Future of Cloyne Court hinges on vote Thursday night

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Michael Drummond/Senior Staff

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The Berkeley Student Cooperative’s Board of Directors will vote Thursday on the future of one of the largest cooperative houses in the country, Cloyne Court, after a month of heated debate, high emotions and late-night conversations among many co-op members.

Over the past week, Cloyne leaders and BSC’s executive cabinet made additions to the cabinet’s proposal to convert Cloyne into a substance-free academic theme house and prevent current and former house members from living in Cloyne to mitigate further financial liabilities and ensure the continuation of BSC.

Among other changes, the new version of the proposal will ensure that points accumulated by current Clones — members of Cloyne — remain active so they maintain seniority when choosing rooms if and when they move into other BSC houses, according to BSC President Michelle Nacouzi.

The updated proposal also calls for the creation of a board-level task force that will review BSC’s conduct processes and member support, which Nacouzi called a response to community concerns about the current enforcement of BSC’s substance abuse policy.

These changes follow the BSC Board of Director’s Feb. 28 decision to extend the voting deadline from March 6 to March 13 with the stipulation that Cloyne leadership and BSC’s executive cabinet meet at least twice before the vote.

Despite these additions, there are still several issues Clones hope to address with the cabinet — namely, the portion of the proposal that would “purge” all current and former Clones from the house, according to Shannon Levis, one of Cloyne’s house managers.

“I personally have tried to almost make peace with the situation instead of fighting against it at this point, which some people see as a defeated attitude,” Levis said. “But this isn’t over.”

A new proposal from Cloyne called the Affordable Education Themed House Proposal and amendments from the board will also be presented at the meeting, according to Levis. She hopes to negotiate with the cabinet on the preservation of the house’s murals, which would be painted over with white paint under the cabinet’s current plan, before Thursday’s meeting but believes the topic will be a major point of discussion at the meeting if a compromise is not reached ahead of time.

The discussion of Cloyne’s future follows a recently settled lawsuit filed by the mother of former UC Berkeley student and Cloyne resident John Gibson, who sustained brain damage after overdosing at the house in 2010. The BSC cabinet proposed its plan in response to the suit’s allegations that BSC and Cloyne fostered a dangerous environment.

Levis and Nacouzi said given the debate over the cabinet’s proposal, a roll-call vote at Thursday’s meeting is likely. Normally, each board representative is responsible for casting a block of votes equivalent to the number of house members. In the case of larger houses with two or three board representatives, each is responsible for a separate block of votes.

If a roll-call vote is implemented, BSC members present at the meeting will be able to vote differently from their representatives, subtracting their votes from the block and casting their own individual votes. In the case of a house with multiple representatives who vote differently from one another, the BSC member will subtract his or her vote from the block of votes cast by his or her house’s board representative who voted differently than he or she did, Nacouzi said.

Casa Zimbabwe resident Baylor Odabashian said that although many in his house have strong opinions on the cabinet’s proposal, he is concerned that they may not attend the meeting.

“There are a lot of people who care in theory, but when it comes down to it, they have their own lives — and that’s most important,” Odabashian said. “That’s not specific to my house — that’s just sort of a generational problem that we have.”

Kingman Hall resident Kayla Friedrichsen said her board representative has been encouraging residents to attend the meeting, but she thinks many members of her house are leaning toward supporting the cabinet’s proposal.

“Although cabinet’s proposal is harsh, I think it’s the safest way to ensure the future of the entire BSC,” Friedrichsen said. “Joining a co-op changed my college experience, and I can’t imagine not having that opportunity.”

At Thursday’s meeting, BSC board representatives will vote on individual motions that make up the cabinet’s proposal as well as any amendments or additions proposed to the plan.

Senior staff writer Megan Messerly contributed to this report.

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