Berkeley Student Cooperative

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Berkeley Student Cooperative
NicknameThe Co-ops
Legal status501(c)(3)
PurposeStudent housing cooperative
Headquarters2424 Ridge Road, Berkeley, California 94709
Coordinates37°52′32″N 122°15′39″W / 37.875641°N 122.260956°W / 37.875641; -122.260956Coordinates: 37°52′32″N 122°15′39″W / 37.875641°N 122.260956°W / 37.875641; -122.260956
~1250 (academic year)
Shilo Pinto-Quintanila
Executive Director
Kim Benson
Formerly called
  • University of California Student’s Co-operative Association (UCSCA)
  • University Student’s Cooperative Association (USCA)

The Berkeley Student Cooperative (BSC) (formerly known as University Students' Cooperative Association or the USCA) is a student housing cooperative serving primarily UC Berkeley students, but open to any full-time post-secondary student. The BSC houses and/or feeds over 1,300 students in 17 houses and three apartment buildings.[1] Food is provided to residents of the 17 houses, which also offer boarding meal plans to non-residents. Residents of the houses are expected to perform work (typically five hours per week) as part of their rental agreement, which makes the rent lower. The BSC is led by a board of directors which is primarily composed of and elected by the student members.


The University of California Students' Cooperative Association (UCSCA) was founded in 1933 to meet the need for affordable student housing during the Great Depression. Berkeley YMCA director Harry Lees Kingman inspired 14 students to start the first housing cooperative in Berkeley, doing workshifts in exchange for lower rent. In the fall of 1933 the students leased Barrington Hall which housed 48 students. Sherman Hall, Sheridan Hall, and Euclid Hall all opened during this era, as well as Stebbins Hall, the first women's co-op.

After World War II the UCSCA purchased Ridge House and Cloyne Court Hotel to meet the demand from the increase in the student population caused by the GI Bill. Due to changes in state law, the organization changed its name to the University Students' Cooperative Association (USCA).[2] In the 1960s, the co-op opened one of the first co-ed student housing projects in the nation, Ridge Project, later renamed Casa Zimbabwe in the 1980s. The 1960s and 1970s saw a decline in the popularity of the Greek System in Berkeley, which allowed the USCA to purchase defunct sororities which became Davis House, Andres Castro Arms, and Wolf House.

The 1970s saw the opening of Lothlorien Hall, a vegetarian theme house, and Kingman Hall, both of which formerly belonged to small cults (Lothlorien belonging to the One World Family and Kingman Hall to the Berkeley Living Love Center). This decade also saw the construction and opening of the Rochdale Village Apartments, one of BSC's three apartment facilities. The others are Fenwick Weaver's Village and the Northside Apartments. BSC also owns two graduate and re-entry student houses, The Convent and Hillegass/Parker House, formerly Le Chateau.

In 1989, the members of the USCA voted to close Barrington Hall, its largest co-op, in reaction to complaints from neighbors and problems with the City.[3] The following decade also saw the opening of two new theme houses: the African American Theme House, opened in response to the University's closing of all of its theme houses; and, in 1999, Oscar Wilde House. Oscar Wilde House is a former fraternity house, which the USCA was able to buy due to the continuing decline in the popularity of the Greek system in Berkeley.

In 2007, to make itself easier to find online, and to reflect a membership that now also includes community college students, the organization changed its name to the Berkeley Student Cooperative (BSC).[2]

Labor negotiations[edit]

During the 1980s, the permanent staff of the BSC was organized into a collective bargaining unit known as the Employee Association. The last contract expired on December 31, 2012. After tense negotiations, the board of directors approved a new contract in May 2013.


The BSC is governed by a board of directors with 28 voting members. Each of the 17 houses and 3 apartment complexes elects a representative to a 12-month term approximately corresponding the UC Berkeley academic year. Larger houses may have up to 4 representatives. The BSC Alumni Association and Employees Association also each have one representative. At the recommendation of the President, the Board may also seat 1-2 members of the BSC Alumni Association and/or the UC Berkeley faculty as additional Board members. Most decisions are made by majority vote.[4]

The President and Vice presidents, who run committees that screen proposals for the Board, are student members elected by the board to 1-year terms. The BSC also has a permanent staff of approximately 20, including maintenance, office, and food warehouse employees. Staff supervises student managers who handle day-to-day management at the houses and apartment complexes. These managers are elected by their individual houses. Each house also holds councils every week or every other week to set house level policies and allocate house level budgets.[4]


The BSC currently operates 20 houses and apartments (of which it owns 16), housing and/or feeding over 1300 students and ranging from small houses of 17 residents to large houses of over 100 residents. The BSC also owns the former site of Barrington Hall, which it leases to a for-profit landlord.[5][1]

Large houses[edit]

Casa Zimbabwe[edit]

Casa Zimbabwe, known as "Ridge Project" from 1966–1987, now commonly referred to as CZ, is located at 2422 Ridge Road, a block from the North Gate of the University of California, Berkeley campus. The yellow stucco fortress sits on what is referred to as the "Holy Hill", the area surrounding a five-way intersection surrounded on all sides by churches and seminaries, such as the Graduate Theological Union. The BSC central office and central kitchen are located within the Casa Zimbabwe building. CZ houses 124 residents.

