I moved into Cloyne because of the corrugated-plastic, Clone-built greenhouse—old Clones remember the garden manager that installed it—that stands in the courtyard between our lawn and the now-harvestable chard and arugula patch. When I was taking my first tour of the house, I had just finished working at a farm where I had learned about organic vegetable production. I was in the midst of changing my major to Conservation and Resource Studies with a focus in Sustainable Agriculture. I work at Igancio Chapela’s microbiology lab on the UC Berkeley campus doing research on GMOs. I have volunteered at numerous community gardens. I am an aspiring farmer. I was titillated by the resources and access to land that Cloyne would afford me to actuate my studies and passions at my home.
I was put on garden crew for my first semester at Cloyne and began using our waste streams of coffee grounds and egg shells to build up the depleted soil for the long future I imagined for garden crew. I reorganized the greenhouse and began heirloom plant starts…which over a year later are highly productive chard, cilantro and arugula plants. I pruned the trees and dried the herbs. This was home and my friends and fellow housemates supported me.
I became garden manager my second semester here at Cloyne and put in a pollinator hedge row and planted drought-resistant California natives, looking forward to the future: (we would need bees and butterflies to pollinate our vegetables, and water is a valuable resource we did not want to waste). I was able to apply the sustainable agriculture methods I was learning in class and at other community gardens, and was lucky enough to have peers willing to fund it.
This is my third semester at Cloyne. It is spring and I am still garden manager. Our cherry trees are blossoming. Just last week I organized the donation of 15 cubic yards of mulch from a local arborist. I explained to the house that this was a good way to reduce erosion and soil evaporation. Cloyne rallied around me. Even though the deliver happened when I was in class, 15 Clones put on their work boots and spread the load across the yard. By the time I got home from classes, the yard had a nice even layer of mulch. This community support, access to land, and apt resources for gardening would not be possible if I lived alone, in a small house with friends, or in any other co-op.
Today, February 14, 2014 I rented out the BSC truck with one of my garden crew members to pick up ferns to go under our redwood tree, spring flowers for the newly-finished hillside terrace, and drought-resistant succulents to add to our front yard. We are now planting plants with no idea who is going to take care of them in the summer and beyond. I love this land, this soil, and this garden, which Clones old and new have helped create. Strange that I will not be allowed back, nor any of the others who invested so much into it.
I’ve come to find in my 3 semesters here at Cloyne, that like a good ecosystem, everyone has their niche. I get to be the eccentric garden manager, Jake and the maintenance crew are building a professional-grade deck, Mikie and Jim have re-networked the house internet, Marie is holding play rehearsals in our downstairs basement, Zach practices with his band in our music room….the list goes on. We are a community who embrace our differences and support each other. Our community is made up of people. People who love this house and have invested their lives into it so that Cloyne may carry on.
College. When I got to college I was a lost little freshman swept up in the mesmerizing waves of new faces and forms. It blurred together in my mind as an impenetrable force that would merely guide me along from Wheeler to Dwinelle as I tried to remain afloat with weak notions of my identity and my existence. Day after day was a meal spent eating alone with a book trying hard to look like this fate was my own choice but not a product of being completely overwhelmed by my inability to process the loss of security I had built up in my own private suburban state of mind. No familiar faces. No familiar places. A new independence that left me feeling weak and alone. My mental state constantly tiptoeing on the brink of an utter breakdown, and this is all without the consideration of my UC Berkeley school load.
Then I found the BSC. When I first started boarding at Kingman Hall my freshman year, things started to change. There was a promise that community and family was possible. There was a promise that I could belong to someone and something once again. Being a boarder at a co-op however, is not the same as being a member in the community. It takes a lot more effort on the part of the border to put acclimate and understand the house culture. Or at least for me it did. I lived on the other side of campus in a constant state of feeling as though I was not actually fully apart of the community. Dinners were nightmares if the one or two individuals I had become close with were not present. It was hard, but it was better. It gave me so much hope for when it was finally my turn to move into a house.
In fall of 2012 I moved into Stebbins Hall. I lived at Stebbins Hall for three semesters and a summer. I was Social Manager for the entire year of 2013. In some ways Stebbins was everything that I had ever wanted out of a house and a community. We traveled together as one big entity of family and laughter throughout my time there. I had never felt more loved in my entire life. However, during my time at Stebbins I dealt with the suicides of two of my house members as well as a very serious issue with a third. At these times I was 19 and 20 years old. The management staff of my house had a median age of 21. In short, we were a group of kids trying to deal with an extremely obvious mental health issue on our own. From the BSC we received a counselor that visited the house the week after the occurrences. We were then referred to outside resources. This was the response to both of the suicides.
After Cody Johnson passed in the fall of 2012, I took on the role of social manager. A constant question in my head was how to create an environment that was inclusive of the whole house to foster a community in which an issue with mental health would be more apparent to the house at large rather than hidden behind closed doors. I received no training on how to do this at Social Manager training. I tried so hard all semester to accomplish this feeling as though it was my duty as the Social Manager to create the house culture while I had no formal training actual to do so. I was pulling out of thin air, of Googled party theme suggestions, of Yahoo Answers “Free Things to Do in the Bay Area.”
