.
• “This survey is absurd — it’s obviously Many alums saw room for improvement in
designed to incriminate fraternities.” — Graduate ethnic and cultural diversity and outreach. Several
student, Eating Clubs would have liked smaller houses or more
Co-operative Living at Stanford 48 Background
Today one finds former co-opers doing a wide Network. Out of 112 respondents, 84 called their
variety of things that reflect co-operative expe- co-op experience “very positive,” with 25 calling
rience and ideals. Most do volunteer work or it a “positive” experience, and only 3 tagging it
community service, many still recycle, are as being “negative.” None answered “neutral”
vegetarians, or grow food. Some continue to be or “very negative.” The survey asked people to
politically or environmentally active. Members rate certain aspects of their residences on scale of
have carried ideas such as feminism, social one to five (five being the highest rating, one the
responsibility, political awareness and practical lowest), both in terms of importance and their
living skills and applied them to their current satisfaction with these topics as applied to the
lives. co-op. The averaged results are as follows:
More than 300 surveys were mailed out to lists
maintained or acquired by the Co-op Alum
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
other house members: 4.70 4.17
The rest of the questionnaire asked recipients for • Learning how to deal well with other human
their opinions on the benefits and drawbacks of beings, while addressing important areas of
co-operative living, and how things could be conflict.
improved. We also asked what people have been
doing since they left Stanford, and whether or not [Co-ops sponsored a] sense of
their co-op experience had affected them beyond
Stanford. Their comments have been compiled in community, learning to live with
the following pages. other people and how to work
together. Also, it was cheap — saved
In your opinion, what are the most im-
portant benefits of co-operative living? money.
— Co-op Alum
• A supportive community of friends…
• Teaching people a sense of responsibility for • Learning to share work and ideas, solve
how they live. problems collectively, spirit of play between equal
male and female members, cooking and eating
• Students live more like real life — they aren’t together, feeling of openness with some members
babied by having things magically cooked and to share problems, and seeing your problems in
cleaned for them. perspective with larger community and world
• Taking a stand, with a group of people, on issues.
how we want to live and interact with the world, • Learning how to co-operate with people,
and then putting that vision into reality by living learning how to resolve conflicts honestly, buying
together in the co-op. in bulk to reduce consumption, learning about
• The strong sense of community and the alternative lifestyles.
support system it provides during a difficult and • Meaningful interaction with a lot of people.
rapidly changing time in one’s life. In short, it Close, stimulating relationships. Excellent atmo-
really felt like “home.” Not to mention fresh, sphere for self-reflection and personal growth.
Co-operative Living at Stanford 49 Background
• Sense of self-sufficiency, self-directedness. I • Living like a family with people who are not
learned my life and community could be as good your biological family.
as I was willing to make it. • Flexibility and understanding of alternative
• Allows for a more balanced maturation views, beliefs, and lifestyles. Also, the space to be
process during college… fostering a sense of creative in a supportive community.
social responsibility, both to one’s immediate • I wasn’t a naturally gregarious person. In the
environment and to the world at large. co-op, cook crew and meetings gave us some-
• Finding other people like me. thing structured to do together, which helped
break the ice.
• Getting to exercise more responsibility and
choice about living: food, cleaning, gardening, etc. • To improve the quality of life by providing a
Changing room/roommate situation more often. supportive environment to think about and
Living (hopefully) with aware and interesting improve human communication.
people. • For me, the best part of student life was time
• Channeling group energy to achieve more spent hanging out. Because co-ops have open
than individual goals. kitchens, they have an automatic, homey place to
gather. I always felt that I was living in a home
• An awareness of a world outside of the for which I had responsibility.
university — which is very important in Stan-
ford’s case because it is so isolated from the
“real world.” Learning from fellow students and What are the biggest drawbacks?
sharing — being a student is a very self-involved
process. • Any situation where people live with one
another is fraught with conflict and tension as
• Interesting people. people have different needs, expectations, moti-
• I think the consciousness-raising quality or vations.
intent of co-ops is very important, with respect to • None that I’ve thought of. Hindrances come
gender issues, environmental issues, and other to mind: student transience, inordinate length of
political issues. decision-making meetings.
• Eating healthily and learning about nutrition • None. It takes time to fulfill your group
and food preparation, organizing ad hoc political responsibilities, but lots of worthwhile things take
groups and actions, becoming more aware, time.
making friends, having fun.
• Independent people aren’t very good at com-
• An alternative, experimental living/social ing to agreement — too many strong person-
structure from the rest of campus. alities.
[Co-ops were a place for] learning • The quality of the meals and the cleanliness
of the house is dependent upon the willingness of
tolerance and responsibility toward each house member to do his or her assigned task
others; learning to consider the good on time, which frequently did not happen.
of the group; breaking down • Decreased privacy. Increased incidence of
isolation and confronting new and social/political dogmatism.
— Co-op Alum • Getting to sleep.
• Probably smugness, a certain separation, and
• In a word, awareness. Many of the thought holier-than-thou attitude.
processes tended to extremes, but this was the • Consensus. Frustrating, time-consuming,
time for it and all such digging changed my life. irritating, but a valuable learning process.
• Dialogue between house members. • Botched meals by inexperienced cooks.
• Living in a group enables its members to act • Some people never learn responsibility, and
according to shared values more efficiently and others must pick up their slack.
with more fun.
• Messy house.
• Environmentally conscious purchasing.
Co-operative Living at Stanford 50 Background
• Unco-operative members, especially people • Meetings with some time frame so that the
who were assigned to the house by the draw but concept of consensus doesn’t become absurd.
didn’t want to live there. • More support from, and co-operation with
• Persecution by outsiders. the University administration.
• Generally higher level of domestic chaos (but • More connections to alumni and more inter-
then, that can be fun, too). action with other co-ops in the area… Keeping
houses open and going during summer and
• Starting from scratch every year. winter breaks.
• Political homogeneity.
• Isolation can be bred even in the midst of [Co-ops could be improved by
co-operative living, with some co-op extremists placing] more emphasis on
rejecting anything “conventional.” ethnic/cultural diversity. More
• Academically, co-opers are expected to discussion of world issues in addition
“compete” with students who take no responsi- to house issues.
bility for anything except their studies. — Co-op Alum
• Some complained of too much closeness —
“incestuousness.” • We often had a “fuck ’em if they can’t deal
with it” attitude — not a great method of spread-
• It was difficult to focus on academics, but of ing peace in the world. We need campus support.
course the most important learning occurred at
the co-ops! • Most of the problems I had were with certain
personalities and not the system.
• A Pied Piper to lead away the Mind Rats?
How do you think things could have been
improved? • More hours in the day.
• More emphasis on ethnic/cultural diversity. • Changing human nature.
More discussion of world issues in addition to
What are you doing now, and/or what have
• More emphasis on practical running of you done since leaving Stanford?
things and setting sights on quality of daily life in (Occupation, volunteer activities, etc.)
the houses. Meals and cleaning should take up
the energy, not house meetings. • I’m in med school and live in a 4-5 person
• Smaller houses, clear consensus on standards
before people move into the house. • Freelance writing. Environmental consulting.
• More experienced people to provide direction
and stability. • Computer programmer for research labs
(non-military, of course).
• More moral support from the University.
• Postdoc in astrophysics.
• Greater emphasis on individual accountabil-
ity. This can still be incorporated into co-op • Counselor at Men Overcoming Violence,
living. accountant for non-profits.
• Focus on outreach to get people thinking • Waiting tables, working on getting more into
about co-ops and interested in them — appeal to my career.
a wider group. • I work for the Environmental Protection
• No 006s [people who choose “any on- Agency.
campus housing” in the housing draw]. • I’m working toward an MBA at Stanford,
• Putting a lot of front-end energy into includ- focusing on non-profit management.
ing and orienting newcomers. • I am a grad student in physics at the U. of
• Ideally, a higher degree of co-ordination Chicago. I also helped start the university recy-
among co-ops to exploit collective strength. cling program, and am currently half-time
recycling coordinator for the U. of C. I also live
Co-operative Living at Stanford 51 Background
in a new student co-op — we just bought our most significant (to me) volunteer activity has
house after one and a half years of trying. been working for the Rape Crisis Center.
• Teacher of English as a second language for • I’ve been a nursery school teacher, gardener,
adults. I lived on a kibbutz in Israel. mother, housewife— now I’m getting ready to go
to law school.
• I build wooden boats with a boatyard in
Martha’s Vineyard, MA. • Rock and roll record producer.
• Coordinate Stanford’s recycling program. • Associate Media Director — Center for Pop-
ulation Options — work to prevent too-early
• MBA candidate at Harvard. child-bearing among teens and the spread of HIV
• I run a vegetarian cafe in a co-op food store among teens.
in Taos, New Mexico. • Business Council for the United Nations.
• Grad student now, volunteered with • Computer scientist, active with the environ-
APSNICA building houses in Nicaragua, and mental movement.
volunteered on a reforestation project in Costa
Rica. Am starting in a volunteer middle school • 2nd decade — Photojournalist, 3rd decade —
tutoring program now. carpenter, realtor, wife, mother of two.
• Film — Editing documentaries, now film- • Work for non-profit citizen diplomacy orga-
maker at Columbia. nization producing international television
“Spacebridges” on East-West, North-South, and
• Environmental health scientist — I work at environmental issues. Run own recycled paper
the US EPA. business.
• Union organizer/representative. • Physician, medical researcher, father, hus-
• Information specialist, government energy band.
office. • Attorney — CA public employment relations
• Teach high school. board; checkbook liberal.
• M.D.— surviving internship. • Taught dance, danced professionally, wrote
grants for performing artists, done graphic
• Grad student in social psychology at Prince- design, presently own a restaurant.
• Worked in ski industry for four years,
• Grad student, water resources program, presently a grad student in hydrology.
• Running a special effects film studio, acting,
• I’ve worked as an English and Spanish tutor healing work, philosophical questioning, com-
in the Stanford Literacy Project, been a composi- munity volunteer work.
tion editor for McGraw Hill Educational Testing,
and I’m now freelance and going to have a baby. • I’m getting a Ph.D. in the Dept. of Forestry
Also, I work for vegetables in an organic garden. and Resource Management at Berkeley. Studying
forest hydrology in AK.
• Presently a grad student in molecular biol-
ogy, previously technical writer, recycling center • 1980-86 (roughly) primarily as a political
infantryman. activist organizing direct action against nuclear
weapons, Central American interventionism, and
• Physician. Volunteer with local midwives, corporate evil. Held jobs as a bike messenger,
board of local food co-op. recycler, carpenter. Mural painting in the Mission,
• Served in U.S. Military. Computer program- performance art… tried to enjoy the hell out of
mer. myself and foment revolution.
• Attorney, mother of two children. • Founder of two social investment funds, PhD
in Public Policy; board member of Tides
• Social worker, and have lived in several Foundation, League of Conservation Voters,
co-ops in various cities. Good Samaritan Community Center.
• Med student, U. of Arizona, high school • Substitute teaching at Boston inner-city
teacher, bum in S. America. school, teaching English in China at a Teacher’s
• I’ve been in graduate school at Columbia, College, teaching math at a private all-girls
doing research on global climate change. My school.
Co-operative Living at Stanford 52 Background
• Worked as a legal assistant, then went to • No, but it definitely helped me persist at
graduate school to obtain a masters in Public Stanford. Without the co-op experience, I prob-
Policy Studies. Now work at a not-for-profit ably would have transferred.
organization studying public housing and urban • I would say the inverse — what I wanted to
development issues. do after college influenced my desire to live in a
• Worked on non-profit co-op housing devel- co-op.
opment in Seattle. Studied alternative housing • Yes. I think co-op life at Stanford exposed
projects in Berlin for one year and worked for a me to alternative lifestyles and career interests.
S.F. non-profit housing developer.
• Definitely. I’m hooked on co-op living. I’ve
• Program Manager, Middle East Region, Save done it ever since… And I’ve had the examples
the Children. Was a Peace Corps volunteer in of other co-opers doing jobs that are in line with
Morocco, and worked with a Palestinian their values and “good for the world” — and
grassroots health organization. I’ve gone “out into the world” with a clearer
• Engineer giving science technology advice to belief that I can so the same.
U.S. Congress. • Yes. It helped strengthen and focus my
• Now PhD candidate in Energy Policy as objectives in the field of conservation and envi-
applied to developing countries. Was a Peace ronmental issues.
Corps volunteer. • Yes! The experience taught me the power of
• I am a public interest lawyer, currently collective action.
teaching at a community-based law school — • Yes. I’m now studying architecture and
have worked in women’s movement for last ten brushing up on engineering and hoping to get
years. technical and continue work on non-profit and
• Administrator at non-profit book publisher alternative housing projects.
and international grassroots development organi-
zation. Living in a co-op. [My co-op experience] very much
• Currently medical student interested in public affected my values and sense of self
health, international medicine. and responsibility in the world. —
• Dancer/admin. asst. with a children’s dance Co-op Alum
company. Now an administrative assistant at
Citizen’s Commission on AIDS and Lesbian & • My experience helped confirm that one’s life
Gay Community Services Center. should truly integrate ethical & political ideals,
creativity, and work. Although I haven’t achieved
this balance yet and am still learning what it
Do you think your co-op experience had any means, I feel the co-op gave me ideas about some
effect on what you chose to pursue after possible ways of doing so.
• Not really — I was already interested in
• Supported the humanistic values which environmental issues — but I enjoyed living in a
underlie most of what I’ve done. co-op and living those values.
• It’s difficult to say, but my basic world view • Yes. I have gravitated to co-op situations as a
was forged during my co-op years, so it must participant and consumer.
have had an influence; perhaps it’s more accurate
to say it influenced what I refuse to do with my • Working with my peers in creating a com-
life (who or what I’ll work for, etc.). munity has been invaluable in terms of experience
and wisdom. The most important education that I
• I’d say I chose living in co-ops because of got at Stanford, especially when viewed in
who I am, more than that co-ops made me this practical “real world” terms.
• Some effect in the form of favorable light on
• Not my vocation; however my lifestyle was helping run the government.
profoundly affected — vegetarianism, gardening,
recycling, feminism, etc. • The alternative lifestyle in the co-op assisted
in legitimizing my alternative life as an artist in
• It helped me be myself at Stanford… which our society. Overall my attitudes on the mundane
helped me be myself in the workforce.
Co-operative Living at Stanford 53 Background
sharing of housework with my wife and family to eat meat for a week and didn’t miss it, I
reflects the equality experienced at the co-op. decided to see how long I could keep it up. I’ve
been vegetarian for eight and a half years now.
• Yes, more aware of inter-relatedness of sys-
tems and much more environmentally aware. • Living in a group is a great way to get stimu-
lation and interaction with people, and the world
• Yes — made me more inclined to look for a needs more people working and living together,
non-profit co-operative organization dedicated to talking, thinking, and doing together — I’ve
genuine community service. continued to apply the co-op style to my living
• It helped me see options other than “You style.
must get a job right after school that is very suc- • I learned the importance of community and
cessful.” co-operative enterprise. For the first time I real-
• Certainly the truly amazing people I lived ized how much stronger a group of people
with influenced me, but in subtle ways. I was working together is than a single individual. I was
inspired and supported by them to travel afar and also introduced to the worlds of politics and low-
explore. consumption living. It gave me ideals I’ve been
trying to live up to ever since.
• As far as lifestyle goes, it had an immense
impact. I have lived in co-operative or “semi” • Still a vegetarian. Still recycle. Still bike as
co-operative houses ever since college. much as possible for transportation. Still believe
in consensus decision-making. Still live in a
• Definitely. Though already politicized, it co-op. It’s more fun! Still psyched about sustain-
provided avenues and inspiration for me to able agriculture.
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 I have lived in co-op type houses ever
community. since [my Stanford co-op
• Solidified my willingness to go out on a limb experience], still vegetarian,
and… create a life and line of work for myself. environmentally-oriented career, and
• That was decided in advance, but yes, the I’ll never look at chickens the same
ideals within my dream career got grounded in way again.
reality in the co-ops. Also, I met my husband — Co-op Alum
through the co-op network and our co-op experi-
ence helps bind us. • Most importantly, co-ops taught me to
sublimate ego, listen, compromise, and facilitate
solutions for the benefit of the group instead of
Are there any ideas or values that you the individual.
learned or explored through the co-ops that
you have applied to your life beyond • Yes. Tendency to non-authoritarian decision-
Stanford? making within my Union and awareness of
ecology which influences my consumer deci-
• Many. Consensus has come up over and over sions.
again in my political work. My cooking skills
flowered at the co-op. Also, the notion of working • Socially responsible employment and invest-
in tight-knit affinity groups, not necessarily called ment, issues of individual needs/rights versus
that. And finally, nonviolence. community needs/rights.
• The way I treat money. Instead of thinking • Patience and respect for others.
“This is my money and I can spend it however I • Co-operation — necessary in all organiza-
want,” I try to think “Is this a business or tions. Commitment — feeling it and developing it
product I’d like to support?” Seeing money in others. Ingenuity — searching for a better way.
disappear into a worthy business is like putting a
fruit rind into the compost instead of the trash. • The importance of homemaking — making a
—The way I treat food. I avoided Columbae and home. Listening to my needs for my home as
Synergy at first because I thought I could never well as the needs of my housemates.
live on a vegetarian diet. Once in Synergy, I was • The co-op experience reinforced my innate
careful to eat lots of hot dogs when away from sense of trusting myself and not getting caught
the house. But after I learned about protein com- up in life’s compulsions.
plementarization, and after I realized I’d forgotten
Co-operative Living at Stanford 54 Background
• I learned to appreciate reggae music.
• The importance of community and the know-
ledge that community has to be nurtured, not
taken for granted.
• Consensus, playfulness, the necessity of pro-
viding 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
• 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 material-
• Yes, in terms of “lifestyle can make a differ-
ence (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 pur-
pose 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 use-
Co-operative Living at Stanford 55 The Current Crisis
IV. The Current Crisis
George Melnyk said that change and even homes. Out of this frustration came the
catastrophe is beneficial for a co-operative, for student-organized meeting on Thursday.
from this can come rebirth and growth. Well... Thursday 10/19 — A couple of hundred dis-
perhaps an earthquake was overkill, yet our co- placed students gathered at 2 PM on the Colum-
operative communities have not died and are not bae front lawn to discuss our situation and to set
going to, because people from these communities an agenda for 4 PM, at which time several
have come together to ensure the future of members of the administration were to join us.
