The Committee on Undergraduate Life (CUL) met with cooperative housing residents Feb. 7 to hash out the pros and cons of potential changes to the co-op housing system. The changes, designed to better match cooperatively-minded students with available co-op space, evoked a generally positive response from the students, but did not please all.
CUL is hoping to develop a two-tiered co-op draw that would give first priority to students who want to go entirely off the board plan and second priority to students who want to remain on a board plan.
According to professor of religion William Darrow, a large number of seniors vie for co-op housing each year because it is among the nicest housing available. However, this reduces the possibility of cooperative housing for students who actually want to live cooperatively; that is, cook, eat and clean.
“Some students who really wanted to live the co-op experience were not able to, [but under the proposed plan] students who really want to cook and clean together could get first priority,” said Darrow. Sophia Kuo ’00, who initially organized the discussion on housing at Williams, co-op housing is the only option for students who want to go off the board plan entirely, but “the way you get into a co-op now is random, and if you are not randomly picked, it’s not possible to get off the meal plan.”
Some students fear that the two-tiered system would effectively eliminate athletes from living in co-ops, because athletes eat meals in the dining hall with their teams. However, the CUL’s priority to match off-board students with co-op houses (which contain the coveted few full kitchens) overrode this conflict.
“The off-meal problem is more pressing than the athlete problem,” said James Moorhead ’01, who felt that the proposed plan would better utilize the currently underutilized space.
Others expressed skepticism that the two-tiered draw would actually change the number of applicants.
Students also argued that the communal meal was less important than the common space and the convenience of the kitchen. The tentative CUL proposal will not change the co-op system for another year. The CUL also hopes to increase the number of co-op spaces by turning some of the small houses into co-ops.