Then the second incident occurred at Stebbins over the summer of 2013. Summer was an odd time at Stebbins because everything was in such flux and transition between the two sessions. There were numerous international students who I never even met despite the fact that I was in a manager position. There was an air of unfamiliarity and uncertainty within the house at all times, but it was still the house that I had grown to love over the past two years. I felt like I had moved so far from the pain and hurt of the fall semester, so I could never imagine being placed back in that place once again. Then one night I got a call from a friend at Davis saying that he feared that one of my housemates was at risk at harming herself. It was a girl I barely knew but had known for a long time. Someone I never even imagined would be in this position. The manager team searched for what felt like hours for her. When we finally found her I held her in my arms until the ambulance arrived. The management team decided that this was a situation to keep private from the rest of the house out of concern for the privacy and confidentiality of the girl. We weren’t instructed as to what to do in this sort of situation. Two nights later I held Wine & Cheese for the house. Towards the end of the event I broke down in front of the entire house. I wasn’t instructed on what to do in a situation like this at Social Manager training.
Summer ending and fall began. My CoSocial Manager for Fall 2013 was my best friend in the entire world. I had never been more excited for a semester in my entire life. We had a very ambitious, but manageable calendar planned for the entire semester. Our goal was to hold an event each week that served as some sort of community building activity. Only 22 Stebbinites remained in the house from the previous semesters and with a community of 43 new Stebbinites we wanted to figure out how to establish the loving-family house culture that had existed in prior semesters.
I look back at the events of what occurred in the that semester with so much sadness and so much regret. Maliq had just begun to establish himself within our house as a voice to be heard. He was the kind of person that came to council and stayed till the very end, giving any sort of thought or opinion he had along the way. I would study with Maliq almost every night in the Mystery Room, his strange quirky jokes breaking the monotony of my readings. I can’t stress this enough, but I feel so much regret over what happened. There were warning signs from the beginning. At one of the first house check-ins we held during the semester he discussed his battles with depression. None of us knew what to do to help other than thank him for sharing. We’re trained in conflict resolution, but not licensed professionals.
A couple weeks later there was an incident that occurred that deeply troubled several individuals. I honestly don’t remember what our house manager decided to do in response to the incident and do not blame anyone for what actions were or weren’t taken. All I know was just under a week later Maliq was gone. I got the call while I was out shopping for the final Room-to-Room supplies at CVS for that night. I remember walking through the rain back to the car. I didn’t know who to call or what to say. I knew I had to tell the house about the party at the very least, but that seemed so superficial. So inconsequential. Above all I just couldn’t understand why this was happening again.
I called my parents first. They couldn’t understand how this could have happened again. They couldn’t understand why once again I was being put through this. They couldn’t understand why some sort of increase in mental health awareness and safety hadn't already been implemented within the BSC in order to prevent this from happening. They wanted me to move out immediately. I tried to reason with them. When I lived without the BSC I was utterly alone in such a huge and scary place. I didn’t know what to do. The BSC gave me family and community. It gave me safety and security. My parents said that while it was true that the BSC gave me family and community it was obvious that it was not providing me with safety. The BSC is a housing organization, my parents said. They are not your family.
After Maliq’s passing I became increasingly involved at Cloyne as Maliq had been a more involved member for longer within that community. At Cloyne I began to feel the same sense of community that I had felt at Stebbins before. Except at Cloyne it was a little bit different. Cloyne has around 18 manager positions within the house extending from Viceroy to Kitchen to Safe Space to Bathroom. The level of accountability within the house was incredible to witness. Another incredible aspect of Cloyne was the position of the Facilities Manager. Graham helped us with so many of the technical aspects of Maliq’s passing that in the previous semester had all been placed upon the responsibility of our House Manager, Torey Kocsik. I felt the sense that for once it wasn't solely the responsibility of a bunch of 20-year-old students to deal with and move on from a problem as tragic as this. I continued going to check-ins and meetings at Cloyne after this event. I had private meetings with the Safe Space Manager. Moving on from this event I felt like my mental health was being more cared for than ever before. But it was not by any program that had been installed by the BSC, but rather within the community at Cloyne.
I made the decision to move to Cloyne for my Spring Semester. For this semester. It was a hard choice for me to make as leaving Stebbins meant the conclusion to a huge chapter of my life. But I had witnessed too much tragedy and the space had been transformed as a result of it before my eyes. Cloyne was to be a fresh start. Cloyne was to be my final resting place for the rest of the duration of my college career. Cloyne was the community that had helped me understand tragedy when no one else seemed to be able to.
I understand the tough legal situation that the BSC has been cornered into as the result of the actions of John Gibson in 2010 and the previous “culture of destruction” that existed at Cloyne. I did not move to Cloyne because of the “culture of destruction.” I moved to Cloyne because at a time when I was in need the community opened up their house and arms to accept me and try to help me working through what I still won’t be able to understand. What I hope the BSC, cabinet, board, or whoever it is actually making this decision can understand is that by forcibly removing me from this community that has done so much for me… I just don’t understand it. I haven’t done anything wrong. My housemates haven’t done anything wrong. I understand that sometimes bad things happen to good people for no reason… But I just can’t even begin to understand why such a drastic approach is being taken for this issue.