Casa Zimbabwe

The residents of Casa Zimbabwe are affectionately referred to as Czars. Residents of Ridge Project were referred to as "Projectiles".


While every other BSC house was a pre-existing structure eventually converted into a co-op, CZ was built from scratch with the specific intent of being used as a cooperative living space. The house is divided into three segments. Residents' rooms are located in the east and west wings, both of which are connected in the middle by two stories of wide open common space. This layout is a legacy as the first co-ed co-op, with the east wing for women and the west wing for men. Such a layout seems to encourage social interaction more so than in some other houses. Presently, men and women live in both wings.

Further evidence of having been built as a student co-op is the strange architecture. While the east wing is three stories tall, the west wing is four stories and is offset downward by half a floor. The stairwells look like their corners were chopped off as an afterthought, and none of the halls are perfectly straight. According to Co-op legends, the architects had originally designed the building to look more normal, like the campus dorms. Since many former dorm-residents move into the co-ops to escape the sterility of dorm life, the architects were asked to re-design the house to look less dorm-like. The steep terrain of the hill contributed to the odd design. The design also provided as many rooms and common areas as possible with sweeping views of the Golden Gate Bridge or the Berkeley Campus.

When CZ opened in 1966, it was known as "Ridge Project" since it shares its lot with Ridge House. In 1987, the house residents successfully petitioned to change the house name to its current one. The name "Casa Zimbabwe" was first proposed in 1983. At that time, the USCA had a Minority Affairs committee that was looking to increase the number of minorities at Berkeley in general and in the co-ops in particular. The word "project" had a negative association with public housing. An additional issue was the frequent confusion between Ridge Project and Ridge House. No satire was intended with the name "Casa Zimbabwe". White minority rule had recently ended in Rhodesia/Zimbabwe, and many believed that Zimbabwe would become a prosperous western-style democracy. In 2002, the residents petitioned to change the name of the house to Krackistan, but the BSC Central Office rejected the proposal outright.[citation needed]

Casa Zimbabwe closed at the end of 2006 in order to perform major seismic retrofitting work. An elevator was also installed to make the building wheelchair accessible. The house was reopened in Fall 2007.

Cloyne Court Hotel[edit]

Cloyne Court Hotel

The Cloyne Court Hotel, often referred to simply as Cloyne, is located at 2600 Ridge Road at Leroy Avenue on the north side of the University of California, Berkeley campus. Cloyne Court was named after Cloyne, the village in Ireland where George Berkeley was bishop.[citation needed]

Cloyne is one of the biggest cooperative houses in the country with 140 residents.[citation needed] Despite its size the house is student-run and student-governed. Since July 2005, a facility manager employed by students lives on the premises to help with day-to-day operations of the house.

Cloyne was built in 1904, as a high-class hotel, operated by the Pierce family, who later bought it from the original investors. The building survived the devastating 1923 Berkeley fire. Cloyne Court was sold by the Pierce family in 1946 to the BSC. In 1972, Cloyne Court became a co-ed house. In 1970, BSC was forced to sell the property to the Regents of the University of California, upon the threat of an eminent domain acquisition by the University, in exchange for a low-cost lease, most recently renewed in July 2005.

The building is one of fifty-six buildings in Berkeley listed in the National Register of Historic Places as well as a City of Berkeley Landmark.

Beginning in Fall 2014 the house became a substance-free and academic themed.

Medium houses[edit]

Andres Castro Arms[edit]

Andres Castro Arms, often referred to as simply Castro, houses 56 residents (known as "Castrati", "Castronauts," "Castruffles," "Castromboli," etc.) and is located about two blocks south-east of the University of California, Berkeley. It was originally designed as a mansion by architect Julia Morgan. Its most distinguishing external feature is the three-story red brick staircase leading up to the Warring entrance.


The house was originally designed in the Mediterranean style by architect Julia Morgan for metallurgist Charles Washington Merrill. The house was built in 1911 at a cost of $21,531 and originally featured an S-shaped driveway running up the steep hill to the house and the interior was elaborately decorated with redwood, pine and oak paneling, similar in many ways to the interior of another Julia Morgan-designed co-op, Davis House, however this was stripped when the house was converted to a sorority.

With the construction in 1923 by the University of California of Memorial Stadium and the International House in 1929 a few houses to the north, the neighborhood, once home to many exclusive and expensive mansions, turned into more of a student-oriented neighborhood dominated by sorority and fraternity houses.

In 1939, Merrill sold the home to the Zeta Tau Alpha sorority. The eighty-four chapter sorority was founded in 1898 and the Upsilon Chapter at Cal was established in 1915 and initially located in a house on Euclid Avenue on the northside. The sorority attempted to make the house look more modernist by stripping the interiors of the woodwork and enclosing the front porch in glass. In 1957, the sorority constructed a wing addition to the house at a cost of $71,500.

