Photos and text by Stephanie Mitchell / Harvard Staff Photographer
5 min read
The Dudley Co-op nurtures personality and community
The Dudley Co-op is a collective of individuals. “Each semester a new crop of students introduces different habits, preferences, and policies to the co-op,” explains Amelia Kaplan ’97. In her undergraduate thesis titled “Don’t Spit in the Soup, We All Have to Eat,” Kaplan, a former co-oper, writes that “the co-op must function as a community in permanent flux: adaptable and transmutable, constantly reinventing itself according to the demands of its members.”
Nestled in a residential neighborhood just outside Harvard Square are two late-19th century Victorians that house the 32 undergraduate students. The architecture features arched ceilings, fireplaces, and built-in bookcases and drawers, and the rooms are decorated with posters, scrolled poetry, guitars, and ukuleles. The spaces are as individualized as the students who reside there. Impeccably neat or strewn with laundry, each room takes on a character of its own.
Despite the distinct personalities that inhabit the house, co-opers jump at the opportunity to praise the community as a creative and supportive place. Charlotte Lieberman ’13 comments, “You know everyone’s name and have some sort of personal connection to them. Everyone truly cares about one another. When someone asks about your day, they actually care about how your day was.”
As a self-governing group, the students must find solidarity in the collective. Kaplan’s thesis title, drawn from a statement written in the dining hall, is a reminder that “each group of co-opers must learn to come together over many issues, and to recognize that what affects one, affects all.”