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.