Cloyne can craft its own self-fulfilling prophecy

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We are all prophets who fall victim to our own self-fulfilling prophecies. The idea of a self-fulfilling prophecy, in which the prophecy becomes true due to the belief in the prophecy, has littered the pages of literature throughout time. In “The Picture of Dorian Gray”, a painting of Dorian showcases his ethereal beauty and youth. He is told again and again to value his youth and beauty over his experiences and crimes. Dorian remains ageless and beautiful, committing sin after sin, while his painting changes to show a decrepit and hideous old man. Unable to withstand such a macabre depiction of his beauty, Dorian stabs the portrait, killing himself. The painting symbolizes the idea of a self-fulfilling prophecy: What Dorian becomes, he sees; what he sees, he becomes.

Unlike the case of Dorian, self-fulfilling prophecies need not end in destruction, and an example of positive beliefs leading to positive action can be found in the current controversy over the closure of the UC Berkeley cooperative Cloyne Court. Many in the outside community believe that the Berkeley Student Cooperative is choosing to shut down Cloyne because it is a wild drug den, where parties are rampant and studies are scarce. This conception is completely false. Cloyne is the largest student cooperative in the BSC. It is filled with about 150 UC Berkeley students of all majors and backgrounds, does not have a major substance abuse problem and has parties much less than many fraternities on campus. The BSC wishes to reform Cloyne not because of an actual problem but because of a perceived problem due to a drug overdose that happened four years ago. The perceived notion of a “wild drug co-op” may potentially raise insurance rates, which would affect student payments in the co-op, posing a huge risk to the entire BSC.

The extremity of the BSC’s proposal to reform Cloyne parallels the extremity of the threat to the organization. To briefly summarize the proposal, Cloyne will be shut down temporarily and turned into an “academic theme house”; all current members will be expelled like naughty school children and prohibited from returning; a zero-tolerance “one-strike-you’re-out” substance policy will be implemented; and the beautiful murals of Cloyne will be erased, thus destroying the last visible remnant of 1960s counterculture — the very ideals of the Civil Rights Movement, Free Speech Movement and antiwar movement that the co-ops were founded upon.

If Cloyne becomes a “substance-free academic-themed house,” with white walls and zero tolerance, the perceived notion of a drug culture will lessen, but this solution will pose other threats to the organization. The idea of Cloyne as the studious “academic-themed house” suggests that at the other houses students are not as studious and that substances are more tolerated, polarizing, rather than balancing, the co-op houses. As someone who lives in the other larger co-op, Casa Zimbabwe, I fear the Cloyne decision would disrupt our culture here by attracting less study-oriented students. Furthermore, the extreme one-strike policy could possibly create an unhealthy culture of fear and secrecy regarding substances.

Instead of enforcing draconian measures, the BSC should realize that Cloyne is a house in the process of crafting its own self-fulfilling prophecy. Actions follow beliefs. The members understand the risks and the stakes. They, in response to the proposal, have begun to view and prove themselves as a more serious and studious house, and the outside community has begun to view them as such. Cloyne members are capable and ready to change their house’s reputation in the community. They have other proposals that elaborate on the proposals of BSC’s cabinet. Changes in attitudes have already started to occur without the need of disrupting the vibrant house culture of 150 Berkeley students. Quick dramatic solutions are tempting, but for complex organizations — such as the BSC — history shows that healthy and permanent reforms require education and time. This proposal is a Band-Aid fix to a much larger wound. The board meeting, in which the board will vote on the proposal, will occur Thursday. I have heard that “the decision has been made already,” and I urge the BSC community to not fall victim to this particular prophecy — that nothing we can do can change the outcome. There are other solutions that do not involve eviction or expunction, which any BSC member can voice at the meeting Thursday. Cloyne members believe the house can change its reputation and culture in the eyes of the outside world, and I have full faith that action will follow belief.

May the murals of Cloyne match the beauty of Dorian’s painting, and may we remember that self-fulfilling prophecies need not end in death.

Alexandra Kopel is a resident of Casa Zimbabwe and a former news reporter for the Daily Californian. 

Contact the opinion desk at [email protected] or follow us on Twitter: @dailycalopinion.

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  • mtaysic

    out-of-house parties at Cloyne you mean? However that one student who is in a coma now was a resident there. When I lived in the co-ops, I rarely went to Cloyne but my understanding what the drug culture was part of the reputation of the house.

  • Elijah Z. Granet

    Cloyne’s pornographic murals cannot mask the fact that it is the incontrovertible truth that the house does have a major substance abuse problem. If Casa Zimbabwe is so concerned that designating Cloyne an academic house will reduce the quality of applicants, as Ms. Kopel claims, then perhaps all BSC houses should be made substance free and academic. Hopefully, however, this discussion will be moot, and tonight’s vote will ratify the BSC plan.

