If you're looking to start a co-op, don't look for any co-op from the College. On one level, the breakdown of the co-op initiative, led by Ruth Morrison, Katherine Kirklin, and Mike Taylor, is curious; Bowdoin, after all, prides itself on the visibility and responsiveness of its administration. Students can easily meet with the President, the deans, and other College leaders to voice concerns, have questions answered, and propose changes. For such a small college, Bowdoin offers students a great deal of opportunity to implement their own ideas, programs, and activities, for which the College only benefits.
The co-op proposal was a significant one, thoughtfully conceived and proposed, and it would have been an extensive project. Indeed, despite the dissolution of the formal housing proposal, the project is not entirely dead, as would-be participants still plan to gather for one co-op meal a week next year. But ultimately, the restrictions the College was placing on the co-op project, motivated by concerns over "theme" housing, fire regulations, and board transfer policies, made the entire undertaking unrealistic.
We agree with Dean Bradley's belief that this particular project would not have constituted a "theme house," as it would have been established through the traditional housing lottery. And while we are sympathetic to the concerns about "theme" housing on a close-knit residential campus, we also realize that the house system created by the 1997 commission is frequently of inconsistent quality. The system struggles from year to year, at the mercy of inconsistent student interest, occasionally inadequate student leadership, and its various member houses' earned reputations, deserved or not. Proposed reforms and innovations in the housing system should not be offhandedly dismissed.
By and large, we believe the College's housing options to be excellent?but that is no justification for shortchanging new initiatives. The co-op effort may have been unsuccessful, but we hope it will leave a legacy?inspiring student interest in fostering a more responsive and active residential environment.