Campus & Community

Inside the Dudley House Co-op

4 min read

Where the nonconformist gets domestic

The Dudley Co-op is Harvard’s sole on-campus alternative to the traditional House system. Thirty-two undergraduates live in a pair of Victorian houses nestled in a residential neighborhood just outside Harvard Square. The students buy food, cook, clean, and meet regularly to make decisions as a community.

Zoe Tucker ’13, one of the two co-op presidents, explains that Dudley attracts students “with a lot of different expectations, interests, and routines, which is part of the beauty of our co-op.”

Chores are divided up, using a point system that takes into account desirability and demand. Every day contains 11 regular chores. Students sign up every two weeks for their share of cooking, bread- and hummus-making, sweeping, tidying, and kitchen and bathroom cleaning.

One recent evening, three Dudley residents prepared dinner. Tucker and Charlotte Lieberman ’13 cooked a vegan meal, while Xanthia Tucker ’13 baked chocolate cupcakes for dessert. With ease, the three women organized a feast of honey, lemon, cayenne-roasted broccoli, grilled tempeh (marinated in soy sauce and maple syrup), eggplant coconut curry, farro with roasted beets and apples, green salad, and the cupcakes (the recipe was taken from the “Flour” cookbook by alumna Joanne Chang, Class of ’91).

As the women expertly prepared the evening meal, the conversation swirled around art, literature, film, and poetry. Fellow residents dropped in to peek at preparations and sample the menu.

As the serving platters hit the table, the industrial-sized sink filled with trays, bowls, and pots. Above the sink, a sign reads: “We are not in the least afraid of pots. We are going to inherit the kitchen; there is no doubt about that. The bourgeoisie might blast and ruin its own kitchen before it leaves the stage of history. We carry a new kitchen here, in our hearts. That kitchen is growing in this minute.”

Reworking the words of Buenaventura Durruti (1896-1936), a leading anarchist militant in Spain during the 1920s and ’30s, the scenario imagines the pots, encrusted in grease and crumbs, doing battle with kitchen workers. A nod to the leftist leanings of the occupants, it is a fitting sentiment for the nontraditional residence within the House system at Harvard.

Harvard undergraduate students at the Dudley Co-op prepare meals for the House’s 32 residents. Zoe Tucker ’13, Charlotte Lieberman ’13, and Xanthia Tucker ’13 prepare a vegan dinner with chocolate cupcakes (decidedly non-vegan). Tucker (left) and Lieberman peel cloves of garlic for their recipe.
Zoe Tucker ’13, one of the two co-op presidents, prepares tempeh, slicing the whole soybean slabs into rhombus-shaped pieces. She then marinates them with soy sauce and maple syrup before grilling.
Too many cooks in the kitchen? Xanthia Tucker ’13 (from left), Zoe Tucker ’13, and Charlotte Lieberman ’13 work around each other.
Zoe Tucker ’13 (left) and Charlotte Lieberman ’13 prepare grilled tempeh and roasted broccoli for two of the main courses.
Xanthia Tucker ’13 prepares the salad for the meal, tossing the lettuce with homemade vinaigrette.
In the kitchen, spices and herbs line the shelves in an eclectic mix of recycled bottles.
Zoe Tucker ’13 (left) and Charlotte Lieberman ’13 prepare farro, a grain, with roasted beets and apples and broccoli roasted with honey, lemon, and cayenne.
Charlotte Lieberman ’13 adds a dash of seasoning.
Xanthia Tucker ’13 plates chocolate cupcakes for dessert. The recipe she uses is from the Flour Bakery cookbook, written by Joanne Chang ’91.
Alex Traub ’13 (left) looks on as Zoe Tucker ’13 writes the dinner menu on the whiteboard. The menu includes honey-lemon-cayenne-roasted broccoli, grilled tempeh marinated in soy sauce and maple syrup, eggplant coconut curry, farro with roasted beets and apples, green salad, and chocolate cupcakes.
Sitting down for a family-style dinner are Alex Traub ’13 (counterclockwise from left), Charlotte Lieberman ’13, Keerthi Reddy ’14, her brother, Karthik Reddy, who is at the Law School, and Ben Whitney ’13, one of the two co-op presidents.
Amanda Hameline ’12, a guest of the co-op, and Alex Traub ’13 share a moment in the kitchen.