Stanford co-operatives. It isn’t a complete “Movers and Shakers”, written by Robert
exaggeration to say that this report stems from a Abrams, was a summary of these meetings (See
crisis and may be the first step in the growth of Appendix). The mood was very positive and non-
our communities. So let us now take a look at the confrontational considering the circumstances.
effects of the earthquake. Generally, both the students and the staff
expressed a desire and willingness to work
A Chronology of the together. A task force was created to assist in this
process. Notable presences: Jim Lyons, Diana
Post-Quake Events Conklin (who promised and later delivered an
extension of the pass/no credit option and
By Sally Otto, Columbaen (with Joanna temporary meal cards for EAs as well as
Davidson, Synergite) residents), Jack Chin. Notable absences: Don
In this section, I chronicle the events which have Kennedy, Alice Supton.
affected the Stanford co-operative community
since the earthquake at 5:04 PM on October 17, The contrast between the lawn of
1989. My purpose is two-fold: to record events
which rapidly fade from memory, and to point out Columbae and the podium, between
those events which were particularly strengthen- discussing and being told, between
ing or disempowering with the hope that we may working together and being excluded
reinforce the former. I draw my information struck me so strongly and
mainly from notes taken by Joanna Davidson and painfully...
Friday 10/20 — The first task force met at 11:30
October 1989 AM. A damage estimate for Stanford was placed
Tuesday 10/17 — Q U A K E . Nobody in the at 150-160 million dollars. No kitchen was made
Stanford community was seriously injured. We available to the displaced students despite
heard by word of mouth (Row Office -> RAs -> students’ concerns. However, the Elliott Program
residents) that Columbae, Hammarskjöld, Kairos, Center and Bechtel kitchens could, as always, be
Phi Psi, Synergy, Theta Chi (all the co-ops but used by making prior arrangements. It was our
Terra) as well as other residences may be severely understanding at this point that “Students will
damaged and should not be entered. Many be involved in long-range planning” as Joanna
students, having no place to sleep, camped in their noted. At 5 PM, an informational meeting was
front yards. held at Kresge at the invitation of staff. Donald
Kennedy started by reading a five minute speech
Wednesday 10/18 — Classes were canceled. (and then promptly leaving)...
Students were allowed into the houses for ten
minutes to retrieve bare essentials. At around Please allow a short digression here so that I may
5!PM, President Donald Kennedy announced that explain why this meeting is imprinted on my
classes would be held Thursday and mentioned mind so heavily. The contrast between the lawn of
that some of his china had broken. We then Columbae and the podium, between discussing
found out our temporary housing assignments. and being told, between working together and
Several co-opers felt dehumanized when they being excluded struck me so strongly and
learned that classes would be held before learning painfully...
where they could sleep or when they could Understand that most of my pain during this
retrieve necessities (including books) from their meeting was caused not when I learned that
Co-operative Living at Stanford 56 The Current Crisis
Columbae would be closed for the year but when campus, including Casa Hermosa, Eudaemonia,
I realized that the power and strength of co-op- and Iris Corner. I can’t begin to describe the
eration had been cast away and a hierarchy headaches involved in the off-campus housing
reimposed. hunt. We were hung-up on, laughed at, and pitied,
but generally not offered housing. Alice Supton,
Houses Closed for the Year: Diana Conklin, and Michael Jackson helped by
Columbae, Delta Tau Delta, Phi Psi, Synergy writing letters of recommendation. Donald
Houses Closed for the Quarter* : Kennedy said he would write and could be
Durand, Roth, Theta Xi (The Taxi) contacted by phone.
Houses Opening on Saturday 10/29: Wednesday 10/25 — A meeting about academic
French, Grove-Lasuen, Hammarskjöld, concerns for students affected by the earthquake
Kairos, Phi Sig. took place (jointly organized by co-op students,
Jim Lyons, and members of the Academic
Thus leaving around 260 students without Standing Office) [repeated on Thursday].
housing. Moving arrangements were essentially
made for all houses (30 minutes allotted per Thursday 10/26 — The Draw took place. All
person) except Columbae, which was considered those students who had requested exemptions
too dangerous to enter. Students were released from University Food Service were allowed to do
from their housing contracts, while if they wanted so. Students had requested this exception so that
to remain in on-campus housing, a draw was they could become Eating Associates at the open
scheduled for the upcoming week. An all co-op co-ops. Surprisingly, it had been a struggle to get
dinner was hosted at Terra. For me, the unity this exception.
among the Stanford co-ops was at an all time
high. November 1989
Saturday 10/21 — A morning task force Sunday 11/5 — Weekly Co-op Coffee House:
meeting took place with Michael Jackson (M.J.), About 40 co-opers gathered in the evening at
Jack Chin, and representatives of the displaced Elliott Program Center to study, to drum and play
residences. On-campus housing options were guitar, and to consume caffeine and sugar (or
discussed. Students proposed increasing the size honey).
of the draw group from eight to twenty to accom- Wednesday 11/8 — Well, I’ll lift coverage of
modate a community. M.J. voiced a concern this task force meeting straight from the Co-oper:
about “taking over” the community into which
we entered. Co-op representatives proposed that Displaced Co-ops: A “Task Force” Update
the Draw be held among the students by Phi Psi, Synergy, Columbae and Taxi
consensus. M.J. is concerned that some students representatives met with Jack Chin on
would be railroaded by this process. Members of Wednesday (11/8) to chat about the current state
other displaced houses voiced concern about the of affairs in displacement-ville. For brevity’s
time involved. Co-op members meet to discuss sake I’ll just list items of interest:
off-campus housing at 2 PM. The group agrees
to work together rather than to edge each other *Keys should be returned to the Row Office.
out of possible options. [This meeting was later *Cyclone fencing will be put up around the
criticized by M.J. for not having included the closed houses.
other closed houses.]
*There have been no new structural reports
Monday 10/23 — Yet another meeting...The since we went in to remove our belongings... No
Draw was to take place as always (not by con- decision has yet been made as to whether our
sensus). Moving vans would be supplied only for houses will be torn down... No commitment has
those students remaining on-campus. Madeline been made to reinstate the closed co-ops.
Larsen (SWOPSI staff, Theta Chi and Phi Psi
alum) began the organizing group for this Co-op *The Row will stop collecting mail on November
SWOPSI class. 17th. At that point, all mail will delivered to the
houses will be returned to sender [emphasis in
Tuesday 10/24 — The draw is explained to all original] unless alternative arrangements can be
students interested. Eventually, about half of the made with the Postmaster. You can try to
displaced co-opers remain on-campus while forward your mail though the Post Office by
several co-op communities were started off- noting your house’s name (e.g. 549 Lasuen
rather than Columbae). The Post Office
* Reopening was later deferred to Fall 1990.
Co-operative Living at Stanford 57 The Current Crisis
generally doesn’t forward mail from student rather depressing message was that University
residences on-campus. officials had chosen to give the fraternities a
higher priority for rehousing because of a past
*The window on the inside of S.O.S. [Student agreement made between fraternity alums and
Organization Services] on the second floor in Stanford.
Tresidder is the new message board for
displaced students. Monday 12/11 — Co-op representatives take
home-baked bread to the Board of Trustees’
*Displaced Communities have the second luncheon.
highest priority (out of eight) for reserving Elliott
Program Center (first priority goes to Res Ed
and Governor’s corner). January 1990
Tuesday 1/9 — “Reliable rumor” had it that
* Call Row Facilities for info on how to get any none of the houses can be fixed by the fall of
remaining personal stuff out of the co-ops or out 1990, leaving seven houses competing for re-
of Durand (where the boxes finally went). There housing.
is still no news as to whether we can get our
personal furniture out. Tuesday 1/16 — Task force meeting with Jack
Chin and Roger Whitney (Director of Housing).
* Have a Nice Day. Roger was hopeful at that point that at least some
Jack Chin also mentions that the Draw book goes of the houses would be re-opened in the fall. He
out in mid-Winter Quarter, by which time the talked of each of the co-ops as distinct programs
1990-1991 housing options should have been saying that the Housing Office would “try to
decided. keep a program going in some form...to some
degree and somehow.” Yet he added that the
December 1989 U-op and self-op options would also have to be
retained. We were told to plan on being included
Monday 12/4 — By our request at the last in the draw book.
meeting, Keith Guy (Director of Facilities) joined
this task force meeting (arranged by Jack Chin). Thursday 1/25 — A back-page article in the
He explained that in the latest estimates, Synergy, Daily claims: “Columbae to reopen next
Phi Psi, and the Delt house (on San Juan hill) year”. Keith Guy confirms the possibility,
would each cost about three million dollars to although building would not start until May.
repair while Columbae was on the order of one Friday 1/26 — About 150 co-opers attend a
million dollars. The cost to rebuild is about two- fantastic co-op dinner sponsored by Hammar-
and-a-half million for the type of houses in- skjöld (esp. Bob Abrams).
volved. Since the Federal Emergency Manage-
ment Association only supplies aid for repairs if Sunday 1/28 — The poor Co-op Coffee House
repair costs are under half of the rebuilding costs, takes its final gasp after weeks of attendance by
it was doubtful that all the closed houses would only those few die-hard bohemians.
be repaired. If these houses were to be fixed, they Monday 1/29 — Calls to Jack Chin reveal that
would probably not be ready by fall 1990, while displaced students who were guaranteed this year
if they were to be rebuilt they would probably not would be given another guaranteed year (believe it
be ready by fall 1991. Durand, Roth, and Taxi are or not, this had actually been a bone of conten-
still slated to re-open by fall 1990. Blueprints for tion) and that all displaced residents would be
all the houses had to be re-drawn, which was given an alumni priority essentially guaranteeing
causing a big delay. that they would have a spot in their house.
As far as decision-making goes, according to
Jack Chin, 1990-1991 housing options on the February 1990
Row would probably be decided by Jack Chin, Tuesday 2/6 — The task-force reconvened with
Diana Conklin, and Roger Whitney, while long- Diana Conklin and Roger Whitney as guests.
term decisions would be made by a host of R.W. confirmed that Columbae, The Taxi, Roth
people including the above mentioned, Norm and Durand were scheduled to re-open in the fall.
Robinson, Keith Guy, the Housing Operations D.C. mentioned that, to her surprise, nobody
Advisory Committee (HOAC), the Housing within the administration had recommended
Office, the Programs Office, and the Administra- eliminating any of the closed “programs” during
tive Council. By this time it had become crystal the various meetings which had taken place since
clear that while the task force may offer sugges- the earthquake. D.C. also said that there was hope
tions, it is not a decision-making group. One that Synergy and the Delt house could be rebuilt,
Co-operative Living at Stanford 58 The Current Crisis
although this process would take at least a couple explained our role in the decision making
of years. They recommend that the co-opers write process, and distributed among the people we had
a proposal in order to have student input into invited. (See Appendix).
structural improvements in the houses, especially Finally, on the 28th of February, the class held a
environmentally sound improvements. meeting open to all members of the co-op
community in order to discuss our research and
The Rest of February get feedback on our recommendations. In
Around this time, classmembers started addition to class participants, a few members of
discussing which Row houses were preferable the Phi Psi and Columbae communities attended.
homes for Synergy and Phi Psi next year. We The main topics were ethnic and cultural diversity
talked about the relationship between architecture and the relocation of houses for the following
and community, and came up with a list of year. After extensive discussion, the group agreed
suggested houses for the Row Office to consider. to put 553 Mayfield, Durand and Phi Sig on our
Somewhere along the way, Dave Boat (the cook list of preferred houses to be given to the Row.
at Phi Sig) heard that the class was deciding to (See Appendix for meeting agenda.)
move into Phi Sig, removing him from his job.
He came to class the following week and made a Overall, the issue of rehousing Synergy and Phi
statement expressing his concerns. Psi next year was extremely time consuming and
often frustrating. However, the discussions were
Dave awakened our collective consciousness and valuable in that we learned a great deal about
made us acutely aware of our negative impact on consensus and once again affirmed our much our
the Row. This started an involved and intense process differs from University decision making.
three week debate about our housing suggestions Ultimately, our input had little impact on the
for next year. The discussion was often heated; Row’s final decision.
some people thought we should put off housing
the co-ops for another year until all of the houses March 1990
were fixed, while others insisted that we were Tuesday 3/6 — Present along with the task force
going to have an impact somewhere and representatives were Jack Chin, Norm Robinson
somehow and that it was futile to try to decide and Keith Guy. We are told that the communities
who we were going to put out of a job. of Columbae, Phi Psi, and Synergy will be
Everyone agreed that more information was rehoused the following fall in the Alpha Delt
crucial, so people went to visit the cook at 553 House, Columbae, and the Grove houses in an
Mayfield, talk to the Delts (who were also in need order to be chosen by the co-op community. It
of a temporary home), and find out about current was stipulated that the Grove houses had to be
student manager positions in the potentially University cleaned, although it was unclear
affected houses. After gathering this data, we whether or not a compromise could be struck.
reminded ourselves of our position in this Construction for Columbae, as well as Durand,
decision - we could merely make suggestions to Roth, and The Taxi, was scheduled to begin in
the row, while the administrators still had all May and end by the first of September.
decision making power. This was the most Information about Open Houses and outreach
frustrating aspect of the process - we were being was also provided at this meeting.
held accountable for a decision in which we had Wednesday 3/7 — During the class following
limited influence. this task force meeting, we decided that Synergy
We decided that the best course of action would would move into the Grove houses, Phi Psi into
be to include everyone in the decision making the AD house, and Columbae back home.
process. We scheduled an open meeting, and Special Note 1: Although not specifically men-
invited all potentially displaced cooks, cleaners, tioned, the displaced students were given free
residents, the Delts and the relevant meal cards and Oak Lounge in Tresidder for two
administrators. The purpose of the meeting was weeks as promised on 10/20. These amenities
to create a forum where everyone could discuss made the period much more tolerable and deserve
their concerns with those “in power,” in order to a word of thanks.
minimize the negative impacts of the relocations.
Special Note 2: The task force did in fact consist
Unfortunately the administrators from the Row of actual human beings: among the co-op
that we invited vetoed the idea and refused to students who attended were Chip Bartlett, Jon
participate. Realizing that it would be an Birnbaum, Joanna Davidson, Michelle Duran,
ineffective meeting without them, we drafted a Sally Otto, Matt Price, Ken Sakaie.
letter which described our attempted meeting and
Co-operative Living at Stanford 59 The Current Crisis
Special Note 3: Perhaps because of all the choosing specifically where you want to live.”
bureaucratic hoops we were jumping through, the “All co-ops are by far not the same... Co-ops are
Co-oper newsletter and the Inter Co-op Council just another kind of theme house (Columbae is
failed to become avenues of expression and the non-violence theme house). Each co-op has
action. its own character and each serves as a specific
support group for those who become part of that
Conclusions: The Stanford co-operative world community.”
manages to avoid hierarchy in part by ignoring
that structure in which it is imbedded. Although I What makes co-op life important for her is that
have been very quick above to point out acts “it’s a real community, not just an isolated
which led to frustration on the part of co-opers, I existence.” Which compared to a dorm is very
must point to our own culpability. Since we different, she explains: “It’s [living in a co-op]
didn’t interact with people in the administration like putting out a conscious effort to create a
on an individual basis before the earthquake, it communication between those of a mutual under-
became close to impossible to establish mutually standing, to walk outside your security without
respectful, co-operative relationships after the having to walk into someone else’s four walls, to
crisis. Hence, I move forward from this point find a common space, a communal together
believing that outreach efforts must extend to all space.” “More often than not,” she says, “the
members of Stanford and that open and all- kitchen is such a central meeting place.” The way
encompassing discussions should take place work is managed in the co-ops is important to her
about the role and the power of a co-op within too because “when you make your own food, or
Res Ed and of the role and the power of Res Ed when your friends make your own food, it puts
“over” a co-op. you in touch with what you put inside your
body.” She expressed that a common denomi-
nator among the co-op communities is that they
Effects of and Concerns about are all groups of people who practice ways of life
Closing Synergy, Columbae, distinct from the mainstream dormitory atmo-
and Phi Psi Co-ops
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 commu-
nities were overlooked by some and our needs Our interviewee points out that
misunderstood as insubstantial by some. The what she describes as a basic similarity between
significance of these communities’ absence — the co-op systems serves a dual purpose, the
not only to their members, but to the larger same dual purpose that Residential Education
campus — must be adequately explored. The wishes to establish in creating theme houses. She
reasons residents value these three co-ops corre- notes, “The co-ops are a support group for the
spond directly with the value of the co-operative members
system to the Stanford community. This presen- of that community and also inherently comple-
tation reveals the serious concerns surrounding ment the diversity of the larger community.” That
the closing of these co-ops and the closing’s is, the co-operative work system adds diversity to
effect on former co-op residents and the entire the array of campus housing options, and each
campus community as a whole. specific co-op, each community of people-who-
Instead of presenting the interviews as commen- know-each-other, functions as a support group
taries on predefined categories, we have chosen to which has adapted over time and through co-
let each community speak for itself, each operative interaction to the particular needs of its
interview in its own unity. members.
Columbae Co-op Phi Psi Co-op
Our interviewee from Columbae is now relocated “Fragmentation” was the word used by our
on campus in a dormitory setting. She begins the interviewee from Phi Psi to describe the effect of
interview saying, “It’s not as simple as just the closing of his co-op. Post-earthquake, “The
choosing housing on campus, or even members of the community don’t see each other
co-operative housing on campus. It’s the idea of anymore.” Relocated off-campus, he says, “I
don’t see anyone from the house (besides
Co-operative Living at Stanford 60 The Current Crisis
drawmates from the house) except by coinci- a dorm setting, he noted that he felt the
dence, but it is really nice when I see them.” He co-operative system to be “more natural — it’s
notes what may be seen by some as more serious the dorm that’s nonconventional, that’s artificial.
impacts: “My grades went down, I drank more But I haven’t lived in a dorm in years.” Echoing
alcohol than usual, and I had trouble sleeping, similar feelings, another displaced Synergy
because I was . . . ill at ease.” He qualifies, resident, now relocated in Terra, described her
saying, “You can never attribute general decision to live in a student co-operative after two
problems to one cause, but not being part of a years living in a dormitory setting. Initially
community definitely was a factor.” 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.
How has he adapted? “To try to
keep the co-op atmosphere, I am an E.A. [eating She looked at several co-ops, and chose Synergy
associate] at Theta Chi, but if you don’t live with because she liked the house, thought it was
the people, it is really hard to be a part of the “pretty random,” [it is a rambling old house
community.” He noted that “Some people can fit filled with brilliant murals on the inside] and was
in anywhere, but some people thrive in specific situated in a “nice location.” The physical envi-
situations. And not being a member of a co-op ronment at Synergy, rare on campus, was an
really affected me academically and in my important ingredient of house life.
