Berkeley Student Cooperative Board of Directors to discuss proposals for Cloyne’s future

Michael Drummond/Senior Staff

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Almost two weeks after a divisive proposal from the Berkeley Student Cooperative’s executive cabinet sent the membership of its largest house into unrest, the BSC Board of Directors is preparing to hear three potential plans for Cloyne Court’s future at its meeting Thursday.

The house’s leadership and members put two alternative proposals forward to the board last Thursday, a week after the cabinet announced its original plan to convert the residence into a substance-free academic theme house and prevent current and former house members from moving back in the fall.

While one of Cloyne’s proposals, the Enforcement and Enhancement Plan, would similarly prohibit the use of all substances in the residence, the house’s other plan, the Wellness and Education Proposal, would allow the use of legal substances for residents of legal age, according to Shannon Levis, one of Cloyne’s house managers. Neither of the proposals would prohibit Cloyne’s current or former members from moving back.

Cloyne’s leadership submitted the proposals to the board after a lengthy and emotional meeting Thursday between many house, board and BSC members that lasted late into the night.

“This is definitely the most passionate I’ve ever seen my house,” Levis said. “But that being said, we’re all pretty emotionally exhausted. We’re all here to study at Berkeley, and that’s kind of been put on the back burner, so we’re trying to find a balance between saving our house and saving our semesters.”

The discussion over Cloyne’s future arose after the settlement of a lawsuit against BSC filed by the mother of former student John Gibson, who sustained brain damage after a drug overdose at Cloyne in 2010. In response to the suit’s allegations that the co-op and Cloyne fostered a dangerous environment, BSC’s cabinet proposed its plan to mitigate further financial liabilities and ensure the co-op can continue to operate.

During the board’s meeting this week, BSC’s executive director will have 20 minutes to respond to some commonly asked questions, the proposals will be presented and BSC members will have a 90-minute period for feedback and discussion.

Although Cloyne’s members and leadership submitted their counterproposals Thursday, many of Cloyne’s members felt the one-week period they were given to come up with alternative plans was unfair. After less than 24 hours of signature-gathering, they submitted a petition Friday evening to BSC to postpone the board’s vote on the future of Cloyne by 30 days. Although only 200 signatures were needed for a successful referendum, signature-gatherers collected approximately 300 to 400, Levis said.

Despite the petition’s success, BSC President Michelle Nacouzi emailed the BSC membership Saturday to inform members that the cabinet did “not intend to conduct the referendum, as it would have no bearing on the ultimate outcome” — which drew criticism from many BSC members who wanted the vote postponed.

Nacouzi said the referendum is infeasible, as the board is scheduled to vote on changes to Cloyne on March 6, and the referendum vote would conclude in early April, after the decision on Cloyne would have been made and housing contracts would have been sent out.

At this week’s meeting, the board will consider the possibility of extending the timeline and delaying the vote until March 13, the furthest the cabinet believes the decision can be postponed to ensure the budget is passed on time the following week, according to Nacouzi.

“There are a lot of emotionally driven actions going on right now, a lot of which are happening over email threads,” Nacouzi said. “But I’m really looking forward to the opportunity for everyone to be in one room and hear all the history behind our situation as well as the reactions that Cloyne and the rest of the membership has.”

The board will discuss the proposals at its meeting, which will be open to all BSC members, on Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Rochdale Village co-op.

Chloee Weiner covers campus life. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @_chloeew .

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  • Thea Brown

    If you want to stay up-to-date and show your support for Cloyne check out and like our page on Facebook

    • beentrillsf

      Based God approves of this message.

  • Elijah Z. Granet
  • ucactivism

    “Nacouzi said the referendum is infeasible, as the board is currently scheduled to vote on changes to Cloyne on March 6, and the referendum vote would conclude in early April, after the decision on Cloyne would have had been made and housing contracts would have been sent out.”

    Read your Bylaw X again:

    The President of an organization can’t just ignore its Bylaws when it’s inconvenient. There’s no exception there for “urgent” decisions. If your membership has the power to cancel an action of the Board by referendum, then when the referendum passes, the Board’s decision is void and no changes can happen next semester.

    Just look at the Berkeley City Council, where a petition on redistricting (which, as a sidenote, the BSC supports) may well delay the redistricting process. How would you react if the mayor just ignored the petition on the grounds that it’s “unfeasible” to delay redistricting?

    • Anonymoscoooper

      bylaw- “…the President shall conduct a secret ballot of the entire membership regarding any issue on which the Board of Directors has taken action or declined to take action by the end of the next regularly scheduled meeting after the issue was introduced.”
      This bylaw doesn’t directly pertain to the situation because the signatures gathered were not a petition to change action that the board has taken; The board has not taken action on the Cloyne proposals. That being said, Cloyne’s efforts should not be swept under the rug and the president did articulate the temporal “impracticality” of such a referendum in a brusk manner. Cloyne Court has been put in a remarkably tough position, and the timeline in which information was released by cabinet reveals a lack of transparency one would hope didn’t exist in a cooperative system. Let’s just be careful we don’t make out the issue to be black and white. It isn’t. This is a tough situation for the entire BSC community, including cabinet and board members.