In the 1960s, the popularity of the Greek system declined significantly in Berkeley and many sorority and fraternity houses were forced to close for lack of membership. Unable to attract sufficient membership ZTA was forced to close its doors.

The USCA purchased the building in 1971, and decided to name the house in honor of long-time central kitchen cook Andres Castro, who was seriously ill at the time, but later recovered. The BSC initially opened the house as an all-male house, but after the first year in response to the need for more female housing and an overall trend in favor of co-ed housing, the house became co-ed.


California State Historic Resources Inventory, compiled by Sara Holmes Boutelle (author of Julia Morgan – Architect) 8/3/78. Her sources include:

  • Architect and Engineer, November 1918, pg. 66
  • Julia Morgan client list
  • Building permit, issued October 1911
  • Morgan, Julia. Architectural Drawings – House for Mr. C.W. Merrill; West Elevation; First Floor Plan; Interiors. October 1911. Repository – Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association.

Davis House[edit]

Davis House is located at 2833 Bancroft Steps, which is a pedestrian pathway between the Alpha Phi Sorority and Davis House, behind the International House and near California Memorial Stadium. The house can hold 36 residents and has always been co-ed. Residents of the house are known as Davisaurs. The house has been referred to as "the retirement home". This is because the house is mainly occupied by 4th years. As a result, the house is quiet most nights, compared to other coops.


The building was originally built in 1913 as the Richard Clark house, a single-family mansion, supposedly to house the son of one of the Hearst family's attorneys while he attended school at the University of California.[citation needed] The house was designed by architect Julia Morgan, who also designed two other current BSC houses, Wolf House and Andres Castro Arms. The beautiful interiors are described by Sara Holmes Boutelle in her book Julia Morgan: Architect: "Morgan gave free play to her love of complexity in the wood-paneled living room, dining room, and library, all of which have fireplaces with elaborate mantels. The living-room mantel is carved of oak, showing acorns, leaves, birds, and squirrels; another has classical details; brackets in the hall and on yet another fireplace, in the library, repeat the Tudor rose."[6]

With the completion of Memorial Stadium in 1923 and the International House in 1929, the neighborhood transferred from one of quiet, expensive mansions into a student-oriented neighborhood dominated by sorority and fraternity houses. At some point during this time, the house became a sorority (Alpha Xi Delta) and several additions were made to the building, including a sleeping porch with a deck above that features an expansive view of San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge.

With the 1960s, the popularity of the Greek system in Berkeley saw a steady decline. Many sorority and fraternity houses were forced to close for want of members, including this one.

In 1969, BSC purchased the building from the sorority for use as a co-op, one of several former Greek houses it acquired during this era. The price was $75,000 (1969 dollars) and another $40,000 or so was spent on interior modifications, including changing the sleeping porch into private rooms. The house opened to residents in January 1970.

Davis House was established for juniors, seniors and graduate students, and was unique for its time in that members prepared all their own meals, including dinners, rather than obtaining them from the BSC's Central Kitchen on Northside. Like all co-ops, each member had a five-hour workshift every week, and for seven of the members, cooking dinner was the shift. They were free to select what would be served. Breakfasts and lunches were prepared individually by the residents, and at holidays such as Thanksgiving sumptuous meals would be created for which all the students wore their finest.

Three marriages resulted from the first 34 charter members.

The area has seen much change in the past year. California Memorial Stadium has been renovated to its original 1920's condition. The houses surrounding Davis house were retrofitted over the summer of 2012. During this same summer Davis house was repainted. The entire area has been restored to mid century look.

Hillegass/Parker House[edit]

Hillegass/Parker House is a student housing cooperative in Berkeley, California. It is part of the BSC coop system.

From the 1970s until 2005, Hillegass/Parker (AKA HiP House) was the site of Le Chateau, a large undergraduate co-op for 90 residents. After Barrington Hall closed, Le Chateau became "the black sheep" of the BSC system.[7] Housing values rose in the southside neighborhood it occupied, and neighbors organized to file 20 small claims court cases at once against BSC. BSC offered to evict everybody and install new undergraduates if the neighbors would drop the suits, but they refused. BSC decided to meet the neighbors' request to convert the building into a graduate/re-entry co-op, which opened in Fall 2005.

HiP House consists of three large houses, with a large kitchen in the central Main house. Additionally, it has a large backyard which was re-landscaped during the conversion. One of the house's major perks, the swimming pool in the backyard, was cemented over in order to appease neighbors. There is also a large roof deck on top of Main house. Residents of this house are known as HiPpos.

Hoyt Hall[edit]

Hoyt Hall

Hoyt Hall was purchased by the USCA in 1953.[2] It is located on the Northside of the UC Berkeley campus, on a block which holds four other BSC properties. Hoyt is one of two women-only houses in BSC, and houses 60 women during the school year. During the summer, the house becomes coed.