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 Because Synergy wasn’t “hard-
community. core ‘hippie,’” as she put it, she found it
appealing at this initial stage of investigation,
Synergy Co-op whereas Columbae was initially “too
One of our interviewees, a Synergy resident at the intimidating.” She liked Synergy because it was
time of the earthquake, has relocated in Chi Theta less political than Columbae but still promoted
Chi, another campus student co-operative. He ideas concerning rape education and resource
relates having “recaptured much of what was conservation. Her statements reflect the
lost,” adding, “that I have been accepted so University’s loss in sum-total diversity not only
warmly reinforces the ideals of a kind of due to the cumulative closure of three co-ops but
community we wish to create, and its signifi- also due to the (one hopes, temporary)
cance.” “Hearing the stories of my fellow disappearance of these co-ops’ particular spirits,
co-opers who miss that community brings me to their historical character as distinct communities.
lament for its scarcity.” Asked what in particular Now relocated in a campus student co-op with a
those fellow co-opers might be experiencing, he very different character and history, she
characterizes it as “a sense of place and summarizes by saying that she is still in a
belongingness that’s lacking.” He explained that community which does the cooking and cleaning
being part of a community, he has an easier time for itself (her original motivation for living in a
communicating because people know where he is co-op) but that now she realizes that what she
coming from, and that he “has something to look liked most about co-ops was living with those
forward to” when he is “down.” Explaining who shared your ideas and commitments —
further, he says, “In a co-op, there is centrality commitments of putting those ideas into practice
and identity. The kitchen is the centrality; the everyday. “Co-ops are thought of as places
food, the social patterns surrounding food. These where you cook and live and work together but
responsibilities give a locus of interaction, a sense the spirit is much more of a prevalent aspect of a
of identity.” co-op.” Without the special combination of
Comparing the co-operative food plan and co-operative cooking, cleaning, and decision-
cleaning system to the corresponding systems in making systems and the ‘spirit,’ different for
Co-operative Living at Stanford 61 The Current Crisis
each co-op, that went with Synergy, Phi Psi, and to what she had experienced as “pampering in
Columbae, the campus will be lacking an outlet the dorms,” and the opportunity for “closeness
for students who themselves share this kind of between people” in a residence. But relocated in
Synergy spirit, Columbae spirit, or Phi Psi spirit. 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
Summary community, its “specific situation,” in the words
The interviews here represent a portrait of former of our Phi Psi interviewee. In her words, a
co-op residents’ attempt to cope with the current significant part of the current crisis is the absence
crisis. The detailing and explanation that make up of the “spirit” unique to each co-op — Synergy,
the interviews are representative of the questions Phi Psi, and Columbae — that, at least for the
and evaluations that one thinks about once one time being, prevails over all former residents of
has lost something. What exactly was it? Why these three communities.
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 Structure of Decision
The former Columbae resident interviewed, now Making
living in a dormitory setting, explains the
importance of the self-contained support ethos By Alan Hayne, Columbaen
and personal friendship in a co-op. She stresses This report is an evaluation of the decision-
that this support function fulfills the dual purpose making process both after the Earthquake and in
for theme houses set out by Residential general. It is primarily based upon five interviews,
Education, especially because each co-op has its conducted with the following administrators:
own character. Our Phi Psi interviewee also
emphasizes the importance of the “specific • Jack Chin, Assistant Director of the Row
situation” provided by the co-op setting that he • Michael Jackson, Assistant Dean of Student
lived in, and explains the significance of the Affairs
absence of community interaction by way of what
may be recognized by some readers as more • Jim Lyons, Dean of Student Affairs
“serious,” concrete crisis symptoms: decline in • Alice Supton, Director of Residential
academic performance, increase in alcohol Education
• Bob Hamrdla, Assistant to President
Co-ops are places where people work
together and take responsibility for The comments of these folks will be incorporated
into an analysis of the basic issues that affect our
the mechanics of daily life — they participation in the Stanford environment. Under-
live together in a very real sense, standing the relationship between the interests of
thinking about cooking and the University and the interests of the co-op
cleaning and making their house a community seems to be vital both in defining the
home. — Classmember relationship that we have with the University, and
in planning for the future of our community.
Our two interviewees from Synergy (to keep Work Group and Task Force
gender balance in the interviews we made four After the earthquake, there were two groups
interviews for three co-op communities) struck a functioning: the “workgroup”, which consisted
slightly different tone. Both relocated in co-ops of Alice, Jack, Michael, Jim, Diana Conklin,
and fairly well re-adjusted, they focussed more on Roger Whitney, and several other administrators
the operative aspects of co-ops as they have them with whom we had little contact, and a second
now. The interviewee relocated in Theta Chi group formed later, the “Taskforce”, which
lamented for the scarcity of communication other consisted of Michael Jackson, Jack Chin and one
residents not rehoused in co-ops undergo, linking or more representatives of each displaced House.
the positive communication which co-ops foster Michael and Jack would listen to the comments
to the shared responsibility which characterizes of the students in the Taskforce, then take these
the co-op work system. comments as suggestions to the Workgroup,
Similarly, the other Synergy interviewee noted where he would “attempt to present them in the
that this work system meant to her an alternative manner they had been presented.”
Co-operative Living at Stanford 62 The Current Crisis
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 Work-
group felt that they had adjusted to student input, Hierarchy and Consensus
by “allowing” students to live in dorms without Alice’s most memorable moments were “the two
buying a board plan and in allowing groups of up meetings,” which were the Friday (10/20)
to eight to draw together. Thus, there were meeting in Kresge and one of the meetings in
changes made due to student input. This is not Tresidder. In evaluating what works in decision-
democracy, however, which everyone I spoke with making, she is without the benefit of the
readily conceded. Jack notes that “The Thursday (10/19) meeting at Columbae, which
University is not a corporation,” but as Jim puts seems unfortunate. This gives a hint of the
it, there were “choices that needed a fair amount problems with communication that have occurred.
of student input, but really weren’t up for vote.” Our only existing model of what a meeting
Jack also added that “administrators make should be was the Thursday meeting on the lawn
decisions.” of Columbae. Everyone appeared to have had the
If students weren’t making the decisions, who opportunity to speak their minds and to talk to
was? This is an issue that was very unclear during one another. The next day, at the Kresge meeting,
the period of dislocation, and seems to be a stage and an audience replaced a grassy yard.
enigmatic to most of the people in the Stanford Our system of consensus is seen as a way of
community. Jack said that his “most memorable living that needs to be fitted into the hierarchy of
moment” in this experience was reading in the the University. This is “a reality,” as Michael put
Daily that Columbae would reopen. He explains it explicitly. He “would give students a B” in
that we are “working across divisions... therefore their manner of relating to administrators. All of
it gets confusing — Can’t point at any one the administrators interviewed saw the need for an
person.” efficient administrative hierarchy during the
Upon learning that I was with the co-ops, Bob period of displacement. It would have been nice if
asked if I was part of “the blitz”. Apparently, our this hierarchy had been planned before the
letter writing to the President’s Office was one of earthquake.
the more substantial collections of fan and junk
mail that they have received in some time. He Education and Economics
said, however, that it was perhaps somewhat One competition that exists throughout the
misdirected. “The decision whether there will or University, and throughout any organization for
will not be co-ops is not made by the Board of that matter, is between educational quality and the
Trustees, and it is not made by the President.” availability of funding. This was one reason that
Who is making decisions, Bob? “The Dean of immediate answers were not available to our
Student Affairs.” questions. We may ask why there was not
someone available who was able to make
He points to Dean Jim Lyons, who feels that he decisions about everything — in effect we were
makes decisions by weighing the needs of the asking for a consolidation of power. This desire
different parties involved. His first impulse after was much due to the tremendous anxiety that we
the earthquake was to “set up structures,” such faced over school, a fact which Alice and others
as the phone network at Tresidder. Because this recognized.
was a crisis, the first priority of most of the
administrators was health and safety, and Bob spoke a great deal about the importance of
therefore expediency. For this reason, democracy “viability” when evaluating the worthiness of a
and consensus were sacrificed for a need or particular program. This means to him that a
perceived need to immediately rehouse students. program, be it co-op, fraternity, or theme house,
Did this sacrifice really act as a catalyst towards “must have a plan about how it will contribute to
realizing the goal of “business as usual?” 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
Co-operative Living at Stanford 63 The Current Crisis
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
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 communi-
ties” 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
Co-operative Living at Stanford 64 Recommendations and Alternatives
V. Recommendations and Alternatives
physical environment. While most changes reflect
Introduction a desire for greater environmental sustainability,
others reflect a desire to promote a sense of
In this last section of our report we look forward: community, open to all.
How can we ensure the survival and growth of The reception was especially good when it was
our co-op communities, especially those understood that the petition was not a set of
unhoused this year? What do we seek to improve demands but of recommendations. Unfortunately
in the individual co-operatives and the links there is little money available for the upgrading of
between them? How can we increase the use of current Stanford housing, although the long-term
co-operative consensual decision-making within goal of the housing office is to create equally
the university framework? What roles can the attractive housing for all by renovating current
co-op community have within the Stanford houses/dorms (Keith Guy). Hence, while there is
community? little hope for the immediate implantation of our
Our proposals are for both immediate and longer- recommendations, we believe that they can serve
term improvements. Each proposal includes pros as a preliminary plan for future changes to
and cons, reflecting the range of opinions that Columbae.
were expressed in our discussions. There were some positive outcomes. Thanks
• We communicate which structural changes especially go to Jack Chin for following up on
we envision as desirable, while understanding that our recommendation to return the rooms taken
the university is limited in the amount of money it during the Roble housing crunch. Because of his
can currently invest in the remodeling as well as efforts, one of the two rooms will be returned for
repairing of our houses. programmatic use. Further, both Ben Assaro
(project manager) and Keith Guy feel that if
• We focus on some of the special issues insulation can be put in with little additional cost,
which arise from the rehousing of Synergy and it will be done.
Phi Psi in different locations.
For future reference, student volunteers were not
• We propose various organization-level im- as desirable as finding funding for our recom-
provements. Acting in unison would increase our mendations because of the liability involved in
power and effectiveness...yet we must not having non-contracted workers.
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 deter-
mine which options may be feasible.
• We address the need for outreach and
communication with those outside of the co-ops.
Recommendations of the
Repair of Buildings
Recommended Changes to the Structure of
The following petition was submitted to admin-
istration officials with the aim of increasing com-
munication about the long and short term goals of
our co-operative and how those relate to our
Co-operative Living at Stanford 65 Recommendations and Alternatives
Co-operative Living at Stanford 66 Recommendations and Alternatives
Co-operative Living at Stanford 67 Recommendations and Alternatives
“Untouchable” (even the enforcement power
Synergy and Phi Psi Structures behind this term is unclear), it is not likely that
Repair of Synergy and Phi Psi any of the co-ops could ever get this status.
The University has decided to repair Synergy and
Phi Psi. The reasons for this seem to be mainly Future Prospects/Recommendations
financial. It currently costs about $65,000/ Project managers will be assigned to Synergy and
student room to build a new row house, while a Phi Psi sometime either near the end of next
larger dormitory costs about $55,000/student quarter or summer (it will probably be Ben
room to construct. Repairing Synergy and Phi Assaro, who is project manager for most of the
Psi will cost more like $25,000/student room. other buildings). At this time students can
Also, if any FEMA support is obtained, it can approach him and suggest possible alterations/
only be applied towards repair, and not towards modifications that could fit within the proposed
the construction of new buildings. In repairing budget. I have already compiled a list of
Synergy and Phi Psi the University wishes only suggested changes for Synergy and Phi Psi —
to bring the houses up to life-safety standards, perhaps some of these can be implemented. Any
and will use University-contracted labor (proba- students taking CE176 (Small Scale Energy
bly current Row workers). The houses are Systems) next quarter might want to work on a
expected to reopen for the 1991 academic year, solar water heater system for either house. In any
but this time frame is only an estimate; no project case, active student involvement is needed for the
manager has been assigned to either house, and next year to monitor the repairs and work with the
no comprehensive structural damage reports have University.
Some Thoughts about Aesthetics and
Historical Landmarks Student Housing
The main way for a building to be registered as The closing of Synergy and Phi Psi as a result of
an historical building is to be on the National the earthquake left many former residents dis-
Registry. This is a list of all the historic buildings mayed and confused. What was lost was more
in the nation. There might also be one for the than just a house, but a very special home. Both
state. An example of a building that is on this Synergy and Phi Psi are notably secluded and
registry is the Lou Henry Hoover House (now integrated with their natural surroundings, and
the University President’s Residence). Getting on both houses represent an older style of
this registry takes a large amount of time, money, architecture which cannot be built today. The fact
and involves political lobbying. It also has very that many of the displaced students regret the loss
little power other than a mere recognition of the of their quiet, beautiful homes brings up the
fact that a particular building has historic value. question of the importance of these qualities in
The owner still retains power over the structure, student housing.
although any plans for exterior changes may A natural setting is important to members of
require review. The only building that would be Synergy and Phi Psi. Both houses have large
worthy of this kind of recognition would be Phi lawns and are surrounded by trees. Synergy has
Psi — about which very little is known. fruit trees, a garden, compost bins, and chickens
The University itself, however, keeps records in — features not found in most other row houses
the planning office of past campus evaluations — which contribute to a farm-like rural atmos-
(see Appendices for documents). Buildings on phere very much removed from the faster pace of
campus are evaluated in terms of value to the activity closer to campus. Both Synergy and Phi
University, outside community, students, history, Psi are located on hills, and offer spectacular
etc. A list of “untouchables” including the Quad views of the foothills, campus, and the South Bay
and Stanford Mausoleum was compiled, area. Synergy house is quite noticeable from the
including evaluations of older campus buildings. foothills as a large red house with white windows
After the earthquake evaluations were made for which complements its setting in the tall
some of the damaged buildings (including Phi eucalyptus and pine trees. Three tall palm trees
Psi, Synergy, Delta Tau Delta). The evaluations grow at Synergy, and can be seen rising above the
serve only to inform the decision-makers of the roof of the house. The large garden area and
value of the structures, and no recommendations generally secluded space allow residents the
were made either for or against their preservation. opportunity to engage in outdoor projects and
Considering that only extremely valuable enjoy the space for recreation.
buildings such as the Quad are considered
Co-operative Living at Stanford 68 Recommendations and Alternatives
Having a natural setting has a soothing effect on • Please save the pool table if possible (it is a
residents. Just being able to watch the sunset very valuable antique).
from one’s window or swing in a hammock at • The wood floors/walls are important to Phi
dusk for a short time can leave one feeling Psi.
refreshed and renewed. Synergites often ate
dinner or lunch outside. • Chimneys/Fireplaces are very important to
The houses themselves offer an affinity to
residents also. Phi Psi is a special case of this, it Synergy Structural Improvements
being a beautiful large house, but Synergy can Additions/Enhancements:
also be included. Phi Psi is known for its large
rooms and fireplaces, and the house is con- • Convert the 2nd floor bathroom to be co-ed
structed in a farmhouse-style architecture that (it is currently quite small when divided in two).
many other houses can match in shape, but not in • Install TIP or Ethernet wiring in any rebuilt
scale. Synergy, with its white pillars, French walls.
doors, and red shingled exterior is also a beautiful
house. Living in an aesthetically pleasing • A sundeck on the roof would be nice.
situation begins to foster a community just by the Valuable Aspects of Synergy:
residents’ attachment to the location itself. The
fact that one has to walk through the common • Please save murals wherever possible.
areas to get to one’s room lends a natural • Please save the chicken coop if possible.
inclination to stop and chat, or just hang out, an
activity that builds community. Synergy and Phi • The wood floors/walls are important to
Psi also have murals painted by former residents, Synergy.
a feature that has helped intensify bonds to the
houses. Sometimes students would even paint Changes in Co-op Programs This Year
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 Synergy and Phi Psi
alternatives such as Synergy and Phi Psi — to Transition
escape the long dormitory halls or the cookie- Phi Psi Transition
cutter rooms, or just to live in a place that seemed At a dinner with Chip Bartlett, RA at the AD
more like home, a place with a kitchen, a living house (soon to become Phi Psi), the only
room, a yard. 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
Phi Psi Structural anyone who is interested in the house next year.
Improvements Exempt spots, house positions, and house
Additions/Enhancements: government will be topics of conversation.
• Convert the 2nd floor bathroom to be co-ed I talked with Lara Rosenthal, who was food
(it is currently quite small when divided in two). manager at Phi Psi before the earthquake. She
strongly recommended Cal-Fresh Produce as a
• More lighting in biggest common room on supplier of produce. For house and bathroom
first floor. supplies, they used Faunders. For dairy products,
• Fireproof the attic so that it can be used for they used the Creamery. For dry goods, they
house activities. used Rykoff, although they were considering
switching to an organic food supplier.
Valuable Aspects of Phi Psi:
• Please save murals wherever possible.
Co-operative Living at Stanford 69 Recommendations and Alternatives
Synergy Transition Outreach to the Stanford Community &
For a smooth transition into “Synergy at the Priorities Until the End of the Year
Groves,” I recommend the following steps, in no We believe that the problem of filling the co-ops
specific order (in a weak attempt to avoid in the past has been largely due to lack of infor-
hierarchy). This is by no means a comprehensive mation or misinformation about the co-ops. We
list — I am sure other items will arise as the time feel that a strong outreach effort would help more
draws nearer and we dwell on this some more. students see co-ops as an attractive living situ-
But for now: ation. We would like to muster a united co-op
1. Obtain ASSU displaced household funds outreach program this spring, in order to show
for spending on transitional purposes (i.e. kitchen students the diversity that actually exists among
items, paints for murals, retreat/advance). the co-ops. We would especially like to concen-
trate on making the currently unhoused co-ops
2. Figure out how many Synergites are (Columbae, Phi Psi, and Synergy) more visible,
returning, sort out exempt spots and some providing them with extra support to compensate
managerial positions. I suggest one of the exempt for their lack of operational facilities.
spots be allocated to a “transitional manager”,
who will be responsible for many of these items. Priorities
3. Locate possible storage spaces for incoming Our fist task was to prepare the list of priorities
Synergites. for the closed co-ops to be placed in the 1990
draw book. The following list was submitted to
4. Assess the kitchen in every way, shape, and Jack Chin late in February.
form. Find out how much of the University food
service equipment remains, how much we have to
gather, etc. Proposed Special Priorities for Columbae,
5. Locate all of the dispersed Synergy stuff Phi Psi, Synergy 1990
among the offshoot houses. 2nd Priority: Students who:
6. Print ample copies of Living In Syn for A. Attend a community discussion/informa-
incoming residents. tional meeting (dates to be announced.)
7. Write up a one sheet consensus description. B. Participate in a house related job or project
8. Draw up a “blueprint” of the rooms in both (to be explained at the meetings)
houses and propose various organizational OR do a house job (cook crew/ dish crew) at
strategies (i.e. communal living options, doubles, one of the open co-ops
singles, octuples, etc.)