I urge you all to consider the counterproposal that will be presented by Cloyne. I don’t care if our house has parties or maintains the Cloyne rumor “image” that has be propagated these past years. What I care about is I get to remain in the community that I have begun to felt safe and cared for in. What I care about is the BSC doing something to not only prevent substance abuse within Cloyne, but substance abuse within the ENTIRE BSC. Along with that I BEG the BSC to work on a plan for the entire BSC to have an increased mental health resources. I understand that at the most basic level the BSC is a housing organization and I understand the rhetoric in the mission statement of the BSC really drives in that message, but I also believe that an intrical part of the BSC community is that it is just that. A community. It is why the BSC provides managers with training workshops. It is why managers are required to run certain workshops. It is why I fell in love with the BSC. If more efforts were made to protect our mental health… I mean… Doesn’t Central Office care about us more than on a landlord tenant basis? Isn’t that why I moved here?
I’m going into my senior year. I am writing an honors thesis. My studies and internship are about to become the most important things in my life right now. I do not need to deal with feeling unsafe, uncertain, and unsure in a community I am unfamiliar with again. I’m asking you to please hear us out and work with us to find a solution that does not evict me from my home for nothing that I did. A solution that is comprehensive enough so that when questions are asked for it, the BSC President and VP of Internal Affairs can actually answer them.
I’m sorry this email has been long. I have had a lot on my mind and I felt that the only way I could get back to the two essays that I have due on Thursday without crying, that I haven’t even begun to deal with because I have been working on a plan to not be evicted from my house since that February 13th, was to send out what was on my mind. I know maybe this won’t even matter or affect anything. I’d like to think a single voice can make a difference but time and time again that sentiment is proven wrong.
I have painted seven murals in this house since moving in a year and a half ago. Yesterday I planted ferns and daffodils in the front yard, and today I decorated furniture while listening to a group of boys work on a beautiful new deck. I’ve also done the not-so-nice things for this house – I’ve washed pots for three hours straight and cleaned walls with buckets of bleach. In everything I’ve done, though, I have done it with the knowledge that I will not be here forever – these are not improvements for my personal living space, but literally for this house.
Cloyne is a truly magical place, and part of that magic is its temporality. We enter it with the knowledge of a set expiration date, and yet we love this house and its members with all of our hearts. I, and many other Clones, will be leaving at the end of this semester – so why do we care if the walls are painted white, if all current members are purged, and if additional restrictions are imposed upon incoming members by the BSC? Why are countless old Clones rallying behind us, with their own stories and words of encouragement? It’s because Cloyne is not just about the individuals who currently inhabit it, but about it’s cultural legacy and the marks it leaves on every single person who passes though its doors.
The BSC tells us that we own this house. They require us (with penalty of fines) to do “house improvement” projects and weekly workshift hours. They encourage us to have weekly councils, make house-wide decisions democratically, and follow the Rochdale principles – and they claim to do the same. But how can we, or any future Cloyne or BSC members, take any of that seriously if the record stands that the BSC will impose stricter and broader house restrictions, operate greater control, kick out members from their home, and plaster white our lovingly painted walls? How can we continue loving our house when it is no longer ours?
For the first time in my life, at Cloyne, I felt that I was contributing to something much larger than myself. I saw old Clones return with children or friends and say “I built that!” or “I painted that!” or “I remember this one time when...” and I knew that some day that would be me. With every brushstroke that I made upon Cloyne’s walls, I cemented myself into its legacy. Although I will soon leave, and someday someone else will paint a mural on top of mine, every white wall that CO paints does not purge “drug culture”: it purges a culture of respect, responsibility, creativity, and love."
Cloyne is walking into the kitchen at four am and watching an eccentric male cook pasta primavera with perfectly sautéed mushrooms. Cloyne is listening to impromptu kitchen raps full of flavor and rhyme, free expression of self along side the smell of chopped garlic and fried onions. Cloyne is waking up with the blooming Wisteria in the sun soaked courtyard and the sound of power tools belonging to dedicated deck builders who are either starting their day or finishing their evening. Cloyne is the collection of rhythmic collisions between plate and fork before dinner, the synchronized calling for food. Cloyne is using spoons to hit plastic lids who will be substitutes for plates and a spatula to fork lentils on top of baked squash, kale chips, and salad. Cloyne is staying at the dinner table until the entire kitchen has been cleaned because a discussion of fundamental forces kept you from moving. Cloyne is the discussion of matter, meaning, neurons, Newsweek, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Wallace, Whitman, Woodrow, gender, genetics, gentrification, litigation, population, prison, pressure, Poynting vector, energy, entropy, elegy, carbon, culture, crossword, Crossroads, creation, indoctrination, Dali, Dante, diaspora, diversity.
This is the culture that I have been blessed to watch grow, and be a part of. This is what is so special to me about this house and cooperative living; the ability to create culture beyond the one we were born into. Of course there will always be aspects of our birth culture in us but this house gives its members the chance to create something new. Within the walls of Cloyne is the opportunity to be absolutely anything and everything you can imagine.
Most things that we do lock us into routine and we become creatures dedicated to habit. Wake up, fill empty nut butter jar with coffee, attend lecture, do problem set, eat, rest head. Wake up, grab old left-over bagel, attend lecture, read papers, eat, rest body. Wake up, Wake up, Wake up. It is easy for any individual to fall into this kind of routine but with 150 minds spinning 150 stories it is impossible to find yourself trapped in one style. You may just find yourself enjoying mushroom pasta at four am, or engaging in conversations about wave functions and probability, the potential is infinite. In no other location in North American is there an atmosphere like Cloyne, no other collection of people so broad, no other place I would rather call Home.