Here is a description about the house from a Hoytian who lived there for roughly two years (Spring 2012-Summer 2013): "From hippy to preppy to everything in between, there is no dominant house culture or lifestyle here. Everyone is welcome. We have well-kept couches, an enormous TV, one of the best free piles in the co-op system, two roofs (one complete with a laundry line, the other with a view of the bay), 25-cent laundry, an in-house store with snacks and green books, a study room with cheap printing, an urban garden with herbs and strawberries and poppies, and a popcorn machine (for those of you addicted to nutritional yeast popcorn). We have a semesterly wine and cheese night, silly song and story night, weekly study halls, and fancy, delicious special dinners! But it's the people that make Hoyt. Our community provides love and support for each other and upholds a safe and empowering space. This is not just another place to stay. This is Hoyt. Welcome to our home."

Kingman Hall[edit]

Kingman Hall is located at 1730 La Loma Avenue on the northeast corner of the University of California, Berkeley campus. Kingman houses 50 residents, known as Toads. It is named after Harry Kingman, the former YMCA director who inspired 14 students to start USCA in 1933. The house was designated a City of Berkeley Landmark in January 1999.


The house at 1730 La Loma Avenue was designed by the San Francisco architects Drysdale and Thomson and originally built as a chapter house for the Theta Xi fraternity in 1914 by Barry Building Co. of Oakland. The building survived the devastating 1923 Berkeley Fire, which burned close to 600 buildings north of the Berkeley campus. The Nu chapter of Theta Xi resided there until 1964, when the fraternity was disbanded owing to anti-Greek sentiment on the Berkeley campus.

The house was almost sold to developers as a site for high-rise apartments, but instead embarked on a more bizarre career. From 1964 to 1969, it was known as Toad Hall and served as a rooming house for male students. In 1969, it was purchased by a Hayward attorney named Harold Mefford, who rented out the house to non-students as well. The house reportedly functioned more as a commune than a rooming house and housed at most 50% students.

One of the residents was Joy, Country Joe McDonald's personal secretary, who lived in a basement room. Author/Merry Prankster Ken Kesey (not to be confused with author/future owner Ken Keyes, Jr.) and musician David Crosby used to buy their drugs from a Toad Hall dealer,[citation needed] and their cars were often seen parked in front of the house.

In 1973, Mefford sold the building for $127,000, to Ken Keyes, Jr., author of Living Love – a Way to Higher Consciousness and the building became the Berkeley Living Love Center. "The Living Love Way" was disseminated via broadcasts on KQED-FM every Saturday evening. A 52-hour morning-noon-and-night group workshop, designed by Keyes, offered the opportunity for a breakthrough toward higher consciousness. The LLC claimed tax exemption as a religious organization and operated on a non-profit basis.

On November 22, 1976, the center approached the city of Berkeley with an offer to donate the property for park use if it could be determined that it was located on the Hayward Fault line. They did this because they felt it would be a violation of the "Law of Higher Consciousness" to simply sell the property to someone else.

For whatever reason, this fell through and the building was sold in 1977 to BSC for $300,000. The Living Love Center relocated to a 115-acre (0.47 km2) farm-university in St. Mary, Kentucky. The house was renamed Kingman Hall, after Harry L. Kingman, director of the local University YMCA who encouraged the BSC founders to start a housing cooperative in 1933.

Landmark status[edit]

In 1998–1999, in response to the residents' application to construct a deck on the roof of the building, the neighbors sought landmark designation for the building, previously considered eligible, in an attempt to block the group's permit application. Although the house was designated a landmark and the Landmarks Preservation Commission denied the application for a permit to build a roof deck, the group's appeal to the Berkeley City Council was successful, the permit was issued with use restrictions, and the deck built. Kingman residents are not allowed to use the deck after 9 pm.

  • State of California Historic Resources Inventory, 2/13/79, compiled by Betty Marvin
  • City of Berkeley Landmark Application, 11/98, written by Daniella Thompson
  • "A Center for happiness?" Berkeley Gazette, Saturday, April 14, 1973.
  • "Student Co-op Buys Living Love Home" Daily Californian, May 24, 1977.
  • G.A. Pettitt, Berkeley, the Town & Gown of It, 1973.
External links[edit]


Lothlorien, known by residents as "Loth", is the BSC's vegetarian theme house. It houses 57 residents. As such, all house-bought food is vegetarian and house bylaws prohibit the preparation, storage, or consumption of meat in common space. Because of this, many residents of Lothlorien are vegetarians and vegans, but diet is not a condition of residence and meat-eating members are quite common. Aside from being a vegetarian house, Lothlorien tries to buy as much locally sourced and organic foods as possible. Elves buying food for the house frequent the Downtown Berkeley Farmers' Market. In 2010, Lothlorien was the first co-op house to install photovoltaic solar panels.

Lothlorien consists of two adjacent houses: North House at 2405 Prospect Street, and South House at 2415 Prospect Street. The two houses surround a common courtyard area and share a communal kitchen and dining room in the South House. The wall in the courtyard is an open mural space on which any "elf", as the residents are known, can paint, draw, carve, paste, etc. following environmental guidelines as set by house policy.


Lothlorien's North House (2405 Prospect) originally stood in the middle of the Channing circle, where Channing Way meets Piedmont Avenue. It was a mansion owned by the Maxwell family, known in the area as Maxwell House. Near the turn of the 20th century, the family decided they wanted a better view, put the house on logs and rolled it up the hill to its present location next to South House.

