Campus & Community

Collectively unique

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.”

Charlotte Lieberman ’13, an English concentrator, is a native of New York City. Her room is decorated with books, posters, and album covers — a “strange mix of things that are sentimental and things that are kind of cheeky.” Charlotte is seated at her desk, where she writes a lot of poetry before she goes to sleep.
Linguistics concentrator Parker Crane ’13 calls Cambridge his hometown. He enjoys the indirect sunshine that bounces off the front porch and gives his room “nice atmospheric light without it being too harsh at any point of the day.”
Zoe Tucker ’13 hails from Newton, Mass. The exceptionally large windows that get good southern light make her room distinctive. Plants, dried flowers, and elegant wall hangings lend a serene atmosphere. The visual and environmental studies concentrator keeps her room very tidy and invests a lot of energy beautifying her space.
Zoe’s family dog, Charles, visits her regularly and makes a sweet companion in her home away from home. The co-op is the only Harvard residence that allows students to keep pets.
Malik Knox ’13 loves having a lot of space in his room for friends to visit. With his busy schedule — the sociology concentrator from Baltimore dedicates a lot of time to theater and dance — he doesn’t have a lot of time to decorate. Malik’s favorite thing is the lava lamp he found in the basement of the co-op: “It’s my friend that I go to sleep with.”
Speaking about the community at the co-op, Malik says, “I love the people here. Everyone is on the same page about being part of a community. We are all different in many ways. We all have each other’s back. I feel like I can be myself here.”
John Aloian ’13, an organismic and evolutionary biology concentrator, calls New Canaan, Conn., his hometown. John favors the slanted ceiling in his room. The sound of rain hitting the roof above him makes him feel as if he is camping, in a tent, or high up in a canopy.
Devi K. Lockwood ’14, a folklore and mythology concentrator, is originally from Ridgefield, Conn. Despite the occasional loud music from the kitchen below, Devi finds her space inviting, relaxing, warm, and cozy.
One of Devi’s windows looks out onto a storefront rooftop. She says, “Whenever it rains, which is frequently around here, you get this puddle for a couple of days on top of the rooftop, and the puddle reflects the sky. I like to write lying on my stomach looking out of that window. The light is really beautiful and it makes me feel connected to water, even though I’m far away from it. As a rower, I’m obsessed with water.”
Ben Whitney ’13 is a mathematics concentrator from Hingham, Mass. The speakers in the room are his favorite feature. He likes to play music that is spare, either in the instrumentation or the landscape that it evokes. The music of James Blake has been dominating these speakers of late.
Bethany Potter ’13, an anthropology concentrator, is a native of Auburn, Maine. Her room on the third floor offers her quiet in the midst of an active house. There are a “million things” she likes about her room, but it is the grand windows she favors most. “I love that I can leave the windows open all night, even if it’s raining, because there is nothing better than that.”
Bethany speaks about the beauty of the co-op: “It’s an intentional community, and I think that’s the linchpin that everything else hinges on. Everyone made a conscious choice to be here and so they are automatically invested. I feel more like a real human being than I did living in a dorm.”