C. Sign a house agreement for Columbae, Phi
9. Co-edify the bathrooms. Psi or Synergy
10. Set up the Alternative Periodicals Rack 3rd Priority: Students who attend a discussion/
and Synergy Library in Lasuen’s back room. informational meeting and sign a house agree-
11. Make sure the transitional manager and at ment
least one other person arrive at least one week
prior to Autumn Quarter in order to set up
various accounts (dry goods, dairy, produce, If you have questions or are unable to attend one
phone), set up the kitchen, start the garden, order of the meetings, please call:
the chickens, visit the bees, establish an opium Columbae: Raquel Stote 328-1954, Sally Otto or
den, bake bread, change the world. Matt Price, 321-5135.
12. Have a weekend advance with all residents Phi Psi: Bruce Wooster 328-1040, Chip Bartlett
(maybe at Point Reyes?) the weekend before 328-7118
classes commence or the first weekend of the
quarter. Perhaps this can be organized by the Synergy: Eric Rose or Eric Schwitzgebel 494-
RAs. 9058, Maggie Harrison 856-8568
13. Dream up all sorts of co-operative/ com- Outreach
municative exercises for the first house meeting. 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
Co-operative Living at Stanford 70 Recommendations and Alternatives
assigned by the Housing Center from their During this week representatives from all the
calendar of open houses. We envision at least co-ops will be doing all sorts of fun, attention-
three meetings, at which people from Synergy, getting stuff in White Plaza during the lunch
Columbae, and Phi Psi will make presentations, hour. Suggested activities include making food,
answer questions and explain the special house playing games, musical performers (we might be
jobs. Prospective residents will be able to sign the able to get one of the old Phi Psi house bands to
house agreements at these meetings. Contact come play); basically making ourselves visible as
people for each house will also have agreements fun, happy people. There was a suggestion that
that prospectives can sign on an individual basis. one day be devoted to each co-op, but that idea
Ideas for special jobs have included “Columbae- has been put on the back-burner for fear that a
Phi Psi-Synergy Nights” at open co-ops, potential Terran might be turned off by
massive bread-baking sessions at Elliot Program “Hammarskjöld Day.”
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- The Co-op Union
campus co-op. We will probably host the We Recommend the Formation of a Co-op
meetings in a classroom, Tresidder or on the Union
Columbae lawn. The Union would be structured of 1-2 represen-
Turning to united co-op outreach, at the tatives from each member house. Membership
February 28th meeting we formulated and com- would be voluntary for each house, renewable at
menced several plans of action. the beginning of every academic year (in
September). The Co-op Union would not take
1. Study breaks and dorm outreach meeting. away the autonomy of individual houses, but
Representatives from each co-op will visit dorms would foster co-operation and community
and talk about the different co-ops. They will between those houses. This would not be a
either do the presentation at dinner or other governing board setting rules for individual
specified times, or guest host dorm study breaks co-ops, rather it would be a place to discuss
at house meetings, providing food representative issues that will affect all co-ops, and a place to
of each co-op. The presentation could either be support the efforts of individual co-ops. Each
made to a cluster of dorms or to individual house must maintain their autonomy in making
dorms. decisions on issues that affect only their own
2. Tabling in White Plaza, and contacting
people from the petitions. A strong and active co-op community is our best
outreach tool. A co-op union would be a good
In the weeks before the Draw, a co-op table will way to get this out. Instead of one house
be set up in White Plaza, with food and infor- sponsoring or hosting an event, the Co-op Union
mation about the co-ops. Students may be able to could host an event. Frosh often don’t know that
sign house agreements at this time. a particular house is a co-op. The Union would
During December and January signatures were provide the community with a higher profile and
collected to gather support for the re-opening of better publicity.
Phi Psi, Synergy, and Columbae. Signers were
asked to mark whether or not they would put a Functions
co-op on their draw card in the future. Members The functions of the Co-op Union could be as
of this task group will contact those people, to see follows. There are many possible directions that it
if they are still interested. could go, but we feel that in order to build a
3. Co-op booklet. strong and diverse community, the following
functions are necessary. The examples listed with
1989, the Inter Co-op Council, produced an each function are merely to illuminate some of the
informative brochure entitled Co-operative Living ways in which the Co-op Union could act in a
at Stanford. This group will update the brochure given area. They are not recommendations for
and distribute it to people on the petition, to all future agenda items. All examples come from
dorms containing frosh, and to other potentially discussions with other co-opers, imagining how a
interested folks. Co-op Union might work.
4. Co-op week — a.k.a. “Seven Days of Co- • Liaison between the Larger Co-op Community
operation.” and the University and Row Administration. In
the union tradition, we support collective
Co-operative Living at Stanford 71 Recommendations and Alternatives
bargaining as the way to gain more power and Some Additional Discussion on Function
legitimacy. In the same way that a letter signed by
18 black students carries less weight than a letter There are many other possible functions that have
signed by those same 18 as the BSU; so would a been mentioned during the course of this process:
letter or proposal signed by the Co-op Union Establishing an emergency fund; providing
carry more weight than one signed by 5 or six co- financial support for the projects of the entire
ops. In this role, the Union could support and community, or individual houses; establishing
lobby for a need of the entire community relations with other co-ops in the area and
(graduates student spots, more program funding, working with them on programs, or events;
hot tubs for every house..), or it could speak in establishing an office and part-time staffperson;
support of a proposal from one particular house leasing or buying additional houses. We do not
(“The Co-op Union supports Columbae’s feel that it is wise to recommend that the Co-op
proposal to have an RA collective instead of an Union take on any of these functions in its initial
RA.”) This group could also lobby the Row charter. Many of these, while perhaps good ideas,
office to keep more co-ops open in the summer seem to be functions that the Co-op Union
since Theta Chi is always oversubscribed. should consider adding at a later date. At this
point, there is very little long-range planning
• Organize Free and Accessible Co-operative ability among the members of the campus co-ops
Education and Skills Sharing Programs based in and in order for any of these functions to be
the co-ops, primarily to meet expressed needs and maintained, the co-op union must be functioning
desires of co-op members, but open to the whole strongly on its own feet first. There needs to be a
campus community. Examples of programs: strong and empowered vision of the present and
Reading/Discussion groups on Co-operation, imagination about what is possible to do
Women’s and Men’s issues; workshops led by tomorrow before one can dream about what might
co-opers on breadmaking, crafts, car repair, be possible 2 or 5 or 10 years from now...
gardening, aerobics, bicycle repair, and any other
skill that we can share. There is nowhere in the Funding
University where you can learn any of these and We Recommend that the Union be Funded,
other useful skills. In the Co-ops, we have a vast but as yet there is no general consensus on where
wealth of knowledge; we should share this with that money should come from, or, in fact, how
each other and non-co-opers. much is necessary. One suggestion is that each
• Sponsor Co-op-Related Programming: Speak- house pay a flat membership fee each year, but
ers, arts, music, dance, political events, public the individual houses get to determine from
service events, barbecues, parties, etc. The Co-op whence that money should come. Another
Union could plan joint events between the Co-op suggestion is that as each house joins the Union,
community and other non-co-op housing groups that each house member pay a small fee for the
throughout the year which would strengthen our year to help fund the activities (perhaps
position in the housing draw. In addition, the $10.00/year?). Half of this money could be spent
Union could be a tool for strengthening the on the current year and half on the following
multicultural programs and appeal of the co-ops. year. This little altruistic twist is to insure the
As a Voluntary Student Organization (VSO), continuity of the Union; it is a commitment on the
there is a great deal of funding that we can solicit part of the members to the future existence of the
in order to sponsor larger events, or more Union. After the first year, however, current
frequent events, or a series of events. members would be spending the money of the
members from the prior year and giving money to
• Coordinate Outreach for the Draw: In addition the following year...Clever? We think so. There
to all of the work throughout the year, at Draw are also ASSU and Program Board funding that
time, the Union could organize the necessary all- might be available. Below are listed possible ways
co-op outreach and publicity, perhaps with a to spend some of this money.
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
Ideas for Projects
co-ops and their differences, with each house still (of the Hella-cool Hypothetical)
responsible for their own outreach as well. We
are each distinct communities, but we do have Co-operative Union
some things in common in how we live. The FALL —
Workshop on “Approaching Co-operation?”
Co-operative Living at Stanford 72 Recommendations and Alternatives
All-co-op weekend semi-educational retreat surfaced in times of crisis or around outreach
time. It is hard to get people active and excited
Evening festivity (lunar event?) about a group which they see as serving little real
Student-led Skills Sharing—expenses, purpose. We have attempted to develop a
materials recommendation for a group with a specific set of
functions to meet what we see as needs of the co-
The WINTER — op community.
Printing up Co-op Handbooks for the Draw Q. If we had such a hard time getting people to
Co-operative Education Program be interested in the Co-op Council, what will
make this any different?
The house representative to the Union could be
Student-led Skills Sharing compensated for their activity in behalf of the
The Lovely SPRING (Since we all know that house and community by treating it as a house
more happens in the Spring): job, or even as a managerial position. It is perhaps
advisable that this position rotate every quarter,
Outreach program to dorms (materials, food?) but this decision is up to the individual houses to
Other outreach stuff: flyers, White Plaza make.
Happenings. . . Q. Will this detract from the vitality of the indivi-
Chat with Administrators dual houses and the commitment of members to
their own individual communities?
Student-led Skills Sharing
Although once a house joins, every student in the
All-co-op hedonistic retreat house is a member, the Co-op Union should not
Forum discussion: Marginality and really place any additional burden of commitment
Counterculture? on anyone other than the house’s representatives.
The commitment of the representatives should not
Refund or Savings (purchase of a solar draw them away from the house, and could even
Winnebago?) draw them deeper into the house community. The
The general idea is to sponsor one program, one time commitment of the Co-op Union
fun activity, and one skills sharing each quarter representatives shouldn’t be any more involving
initially, adding outreach in the Spring. Or less if than SCAAN, the Women’s Center, the
that seems too ambitious. Mendicants, or the crew team.
Some Additional Questions, Objections, and Ethnic and Cultural Diversity
Some additional discussion seems to be called for Summary of Recommendations
to respond to some of the most common prob- In order to encourage ethnic diversity in the co-
lems raised. ops, we have broadly outlined three areas that
Q. Is this just a new name for the Co-op merit our attention and action. Firstly, in Spring
Council? 1990 we should launch an educational and
informational campaign about co-operative living
The Co-op Union springs from the same needs at Stanford directed towards the ethnic commu-
that the Co-op council has attempted to meet, nities. Secondly, when we are rehoused we
however, it is significantly different in structure, should make a creative and concerted effort to
agenda and commitment. It should be looked on raise issues of multiculturalism and interact more
as a new organization. One notable difference is with the ethnic communities. Thirdly, we should
that it will have some independent funding. It is consider the possibility of adopting an affirmative
also an organization that each house will have to action policy which gives priority to students of
make a conscious decision to join and member- color in the draw.
ship carries with it obligations — one or two
representatives and a possible monetary contri-
bution. The Co-op Union is also designed to fill a A co-op is a place where people live
specific role in the community and as such has a together and learn to accept and
very clear agenda. Much of the criticism of the appreciate differences among them.
Co-op Council seems to stem from the problem — Classmember
that it was a group without an agenda. It primarily
Co-operative Living at Stanford 73 Recommendations and Alternatives
four ethnic theme houses with flyers about co-
Background operative living.
Lack of ethnic diversity and multiculturalism has
been a problem in many of the co-ops, In addition, we have paved the ground at each of
particularly Synergy, Phi Psi, and Columbae. these communities for their hosting Spring
Heterogeneity, cultural diversity, and the informational programs about the co-ops. These
celebration of difference are concepts theoret- programs could be panel discussions with
ically aligned with and essential for the true representatives from several different co-ops who
manifestation of our co-operative ideals. This have varying perceptions of co-operation. Ideally,
inconsistency between our ideal and our actual co-opers of color would be participants in the
constituency points to an aspect of our program panel. Along with scheduling the programs at
that merits considerable analysis and revision. Lathrop, Okada, Ujamaa, and Zapata, we could do
programs or at least make announcements at
What is it about co-operative living at Stanford AASA, BSU, MEChA, and SAIO meetings. The
(although this problem is not limited to our co-ops should also sponsor late night study
campus co-operatives) that is at most alienating breaks with fresh bread, home-made beer, and
and at least unattractive to ethnic students? enthusiastic co-opers at each of the dorms. The
Although the theoretical ideals of co-operation are need for outreach programming is urgent, given
far from exclusionary, the co-ops are historically our lack of houses as bases for our activities.
rooted in the white male “back to the land”
movements of the sixties. Ethnic communities are Lastly, other Spring outreach activities could
instrumental in advocating and enacting change in include formal gatherings between co-op and
many facets of progressive politics, but the co- ethnic communities which would provide
operative movement has remained primarily opportunities for communication. This could be
Anglo. Granted, co-ops are not popular living manifested through inter-community parties with
options for the majority of Stanford students. music from various cultures or community-wide
This fact undoubtedly contributes to the reluc- service projects with sponsorship by and
tance of many students of color to voluntarily participation from both the co-ops and the ethnic
separate themselves further from the rest of the communities (such as the AIDS Education
University by choosing to live co-operatively. We Project or the student support for the Webb
recognize also that many students of color who Workers).
are interested in co-operation are, understandably, Expanding the theme of ethnic diversity into a
drawn to their own ethnic communities. Still, broader theme of general diversity and celebration
these realities do not alleviate the necessity for of difference, we should do similar outreach
examination of and action to overcome our own programs in other “different” communities
homogeneity. 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.
Solutions We need to communicate with the ethnic
A. Outreach in the spring of 1990 offers an ideal communities on campus about co-operation, the
forum for members of co-op communities diversity of meanings it has for us, and the variety
concerned with our lack of ethnic diversity to of ways it is enacted in our houses. Diversity and
address students of color and heighten awareness celebration of differences are essential for co-
about the benefits of co-operative living and the operative living: we must strive to reach a mutual
variety of ways it is manifested at Stanford. We understanding with ethnic communities of our
have already begun by posting literature at the common and divergent goals.
ethnic theme houses which explained our concern B. Along with generating awareness in ethnic
about the lack of multiculturalism at co-ops, communities about co-operative living and the
hypothesized about its causation, and asked for options available at Stanford, it is essential that
suggestions and creative solutions to the problem. we, as co-op residents, question our own roles in
The flyers were followed up with informal dinner making our communities culturally sensitive and
discussions on these issues. Future plans for conducive to ethnic diversity. One obvious forum
outreach should include specifically targeting the for change is the increased discussion of racism
and multiculturalism within our houses. This can
Co-operative Living at Stanford 74 Recommendations and Alternatives
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, Options for the Future
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 Co-op Office
outreach programs at Lathrop, Okada, Ujamaa, Option
and Zapata with specific programs or celebrations Establish a co-op office that would provide
organized collaboratively with these houses. For infrastructure and perhaps staff for various co-op
example, Phi Psi could sponsor a Kuumba dance activities.
performance or Columbae could co-sponsor or
participate in the annual Chicano “Celebration of There are several different possible models for a
Resistance.” co-op office. One is that of the community
centers, in which staff paid by the University
C. Along with initiating changes within our co- operate in space that is supplied with office
ops, we could adopt a policy which gives priority equipment, phones, etc. Another is an indepen-
to underrepresented groups in the draw, therefore dent space operated in one of the existing co-ops,
guaranteeing that any minority student who with equipment obtained by donations, etc. A
chooses to live in a co-op is able to. Although this third is a separate subunit of residential education,
policy may arouse considerable controversy, it is as there is now the Row Office. A primary
a clear statement of our priorities and the concern is that any staff would be selected either
importance we deem to multiculturalism in our directly by co-op residents, or with substantial
communities. In informal discussions with co-op student input.
residents and members of Stanford’s ethnic
communities, we have heard both encouraging Background
and skeptical opinions about the viability and
desirability of this route to enacting change. Next Currently, the only support the co-ops receive
year, after the implementation of the suggested from the University is that common to all row
solutions outlined above, this issue should be re- houses. Diana Conklin and Jack Chin of
evaluated. A concerted and true effort to change Residential Education have responsibility for the
our communities by making them more co-ops as part of their larger responsibility to the
conducive to multiculturalism and celebratory of row, but their role is typically limited to benign
difference is a pre-requisite to the adoption of neglect or to representing the interests of the
this policy. 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 co-op is anything
people want it to be.
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.
Co-operative Living at Stanford 75 Recommendations and Alternatives
• Any level of staffing could provide support to This proposal needs to be raised in Residential
co-op programming. Education and in the broader Student Affairs
bureaucracy early on. Inasmuch as the University
• The staff position is flexible — it could be part- is cutting its budget in the current period, it is not
time students, as at the LGBCC (Lesbian, Gay, likely to commit any significant funds in the near
and Bisexual Community Center), a half-time future. However, as with all demands for Univer-
co-ordinator as at the Women’s Center, a part- sity support for the various community centers, it
or full-time dean as at the other community takes time for the University to see things as
centers, an official such as the Fraternity Affairs priorities, and the earlier we start making the case,
adviser, or a Residential Affairs person. the sooner we can hope to see our goals (or some
• A professional level person could provide of them) accomplished.
invaluable liaison and advocacy within the Un• In the interim, the houses could do things them-
An office could provide a central location for selves to create a de facto office — set aside some
resources such as books, periodicals, etc. space in one of the houses for inter-co-op
• Volunteers working in an office would increase resources, contribute to the hiring of a student
our sense of inter-co-op community staff person on a part-time or trial basis, etc. With
one of the houses living over the Row Office next
• There is precedent in the Women’s Center, the year, some of the facilities questions may be
LGBCC, and the Chicano Community for amenable to compromise (can we use their office
students having an input in selecting staff. equipment? In the evenings?).
Cons More generally, however, this whole idea depends
• Any such proposal would cost money. The on there being a consensus evolved that having
University has little these days. The co-ops any kind of inter-co-op infrastructure is a good
have till now never chosen to spend substantial idea. Supporters of co-op unity and expansion
amounts on centralized activities/facilities. need to communicate their vision and a sense of
its viability to the broader co-op (and non-co-op)
• The largest gains (the added clout from community. The advantage of this proposal is that
professional-level staff) have the largest costs. it could be self-reinforcing; it would bring
• There is some conflict between co-operative resources to the efforts to create a stronger and
egalitarianism and the power vested in staff of more visible community.
• There is not a lot of space in the University. Co-op Contract with the University
• The University administration acts like it really Option
doesn’t like more than token student input in That a contract be established between co-op
decision making. residents and the University clarifying the
responsibilities of each party.