South House was a sorority during the 1920s, and was later bought by the One World Family,[citation needed] a sex-cult led by Allen Michael that was known for its eccentric beliefs. The USCA, now the BSC, bought the building in 1975.

House traditions[edit]
  • Along with the policy of not buying meat, the house buys much of its produce from the Downtown Berkeley Farmers' Market, which is all organic and locally sourced, in addition to the Co-op Central Kitchen.
  • The house has three bylaws: No television in common space (though in recent years a projector has been used for communal viewings); Consent is mandatory; No meat in common space (kitchen, foyer, etc.).
  • Residents of Lothlorien are known as elves, because the house was named after Lothlórien in J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy book The Lord of the Rings which was inhabited by elves.
  • Lothlorien adopted consensus decision-making for its weekly house councils in 1981 after an alumnus, who had learned the Quaker-derived process as a grad student at Synergy House Co-op at Stanford, offered a workshop on the process for his old home. Lothlorien uses this model of decision-making to this day.

Lothlorien is currently the only BSC house to make decisions by consensus, rather than by vote. The house Council meets weekly, and usually consists of member reports, coordinator reports and motions. A motion is brought to Council by members and non-members alike, and may range in topic from asking to stay as a guest to using money from the maintenance budget to buy materials to paint a mural. A motion passes when all those present at council come to consensus on the issue. If an elf feels they cannot agree with the motion, they may "major object" or "minor object" to it (for a motion to fail, a minimum one is needed of the former objection and 3 of the latter).

As at other houses, elected residents serve as coordinators: House Coordinator, Kitchen Coordinator, Maintenance Coordinator, Workshift Coordinator, Waste Reduction Coordinator, Garden Coordinator, Social Coordinator, Health Worker, Policy Coordinator, Network Manager (Internet), and Finance Elf. Lothlorien is the only house without a president—rather, Lothlorien has a "Policy Coordinator", who is responsible for keeping record of the house's motion history.

External links[edit]

Oscar Wilde House[edit]

The Oscar Wilde House, often referred to simply as Wilde House, is located on Warring Street, in the heart of UC Berkeley's fraternity row, and was a former fraternity house. Its residents have chosen the nickname, "wildebeests". Opened in 1999, Wilde House was one of the first gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender-themed (LGBT) student housing cooperative in the United States. It houses 38 residents. It is named after Oscar Wilde.

Wilde house was a major source of inspiration for Ant Hill Cooperative in upstate New York.

Ridge House[edit]

The front door of Ridge House at 2420 Ridge Road

Ridge House is a converted mansion, now affiliated with the Berkeley Student cooperative. The House is co-ed and houses 38 university students (also known as 'Scorpions'). Located at 2420 Ridge Road, one block North of the UC Berkeley Campus, it is bordered to the west by the library of the Graduate Theological Union and greater "God Quad," as the neighborhood is often irreverently called. Surrounded mostly by brown-stone and slate roofed churches dating to the late 19th century, Ridge House has an expansive view of the Bay and San Francisco. Immediately adjacent to Ridge is Casa Zimbabwe. The two houses are joined at the hip by a structure added to the house in the mid 1960s, built at the time of CZ, (Casa Zimbabwe's) (then Ridge Project). The addition of this structure, which residents have affectionately dubbed the air-lock, expanded the capacity of Ridge from 28 residents to 38. Ridge House had also been modified during its conversion to a Co-op, by expanding the second floor onto what had formerly been the veranda, thereby moving the expansive deck to what is now the third floor.

The picturesque interior of Ridge House frequently serves as host to the BSC alumni association (BSCAA) as well as BSC functions and reunions.


The co-op is a faux Tudor mansion built in 1906 during the Decorative Art's Movement by John Galen Howard, noted architect of Doe Library and Sather Tower. Ridge House was commissioned by the University of California Berkeley for a prospective faculty member, who ultimately turned down the offer and the estate. The land, and historic Ridge House remained in University hands for a time, during which it was the temporary private residence of the Hearst children during their undergraduate years at U.C. Berkeley. Following its use by the Hearst family, the house became a sorority house for the University. As a co-op, Ridge House, purchased by the Berkeley Student Cooperative, (formerly the University Student Cooperative Association) in 1944, was originally all-male, but was later opened to all gender identities. Although now retrofitted for the purposes of student housing, there are still four working Rumford fireplaces, exposed, half-timber redwood beams, a secret passageways and the remnants of an archaic subterranean speaker system used to pipe chamber music into various rooms of the house. The Second floor of the house has retained most of the original features of the home. This included the Ballroom, which has remained largely intact and now serves as the Dining room for the Ridgelings. The former dining room, found on the same floor was converted into an extension of the kitchen following a remodeling of this space in 1989. This reutilization included the construction of a second door to the kitchen and the concealment of the dining room fireplace behind a false wall. Changes to this floor also included the conversion of the balcony on this floor into an additional room, with the balcony elevated to the third-floor. While the library and drawing room have been both converted into living spaces, Ridge House none-the-less maintains the greatest ratio of common space to numbers of residents, per capita, of houses in the BSC. Ridge currently sits on roughly 1/2 acre of land, all that remains of the original parcel that once span from Euclid Avenue to Scenic. While the land to the east is now occupied by Casa Zimbabwe (formerly known as Ridge Project), the two houses share a common courtyard and Ridge maintains an ample garden, which services both as a respite from urban living and a way of growing fresh fruits and veggies for its members.