“Wake up Cloyne”
I moved into Cloyne as a transfer student last semester looking for affordable housing and nothing else, and instantly fell in love with the murals on the walls. You know you are in a very special place if a bunch of rhetoric, engineering, english, computer science, anthropology, political science, biology, and mathematics majors all feel moved to paint artwork on their walls. This art which won’t, if the BSC continues with its plan to waste money and enact unsustainable, drastic and damaging changes, be there for long.
I was home-schooled in the woods. Transferring to Berkeley was definitely a strange experience for me and I don’t think that if I had lived anywhere else I could have lived with so many fascinating people doing such good things. I don’t think that if I had lived anywhere else I would have felt as free and comfortable fully exploring my academic and intellectual life as I do in a place where I feel welcome and empowered in my own home.
As someone who is new to Berkeley and the co-op system it has always surprised me when I talk to people who don’t know Cloyne and learn about their pre-(mis)conceptions of it. I was shocked to read accounts in the news of the horrible things that have happened here in the past because the Cloyne I know is not the Cloyne that once was. The culture of this place has evolved since those times due to the hard work and persistence of the membership, as old Clones learned from their mistakes and passed on their knowledge, and as the BSC enacted intelligent (gradual) measures that still allowed Cloyne to thrive as a stronghold of cooperative values.
Being a co-op that doesn't have a large body of Freshman means that there’s a huge turnover rate as people graduate and go on to change the world. As such it is easy to enact lasting change without taking drastic measures that cost money and destroy our culture. This has been proven by the changes that have already happened in Cloyne over the past years to make it a much healthier place. Right now in Cloyne there are a bunch of cuddly, goofy, ridiculous, and utterly brilliant human beings who all genuinely care about each other. Because of the open, energetic, and safe environment of their home they are able to accomplish amazing things academically, intellectually, and socially.
I’m not planning on staying in Cloyne next semester or over the summer. As much as I love it it’s time to move on, but the people who live here and love this place simply are not degenerate assholes seeped in drug culture. If that ever existed, it’s old history in this quickly evolving place. These people are moderate, intelligent, human beings. These people are my friends; they don’t deserve to be evicted from the house they love for something they had no part in. They don’t deserve to be treated like a vital organ under the scalpel of an incompetent doctor who can’t tell that the infection has already healed.
Every day when I come back from class or work I walk through the sunlit courtyard and pass friends playing basketball, or reading, playing cards, doing construction, working in the garden. I always find my way to the kitchen and find friends cooking, people studying in the dining room. I walk down the main hall and pass the signup sheets for IM sports, for community service, for adventure club; I pass the beautiful murals lining the walls, photos of house members dressed to the tee for wine and cheese, photos of me dancing without shame the weekend before. In my room the sun shines upon the painting of a sunrise in Thailand that an old Clone did after returning from abroad.
I remind myself constantly what a beautiful and vibrant place this is and feel incredibly lucky to be a part of it. Cloyne is my home, one of my favorite places on earth. Cloyne has been one of the most transformative experiences of my life; I've made some of my best friends here, I've fallen in love here, I've learned so much, academically and otherwise, here, I've laughed and danced and sang here, I've found out a lot about myself here, I've eaten so well here, I've been so very happy and healthy in my 2 years here. In times of hardship I have found the most supportive community I could ever ask for, something that I’ve tried to pass on to new members of Cloyne each semester by being a caring and open-minded listener. From my ability to listen and connect with a greater variety of people to learning to cook food for 150 people to becoming more involved in the community with immigrant rights and furthering my studies on sustainable food systems, Cloyne has been directly and intimately entwined with all facets of my personal growth in the last 2 years. I will never forget my time here no matter what happens, but I sincerely hope this magical place can live on and continue to benefit future generations of students.
As a slightly unconventional, 5th year transfer student, I have lived a lot of places in college, but none of them have come close to my experience at Cloyne.
Dorms are an awkward combination of dissimilar people packed together that can result in great friendships or a miserable freshman year; apartments and houses with friends are a nice way to get close with a few people and practice your real world domestic skills, but they can limit your social interactions and leave you feeling stressed managing housework with schoolwork; and sorority houses (at least in my experience as a live-in member of one at Cal) are beautifully kept buildings with great food and full housekeeping, plus a hundred of the same spoiled girl running around and so many rules you can barely breathe without getting fined. A co-op is a unique place to live, and Cloyne is a unique co-op.
I have never felt more welcome, at home, or at ease anywhere else the way I feel at Cloyne. I love the history attached to the name. I love the paintings on every wall. I love my fellow members, who treat me with respect and kindness while still allowing me the anonymity I desire. I love the huge array of spaces in the house-- a space for photography, for making music, for studying, for gardening, for working out, for cooking, and for eating wonderful food that someone carefully orders and someone else carefully prepares. My favorite space is the free 'pile' that takes up an entire room in the house, where I can donate things I no longer want and score some great finds myself. I will admit, when I found out I was living in a house with 150 other people, I was a little concerned about the technicalities of how something like this could possibly function-- but it does. I love that every resident is accountable for their space through the workshift system, and that we all actually do them (somewhat surprising initially) and pitch in to keep Cloyne beautiful and livable, because we love living here.