Any proposal that includes staff will cost money. Such a contract could cover any number of
One possible hook is replacing some of the issues, from responsibility for maintenance and
responsibilities that existing Res Ed personnel cleanliness, to a lease on one or more of the
have for the co-ops. Another is outside fund- houses. The basic goal is to clarify the
raising — would the co-op alum network support obligations and responsibilities of both the co-op
a staff position? The houses themselves could residents and the University, to eliminate distrust
contribute a substantial amount, perhaps as and hostility caused by ambiguity about expec-
“matching funds” to a University contribution. It tations. Establishing honesty about expectations,
should also be noted that the University does mutual accountability, and clear channels for
provide funds to other communities in the form grievances could bring a major benefit to all
of free room and board to RFs, a full-time concerned
fraternal affairs adviser, etc. Leland Stanford’s Such a contract could be negotiated by either
commitment to co-operation also provides lever- residents of a single house, or by the Co-op
age for arguing for such a position, as well as for Council or Union on behalf of as many of the
democratic selection of any persons hired. houses as wished to participate. Among the
issues which are likely candidates for inclusion
Co-operative Living at Stanford 76 Recommendations and Alternatives
• Maintenance and cleanliness. What are mutually • Increase sense of collective responsibility
acceptable standards? What maintenance is the among co-op residents.
University’s responsibility, what is the co-ops • Establish clear process for grievances and
responsibility? conflict resolution.
• Respect for co-op initiated improvements. • Reduce time and energy spent defending co-
Guaranteeing the preservation of murals, ops.
• Expectations for the draw. How many unfilled Cons
slots in how many consecutive years can the co- • Ambiguity of responsibility on behalf of co-
ops have before they face termination? ops: who signs each year? Who is accountable?
• Leasing. Could one or more of the co-ops lease • Elimination of flexibility: if contract says “ X
their houses from the University, increasing open spots in Y years and you’re closed,” you
their autonomy, taking responsibility for lose your space to argue
utilities, certain maintenance, etc.?
• Some practices that are currently ignored might
• Other unofficial practices. The University has be explicitly prohibited in establishment of
long turned its back on widespread co-op contract.
practices which bend standard University
housing policy. 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.
Background The question of loss of flexibility is going to
Ambiguity about responsibilities and expectations remain, as it is the main trade-off for eliminating
has long been a source of tension between the co- the ambiguity of expectations. The contract would
ops and the University. Issues such as the simply have to be such that co-op residents
preservation of murals and gardens have been understood and took responsibility for
frequent points of contention. Unfilled spaces in maintaining their commitments, and felt comfort-
the Draw have repeatedly led the University to able that expectations and sanctions for their
threaten to close one or more of the co-ops, and violations were reasonable.
have drawn co-op residents into extensive and The final issue about currently ignored practices
distracting battles to preserve their existence. is also difficult to solve in advance. There is in
Conflicts over standards of cleanliness have in fact no way to predict what issues the University
recent years led to the University’s imposition of might find objectionable if they were raised
its own cleaning service on Synergy. explicitly. This would require extensive
The establishment of a contract or contracts discussion among co-op residents in advance of
between the University and the co-ops would any negotiations.
make mutual obligations clear, would limit
arguments about what is or is not appropriate and Process/Futures
make it possible when necessary to spend more This spring would be a good time to establish this
energy on solutions. Jim Lyons, Dean of Student process, as the interim situations established for
Affairs, has said that there is no reason in the 1991-92 school year provide greater
principle that such a contract could not be ambiguity than usual in expectations. Immediate
established, including the possibility of one or discussions with Residential Affairs staff and
more of the houses being leased from the those who will be living in the co-ops next year
University. could address such issues as responsibilities for
cleanliness and expectations for the draw. This
Pros would provide a useful precedent for further
• Increase honesty and trust between co-ops and elaborations of such contracts.
University. The long term issues such as inter-co-op respon-
• Clarify and protect rights of co-op residents. sibilities in such contracts, and the possible
Co-operative Living at Stanford 77 Recommendations and Alternatives
leasing of houses, are properly discussed at either residents to allow everyone to
a co-op council meeting or by the individual contribute towards providing food,
houses at such time as they deem appropriate. shelter, entertainment and educa-
tion. — Classmember
Option Currently, Diane Conklin, Dean of the Row,
serves as RF equivalent for the Row, inasmuch as
That one or more of the co-ops establish a Resi- she selects RAs and receives student transcripts,
dent Fellow or similar non-student position, such and is the first recourse for serious crises.
as “visiting scholar/activist.”
A Resident Fellow (as currently defined by the Pros
University) could live in any of the existing co- • Bring substantial resources and continuity to the
ops, if s/he were willing to live in a regular room co-ops.
and participate fully in the process of the house,
and forego some of the kinds of authority that • Provide an additional liaison to the University
RFs typically exercise. Alternatively, an equiv- on issues of concern to the co-ops.
alent position of “visiting scholar/activist” could
bring many of the same advantages, primarily Cons
bringing the kind of resources typical of older • Difficulty of finding persons willing to
persons, without having to fit the existing RF live/participate in co-ops.
definition so precisely. • Creating non-hierarchical role for a traditionally
Such a person could serve both for a single hierarchical position.
house, or alternatively for more than one, or all, of • Getting University to expand definition of
the co-ops. They would serve as educational, eligible RFs, or to embrace a new program for
programming and counseling resources to the non-students living in student residences.
individual house and/or the co-op community.
They would be expected to have an expertise in • Cost to the University of losing housing spaces.
some area relevant to the co-ops or to the theme • University expects to select RF independent of
of a particular house, and a commitment to co- house concerns.
Background The issues are different depending on how close
RFs are currently chosen from University faculty we choose to conform to the existing model. If
or “senior administrative staff.” They live in we want a more-or-less traditional RF, the
cottages attached to University residences, and hierarchy issues will have to be addressed, as well
receive free room and board. They are expected to as those of finding candidates. One option is
select the RAs for their residence, to foster simply to make the program contingent on
programming of various kinds, particularly finding acceptable candidates. Then the Univer-
related to their own field and interests; to serve as sity also faces the question of costs; in the current
academic and personal advisors, and promote climate, one student-year of room and board is
pluralism within the residences. They are not trivial. We would have to argue that the same
expected to serve for two years, with possible benefits that other houses get from RFs, which
reappointment. They are selected each spring by are not disputed by the University (on the
the Associate Dean of Student Affairs and the contrary, they are highly acclaimed as successes
Dean of Undergraduate Studies, on the basis of of the Res Ed system) would apply in co-ops as
recommendations from a selection committee. well.
If we chose a more radical model, where the
Co-op: A house of ‘co-operative’ “RF” didn’t have to be faculty or “senior”
living, where people ‘co-operate’ staff, we have the option of having the person pay
with one another to achieve the their way as well as participate fully; we would
common goals of the house, dividing also possibly have a larger pool of candidates.
the larger chores, almost impossible We would have to sell the program on the basis
of the same benefits that RFs bring. In either
or at least rather difficult for a case, arguing for residents’ input into the
single person to do, amongst all the selection process would require specifying the
Co-operative Living at Stanford 78 Recommendations and Alternatives
unique nature of the co-op communities, although to live in such a system? Many of the most active
the selection process for the Chicano Dean has residents of the houses in the past have been
established a very helpful precedent. people who chose another University house
above co-op’s. Would the elimination of 006’s
Future/Implementation Process (those who select “any University housing” as
Implementation for the 1991-92 school year is an option in the campuswide housing draw) be
probably impossible at this point; conversations worth the sacrifice of self-selection?
with the relevant persons (Jack Chin, Diane How would such a draw be structured? Hammar-
Conklin, Alice Supton, Norm Robinson) could skjöld’s draw selects from students who have an
begin this spring, with an eye to feeling out the interest in international relations. Would it be
University’s concerns and possible support. A appropriate for Columbae, in similar fashion, to
consensus would have to be developed next year ask “who is the most nonviolent?” Should the
as to which of the various models to strive for, Co-op Draw be prior to the University Draw and
and for which houses. An individual house could allow only those with a commitment to co-opera-
pursue this process on its own, or the co-op tive housing?
union could negotiate for the whole co-op
community. 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-
A Separate Co-op Housing Draw selection and would allow more people who want
Option very much to live in co-ops to do so. A possible
That the co-ops have a separate housing draw. drawback would be that there would not be as
many random surprises.
The concept of a separate housing draw for the
co-ops at Stanford has been considered. The idea This issue, as the above discussion portrays, now
was talked about once in class and was further raises considerably more questions than answers.
discussed at one of our task group’s Coffee It has been viewed by our group with
House meetings. It has not been made clear, as of considerable skepticism, but it might in fact some
yet, that this is the direction in which the Co-op day be an idea worth addressing again.
Community should be going. Further, it has not
been a priority of our group so it is probably Future Co-op Buildings
unlikely that we have considered all of the details
that such a choice might entail. There are clearly a Faculty Houses and Stanford Land
number of questions that we must ask of Introduction
ourselves: If the co-ops at Stanford wanted to expand could
A. Would a Co-op draw contribute to creating a they obtain more old fraternity houses on the
better, more ideal community, or would it work Row, rent faculty houses, or lease land from the
against the non-exclusionary values of co- University and build new houses? What is
operation? possible? We asked these questions of Charlotte
Strem of the Stanford Planning Department,
B. Would there be a demand for such a draw? Larry Horton, formerly Director of Residential
C. What would be the format of the draw? Education, and Norm Robinson, current Director
of Res Ed.
D. How is this issue connected with other issues
of housing, such as priorities and exempt spots? Locating New Student Housing on Stanford
In response to question A, the majority of our Lands — What’s Physically Possible?
class saw the concept of a draw as being segre- Stanford’s land holdings extend from
gational, which is not at all the desired effect. Arastradero Road to Sand Hill Road, and from El
However, confusion has abounded in our Camino Real to out past Interstate 280, excluding
discussions more than clarity. Would a draw College Terrace (the residential neighborhood
allow us to have a community of “neat co- between Page Mill Road and Stanford Avenue).
operative people?” Do we want to try to make the There are thousands of acres of land, some leased
decision about who should live in our houses? to ranchers and farmers, some dotted with
telescopes and radio receivers, some with research
Though there is some danger of elitism that is companies, some leased to commercial business
threatening, making choices possibly ensure a for income, and some sporting faculty housing
more co-operative and therefore better func- [see map].
tioning community. Would enough people want
Co-operative Living at Stanford 79 Recommendations and Alternatives
The Land Use Plan for the University allocates (apartments?) planned for construction in the
the land to these different uses, trying to keep Stanford West area (currently slated to house
similar functions together. But the plan is flexible Stanford employees and employees on Stanford
and can be changed if necessary. In particular, land).
land can always be switched over to academic use
(including, presumably, “residential education”) Faculty Ghetto
since education is the highest goal of the There are some parcels of land in or near the
University. faculty area on which small student houses could
be built. It might be possible to lease a house
Land near SLAC, the Research Park, or the from Stanford in this district or sublease from a
Shopping Center are probably not desirable for faculty member. Although Stanford owns all the
student housing, but most of the other land would land, faculty members own their houses. When
be acceptable. For example, a house like Synergy, faculty members move away or die, their houses
with an emphasis on living in tune with the are sold to other faculty members in a complex
natural environment might fit well in some of the procedure overseen by the administration.
more rural ranch lands (Piers Ranch, Webb
Ranch, Guernsey Field, Stanford North and The Planning Office would be concerned about
South). A traditional house might fit well on land the noise and different lifestyle of students living
near existing faculty housing on Junipero Serra in a faculty neighborhood, but it would be
Boulevard or near other houses on Alpine Road, possible if the neighborhood did not mind and
Sand Hill Road, or Arastradero Road. But land the student house was more-or-less contiguous
close to the academic central campus or in the with current student housing.
faculty ghetto area is probably most appropriate
and most convenient for students. The Planning Ranch land — Piers Ranch, Webb Ranch,
Office has tried to concentrate student housing Guernsey Field, Stanford North and South
within the circle defined by Campus Drive to These areas are largely undeveloped and further
minimize traffic and safety dangers and to make it from campus than the faculty housing. There are
easier to administer. But, like Hopkins Marine existing ranch houses and buildings that could be
Station and overseas campuses, unusual converted to housing or new structures could be
situations could probably be accommodated. built. Generally these lands are leased for 51 or
99 years, but probably a small parcel of land
Central Campus could be released, if necessary. Student houses in
There are two parcels of land where new houses these areas should probably be small, because,
might be built: (1) in the faculty area across the being farther away, they might have trouble
street from Governor’s Corner — the faculty attracting large numbers of students. Also, to
houses will eventually be converted into academic develop in these areas it would be necessary to
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 persuade environmentalists both
behind the Knoll is that row houses are on and off campus that the impact would be
considerably more expensive per student to build minimal.
than dorms, so it would seem the possibility Reasonable Options
would be closed until Kymball is fully built. After Given that almost anything imaginable is possi-
Kymball is fully built, however, the University ble, what are the advantages and disadvantages of
expects to be able to guarantee four years of the most reasonable options?
undergraduate housing. If this is the case, then
the University will not feel pressure to build new The University Converts an Existing Row or
houses and will concentrate on other projects. Fraternity House to a Co-op House
This has been the traditional way of setting up
Other Academic Lands new co-op houses and would probably be the
There are other places outside of Campus Drive, easiest. Res Ed is most convinced of the need for
but still within the main academic area where new co-ops by very strong demand in the Draw,
houses could be built, primarily in the medical but it may also be possible to argue on
center, Searsville, and West Campus areas. It educational grounds — particularly if one makes
might be possible to secure one of the dwellings reference to Leland Stanford’s founding grant
Co-operative Living at Stanford 80 Recommendations and Alternatives
and point out that co-operative living teaches Resident Fellow and so might not be able to
students important things. The decision to build provide the same educational programming
Kymball as a mid-size dormitory (rather than a opportunities, but it would provide a different
group of Row houses or some other configu- kind of educational experience (equivalent to
ration) was based on the strong demand for living off-campus).
Roble and Toyon and the types of educational If the house were personally subleased from a
programs that are possible in such a structure. faculty member, the house could be completely
To decide what new housing is needed, Norm independent of Res Ed and so would demand
Robinson forms a committee of students, faculty, complete responsibility by the residents for all
and staff who discuss the advantages and operation, maintenance, and governance. They
disadvantages of different options. It might be would also be required to find replacements for
advisable to get a member of the co-op union on anyone who leaves. But it would probably be
such a committee next time one is formed. possible to include graduate students (perhaps
Residential Education also decides to what use only grad students), staff-members, or other non-
houses with dying programs should be put, but in students (especially if they were somehow
a less formal manner. They will probably be open Stanford associated).
to lobbying and constructive suggestions. A Co-op Union or Alumni Group Builds N e w
The University Converts an Existing Large Houses on University Land
Faculty House If there were a strong Co-op Union or Alumni
Faculty housing only becomes available when a group it could, perhaps, build a house on land
professor moves out. These houses are probably leased from Stanford. The University does not
in great demand, so we would probably have to have a policy against this, but because building
make a very convincing case for student co-op codes and contract demands are so stringent (the
housing. University maintains control over the structure
and function of the house, and over rent prices)
The big, old houses near the Row, if converted, no group in recent years has pursued this option.
would have a nice, homey atmosphere with
personalizable spaces just like the existing Row Arguments in favor of co-op union ownership
houses. (or subleasing)
If we built a house ourselves, with our own
The larger houses located further away from the money, we could do it regardless of the
Row would be quiet and more removed, providing University’s opinion about whether we needed
access to nature, and a less urban environment, more co-ops.
but it would be necessary to persuade the
neighbors and the Planning Office that students We could personally select the people who live in
would not be noisy or disruptive. the house, rather than subjecting people to the
draw. (The University does not like this aspect of
The biggest difficulty is that most of the larger fraternities, but perhaps they would be
houses are not designed for a student residence. negotiable.)
According to Norm Robinson, for moral and
liability reasons, the University requires student We could paint the house whatever color we
housing to meet stringent health and safety wanted, mow our own lawns, sleep on the roof,
requirements (fire sprinklers, fire escapes, multi- stay open year-round, design the rooms in
ple, wide stairways, industrial-size kitchens, etc.) whatever fashion we wanted; we could implement
which often costs more than tearing them down our ideas of the architecture of an ideal co-op:
and rebuilding. Norm told us that they had environmentally sound, large kitchen, etc.
considered converting houses to residences We could do our utilities independently and
before (such as Owen and Mariposa), but reduce energy consumption to lower rates.
determined that it simply made more sense to
convert them to program offices since this Also, if successful, the co-op union would
required relatively little expense. eventually pay off the debt, after which time rent
would be profit, and the union would gain money
The University or Co-op Group Converts an and power.
Existing Small Faculty House
We could perhaps convert a smaller faculty house Arguments against co-op union ownership (or
to a small co-op for only a few students (4-10). subleasing)
This way, it would be easier to meet University It would be very difficult to build a house from
health and safety requirements. A small house outside for less and keep it up to University
like this would not have a Resident Assistant or
Co-operative Living at Stanford 81 Recommendations and Alternatives
housing standards; they estimate about $55,000/ lobbying group, keeping these various options in
student for a row house. mind.
If demand lagged, the University could take over Off-Campus Houses
and change the theme of the house (the
University would not allow a house to be built Potential idea: Establish an off-campus student
with the proviso that it always remain a co-op or co-operative house.
The University wants to control the pricing House would be autonomous and not dependent
structure and standards (the University distributes on University support.
debt service and utilities, for example, equally A house such as this would be a wonderful
across students — they do not want class demonstration of the strength of the Stanford
differences determining where people live; the co-op system.
only reason houses may differ slightly is that the
s e r v i c e s vary, e.g. maintenance, cleaning, Being exempt from University regulations, this
cooking). The co-op group could have about as house could be kept open year-round, and could
much control as Theta Chi does now, but could theoretically see less resident transiency and
not expect much more independence than that. turnover (no guaranteed year rules), and could
increase the diversity of ages and backgrounds of
The University wants every student residence to residents of the house by allowing students and
be run by the same set of University guidelines. non-students to live together.
It is difficult to run a 25-person row house
economically (especially if it has food service, Cons:
RA, RF) and for the University the smallest Current student demand for co-op living is not
economical size is now 60-person. The Univer- high enough to warrant another house.
sity would be reluctant to have more smaller Funding difficulties (obviously)
houses in existence that, if the co-op failed, they
might eventually try to run like a Row house Few already existing houses are physically suited
to our vision of an effective co-op (especially
The University puts a high value on academic regarding size limitations)
programming as led by a Resident Assistant (RA)
and Resident Fellow (RF), so they would want Legal difficulties: It’s more expensive and
this to be part of the deal. difficult to insure a house with such transiency
among residents and no single owner.