In 2012, Ridge House celebrated its 75-year of affiliation with the Berkeley Student Cooperative. In 2014, Ridge House was structurally retrofitted to enable it to better withstand seismic stress.

Film credits[edit]

The short film "Peep Show" (originally produced for Campus Moviefest by Ridgeling Kyan Krumdieck and shown at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival) was in part filmed at Ridge House.


Prominent alums of Ridge House include:

  • Charles Furguson III, Oscar-winning filmmaker and documentarian.
  • William Randolph Hearst Jr. (son of the prominent newspaper baron)
  • Norman Mineta, former US Secretary of Transportation.

Sherman Hall[edit]

Sherman Hall houses 40 women (called Shermaids, Shermanites, or Shermanistas) and is one of the two women-only houses in BSC. Sherman is located on the South Side of Berkeley near the California Memorial Stadium and IHouse on 2250 Prospect Street. Nearby co-ops include Davis (next-door), Castro, Afro, and Loth. Many vegan or vegetarian Shermanites board at Loth (the vegetarian-themed house) in order to have both a high standard of living (Sherman is known for its cleanliness) while simultaneously meeting their dietary needs.

Sherman was originally a sorority house, but was purchased by the BSC in the 1940s. Since then it has housed all women, except during the summer, when it is open to men as well. Sherman Hall will be undergoing a retrofit during the summer of 2012.

Stebbins Hall[edit]

Stebbins Hall

Stebbins Hall is located on the north side of the University of California, Berkeley campus, on the lot of the Pierce family's original Victorian home. The Pierces were a wealthy family, responsible for many architectural landmarks in the city of Berkeley. They built the Cloyne Court Hotel, a "high class modern apartment house" in 1904, which was later converted into another student co-op. In 1927, the Pierce house was torn down to make way for Hotel Slocum. The University Student Cooperative Association purchased the property in 1950[citation needed] as a site for the first all-women cooperative house, and it remained this way until 1971 when Stebbins Hall became coed.[8]

The green hands on the front of the building were painted by residents of Cloyne as a prank, when Cloyne was all men and Stebbins was all women. Residents refer to themselves as "Stebbinites," and claim the lizard as their mascot.

Stebbins Hall is named after Lucy Ward Stebbins, former Dean of Women at University of California, Berkeley. During her time in office, she increased the enrollment of women from 1,200 to 6,400 by raising money for scholarships, expanding curriculum, encouraging women to participate in student government, and creating housing opportunities. During her office, the schools of Nursing and Social welfare were established, as well as the departments of Decorative Arts and Home Economics. Lucy Ward also founded the Women's Faculty Club, one of the earliest female faculty organizations to exist at a co-ed university.[9] In the summer of 2013 there was an attempt to change the name of the hall to the cool and modern Two Hand House, however the motion was ultimately defeated.

Stebbins Hall houses 64 students during the school year and 41 or more in the summer.[10]

Small houses[edit]

African American Theme House[edit]

The African American Theme House is located close to the University of California, Berkeley, near Memorial Stadium and the International House. It is the second smallest house in the BSC and houses 21 residents (11 during summer). The house is open to all students, not just African American students. House members promote the theme by doing community service and hosting student group events. The building was originally the Slavic House for the University of California, Berkeley. BSC bought the house in 1997 and converted it to an African American themed cooperative.

The African American Theme House is one of two themed houses in BSC.

African-American Theme House members affectionately call each other "Afros" and the house "Afro House."

The Convent[edit]

The Convent is located at 1601 Allston Street, about a mile from the UC Campus. Because it is located on University of California property, all residents are required to be UC students (as is also true of Cloyne Court).

Until the opening of the Hillegass/Parker House coop in 2005, The Convent was the only BSC coop housing only graduate and re-entry students, and the only coop in which all residents had single rooms. With an older resident population and a more isolated location, it has a reputation for being quieter and cleaner than other coops.[citation needed]

The Convent gets its name from the fact that it occupies a former convent. Its rec room is a converted chapel, and like the building, has kept the name.

Euclid Hall[edit]

Euclid is one of the smaller BSC houses, with 24 residents. The residents of Euclid Hall are affectionately referred to as Euclidians. It is named after Euclid Avenue, the main street leading north into the hills above the Berkeley campus.

Euclid Hall was originally the University of California Japanese Students' Club, built after the 1923 Berkeley fire destroyed the building which previously stood on the location. During World War II, when Japanese and Japanese Americans were forcibly removed from the west coast, the building was leased to BSC, which returned it to a JSC alumni group, the Nisei Alumni of the University of California, in 1947. The building reopened in the spring semester of 1948 as Euclid Hall, and was open to students of any background, with preference given to Nisei students without housing. In 1967, faced with declining occupancy, Euclid Hall was re-leased to BSC, which eventually purchased it in 1972.