I have many friends in other co-ops, and have seen many other houses, but none of them FEEL the way Cloyne feels. I think the greatest beauty of this house emanates from the people who live here, who love this house, and who love each other. Even as a new member still getting acclimated to the co-op system, I can see why Cloyne is special and why it is worth saving. There is no other place like this one, and it results from everything that Cloyne has come to be over many years. A Cloyne with white walls, constant quiet hours, and its multifunctional spaces converted to study halls would not be a Cloyne worth living in, or even existing for that matter. I feel so incredibly lucky to have been able to live here, and I feel deeply saddened that other people might not be able to have that experience in the future.
I lived in Cloyne for the entirety of my tenure at UC Berkeley. I graduated in the Fall of 2013 Magna Cum Laude, and I was the Student Speaker at my commencement ceremony. I founded several student organizations, and I was an outspoken advocate for LGBT rights throughout campus. Cloyne allowed me to even throw an LGBT event for my student organization as shown in the picture attached. I have never used any substance that could kill me. I never encouraged any of my peers to engage in dangerous activity. I am an LGBT person of color who now works as a Financial Analyst at a prestigious public company, reporting directly to the CFO.
Cloyne helped me get to where I am today. Cloyne has a solid network of students that are academically oriented and driven for success. If you vote for your proposed measures, you are denying students from a background like myself from achieving their potential. The students at Berkeley who are most successful in their academic endeavors achieve success because of solid social networks and an excellent work life balance. Cloyne provides an atmosphere of acceptance and tolerance. Being LGBT isn't easy, even at UC Berkeley as shown in recent student suicides. Cloyne is notorious for having many LGBT residents in addition to an entire house open to all forms of sexual orientation. Please do not deny future students the same opportunities this house provided.
When I first moved into Cloyne in Spring of 2013, I was very unsure of my place within the UC Berkeley community, and was naturally scared. Cloyne immediately gave me a home, a community, and a place to grow and foster an understanding of myself. I have grown more in my time here than I thought possible, and have learned so much about myself and the type of person I want to become. Most of that is due to the amazing community and people I am surrounded by. The passion and dedication to life and all it has to offer is so striking in some many of my fellow members, and I have bene blessed to learn from them. The diversity of backgrounds, interests, life stories and goals is truly inspiring, and I am so proud to be a part of it. I learn something here every day, and for that I am thankful. This house is beautiful, everything it stands for it beautiful, and we need to take a proactive step to protect it. No one can truly understand the unique sense of belonging that comes from living in this place, I think I can safely say that Cloyne changes the people who choose to live here in an extremely profound way. Before Cloyne, I was lost, I knew I wasn’t where I needed to be. Cloyne found me, and I immediately knew I had found a place that would productively challenge my ways of thinking, inspire me to pursue my passions, and teach me love in every way possible. Cloyne found me, and with it I found my home. Cloyne Is Suck!
Cloyne is a lot. Cloyne is so much, it's too much to put in a single testimonial, or even the testimonials of all current and past students. How can something be both a place, a community, and a way of life? Well, I present to you: the entirety of the experience that is Cloyne Court. I fell in love at Cloyne. I learned how to cook at Cloyne. I discovered the importance and methodology of dishwashing at Cloyne. I got to wear a ghostbusters backpack vacuum at Cloyne. I both found a voice and found the values of being quiet. I danced and sang and ate and laughed---repeat. I grew to respect and revere the traditions passed down from old Clones when I first moved here, and have loved each semester getting to pass down to a new generation the stories and more beautiful elements of house culture as a manager and now old clone. Our time here is short. What is special is the continuity of the sense of community that this house is steeped in. Within a matter of years, the house will be a completely different composition, but the inheritance of our memories is what keeps it strong.
A huge part of what this house and cooperative community teaches you is that if you see something wrong, take the initiative to try and fix it. Each time I saw something I wanted to improve or change, Cloyne has provided me with the space and materials to "be the change" I wanted to see in my world. We provide resources for workshops, clubs, events, outreach, music, and if any individual in the community has something they wish to see as part of our house, they have equal right and voice to present it to the house. That to me is one of the fundamental aspects of cooperation and the cooperative movement.
Another, is the value and diversity of different types of learning. In this house, everyone has something to learn, and something to teach. Cloyne helps facilitate a forum where all kinds of knowledge are passed from individuals to the community at whole, and as a result, the entire community is left a better place. Cloyne is suck.
I, Nicole Shanae Steward, can't remember how long I've lived in Cloyne. Sure if I count down the semesters and the things that happened to back when I remember moving in, I could figure it out, but that doesn't matter. What matters is that no matter how long I've lived here, Cloyne has never been anything but a warm, welcoming, nurturing, fun, creative, and diverse home.
I started out in the dorms like most freshman, and hated it. They were too clean, without character, and through their attempts at fostering floor and dormwide community I felt more isolated than ever. The heterogeneity of a dorm culture was stifling. I only got 5 free counseling sessions at the tang, and when those ran out, I held onto my sanity by a thread. I visited the frats very often, finding myself in unfamiliar places more often than not. I couldn't even find much comfort in the company of people of my own color through student of color run organizations and themed housing. I thought about quitting, dropping out, changing schools, dying. And I thought about those for so long.
But sometime in my second semester a guy in a neighboring dorm dragged me to Cloyne to meet a friend of his. It was a band night, and though I knew no one I stayed until the very end, despite my friend leaving not very long after we arrived. Before I'd spoken to anyone I was welcome into the energy of the house by the smiling faces posted to security at the door. I left that night, leaving part of my soul and mind behind, but came back as soon as I'd heard about another party. Again, I remember, I'd spoken to no one from the house besides the security of band night ( I didn't even really meet my friend's friend), but I felt more comfort and belonging than I had felt since before being uprooted to California from my home in Oklahoma.