Arguments in favor of University ownership
The University has money and power, so they Administrative difficulties: Purchasing and
will guarantee the solvency of the co-op, provide running a house is a long term obligation and
insurance, and do extensive repairs and major would require a strong organization or group of
modifications that perhaps a student group could individuals committed to the long haul.
not afford. When things go to hell, University can Any mistakes or failures on the part of the co-op
clean it up. The co-op union avoids financial risk. or its backing could have serious consequences:
If the house participates in the draw, it can be bankruptcy, lawsuits, and the like.
assured of filling, with 006’s if necessary; if it is Possible solutions to these problems:
not in the draw outreach would be much more Demand is not an unalterable constant. It is
difficult (we would have to persuade people not to strongly affected by outreach, and is also affected
participate in the draw). by the supply of houses. The fact that several off-
campus co-ops kept operating until their leases
Conclusion ran out indicates that there is still some demand
We have no particular recommendations. If, for co-operative houses off campus. This is still a
however, students do want eventually to imple- formidable concern, however, and should be
ment some of these options, it would be advisable considered carefully if ever the co-ops decide to
to have a strong co-op union and a strong try buying their own houses.
outreach program. We might want to push the
University into encouraging students to take There are a number of possible sources of
responsibility for their own lives. If it ever funding the co-ops could pursue, and the two
becomes the case that there are a good number of student co-operatives which have recently built
students who want to live in co-ops but are student co-operative housing offer two models
unsuccessful in the draw, they might form a for how we could proceed. The new co-ops at
Co-operative Living at Stanford 82 Recommendations and Alternatives
U.C. Davis were built buy a developer along with NASCO and the NCBA in sorting out their
some other houses on campus. Presently the funding. The National Co-operative Bank pro-
houses are rented from the developer with some vided a mortgage to Qumbya. Other possible
portion of the rent ($10 per person per month the sources of funding may include philanthropic
first year, increasing $11 the second year, $12 the organizations in the Stanford area.
third year, and so forth for ten years) being To give an idea of the sums of money that can be
collected in a co-op development fund to be used collected by students (neglecting alum donations
for the purchase of the houses. After six years the and other sources of money for the downpay-
co-ops will be bought outright, and the co-ops ment), if 250 people paid $10 per quarter for 10
have a 60 year lease for the land on which the co- years, the group would have over $100,000
ops are located, after which time the University (including interest). It’s easy to invent other
may continue to allow the co-ops to live there or scenarios for collecting money, but specifics are
may choose to do something else with the land. not very meaningful until a further plan is
The main feature of this method of funding is that devised.
there is a long period during which funds are
collected so that the co-ops have some equity with The availability of houses for sale which fit our
which to buy the houses. David Thompson, one criteria is impossible to predict five or ten years
of the organizers of this funding, strongly before such a house might be bought. Fairly large
recommended to me that we set up a similar such houses do exist in the vicinity of Stanford (and in
development fund; $10 per month, he pointed out, fact one 7,700 square foot house was recently
is about 3% of rent. offered by Foothill College for the cost of
moving it from the site on which it sat), but the
At the University of Chicago a group of students selection of houses is somewhat of a problem. It
started Qumbya Cooperative “to provide should be noted that co-ops at other colleges are
co-operative living for students and others in a often 10 to 15 people instead of Stanford’s 30 to
friendly, democratic environment.” They bought 50 people. If the Stanford co-ops were to build a
a house that now houses 13 of the 22 members of house there is no way we could afford to
the co-op; it cost $206,300 including renovations, duplicate the architecture of the present Row
and the students had very little equity. The houses.
National Cooperative Bank gave NASCO
Properties (which owns the co-op) a mortgage As far as administrative, legal, and insurance
loan for $144,000; the Berkeley and Madison difficulties go, we would be well to join NASCO
student cooperative associations loaned them and utilize their expertise dealing with these
$27,500; the Kagawa Fund of the NCBA lent problems. The house could be owned indepen-
them $20,000, and the remaining $14,800 came dently of the Co-op Union so as to avoid direct
from Qumbya member loans and shares. liabilities to the remaining co-ops.
These examples point out some of the resources Conclusion
available for funding and expertise.1 Both of We don’t recommend the purchase of an off-
these co-ops had a lot of expert assistance from campus co-operative unless demand seems to
necessitate it, and unless a very strong, well-
established, well-staffed, highly organized co-op
1Reference people include:
union exists to administer such a house.
Kagawa Co-op Development Fund We do suggest that consideration be given to
NCBA starting a fund devoted exclusively to long-term
(202) 638-6222 projects for the co-ops. This fund would be
jointly administered by the Co-op Union and the
Robert Cox Co-op Alum Network.
Campus Co-op Development Corporation
NASCO We also suggest that the co-ops consider joining
(313) 663-0889 NASCO so that we have access to people with
expertise in exactly the kinds of problems that we
David Thompson (listed elsewhere in this document under are likely to face if we decide to undertake such a
U.C. Davis) project.
National Capital Bank Development Association
1630 Connecticut Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20009
Co-operative Living at Stanford 83 Recommendations and Alternatives
• Unless you’re interested in paying for the
Outreach to Other Co-opers damages, let the University repair the damaged
In an attempt to solicit community input for the • Unless significant demand is proven, students
issues discussed by the SWOPSI class, flyers should not even consider requesting relocation of
were sent to all unhoused co-op community faculty housing.
members and posted on large poster paper with
pens attached in the four housed co-ops. Accom- • Off-campus co-ops are a good idea, but it is not
panying them were draft copies of the first half of the University’s place to manage or finance them.
this report. Unhoused members were asked to • Find a more effective and attractive outreach
call, mail or drop off their comments to the program than a bunch of hippies hanging out in
members of the Class Outreach committee. White Plaza.
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 I feel that a co-op council would be more
comments were written. detrimental than constructive. Kairos (and the
other co-ops) has its own character. I didn’t draw
Kairos is noted for remaining independent from into Columbae or Synergy for a reason — I
the other co-ops at Stanford. [For more detailed wouldn’t have been comfortable there. A co-op
information about the character of Kairos House council would in all likelihood be controlled by
please see the Appendix] Kairos has repeatedly members of these houses, and I wouldn’t want
been an exception in our class discussions about them making decisions for me. Support for the
the future of co-ops at Stanford. The majority of displaced co-ops is important, but not to the point
class members are from Columbae and Synergy of establishing a structure (the council) that will
houses. In our discussions we often found it result in the demise of Kairos’ current makeup.
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. • Outreach is imperative! From reading some of
The three responses received from the poster at the comments regarding the co-ops, I think it is
Kairos follow. Their tendency to disagree with obvious that a significant portion of the Stanford
the class’s tentative suggestions became a focus residence community has a very blurred view of
of class discussion. We deliberated about what what co-ops are and how they operate. Sugges-
we should recommend and what we should not tion: each house selects representatives to go out
because it might not represent the desires of the to the dorms (frosh especially) and discuss co-
co-op community. Class members feel the operative living at their respective residence.
following responses are important and valid White Plaza harassment and idiocy just don’t do
opinions. We incorporated the expressed disfavor anything for the community.
of a co-op union by formulating the union in • Infrastructure good for implementing above
such a way that it would be totally voluntary by mentioned program, but very restrictive in most
each house, and that its existence would not harm other areas. No $$. “All co-op” events are not
either members or non-members. for me.
It is important to note that Kairos, having very • Are any civil engineers qualified and
little involvement with the co-op community, was knowledgeable enough to evaluate plans? Are any
the most responsive to the class’s outreach of us professional engineers?
• Off-campus houses? Stupid idea! We can’t
even fill the houses we have now on campus!
* * *
• 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
Co-operative Living at Stanford 84 For Further Reference
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”.
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,
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:
Co-operative Living at Stanford 85 Appendix B
Co-operative Living at Stanford 86 Appendix
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
“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 Community.
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-
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 Columbae.
Co-operative Living at Stanford 87 Appendix
PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE OF CO-OPS AT
As you may know there is a SWOPSI course in progress (SWOPSI 146) that is studying
“Co-operative 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.
Co-operative Living at Stanford 88 Appendix
FUTURE OF CO-OPS AT STANFORD
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
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”.
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
Co-operative Living at Stanford 89 Appendix
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
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
Keep everybody informed about what is going on. Provide a mechanism for
community input. ( That’s us ).
Co-operative Living at Stanford 90 Appendix
CO-OP COMMUNITY MEETING
7-9 PM WEDNESDAY FEB 28
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?
Co-operative Living at Stanford 91 Appendix
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 never
A. other dorms: ___ ___ ___ ___ ___
B. fraternities: ___ ___ ___ ___ ___
C. co-ops: ___ ___ ___ ___ ___
D. other row houses: ___ ___ ___ ___ ___
Co-operative Living at Stanford 92 Appendix
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 applicable.
A. Tolerance for different viewpoints.
Dorms: ___ Co-ops: ___ Other Row House: ___ Fraternities: ___
B. Weekly drug/alcohol use.
Dorms: ___ Co-ops: ___ Other Row House: ___ Fraternities: ___
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
9. Any Further Comments?
printed on recycled paper
Co-operative Living at Stanford 93 Appendix
Kairos: An Ethnography of An Unknown
When asked by non-resident students where they
live, residents are often required to explain where
by Jim Welch the house is located, and why they ever decided to
live there. Some say the house has a reputation in
Introduction wider student circles as the “house of love,” and
Kairos House is a Stanford University co-opera- in the co-op community as apathetic and
tive housing facility for thirty-five sophomore mainstream. The two reputations generally keep
through senior undergraduates. As a community, people from wanting to live in Kairos. It is,
it is ideal for anthropological study. It is a closed though, one of the easiest houses on the Row (the
community, limited to registered students, and is a section of campus where fraternities and old
focus of most residents’ social lives. Many fraternity houses are located) to draw into, and
residents eat, sleep, study and socialize primarily has a room priority system that guarantees fifth-
within the house. The community, as it is year seniors and returning residents singles.
considered in this paper, is composed of a varied
group of students inhabiting the house from the In addition, the house is run as a co-op, although
end of September, 1989, through the present time, quite a bit differently than other co-ops on
March, 1990. This time span includes two campus. Residents hire cooks from within the
academic quarters, Fall and Winter. Between the house and have complete responsibility for
two quarters two women and two men left and maintaining their house. There are four managers
were replaced by new residents. I am a resident of elected at the end of each year for the following
the house and am among the majority having year. These are Financial Manager, Operations
never lived here previous to the 1989-90 academic manager and two Food Managers. They meet
year. before the residents arrive each year to decide
how the house will be run. They decide how food
My research included interviews with a random will be ordered, how house jobs will be
sample of fifteen percent of the residents (chosen distributed and enforced, and any other structural
by who was available at the specific times I decisions necessary to make the house work.
conducted the interviews), a two-page
questionnaire distributed among the residents at Room draw is done on a priority system designed
the end of the first quarter, a five page survey by Kairos residents in a previous year. All other
distributed during the second quarter, and decisions that require resident input are made by
observation and participation as a native of the majority vote. Managers and others often make
community. The first survey was returned by smaller decisions on their own if they feel the
ninety-one percent of the residents while the house will not object. Unlike other co-ops, Kairos
second was returned by only fifty-four percent. has no official theme such as vegetarianism, or
The first supplied all the statistical data, while the political or environmental activism, or alternative
second is only used as an indicator of perceptual lifestyles. Traditionally most of these
ranges and a source of specific opinions. The organizational structures are perpetuated year-to-
lower return rate of the second survey may be year because residents have thought they work
caused by numerous factors. The five-page length and the managers like them. The residents are
was cause for a number of comments by people free to change any of these decisions, but they
who thought it was too much to ask (although generally do not.
others said it only took a few minutes and was a One main result of this structure is that Kairos
reasonable thing for me to request). During draws an eclectic group of students each year.
winter quarter I was also less involved in the The current makeup of the house is seven
house on a social level. This may have caused returning residents who were guaranteed either a
some people to feel less motivation or obligation single or were elected last year to management
towards my survey. positions and receive both singles and waived or
There are a number of permanent characteristics reduced board bills, four transfer students who
about Kairos that contribute to the unique cultural for the most part requested co-ops but had no
scene among its residents. Kairos is relatively specific knowledge of Kairos House, seventeen
unknown to the Stanford community at large. students who were restricted in their choice by
Co-operative Living at Stanford 94 Appendix
bad draw numbers or unguaranteed status and that there is a ‘culture’ of Kairos active during
had no previous conception of Kairos other than this academic school year, I am asserting that
that it is a less ‘granola’ co-op than some of the there is a system of commonality and behavior
others, two students who had not known much that a non-member does not participate in.
about Kairos but were strictly attracted to the Furthermore, only as a member can one truly
fifth-year student guarantee of a single, and two understand what it means to function within this
students who wanted to be in one of the more system.
“hard-core” co-ops but were excluded by the As a member of the culture, I can identify
draw. I do not have data for the other three perceptions that other members hold and relate
students. this to my own experience of non-Kairos culture.
There are a few important trends here. The first is Kairos culture is unique in that it is a brief
that residents had either bad draw numbers or improvisation by students from varied back-
unguaranteed status. Second, they appreciated the grounds. Rather than being a fully entrenched
fact that Kairos is a co-op, but did not want to live lifestyle, it is a series of year-long participations.
in those with stronger reputations. Third, the It thus seems to me that Kairos is not so much a
residents tended to draw in by themselves or in case of culture forming the individuals, but of
small groups. Very few new residents seemed to individuals forming their culture. I cannot
believe before living here that this would be an determine, therefore, how Kairos residents are
optimal environment. As we shall see, after living tricked into behavior by their culture, but I can
here for one quarter, the majority of residents analyze what Kairos culture is to its members and
considered this the best dorm and the most how it got that way.
exciting and supportive community they have
lived in during college. During winter quarter History
people’s perspectives changed somewhat. There The history of Kairos is important in its
became a growing dissatisfaction with the Kairos surprising continuity with the present. The
environment for many people. student makeup of Kairos is largely random, but
It is appropriate to mention at the start that one of what seems to remain throughout time is a
the most important things about Kairos fall tendency to be discreetly deviant. Kairos has not
quarter was that it was closed for twelve days been a co-op for long, and as the present house
after the 7.1 earthquake in October, 1989. The manager said, it doesn’t matter if it is a co-op or a
social dynamics of the house were quite unique self-op, it has always been the same and always
and profound before this incident, but were will. To a large extent this is probably true.
hurled into a rare transition that set many Kairos does seem to have occupied a specific
standards for the remainder of the year. The niche in the University for years. But the fact that
earthquake provides a good contrast to the it is now a co-op is important to its character, and
behavioral changes that have occurred in winter will probably be more important as time goes on.
quarter. Kairos House was originally built and used by
I would like to note briefly what my agenda is in the Delta Chi fraternity. The house was built in
this paper. Recent anthropological theory has 1910. The construction and furnishing was
often equated social analysis with identifying the supervised by student member Earle Leaf. In
metasocial in culture. That is, finding the 1935, the house was rebuilt to roughly its modern
underlying layers of significance that are at the condition in what was called at the time “French
root of cultural behavior. This seems to me to Chateau” architecture.
often be an anthropologist’s search for causes of The house became a self-op in 1968 because the
behavior that even the participants themselves Delta Chi fraternity did not fill the house and
would not recognize. It seems to be a search for could not pay its bills. As a self-op, the residents
ways that people are tricked by their culture to act managed all house upkeep and hired a cook. This
a certain way. Although I am not willing to is reputed to be the beginning of “the Kairos as
completely toss this method out, I have identified we know it”. Its fundamental organizational
some problems with it through the study of structure was set at this point, and according to
Kairos. rumor so was the personality of the house. From
As a member of the community I am studying, I the 1971-72 school year through 1977-78, Kairos
can see that there may be levels of cultural was listed in the Draw Book as a special program
significance that I cannot recognize because I am house with no special sign-ups that is co-
embedded. I will maintain, though, that this does operatively run. Although house management,
not make my analysis worthless. When I assume upkeep and cooking policies were not changed, in
Co-operative Living at Stanford 95 Appendix
1978-79 Kairos ceased to be identified as co- in with him. Eventually the University discovered
operatively run. This may indicate the presence of him and kicked him out. Afterwards, though, they
an ambivalence about Kairos’ identity as a co- decided that the space could be made into a room.
operative that has persisted to the present time. The wall was opened up and a window was
In 1980 or ’81, Kairos began the kitchen policy it
now has. Reportedly, in the fall no one liked the In the early eighties, the first female house
cook. The house took a vote and decided to fire manager was elected. There was a managers’ log
her at the end of the quarter. They decided that book that was used by the managers and was
everyone would cook each week until they found never seen by anyone else that caused severe
a new cook. Over Christmas vacation, everyone difficulties this year. It contained many passages
was to go home and find a recipe that could easily that those holding the book did not want a female
be cooked for fifty people. During winter quarter to see, most likely because it contained
people liked cooking, and it worked so well that chauvinistic statements. An attempt was made to
they decided to continue it, only hiring cooks erase parts, but that didn’t work. The previous
from within the house instead of everyone manager decided to hold the logbook until the
cooking. At this point, as Diana Conklin, Director next male manager was elected, but it has never
of the Row, put it, Kairos began its evolution into been seen since.
a co-op. It remained a self-op until 1986-87 when The house was never particularly “co-opy.” It
it was listed as a row house with a special never invested energy into participating with other
priority. In 1988-89 it was first listed as a co-op co-ops. Reportedly it is more involved with the
with special priority. The management of the other co-ops now than it has ever been. The
house never changed, though. character of the house used to go in a three-year
In 1981-82, Kairos received a large pool table that cycle. A new group of sophomores would draw
now sits in the back common room. It had into the house, bringing with them new ideas and
previously been in one of the Toyon eating clubs energy. Because at this time returning residents
(student-run eating co-operatives). That club were guaranteed a place in the house, this group
closed that year, and the University needed a would live there for the following three years.
place for the table. At Toyon the table was used They would manage the house and determine the
exclusively for the game “squash,” a rowdy social character of the house. When they
game often involving twenty people where one graduated, a new group would draw in.
rolls the cue ball with the hands to hit the active The house has had consistently good relations
ball, the point being to never let the active ball with the University. Around 1986 and 1987 it did
stop or be sunk. The table was in very bad repair not do as well in the draw as usual, but other than
as a result of this activity, so the University that it has filled without any problems. This is in
offered to give Kairos the table if the residents contrast to some of the other co-ops which have
would refurbish it. For two hundred dollars paid had a difficult time filling in the Draw and have
by the residents, the table was removed from the had their status as co-op threatened by the
eating club, redone, and delivered to Kairos. It is University. It seems that Kairos seems attractive
an incredibly heavy table, with three large slates to a larger student population than some other
of marble. After a very difficult struggle it was co-ops. Although the house has never been hard
moved into the house. The only problem was that to get into, it has consistently been filled.