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Kidd Hall[edit]

Alexander Mardsen Kidd Hall houses 17 students; the smallest house in BSC. Located in a wooded neighborhood two blocks north of the UC Berkeley campus, Kidd Hall features a backyard redwood forest-niche intersected by Strawberry Creek. The house also features a basketball court and one of few wheelchair accessible rooms in BSC.

Kidd Hall has 7 double rooms and 3 highly prized single rooms after reconstruction in 1989 which converted two triple rooms into three singles and a double.

Wolf House[edit]

Wolf House houses 29 residents, known as wolves. The house is located one house down from Piedmont Avenue between the Wright Institute and Kappa Kappa Gamma, and two blocks from the University of California. This is part of the Southside area of Berkeley, an area dominated by sororities and fraternities.

The house was built by Julia Morgan for the Rector of St. Mark's Church, the Rev. Edward L. Parsons, in 1905 and originally situated just above Telegraph Avenue on Durant at 2532. In 1915, with the commercialization of the neighborhood, the family of Rev. Parsons decided to have the house moved up Durant Avenue to 2732, next to the corner of Piedmont. At that time the front porch was enclosed and the location of the front door changed to fit the lot, under the supervision of the architect. When Rev. Parsons became the Episcopal Bishop of California, the family moved to San Francisco. The house was first rented and then sold. The house was the location of a sorority before being bought by BSC in 1974.

In 2002, to make the building accessible to disabled residents, BSC added a ramp that ran the length of the house along Durant to the front door, bisecting the front stairs.


State Historical Resources Inventory, August 15, 1978, compiled by Sara Holmes Boutelle (author – Julia Morgan, Architect). Her sources include:

  • Julia Morgan's client notations, 1905 and 1915
  • Building Permit, April 8, 1905
  • Correspondence with Miss Harriet T. Parsons, daughter of the Bishop


Fenwick Weaver's Village[edit]

The Fenwick Weaver's Village, commonly known as Fenwick, is an apartment complex located on the Southside of the UC Berkeley campus. Fenwick houses 102 residents in one-bedroom to four-bedroom apartments.

Northside Apartments[edit]

The Northside Apartments are an apartment complex in Berkeley, California, which are part of the BSC co-op system. All the apartments are studios or one-bedroom apartments, and are highly prized in BSC. Due to BSC's seniority system for allocating apartments, most of the inhabitants of the Northside Apartments are graduate students or long-term (more than 4-year) undergrads who've been members of BSC for most of their time at Berkeley.

Unlike the other BSC houses, which are more like student-run dorms, BSC's three apartment complexes have no food service, and much lighter workshift requirements.

Rochdale Apartments[edit]

The Rochdale Apartments is an apartment complex in Berkeley, California, which is part of the BSC coop system. Rochdale Village was named after the English town of Rochdale, Greater Manchester, where the Rochdale Pioneers developed the Rochdale Principles of cooperation

In 1970, the City of Berkeley, the University of California, and the Berkeley Student Cooperative (BSC) entered into a visionary collaborative to expand the supply of low-cost housing for University students. The result was the financing and construction of Rochdale Village, one of the first student housing projects in the nation to receive HUD (United States Department of Housing and Urban Development) financing under the sponsorship of an independent nonprofit student housing organization.

The apartments were constructed in 1971 on the site of a former Berkeley public school, the McKinley Continuation School which closed down in the late 1960s, and except for its Haste Street Annex building (now restored, but moved to a new location), was razed.

Almost forty years later, Rochdale Village still plays a critical role in the supply of low-cost apartment housing for an ethnically and economically diverse group of UC Berkeley students. Rents are as low as $1,788 per member per semester, qualifying Rochdale Village as perhaps the most affordable student housing in the City. Almost 80% of the 259 current residents of Rochdale Village participate in the University's Educational Opportunity Program,[11] reserved for students of a low-income or educationally disadvantaged background.

Rochdale Village also serves as a lynchpin of the University's support system for disabled students. For disabled students on SSI, Rochdale Village is virtually the only affordable housing near campus. Each year BSC continues to add additional disabled accessible units to the seven that already exist at Rochdale Village.

Governed and run by UC students according to cooperative principles, Rochdale Village also serves as a community center and leadership development hub for a number of student organizations, including Hermanos Unidos and Raza.

In addition to paying off the HUD loan of more than $2 million without default, BSC has invested several million more in maintaining and improving Rochdale Village. Among these investments are "energy saving" improvements, including an extensive array of solar panels on the roof and high-efficiency furnaces and water heaters.

At the end of the Spring Semester of 2009, the ground lease between the UC Regents and the Berkeley Student Cooperative will end. The land and all of the improvements will then revert to the University. The student residents of Rochdale formed a "Save Rochdale; Save our Home" [2] campaign in November 2009 and renewed the lease for 10 years under the same conditions.