    • partario

      Or, you find ‘where the wild things are’ is pornographic. In which case, you are a lot kinkier than I am.

  • Sherman Boyson

    How can you say that the impressions of Cloyne as a drug den are completely false. How about the current year — check out today’s story in the Chron:
    “A Chronicle review of police records reveals what some members of the
    Berkeley Student Cooperative hope to prevent in the future. … In the past year alone, paramedics have been called to Cloyne three times for injuries or illnesses caused by drugs or alcohol. In each case, students landed in the hospital.”

    False?

    • ahdinosaur

      it’s false because having the paramedics called to Cloyne doesn’t necessarily mean drug overdoses by Clones. to my knowledge, in these cases it was non-Clones at out-of-house parties who drank too much alcohol. please don’t make conclusions about a large group of people by viewing limited information through a lens. :)

    • If you’ve ever lived near the dorms, you’d know the paramedics are called on an almost weekly basis at the beginning of the semester when freshmen learn to test their limits at frat parties. It’s very doubtful that this occurs at Cloyne this frequently.

      Plus, the author of that article you’re referring to is known for being extremely biased against Cloyne. Her writing is almost a work of fiction to anyone who’s ever lived in the house.

  • Guest

    I’m not sure the conception of Cloyne as a wild drug den is so false and that since the overdose 4 years ago (the name of the student who is now in coma because no one at Cloyne called 911 is John Gibson by the way). This is from the SF Chron:
    ——————————–
    “A Chronicle review of police records reveals what some members of the
    Berkeley Student Cooperative hope to prevent in the future. In the past year alone, paramedics have been called to Cloyne three times for injuries or illnesses caused by drugs or alcohol. In each case, students landed in the hospital.”

    Three overdoses in one year? What’s so false about that?

    • getyourfactsstraight

      These cases are not a reflection of the house but rather, the irresponsible students who come to out-of-house parties. Also, they WERE NOT IN ANY WAY OVERDOSES.

      The Chronicle article you’re referencing, for that matter, is a completely biased piece that does not take into consideration a single interview with a member of the house but rather slanders Cloyne as an incurable disease to the BSC. This reporter, in particular, is known for her sensationalism and has a record of putting out extremist pieces about the BSC in an effort to increase viewership. Frankly, I expect a lot more research from the SF Chronicle and further, from readers like you, who fail to consult other sources but rather regurgitate information from fear mongering corporate-sponsored publications.

    • ahdinosaur

      it’s false because having the paramedics called to Cloyne doesn’t necessarily mean drug overdoses by Clones. to my knowledge, in these cases it was non-Clones at out-of-house parties who drank too much alcohol. please don’t make conclusions about a large group of people by viewing limited information through a lens. :)

      • mtaysic

        So they were parties at Cloyne by non-Cloynes? We don’t have any proof of this, but either way the spirit of the community is hosting the space for these occurrences to happen.

        • ahdinosaur

          they were parties at Cloyne open to any UC Berkeley students. the same “spirit” could be said for most coops in the BSC who also host out-of-house parties, Cloyne is no exception. Cloyne is not hosting the space for these occurrences any more than a dry concert venue, some people are just irresponsible.

          • mtaysic

            Having lived at a BSC co-op myself I remember drugs were easily accessible and were being used by residents. In theory, I do believe in personal responsibility but in reality I think students are pretty naive not realizing the consequences of their actions and how they affect the BSC and their school.

    • Sometimes_I_Know

      From a Nov 2013 Berkeleyside Article:
      “According to the Daily Cal, University of California police officers responded to nine reports of alcohol-related illness during move-in weekend alone. Most of those calls were to residence halls. Eight of those required ambulance trips to the emergency room.”

      “I’ve never seen eight in one night,” UCPD Lt. Eric Tejada told the Daily Cal. “We get one to three on a weekend, usually, at least in the first few weeks. To see eight in one night is pretty troubling.”

      Eight “overdoses” in one NIGHT, majority of which came from the dormitories. If I could take a wild guess I’d say 8 in 1 night from the dorms is at least slightly worse than 3 in 1 year from a co-op. I don’t understand how this can perpetuate the label of a drug den at Cloyne, while the residence halls and frats tend to get the ol’ “young college kids just being stupid”

  • noellemac

    Why do they always have to paint the murals? Proposals to solve the “Barrington Problem” were to paint over the murals. Like murals are mind control. So the USCA managed by CO is now the BSA managed by “The cabinet” seems like nothing else has changed/

  • Thea Brown

    I LOVE YOU