its weight warped the floor. Pieces of wood stuck
under the legs on one side remain the solution. The character of the house has never been typical
The pool table is an example of what has always of other Row houses or dorms. Kairos has been a
been a trend at Kairos: the willingness to be mystery to Diana Conklin since 1978 when she
extravagant if everyone agrees. began working at the Row office. She has never
heard it referred to in conversation by students,
In 1984-85, Facilities completely renovated the and she cannot pin it down in her mind. She
house. According to a resident, relations between senses it is different than other houses and
the house and Facilities were exceptionally good fraternities, but she does not know why. She
at the time, so the process was friendly and done describes it as low-key, with an ethos of not being
to everyone’s advantage. They redid the carpets, demanding or strict, kind of easy-going,
walls, and most notably remodeled the kitchen. comfortable, and friendly. She says hers is a
In 1983, the quad on the third floor was turned positive image, but with no detail. “It is the one
into a quint. Apparently there was a person who house I shrug about,” she says.
wanted to live in an attic space adjacent to the
quad. He moved in, stretching an extension cord
Co-operative Living at Stanford 96 Appendix
stable, supportive houses. But the sentiment of
Where We Come From virtually all Kairos residents, as mentioned earlier,
In the first quarter survey, the residents is that most are too extreme, “isolated from
consistently and repeatedly stated that Kairos is reality”, and exclusionistic to the mainstream
incredibly diverse. Of course many different types most “Kairosians” consider themselves.
things were meant by this comment. The diversity To most members, Kairos seemed the most
was generally considered in relation to other comfortable, relaxed and accepting house
residences on campus and to each person’s place available.
of origin. Often what was being referred to was
people’s viewpoints such as political orientation, This mutually shared expectancy of Kairos has
their interests and personalities, or their shaped the community in many ways. One of the
backgrounds. Asked again in the winter, many earliest manifestations of this is the attitude of
residents have a different view of diversity at “our house”. Residents think of our ugly and
Kairos. Although people remain content that there more-than-slightly run-down house as their
is a higher level of diversity at Kairos than in home. Being a co-op, we are very independent in
many other residences, especially the other co- how we maintain our house and how we use its
ops, many feel the need for more. features. Intervention from the University is
minimal, but when it occurs, residents are critical
The members of the Kairos community come and resentful. This attitude is common with
from an assortment of backgrounds. The majority college students, but in a large dorm the presence
is of course mainstream white. Thirty percent of of the University is so strong it is impossible not
the house is non-mainstream in culture or to yield to it. At Kairos on a number of occasions
ancestry, but this sector is comprised of eighty residents attempt to do what they want anyway or
percent women. The economic class break-up, as challenge the University’s decisions. At other
defined by residents’ own definitions, is nearly times, they mostly forget that the house is owned
half upper-middle class, a quarter middle class, by the University.
with the rest roughly equally divided between
lower, lower-middle and upper classes. Most It may seem a coincidence that while virtually all
members of the non-mainstream ethnicities and residents attribute their arrival here in large part to
economic classes have expressed an awareness of default or logistical advantage (a guaranteed
their differences, but satisfaction that they are not single), there was a virtually unanimous set of
significant because the house is itself so diverse. expectations of and hopes for the community. I
No one has expressed a feeling that s/he has been believe the fact that people came here individually
treated unfairly because of any such difference. or in small groups as a nearly last resort and had
This is a trend that will be discussed in greater no idea who else would be in the house
detail later, but is important to keep in mind determined to a large degree what their attitude
throughout the analysis. would be. First of all, people who are not open to
close association with random people would have
I mentioned earlier the categories of residents’ opted for a less mysterious house even though
motivation for living in Kairos. The two largest the options were very limited. Secondly, not
groups were strangers to Kairos who chose the knowing at all who would be here made people
house as the best environment given a disad- hope for the best and try to create a positive
vantage in the housing draw, and the returning environment with whatever they were handed.
residents. The ethnic and economic groups cut This hypothesis will be explored in greater depth
through these motivational groups with no later.
differentiation. Both motivational groups, though,
expressed a unanimous desire for a “home” or Socialization
“house” as opposed to a dorm. Due to the No one knew what Kairos would be like before
Residential Education program, all residents they arrived in the house. Yet, the returning
except transfer students have experienced dorm residents knew pretty much what they wanted it to
life. Everyone, whether or not they enjoyed that be like. The returning residents for the most part
life at the time, has come to want a place to feel at occupy management positions and are thus in a
home or to avoid the “sterile, calculated life” of powerful position to form what they want. At the
the dorms. A number of people have divorced beginning of the year, they made a concerted
parents or unstable families and feel the need for effort to start things out right. They presented the
support and consistency. Many others have home way the house is run as crucial to all of our well-
lives they appreciate and would like to being, not really opening the structure of
approximate as much as possible at college. The management to community formulation. They
co-op communities at Stanford are well-known as had a clear idea, derived from their experience the
Co-operative Living at Stanford 97 Appendix
previous year, that things could be really bad if requires only an average of one hour per week of
everyone didn’t work hard for the house as a work. The difference is that Kairos residents pay
whole. roughly two to three hundred dollars more per
In response, many people rapidly realized that
Kairos requires a high level of participation from A couple of residents did not even know that
each member. Although there have been numer- Kairos is a co-op before they moved in. One such
ous problems, especially at first, with people person said that when she found out, she thought
doing all their jobs and volunteering for work that she might have to grow tomatoes or something.
was not officially required of them, the norm was The other residents are divided between those that
set: it is not okay to neglect the house. This type say co-op status had an effect on their living here
of participation in the house is one example of a and those that say it had no effect. Because most
Kairos theme. That is, it is expected that residents people that live at Kairos did not place it as a first
make Kairos a priority in their lives. choice, it must be remembered that their decision
was often based upon a shortage of choices.
At Kairos there seems to be a priority to have fun Those that say co-op status had a large effect on
together, and the generous funds allocated to do their choice mention the advantages of required
so seem to demonstrate this. While most involvement in the house, the small community,
residents dislike the fraternity lifestyle, Kairos the value of working together and being
early-on developed (or perhaps perpetuated) the responsible for oneself.
distinctly non-co-op attitude that “we are Kairos,
and we like to rage.” From some residents’ per- The advantages of a non-dorm atmosphere was
spectives, this priority has subsided somewhat mentioned by one resident. He said that he was
during winter quarter. To reflect upon the “psyched to deal with cooking and cleaning
strength of the concept, though, the perception provided that it didn’t take too much time.” This
that people have not participated as much in parallels the attitudes of other residents who said
house social activities has created emotional they liked the idea of co-operation and leaving the
conflict for those residents. ‘mainstream’, but did not want to join the co-ops
with reputations they considered disagreeable.
Kairos residents are very aware that they are
different and that they have their own way of Those that say co-op status had no effect on their
doing things, but in contrast to other co-ops, as choice to live here cited varied alternative reasons.
one resident put it, they don’t have the attitude Some include the promise of a single, the open
that “we are a co-op, and this is our aura”. kitchen, the lesser work commitment, and the
Perhaps instead they think of themselves as a house-style structure. One person said that if
pleasantly unique group of random people who anything, the co-op status was a negative feature.
choose to do things their own way. As will be These people seem to have viewed co-op status as
apparent later, this attitude is not unanimous, but unrelated to the character of the house, or as a
forms a prevalent attitude from which some work agreement that was neither good nor bad.
people deviate. Most residents did not draw into Kairos for the
extended definitions of co-operation: environ-
Perceptions of Co-operation mental awareness, political revolution, social
Kairos’ status as co-op was not a singularly change, feminism, deviancy, or consensus, for
important factor in people’s decision to live here example. They either did not care that Kairos is a
as it may be in some other co-ops. Yet, it is a co-op, cared only that it is a small and interactive
large contributor to the make-up of the house. It community, or that the cooking and cleaning
is important to remember here that Kairos first organization was more appealing. Kairos resi-
became a co-op in 1988, and never changed its dents, without exception, do not actively try to
organizational structure in the process. As one create an alternative co-operative lifestyle in the
member put it, it is a co-op “by a fine line.” It is house. There is no explicit concept of co-
the only Stanford co-op to hire cooks from within operation as a process for social interaction and
the house. The others require weekly cooking residents do not associate it with larger social or
shifts from all residents. Because cooking is political goals in their expressed behavior.
optional at Kairos there is a lower work
commitment than at the other co-ops. For What Kairos as a co-op does mean to many
example, even when Synergy, another Stanford residents now that they have lived there for six
co-op, had University cleaning, weekly work months is that people depend upon one-another,
commitments averaged two and one half hours. and are responsible for themselves independently
Kairos does its own cleaning and cooking, but of the University. They feel they have the
Co-operative Living at Stanford 98 Appendix
freedom to make choices, and many feel that a virtually everyone still favors being a co-op.
sense of ‘community’ has developed. Because Kairos was not a co-op before 1988 but
had the exact same structure, the effects of Kairos
The definitions residents have of co-operation in being a co-op are to a significant degree a result
the context of Kairos tend to be limited to what of the effect on its reputation.
one resident called the administrative level. It is a
commitment to work together, and for some it is There seem to be three primary factors mentioned
to want to be a community and to be independent by residents that they believe relate to the reputa-
of the University. The meaning of co-op status, tion of Kairos. First is the association with the
however, goes beyond this for many people. On other co-ops. The second is the idea that Kairos
the positive side, many people feel that co-op is often considered the most “mainstream” of
structure fosters a strong social bond. One the co-ops. The third is that Kairos is in general
woman who did not care that Kairos is a co-op unheard-of in the Stanford community at large.
noticed that the house is more unified and Diana Conklin’s comments mentioned in the
requires co-operation, trust and honesty as a History section are indicative of a defiance Kairos
result. Another resident said that there is a more has of classification. It is easily clumped with the
conscientious crowd that draws in because they other co-ops or with row houses in general by
are willing to work with everyone else. mainstream Stanford students. It is also easily
regarded as the un-co-op by members of other
Because many residents tend to appreciate that co-ops. In general, though, it seems to most
self-reliance and autonomy are important, they residents that no one even knows it exists.
also find that people who do not fulfill their
responsibilities add a negative quality to co- As a co-op, Kairos seems to attract people who
operation. One person who said the problem with are willing to contribute and are “mellow” or
Kairos being a co-op is that he hates house jobs “laid-back.” Many residents consider this a
is the subject of many others’ complaints about positive factor. They feel that if Kairos were not a
the lack of co-operation. Those who don’t co-op, people who are unwilling to do their share
contribute, they say, make the whole system of the work or who are unwilling to be involved in
frustrating. At Kairos, this is a legitimate com- the house would draw in. It is also notable that
plaint. There are those who are the constant foci Kairos is not as ‘hard-core’ as some of the other
of complaints about irresponsibility. Statistical co-ops and does not have a theme. For those who
data about who missed their house jobs support had more than a vague awareness of the co-ops at
these complaints. As one resident who feels Stanford, Kairos seemed to present an option of
strongly that people tend to contribute co-operative living to the more moderate
inadequately said, “...some people decide that population. For those who had never heard of
their own needs are more important [and] it puts a Kairos, it was an appealing structure with many
strain on others.” benefits such as single rooms and an open
There are some in the house who feel that being a
co-operative is negative in other ways. One Those who feel that being a co-op has a positive
person said that the problem is that some people effect on the reputation of Kairos say that it
do not want to be part of the community. Here he serves as a self-selection process in the Draw and
identifies that co-ops are a more involved form of tends to attract a more unique mix of people.
community. Another believes that being a co-op There is also an appreciation by many residents
is associated with the placement of too much that Kairos does not attract the “hippy, granola
pressure on people to participate socially in the types” that they perceive are attracted to some of
house. This dilemma will be discussed in greater the other co-ops. The many people who draw into
detail later. Another resident feels that the house Kairos as a low choice seem to pick it as a house
is too “hyper-liberal” as a result of its co-op that offers a lot as a co-op, but a more attractive
status. As a result he feels afraid to voice his solution to them than the other co-ops.
moral views. Perhaps the importance to Kairos of being either
Most of the people mentioned above define co- easily clumped together with the ‘hard-core’ co-
operation in a very limited sense, but associate ops or seen as the non-co-op is its role in the
more involved social processes with it. They do process of prospective residents who do a limited
not, however take the ideal as far as it can go. amount of research for their decision about where
This will appear as a trend in a later analysis of to live. Many of the people that draw in are
residents’ perceptions of themselves in compari- willing to participate and like the idea of co-
son to other co-ops. Despite the negative charac- operation, but are not looking for a high work
teristics expressed about Kairos being a co-op, commitment.
Co-operative Living at Stanford 99 Appendix
As a co-op, Kairos has a very authoritarian people are willing to put in the effort to make the
management structure. As mentioned in the changes. As one resident stated, those that make
introduction, large decisions are made by majority the decisions are the few that care. For example, a
vote, while smaller decisions are made by resident complained to a manager that the kitchen
managers on their own and presented to the resi- should be reorganized. The manager suggested
dents as made. Part of this is due to the person- that it would be a good idea if he were to
alities of the specific managers in office this year. reorganize it himself. The resident responded,
It is also due to the job descriptions themselves. “Never mind.”
The managers receive exempt spots in the draw The general dissatisfaction with the co-operative
(automatically are assigned to Kairos), first room structure is explicitly due to people not contribut-
pick, and either a full or seventy-five percent ing enough, or not communicating enough. The
board bill reduction. In exchange for this, and in contradiction is that the same people say, as will
order to decrease the amount of work the other be seen later, that they moved into Kairos or like
residents are required to do, the managers are Kairos because it is not as fully co-operative as
expected to completely manage their specific some of the other co-ops.
areas. Thus, for example, all kitchen needs
including food ordering, shopping, menu plan- Kairos Defines Itself
ning, and organizing cooks are done by two
people. Kairos is most easily defined in comparison to
other living options at Stanford. There is a
By choosing this organization, Kairos is fulfilling prevalent attitude among residents that Kairos is
its full responsibilities as a Stanford co-op: self- different than everywhere else. Residents cite
organization and student cooking. The choice is, autonomy, a home-like feeling, a laid-back char-
though, to maintain a minimum level of acter, diversity and a sense of ‘community’ as in
commitment with the maximum benefits. contrast to dormitories. Most residents say the
Co-operation is a priority, but happens within a advantage over a dorm is great. The contrast with
hierarchical structure of managers and residents. other co-ops is perhaps more telling about the
The managers are in practice often given license community, though.
to make smaller decisions because the residents
figure they know more about the issue (only the In a general sense, Kairos residents identify the
shoppers know what the prices are) or because other co-ops as “too granola, spaced out, not in
they care more (because they are more involved touch with reality,” “earth-loving feeling,”
with many of the processes of the house). Yet, “dogmatic, impractical,” “granola and hippy,”
residents are not all satisfied. “more co-opy than us,” and “more homoge-
neous.” There were many comments that resi-
Although some residents respond with complete dents like the other co-ops but wouldn’t want to
approval of the management system, the majority live there, or like lots of the people in the other
say that the managers make too many decisions co-ops but think the scene is too much. One
on their own. Both managers and residents say person emphasized that the other co-ops are a
there is too little communication between man- good idea, but simply do not work. He feels that
agers and residents. People express the desire to Kairos is more realistic. Impressions and percep-
have more input in what food is bought. As it tions Kairos residents have of the other co-ops
stands, there is a wish list for food. The food can illustrate how they perceive themselves.
managers use their own discretion to decide what
they will buy. This is not an objective process. The perceptions of Terra were split between those
For example, a reason cited for not buying a that think of it in a negative sense and those who
certain food was that “it tastes like dog food.” think of it positively, and a couple of people who
Similarly, one day a box of corn dogs appeared in said they know nothing about it. One person who
the freezer. When asked why it was bought, a considers Kairos more laid back than the other
food manager said that one of the people that co-ops also feels that Terra is a bit more laid back
went shopping saw it and liked it. “Besides,” she than the ‘hard-core’ co-ops. One other identifies
said, “anyone who takes the time to shop has the it as “cool, but mainstream.” Those who
right to buy whatever he wants.” conceive of it as a negative place call it “large, not
much community, boring,” “too dark,” “lame,”
Some residents emphasize the efficiency of such “and as consisting of “video games types.” In
a system. It takes a minimum effort by the these comments there is apparent both a rejection
majority of the people. The trade-off, though, is of normalcy and an appreciation for
that people feel decisions are being made for moderateness.
them. The problem is that it does not seem that
Co-operative Living at Stanford 100 Appendix
Columbae was seen in a more generally negative “mellow” people. The co-op status thus is seen
light. Only thee people expressed an appreciation by many people at Kairos as a positive thing that
for or approval of how they perceive the character creates an appealing atmosphere, but also as an
of Columbae. These three called it interactive, ideal that can be taken too far or can be mistak-
politically involved and funky. The others enly associated in a general sense with counter-
expressed dislike based on concepts that it is culture.