I decided that after that I was going to live in Cloyne, and I waited for a year. I was able to live there for half a summer, and then ( due to my low points in the BSC) was moved to another co-op, but I paid for boarding at Cloyne to make sure that I would get in and be able to stay there for the rest of my college career.
No place has inspired me more than this beautiful home, and sharing this amazing house, and its history, and its love with the hundreds to thousands of people that I've seen is more than I could have ever asked for out of any place of residence, or out of any landlord.
I swore to myself that one day, I would add my art to the walls of Cloyne like my peers and my elders before me, and it saddens me to know that if we're so drastically affected by the response to the accident four years ago, that not only will I never be able to return to the only place in Berkeley where I have felt completely safe and accepted, but that others after me will never get to experience a community where all members love, care, and watch out for each other.
I help manage Cloyne's kitchen now, and hold another part-time job as well, and attend UC Berkeley as a full time student, and I hold a B average GPA. Since I moved into Cloyne my grades, mental stability, and outlook on life and people has improved by leaps and bounds, and I don't have myself or Tang Center psychiatrists to thank.
Cloyne is not its history, Cloyne is not dangerous.
Cloyne is a huge house, with great people where opportunities are endless.
When I transferred to Cal last semester I was completely lost. I think most new students are. But I was lost for reasons other than just unfamiliarity in a new location. I was lost because for the first time in my life I was introduced to a place that didn’t care where I was from, or what I looked like, or who my friends were. I was given the opportunity to be anyone I wanted to be. I never knew what that felt like before.
I always wanted to live in the co-ops but in the midst of the chaos of trying to figure out all that I needed to do to be a Berkeley student, I decided to live with my grandfather in Fairfield and commute. My first semester was rough. Not living close to campus caused a severe separation between me and the community I so desperately valued. I felt completely isolated and went into a deep depression. I had trouble focusing on my work. I had no motivation to keep in contact with the few friends I had made here. I debated whether to finish out the semester. And I still didn’t know who I was.
Then, I got into Cloyne. I was nervous at first because I had never lived with so many people before. But I was also incredibly excited. I was finally going to get the chance to be a part of a community of amazingly intelligent, creative, and open-minded people. I was going to live in a place that valued the same things that I had been fighting for my whole life: Honesty, Openness, Understanding, and Freedom.
I don’t come from a neighborhood you’ll hear good things about in the news. I didn’t live a sheltered life. My parents don’t have a lot of money. The only reason I’m here is because I was blessed with a scholarship. I was blessed with this place. This place we call Cloyne. This place I call home. I have never been so inspired, so in love, so moved with emotion and passion and absolute adoration for a group of people ever in my life. This place inspires me because everyone is SO different. Everyone is free to pursue whatever they want. And they DO. They are active and involved and it makes me want to get involved too! Not because I have to. But because I WANT to. Because I see the possibilities of who I can be and what I can do when I walk through these halls and I see all of this art and I can FEEL in my soul the beauty and the voices and the passion in these walls and it kills me. It just kills me to think that this could be taken from us.
We can’t give up everything we believe in out of fear. If creating stricter laws and tightening the boundaries on people’s freedom keeps them safe, then why do the strictest countries have the worst problems? Inhibition doesn’t just go in one direction. When you inhibit decay, you also inhibit growth. And we are growing here. TOGETHER. I know the BSC wants to prevent future harm in this house. We all do. We can want what’s best for people. We can talk to them. Educate them. Give them all of our love and support. But we can’t force people to be anything they don’t want to be. True love is letting people choose for themselves.
I can be anyone I want and I CHOOSE to be me. I CHOOSE to be a Clone. And I’ll never give that away.
I lived in Cloyne in 2011-2012, during the year I spent at Cal as an exchange student. It has been several years I left California, but no matter how far away I am now, I will always remember this very special place at 2600, Ridge road.
I could talk about all the memories I have there – all the precious friends I made, all the laughs and thought-provoking, inspiring and challenging conversations I can recall. I could mention the beautiful murals I would admire every time I'd stumbled upon them, the creativity of each member in decorating the house for the special events that were hold, their enthusiasm for sharing, learning about the world and welcoming anyone who wanted to be part of the house. But beyond these personal memories, I would like to stress the importance of showing respect towards a community of people.
What made the 'Cloyne spirit' , all the stories and traditions shouldn't get lost – out of respect for all those who brought something to it and built it together over the years. Cloyne is more than a house, it's a community of people that all contributed to create an atmosphere that made so many feel welcome, comfortable and, most importantly, home. Let's respect all the efforts and the years spent building this spirit. Let's give Cloyne and all the generations of Clones who lived there the respect they deserve; putting an end to the story and the memories of this place would be an unnecessary, cruel and absurd decision.
I wanted to live in another co-op when I moved into Cloyne two years ago, but I took what I was given and entered the colorful, ever-changing community that is Cloyne. Cloyne, which is forever my family. My home forever, even though I've recently moved out. That is the beauty of it. Hundreds of students have floated in an out, moved their posessions from rooms to room, and painted their love and experiences upon the walls, amongst the museum of artwork hanging there.
