Future of Cloyne Court hinges on vote Thursday night

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] and follow her on Twitter @_chloeew .

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  • JF

    Where did people get the idea that the BSC punishes people who call 911? Ridiculous.

  • AMS

    I think there is a bigger, deeper systemic issue going on here that is not being discussed. I realize why it’s not being discussed, and that’s because it won’t be solved by the decision over Cloyne (though I also suspect it’s because people are too afraid to point the finger at the “victim” and his mother). Nevertheless, it’s been to a large degree, ruining businesss, stifling freedom and corrupting social behavior and societal norms such as responsibility, accountability and in the end, ethical decency in this country. And that is the increased penchant to shift blame from one self onto another, sue someone else for your own screw-up, to scapegoat through lawyers and the legal frankenstein we’ve created as a society. It’s become an American modus operandi, a way of thinking, reacting and behaving – this idea of passing the buck (and not always but it is often tied in with the desire for instant gratification and “get rich quick” mentalities that are also rampant in this country), and people are caving into this essentially through their quiet acquiescence. Stupidity will never be in short supply, drug overdoses can happen ANYwhere, college kids will continue taking drugs, overdoses will continue happening, young adults will continue screwing up, parents will continue to make mistakes. But for some reason we decide to set these awful legal precedents that let people who should be (or should have been) more accountable, more responsible, off the hook. So the BSC and UC had to fork out some money to what was essentially a tragic, INDIVIDUAL mistake, penalizing all others at UC who could’ve benefited from that money instead. As if that weren’t enough, now they’re going to literally whitewash Cloyne Court – a virtual lobotomy if you will – as if that were going to solve the deeper problem we have at hand. Like many situations today, this action will be done in order to appease those who perceive themselves as the “victims” in this case, while in reality, they’re really victimizing all Clones and the entire BSC. Simply another chapter in a story of a country that refuses to grow up, and where money and individual gain triumph over the good of all, and where it’s better to blame many who had nothing to do with it, then to blame the one who really should have been accountable all along.
    Cloyne Court resident ’86-’87
    Fenwick resident ’88-’89
    UC Berkeley alumni, Class of ’89
    GreenMBA, Dominican University of CA, ’11

  • FreeTim

    As a previous Clone, I am really sorry to see these students being crushed. I don’t think the issue here is drugs–I think it is not towing the line. It’s the new culture at universities that want a silent generation. The current residents here seem to embody all that makes for an excellent co-operative culture. If you replace it with a fearful culture–one that is afraid of getting into trouble for calling 911 because ‘it looks bad’, you are replacing it with one with NO moral code. I feel that I learned in some ways more living at Cloyne about politics and how to form a functional and exciting lab that works together than most other things I learned as a student at UC Berkeley. I think it is worth taking a look at this article: http://www.filmsforaction.org/news/8_reasons_young_americans_dont_fight_back_how_the_us_crushed_youth_resistance/

  • Adeptian

    I’m going to borrow a comment from this week’s letters to the editor in the east bay express because I think it is worth repeating – http://www.eastbayexpress.com/oakland/letters-for-the-week-of-march-12/Content?oid=3861769:

    The Berkeley Student Cooperative (BSC) has a long-established culture that discourages people from calling 911 to receive medical attention in situations that involve drug use. From a realistic perspective, BSC students are not going to categorically stop using drugs. Discouraging students from calling 911 through punitive policies such as the multiple bad conduct terminations that have taken place in similar situations means that more serious overdoses will happen, and that they’ll happen more often. High insurance rates suck, but they’re a better option than students dying on BSC property. Every serious overdose on BSC property in the recent past that has had long-term consequences had those consequences because no one called 911 promptly. BSC’s general culture of discouraging 911 calls coupled with certain provisions in the Cloyne plan has a high likelihood of leading to future overdoses with catastrophic consequences for those involved, and higher insurance premiums for the BSC, or even an existential threat to the BSC if UC Berkeley decides to pull Cloyne or Rochdale. Fostering a culture in which students feel safe calling for medical help when they need it is critical to the future success — and potentially the future existence — of the BSC.

    Daniel Jackson, Berkeley

  • Elijah Z. Granet

    I hope that the BSC will do the right thing and vote “yes” on the plan for purging Cloyne.

  • Sherman Boyson

    A member of the Social Welfare faculty who deal with drug addiction issues says that no one at Cloyne should be worried about calling 911 — the the new 911 Good Samaritan law will protect them — even against any Cloyne or BCS rule which punishes 911 callers. Someone should check this out.

    • son_of_guy

      Why would they discourage 91 in this day and age? It’s so idiotic!

  • AnOski

    Surely illegal substances aren’t so important to the students currently living there.