“too emotional,” “overly ‘earthy,’” “very This same viewpoint is apparent in the opinions
counter-culture, concerned with process,” “ a Kairos residents had about joining an all co-op
good idea taken too far by nearsighted zealots,” council. The majority said they were not in favor
and “dirty.” of joining such a council. Most of these residents
Hammarskjöld did not receive comment by many cited Kairos as too different from the other co-
people. There were no negative comments about ops for it to gain anything, or that joining could
it. Most people that said anything noted that it is threaten the individuality of Kairos. References
the international theme house and has a lot of were made to how ‘granola’ the others are, and to
graduate students. Most people who knew about the political nature of the other co-ops. Two
it felt there were interesting people there. people believed that Synergy and Columbae
would probably dominate such a council, and said
Phi Psi was unknown to two people. Those who they perpetuate “an acceptable co-op mold” and
commented on it for the most part had positive are dogmatic. These people did not want to
things to say: “cool,” “nice people,” participate in such a council. Two people pointed
“awareness, activism,” “mellow.” Four people out that the University is not apprehensive, and
commented that they perceive it as a drug haven, thus we do not need to organize against an
and one person said that the co-ed showers there imaginary common enemy.
are strange. It was equated by one person to
Theta Chi. Those who believe Kairos should join felt there
are things that all the co-ops have in common to
Theta Chi received largely good comments. A few gain, but emphasized that the individuality of
people considered it closest to Kairos in Kairos must be maintained. Some felt a larger co-
character. Comments included, “interesting op community feeling would be good, but they
people,” “less co-opy than Synergy or Colum- doubt if many Kairos residents would want to
bae,” “artsy,” and “gorgeous.” Theta Chi also participate. Two people felt that it would be
was identified by one person as strange because it advantageous only for cost sharing or to improve
has co-ed showers. Another feels that it is living conditions, but that there was no substantial
Synergy was considered equal to Columbae in its Another standard for self-identification by Kairos
“counter-culture, anti-mainstream” quality. Peo- is diversity. As mentioned earlier, in the first
ple called it “weird,” “off the wall, real partici- survey residents almost unanimously felt that
patory,” the “most extreme,” and the “ultimate Kairos is very diverse. I asked this question again
stereotype co-op.” It is interesting that the in the winter and received a very different answer.
general comments people made about other co- Only a few people feel that Kairos is not at all
ops were roughly the same as those made about diverse. One such person referred to cultural
Synergy and Columbae. Similarly, the comments diversity, the other to diversity in social relations.
about co-ops in general often included Synergy The latter feels that friends in the house tend to be
and Columbae as examples. The fact is, alike. The others were split between those who
Columbae and Synergy were the only two that think Kairos is very diverse and those who think
received many comments about counter-culture it is more diverse than many other places on
and extremeness. The only co-ops that came campus, but not diverse in all respects.
close were Phi Psi for its supposed drugs and co-
ed showers and Theta Chi for its co-ed showers. The shared view of all these people is that there is
a wide variety of interests and personalities in the
It is clear that Kairos defines itself as mainstream house. One person mentioned that shy people are
and moderate in comparison to the other co-ops, included and encouraged. Another said there are
although there are two co-ops that people felt are many different political views represented. One
similar to Kairos: Terra and Theta Chi. Although other said that although there are not many
there is a sentiment that the co-ops “like Synergy extremists in the house, many different views are
or Columbae” are too extreme and alternative, accepted and represented. The only person who
there were a large number of comments referring felt uncomfortable in the house because of a
to the other co-ops as having interesting and political orientation or interest is one who is very
Co-operative Living at Stanford 101 Appendix
religious and conservatively oriented. This person for ‘community’ in a residence, and would like
says that people in the house assume that there is there to be ‘community’ at Kairos. The degree to
no higher being and probably do not pray. His which they are satisfied may perhaps indicate
feeling is caused by what he considers the how they perceive the concept of ‘community.’
moderate-liberal make up of the house. In The responses were varied. A few people con-
contrast to Kairos residents’ perceptions of the sider Kairos to have a very good level of
other co-ops, though, they feel that more diversity, ‘community.’ One such resident attributed it to
especially on the moderate or conservative side the amount of co-operation required by the work
are respected and tolerated. residents do. Others called the community sup-
While many of those who feel Kairos is diverse portive, caring, trusting, reliable, and full of people
state that there are many minority groups repre- who get along well. These people seem to value
sented, those who feel Kairos is not diverse in all the emotional interaction and stability of the
respects specifically state cultural or racial community environment. Others felt that Kairos
diversity as lacking. A few people said that there has an average or fair level of ‘community.’
may be more minorities represented in Kairos These residents felt that there is not a lot of
than in Stanford in general, but that it is not mutual co-operation, consideration and that
enough. Regardless of the actual diversity of people seem to be too concerned with themselves.
Kairos (this can hardly be determined in an If it is taken as fact that a significant number of
objective way), the standard is set: people at people do perform their house work below the
Kairos want diversity. Those who say that Kairos community’s standard, the split level of satisfac-
is not diverse enough are saying that they desire tion may be due to different ideals. Those that are
more. Those that say it is diverse unanimously satisfied focus on the emotional support they find
say that they they like that factor and consider it here, considered by all these residents to be much
an important part of the Kairos environment. greater than in their past experiences at Stanford.
Kairos’ identity as diverse, mainstream, realistic, Those that are dissatisfied may look for
laid-back and independent characterize the senti- ‘community’ in mutual obligation and participa-
ment that Kairos is a unique living environment. tion, which they feel are lacking.
One important trend here is that many Kairos There were a few who say they do not look for
residents see themselves as too unique to have a ‘community’ in a residence. They say either that
commonality with the other co-ops. As we saw they simply cannot expect it from a house this
above, though, the contrast is with two specific large or that they find it elsewhere. For those that
co-ops, Synergy and Columbae. The antagonistic do seek ‘community,’ especially a direct level of
attitude against perceived control by co-ops is involvement with the house, these people who do
similar to that of management of dorms by the not look for ‘community’ are a source of
University. Kairos is seen as autonomous from dissatisfaction. This attitude is paralleled by
the University to the necessary degree, and comments on the ‘social scene’ in the house.
similarly autonomous from other residences. This
trend will resurface in the section on social life There are those who feel very content and
where people feel that as a unit Kairos needs no fulfilled by the specific scene here. One such
participation from outsiders. It is important to person says she does not expect much from a
keep in mind at this point that residents do not residence, but finds that Kairos has a good
consider Kairos’ status as co-op all that impor- balance between being supportive and people not
tant. Most people do favor the designation, but it being invested one hundred percent. Others find
is not a primary criterion for self-definition. that there is always enough appealing social
People believe in the organizational structure of events going on to meet their desires. These
Kairos, but do not identify with the other co-ops people also do not have high social expectations.
to any significant degree, and do not think of the One resident in this category said, “my wild is
designation as a determining factor in the charac- pretty mild.” Another does not enjoy large
ter of the house. crowds, but rather individuals that are willing to
talk and interact.
Social Life and Personal Interactions At the other end are those that are not content
Kairos can be described as a community in the with the social life. A few complain about the
sense that people live together. To what degree people who do their own thing. As one other said,
can this definition be expanded for Kairos? his one regret about living in Kairos is indicated
‘Community’ can be seen as a form of unity by the question, “why would people rather study
based either upon location or upon common on a Saturday night than come to their own
interest. Most all residents say that they do look
Co-operative Living at Stanford 102 Appendix
house’s party?” Others comment that there not feel any particular gravitation towards their
should be more in-house activities. The problem, nearest neighbors may associate themselves with
though, is that people do not show up when there the rest of the house in a broader way rather than
is a party. Especially during fall quarter, but also forming strong bonds with particular people.
during winter, many people have commented that Another is familiarity. Those who are returning
the best fun they have had in the house is at small residents for the most part knew each other
in-house gatherings or parties. For an all-campus before this academic year started, and naturally
party during the winter, people were supposed to felt a bond. Those who did not spend much time
distribute flyers to advertise it throughout in the house all say they have significant lives
campus. By the time the party started, only a few elsewhere and think of Kairos as a place to sleep
had been taken from the stack. People or eat more than anything else.
commented later that they just didn’t care if other These groups were not characterized by any
people came. They had invited their friends, and major personality, economic status or ethnicity
other than that, they just wanted to party with trends. Seeking an alternative trend might be
Kairos people. These are the people that look for appropriate. At the time I figured that Kairos
involvement from other people in the house. To residents may have grouped themselves by the
their disappointment, the party was almost empty types of interaction they desired from each other.
of Kairos residents as well as outsiders. It seemed that those who needed a responsive
The other source of dissatisfaction with the affiliation with a group and were ready for such a
Kairos social scene is a perception of disjointed- commitment tended to participate in the tighter
ness and cliquishness. In the fall quarter survey, groups. Those who did not need the affiliation
many residents express the opinion that Kairos is within the house, were not ready for a close web
uniquely lacking in exclusive cliques within the of dependency, or were satisfied with a broader
house. Because the house is small and there is a sense of community participation did not
strong tone of acceptance of diversity, the social associate themselves specifically within the two
associations that did exist within the house strongest groups. Quite admittedly there were
presented a problem for some people. The norm deeper psychological motivations present in the
as I analyzed it was togetherness, and when groups. Those mentioned, though, were directly
certain people perceived any level of exclusion, related to the more significant trend of acceptance
they explicitly considered it an obstacle. I took and inclusion of diversity.
seating charts of who sat next to each other at It seemed that none of the groups were
dinners for a three-week period. Although the considered less “okay” or less a part of the
data sample was small, a number of personal house. For many, they were rather different ways
preferences were revealed. These preferences that many people felt a part of the house. For
related directly to an explicit and often discussed example, the two more cohesive groups, the quint
second-third floor dichotomy. cluster and the returning residents contributed the
The third floor was socially dominated by the most to the second-third floor dichotomy. This
quint, a five male room. With several strongly dichotomy was simply a perceived difference
associated people on the third floor, their room between the make-up of each floor, reflecting the
served as a gathering place for many third floor mutual exclusion of the social groups that
people and a few second floor people who were dominated the floors. The dichotomy took on a
close friends. The second floor housed all of the pseudo-territorial nature. The fact is the two
second year residents who formed a cohesive groups liked and respected each other very much.
social group. There were also a few smaller They liked working together and had very similar
clusters of friends that lived on the second floor, desires for the house as a whole. This is what
but who did not interact to any significant degree made the two groups an explicit and talked-about
with the third floor group. The second and third dichotomy. The members wished the distinction
floors both had a number of people that did not between them could be broken down.
interact with any group in specific or did not In the winter quarter, as a few residents noted,
spend much time in the house at all. many friendships have shifted. Some people have
There are innumerable reasons why the members become more interactive with people they had
of each group participated as they did. An never been close to before, and some old
obvious one was room locations. People tended associations became less involved. Although one
to associate with those who lived close-by even resident mentioned that the third floor still
when they might have gotten along just as well seemed isolated, most others felt that there are
with many other people. Similarly, those who did many smaller cliques and groups that now act
Co-operative Living at Stanford 103 Appendix
independently. One notable change serves as an house expressed the feeling that they were not
example for the general trend that people are not accepted in the community.
interacting in the house in winter as much as they Another trend is the wish that the house were
were in the fall. The quint which served as a closer and more intimate than it is. This seemed
social center for a large group no longer hosts curious during the fall when most residents were
many gatherings. The quint residents tried having also very pleased and surprised by the unusual
two room parties during the quarter in a specific degree of unity that did exist. Likewise, as the
attempt to rekindle the spirit that they felt had level of participation decreases by many members
disappeared since the first quarter. The first party of the house, the wish grows even stronger. It
enjoyed a reasonable attendance, but everyone left seems that the one follows from the other in that
soon after midnight. The second party was very if there were not such an obvious potential for
poorly attended. unity and support people would not consider it
This change is due to people being busier than possible in University housing. In other words,
they were in the fall, to their dedicating more time people only want it more because they have
to friends outside of the house, and I will argue to already had so much of it.
the passage of time after the earthquake crisis. In The returning residents seem to have instilled in
the surveys in the fall, many people stated the the rest of the members a common Kairos
importance of the earthquake experience. People identity that includes a self-awareness that they
relied on each other and found a community of are different than most other campus dorms and
people that cared. Many trends began at this time co-ops. Residents believe that they are realistic in
that were important factors for the first quarter, how they approach the house, and that the very
but have dissipated somewhat through the winter. fact that they aren’t idealistic makes it work even
Behavioral trends may have changed, but better. For example, during one house meeting
dominant expectancies of behavioral trends have during the earthquake crisis we were discussing
not. how we could help other co-ops who would not
be returning to their houses. A number of
House-Wide Trends comments were made such as “I’m an ass-hole,
One of the most important trends is the social but an honest one,” and “let’s face it, we’re anal
pressure to be in the house a lot. As mentioned compared to the other co-ops.” Residents talk
earlier, many people expect and hope that others about how they are relatively apathetic to campus
will make Kairos a priority in their lives. and political issues, more materially-oriented, and
Although this was a stronger factor during the eat lots of meat. These attitudes are not universal,
first quarter, the standard remains in the form of but most everyone believes it is perfectly okay to
disappointment in those who do not involve be that way, and that there is no reason anyone
themselves and the feeling by those who don’t should be willing to change. These attitudes
participate a lot that they are disliked because of contribute to Kairos’ marginal role on campus
it. This point is best demonstrated by a peripheral and its internal cohesion.
member of the community who spends very little
time in the house. Other residents have expressed The Kairos community is also especially
that she seems like a very “cool” person and conducive to trying things this set of people
they wish she were around more. From her wouldn’t normally venture into in a more
perspective, though, Kairos is saying something “normal” environment. This happens within
very different to her. relatively conservative limits. Different people
have said that they chewed tobacco, smoked a
Her most memorable experiences at Kairos are cigarette, smoked pot, did alcohol drinking rituals,
when she has been persecuted for not being more drunk to an excess, or went to a bar for the first
a part of the house. Strikingly, this woman drew time. Others have neglected school work like
into Kairos for similar reasons to everyone else. never before, tried to surf, have expressed a
Knowing that she wouldn’t be around much, she willingness to take the drug XTC if others would,
wanted a house with a “relaxed, open-minded and have expressed deep feelings and problems
atmosphere”. She hoped it would be okay to be a to people they would normally never open-up to.
less-than-fully-integrated member of the commu- These residents find this a unique situation, most
nity. These are standards that the fully-integrated specifically because most of these practices are
members continue to expect and uphold. But the not common within the house. There is no social
acceptance of diversity seems to stipulate that you pressure to do these specific things, and yet there
participate fully in the community. Of those that is a sense of support for such experimentation.
returned the winter survey, the two people who
spend a significant part of the time out of the
Co-operative Living at Stanford 104 Appendix
A nearly universal trend is an awareness that you changing their behavior, but they perceive the
have to get drunk with everyone before you really difference and wish it could be improved.
bond with them. Kairos residents drink often and
most everybody included at least one drinking The Earthquake
event in their most memorable experiences with The residents were scattered throughout campus
the house. There are residents who do not drink, when the earthquake hit, but soon afterwards
but even they have said that some of their most everyone convened on the lawn in front of
strongest bonding experiences with other the house. Our Resident Assistant told us the
residences were when the others were drunk. A house was officially closed until further notice.
primary cause of the drunk bonding experience is The experience at this point was primarily happy
the nature of the drug. But another has to do with and exciting due to strong community support,
residents’ attitudes towards the community. It although we all had the typical emotional
seems apparent that many people in the house difficulties. When it became apparent that we
feel dependent on the house and are extremely would most likely not be allowed in the house for
grateful for what it offers them. Alcohol allows the night, people ran inside against the RA’s
them to express this. It is quite characteristic of wishes and grabbed a few possessions, some
the house to be talking informally with people in food and all the alcohol in the house.
a small group of drunk residents and have
someone with whom you have little affiliation to That night we were the only house on the upper
come up and say they love everyone, or hug you Row to remain congregated in front of our house,
and say they just wanted to say how much s/he and we had a “blow-out” drinking party with a
appreciates you. bonfire. The next day and a half were fairly
confusing. We were told the house would be
This standard is reiterated as the house grows closed for a week or two at the minimum, and we
more fragmented. In order to initiate social were not immediately given any place to stay.
bonding experiences, people tend to buy alcohol. This period was very difficult for Kairos
The quint, as mentioned before, bought kegs for residents because we received progressively
its two second quarter parties, advertising that it worse news about the status of our house. At one
was time once again to get drunk together like the point we were told the house would almost surely
quarter before. Similarly, at the traditional quarter be closed for the year.
end party, the house always elects to buy a large
quantity of alcohol in anticipation of the The residents of Kairos were very devastated.
uninhibited interaction that will result. People talked at length about how important the
community had already become to them and that
The nickname the “house of love” is generally they wanted more than anything to live with the
referred to as a regrettable stereotype we have same community for the remainder of the year.
inherited from the past. Residents in general On the third day we were given the Casa Zapata
dislike the hippy connotations it carries but find it lounge to stay in, and a majority of the house
humorous that it persists despite the stubbornly decided to forgo other more comfortable
mainstream make-up of the house. As a few temporary housing options in order to stay
residents expressed, the great thing about the together in the lounge. The lounge became a
name is that they all continue to be themselves, as center for the house including many of the people
mainstream as they care to be, but they feel they who opted to live elsewhere. Prejudice against
have experienced the freedom to feel emotions as these others was blatant, though. They were
a community that are stereotyped to the extremist unreservedly called traitors and deserters. Many
“crunchy, vegetarian thing”. of the “traitors” felt this was an expression of
In the next section I will explore a case that is their desire for them to be a part of the group, but
identified by every resident as one of the most others found this alienating and were very
memorable experiences of the first quarter at uncomfortable even walking into the lounge.
Kairos. The earthquake crisis and its aftermath The house displayed a surprising involvement
was probably the single-most influential factor in with the other co-ops during this crisis. The
the development of Kairos culture. It involved Stanford co-op community made a huge effort to
most every positive community standard I have plan for its joint future. Kairos joined the
mentioned. Although some of the trends begun discussions, attended all the meetings and actively
during the earthquake have begun to reverse shared information. At the same time, though,
themselves in the opinions of many residents, the Kairos had a unique attitude that it would not wait
standards were set. The residents may be for the University or the other co-ops to decide its
fate. A number of residents did everything in their
Co-operative Living at Stanford 105 Appendix
power to locate off-campus housing to supported by the statements of other residents or
accommodate most of the Kairos residents. We what I believe is self-conscious observation. I
were ready at any moment to lay thirty thousand regret if I have construed my own view of the
dollars down on a house. This period of time is community or that of a few people as the view of
quite memorable to all residents. Those who lived the whole.
in the lounge feel they formed the strongest Kairos is a unique place if for no other reason
bonds with other residents then. Many others saw than that its members consider it to be. The
the positive experience those in the lounge were potential that the members feel they have to create
having and expressed the desire to be able to join a supportive and fulfilling community continues
in it (extreme work loads or other social despite the apparent decrease in behaviors that
commitments were cited as preventing them). foster such a feeling. They have experienced
At the end of the first week out of the house, we involvement in the type of community that many
were told that Kairos would reopen the following desire, and know what they wish would return.
week. The ecstasy everyone felt is indescribable. The obstacles are that, as one resident mentioned,
That night we threw a party in the Zapata lounge the residents are flaky about contributing to the
that remains many residents’ most memorable house, and that there are many residents who
party. Some Kairos residents continued to have simply do not desire to make Kairos the main
strong involvement with the other co-ops that focus of their social lives.
would not be let back in the house. We made The residents this year consider themselves very
decisions to change a common room in the house different than any previous year’s group. Yet, in a
into a new room for a displaced student and to sense, the strong sense of affiliation most people
open up fifteen eating associate spots for feel from the house ties them to what is
displaced co-op residents who wanted an analogous to a fraternal tradition. There are
alternative community affiliation. These decisions numerous traditions at Kairos that are expensive,
were consciously not as generous as they could require work or are a troublesome inconvenience
have been. Residents were aware that they didn’t that have not been opposed by a single resident.
want to change the character of the house by For example, a huge effort is made on a variety of
admitting too many ‘hard-core’ co-opers, and occasions to welcome previous residents back to
that they would be unwilling to forfeit many of the house in a very costly way, even though only
the comforts of the house that would be required a handful of residents ever met them before.
by opening up more living spaces. Similarly, people at Kairos tend to accept
When we returned to the house, the mood was decisions that are handed to them because they
very different. There were new friendships, were made by previous residents. According to a
stronger group affiliation, and significantly number of older residents of Kairos, the
deteriorated clique barriers. At the same time, importance of ‘community’ has always been a
schoolwork that had been neglected during the tradition, and likewise, the dedication of
period of displacement forced most residents to ‘mainstream’ types to the community has always
work harder than ever. This was a difficult thing set Kairos apart.
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