I fell in love with Cloyne in the kitchen. Where bubbling pots that could fit me and a friend simmered and steamed with delicious swirling aromas. Where music played while chefs sang together over mega pans of lasagna and discussed the problems of society over vegan mac and cheese. Where late night quesadillas never seemed so right. Where you learned how to poach eggs from others cooking beside you and where you strengthened bonds with friends over shared pots of pesto pasta. The best dance parties happened here, with music making pots and pans and spoons a' banging.
Outside of the kitchen, we are all students. Despite all of the bliss from basking in the courtyard or dancing in the kitchen, we are very "academically-themed" people. After doing yoga on the deck, we are challenged with thermodynamics. We are incredibly brilliant and creative people, and find discovery in all walks of life. From harvesting apples from our courtyard trees and baking them into sweet pies, to screen printing shirts for a music festival in our backyard, we are intrepid peoples. We all have our unique skills. Of writing slamming poetry, of making winds chimes from trash, or of keeping a beat on the drums in the basement. People build pirate ships and rope ladders for goodness sake. There is such a density of life here.
I never ended up moving to another co-op like I planned. Cloyne held me close and embraced me. And I have embraced Cloyne for all that is taught me about sharing space with so many colorful people. Even more than others, I learned about myself, and felt more comfortable with my eccentric ways. I didn't learn these essential things, these ways to interact with those different, to resolve conflict with friends, and to experience my pocket of life with such joy from the school that I went to every day. I learned from my home. The painted walls that enclosed me and 149 others.
So many laughs have been absorbed into Cloyne's walls. So much sweat and so many tears and reverberating musical notes. The walls swell with love for generation of clones who sway through the house over the years and must continue to do so. The walls do not want to be white. They really don't. They want to keep radiating vibrant energy into future clones who will be able to learn from and love this magical place called Cloyne.
It's difficult to write a testimonial of a day at Cloyne, and I have three years of testimonies. To define my experience to a few instances, or one instance, would be to shed light on, but would never be as bright and vibrant than that which I lived and breathed from the first whiff in the front entrance to my last walk through the halls to get a last appreciation of my home's artwork- the walls into where I would melt into the paint and memories.
I could select the moments when I was encouraged to move out. The first few days in Cloyne, when I thought it's hallways were like the doors in the Matrix, an undefinable complex where I would lose my self. And the street light glare through my window, nights in my new room with ugly blocks of paint to cover terrifying drawings of faces and naked people; and feet pounding up and down stairs like a giant who giggled like college sophomores. There was the first time I kissed in cloyne when I thought how fleeting relationships are as her lips met with another's minutes later. The mountain of dishes, scattered remnants of cheese, egg shells, and raw bacon strips about the kitchen, and my Mom's inquiry, "you don't have to live here all semester, right?" Each wall staring into my soul like the murals observed me, got to know this new clone. The talk from some of my fellow first-semester clones about Cloyne being a heroin den. I could have moved to a different house, shut Cloyne down in my mind based on its past and rumored presence, or my fear of living in a house so alive and unabashed as Cloyne. I could have moved out.
I can focus on these memories to look back upon. Frame the ignorance about cloyne, staring into its universe and trying to figure it out, observing its apparent aspects, as an outsider, Cloyne's darkest moments.The parts that other outsiders saw, the Daily Cal, SF Chronicle, and the numerous apartment dwelling students whispering, "Don't move in there."
I'll take a moment to consider having written Cloyne off as a dirty drug den, and moving out. The things I may have not existed, like when I sat in my room, afraid to explore this new world, when I heard "skinny love" for the first time, played behind a shy hall mate's bedroom door, alone and without shame, the most beautiful rendition I have ever heard sung; or when I heard the song "the general" playing from down the hall and realized maybe I could make some friends that will bless me with connection in this chaos. If I didn't live in that chaos, who needs to make a connection?
I wouldn't have become viceroy, and joined the conversation about our response to drugs and necessary transformation after the 2010 overdoses, or spent most of my time in Cloyne's bubble trying to smile the house into a "positive culture." I wouldn't have been around a year after the overdoses when ~113 residents voluntarily moved out of Cloyne (sounds like a purge), and I wouldn't have terrified a group of international students by inviting them to shotgun, followed by their requests to transfer out of Cloyne, which they cancelled, only to fall in love with the place as much as I had. I sure as hell wouldn't have been around as a leader in a house where, as a one year old clone, I would have to help facilitate the transformation into a different, "not drug centric" culture. I wouldn't have worked my ass off with so many others to create space that cultivates harm prevention, by following the 2010 plan, creating/organizing CAWs, working with social managers to create choices for sober entertainment like intermural teams, or battled with cabinet to stop trying to act as our parent the first time they threatened to cancel pirate party. I wouldn't have addressed cabinet for writing Cloyne off as a group of rebellious adolescents without stepping foot inside to discuss with its membership that which will affect it.
I didn't write Cloyne off. I lived there for two years, wrote a shitty poem on the ceiling, and said my final goodbye. And then returned for another year.