Defunct co-ops[edit]

The following facilities were once owned and operated by BSC, but are now closed or otherwise defunct.

  • Unnamed(?) rooming house in the Southside neighborhood (Spring 1933)[3]
  • First Barrington Hall (1933-1935)[3]
  • Second Barrington Hall (1935–1943; 1950-1989)[12]
  • Sheridan Hall (1934–1943)[3]
  • Atherton (1937-~1942)[3]
  • Oxford Hall (1938–1977), original location of Central Kitchen (CK), leased until purchase in 1963[3][2]
  • First Kingman Hall (Likely the late 1930's-1946) (same location as the first Barrington Hall)[3]
  • Lexington Hall (~1942-1948), leased from the Japanese Students Club in response to the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II; later became Euclid Hall[3]
  • The first Rochdale (1943-1945), a 16-woman leasehold house[3]
  • House in San Francisco's Buena Vista neighborhood (~1944-1957)[3]
  • Eisenfitz, Clod-haven, and Ridge Annex (1959-1960)[3]
  • Le Chateua (1977-2005), converted to Hillegass-Parker House in response to lawsuit[13]

Central co-op services[edit]

The BSC's Central Office

Right below Casa Zimbabwe are the BSC's Central Office and the Central Kitchen and Central Maintenance facilities.

Central Office handles all of the applications to BSC and determines where members will be placed. Placement is based on how long the applicant has been a member of BSC, the member's preferences, and the number of vacancies in their preferred house(s).

Central Kitchen handles and delivers the food orders for all of the houses but not the apartments. Food orders are handled on the house level by the Food or Kitchen Managers. Central Kitchen also handles the supply orders for all of the houses, such as toilet paper and cleaning supplies, as well as the furniture orders for both the houses and the apartments.

Central Maintenance is responsible for major work on the houses, including major projects or renovations. Most minor work is handled by house Maintenance Managers.

Priority for disadvantaged students[edit]

The BSC offers priority to students in the UC Berkeley Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) (or equivalent at their respective college or university), students with disabilities, transfer students, undocumented students, and international students studying abroad at a University of California campus.[14][15]


At the house or apartment complex level, residents have the option of electing a "WRM" Waste-reduction Manager. These managers are responsible for recycling plastics, glass, paper, cardboard as well as composting. Waster-reduction Managers usually maintain color-coded bins, post information sheets and hold workshops/seminars to help residents make sustainable choices. WRMs can fine residents who do not follow house/apartment sustainability policies. The BSC also incorporates food waste reduction strategies into its food management system, by coordinating collections of compost.[16] Cooperative living is sustainable in the sense that group living involves shared meals and facilities that can contribute to less waste, reduction in resource use, and collaboration in sustainable efforts.[17]

Famous BSC alumni[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Berkeley Student Cooperative General Information". Berkeley Student Cooperative. November 27, 2012. Retrieved September 15, 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d "History of the BSC". Archived from the original on October 18, 2010. Retrieved 2010-10-23.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Harper, Will (1973). Cheap Place to Live. John Nishinaga. Retrieved January 17, 2019.
  4. ^ a b "BSC Policy Wiki". BSC Policy. Retrieved 2012-01-17.
  5. ^ "Ownership Status - BSC Policy". Berkeley Student Cooperative. February 8, 2015. Retrieved January 18, 2019.
  6. ^ "VLN: Julia Morgan 1912–1913". Retrieved 2010-10-24.
  7. ^ Harper, Will. "Maison des Animaux | Columns". East Bay Express. Retrieved 2010-10-24.
  8. ^ New Co-op Waits Student Boarders. Berkeley Daily Gazette. August 25, 1941.
  9. ^ Lucy Ward Stebbins, Economics: Berkeley. calisphere (University of California).
  10. ^ "Stebbins Hall". Archived from the original on 2011-07-25. Retrieved 2010-10-24.
  11. ^ [1] Archived October 27, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ Gasper, Krista (2002). Counterculture’s Last Stand: The Fall of Barrington Hall. John Nishinaga. Retrieved January 17, 2019.
  13. ^ Artz, Matthew (August 26, 2005). "New Life for Troubled Le Chateau". Berkeley Daily Planet. Berkeley, California. Retrieved January 17, 2019.
  14. ^ Berkeley Student Cooperative. "General Information". Berkeley Student Cooperative. Berkeley Student Cooperative. Retrieved January 23, 2019.
  15. ^ Berkeley Student Cooperative. "Assignment of Spaces". BSC Policy Wiki. Berkeley Student Cooperative. Retrieved January 23, 2019.
  16. ^ "Waste Reduction - Sustainability". Retrieved 2017-02-16.
  17. ^ "Sustainability". Retrieved 2017-02-16.
  18. ^ a b c d Boone, Alastair; Adler, Sarah (Spring 2017). "Our House: Chaos and Creation in the Berkeley Student Cooperative". California Magazine. Berkeley, California: California Alumni Association. Retrieved January 18, 2019.
  19. ^ Martinez, Michael (December 21, 2004). "Taming an `Animal House'". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 18 January 2019.

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