I fell in love in Cloyne. I made love. I received more love. There were many centers in Cloyne, many gravitational sources. I wandered into open doors and met hundreds of people: most of whom I will only know as a face and returned smile, but some I have and will continue to paint, sing, write, and dance each other fucking clean. I'll pity those who live without the freedom I learned in Cloyne's sublimity. I'll pity even more those who think it is their job to inhibit that experience for those who want it. While at Cloyne, I was cooked in wine, then smoked out on the grill, fried on a skillet, then melted into the walls. My experience was never centered around anything but connecting with other humans. Dishes mattered, and so did someone throwing thirty wine bottles in a row on the courtyard ground. I spent a fair amount of time pissed off. But If I wanted to drink a bottle of chuck to myself, paint something on the walls, or pass a motion for a fucking gong, I did it without shame because it was my house. As manager, during my time trying to "transform" the house, I morphed into a new person, and a perfect one because of my own willingness to believe it. Cloyne changed too. It always will.
I was ecstatic when I found out that I had gotten into UC Berkeley, but California was a long way off from my home in New York. I knew that if I decided to go here, I had to be 100% sure.
I visited on Cal Day weekend and had the one kid who was from my high school show me around. Being a social person, naturally, I wanted to check out the social scene. I was first taken to a frat party on Southside, and I think I stayed there for a total of 30 seconds. I was not a fan of the thick, hot air, the smell of stale beer, and the sight of sketchy guys grinding with girls to terrible rap songs. My friend had remembered that this co-op, Cloyne, was having its bi-annual “pirate party”. I didn’t even know what a co-op was but I was down to go. I was shocked at what I saw. Being a huge music lover, I was so surprised to see a real band playing in one room and a DJ spinning in another. I was fascinated with the idea of Cloyne as an art space and spent a great deal of the party just looking at the beautiful murals that graced the walls. I saw a family of what I now know to be “clones” actually socializing, dancing, and having fun. I didn’t know parties like this existed anymore. If I hadn’t been brought to Cloyne that night, I honestly don’t think I would’ve decided to attend UC Berkeley.
Although I only moved into Cloyne last summer as an incoming junior, I was immediately reunited with that feeling I felt at pirate party years ago and since then, that feeling has only become more intense. I was so warmed by the friendliness of the members and the energy of the house. When we are hit with bad news, I feel so grateful to be surrounded by a group that can rally together and pick each other up.
I used to live in a sorority and I always felt like I had to hold myself back a little, whether it was through the way I dressed, the words that came out of my mouth, or even my opinions and beliefs. In the community that is Cloyne, my weirdness is fully embraced, and I always feel encouraged to share and voice my thoughts and opinions. I’ve realized that Cloyne is the one place that I can truly be myself. When I was home in New York for winter break, all I could think about was being back at Cloyne again. It was so weird – feeling uncomfortable in the house I’ve lived in for 20 years, the house I grew up in, and instead feeling at peace in the co-op I’ve only lived in for 6 months. The bottom line is that CLOYNE is my home, and the thought of silencing its history and all of our collective experiences there kills me.
~Never alone and forever a clone~
I began spending time at Cloyne during my sophomore year, and from the moment I walked through the creaky wooden door into the multicolored hallways, onto the sweet/ stale carpets, and through the graffitied doorways, I felt something stronger than I’d ever felt at Berkeley before. A sense of connection, of wonder, of excitement, of ambiguity all through me. I felt drawn to the building, its vast open dining room with its long tables, the swings in the courtyard littered with mason jars and half empty bottles of Siracha and empty bottles of wine, the music from the kitchen, the yoga mats in the courtyard, the panda in the palm tree…But mostly, I felt drawn to the people. Each person a caricature of themselves. Each person with a style that communicated their beautiful, eccentric interior, moving passionately throughout the house with a distinct presence—I remember being amazed at how much people could bring a space to life, I remember thinking that Cloyne really was a “living space”. I was inspired by every person I interacted with, learning something new from each conversation I had. In my mind always the distinct thought: “this is it”. I knew immediately that this is where my home would be for the remainder of my college experience.
But never did I expect the immense, positive growth I would experience through living here. Cloyne presents a space for the individual to flourish. Cloyne inspires each person to really delve deep and find what he or she (or ze) is passionate about, and truly decide what kind of individual he/she/ze would be proud to be. And mostly, Cloyne provides the FREEDOM to cultivate and develop that individual. I have always seen Cloyne as somewhat of a “hole” in society that represents a place of unfettered liberation from the status quo and usual expectations. Paint the walls, dance around naked, paint henna on your boobs, do acro-yoga on the grass, bake zucchini bread, learn how to hack, voice your politics, spray-paint your clothes, smoke your cigarettes, paint glitter on your face, experiment with your sexuality, drink champagne in the sun, decide to build a boat-deck and receive unquestioning approval from the entire house. This pervasive feeling of freedom contained within these walls sparks transformation in every person that lives here. To be a Clone is to truly know yourself.
I look back on the ways in which I’ve grown through this house, and I am overwhelmed. I’ve learned to define my self-worth apart from the approval of others, to be proud of my intellect, to fight for what I believe in, not to be embarrassed by my eccentricities, to celebrate my capabilities, to admit my weaknesses, to take action when necessary, and to step back let others take charge when appropriate. I’ve learned to appreciate others for their whole selves, and to understand a variety of perspectives so different from my own. I SINCERELY hope that Cloyne will be able to maintain is culture and its freedom, and I hope it will remain a space to unite, to inspire, to grow, and to experience life in its purest, most unfettered form.
We are a house of 150 strong, loving, passionate, corky, beautiful people. Cloyne has given us not only a home, but a moment in time where we can embrace exactly who we are and be loved for that. Our eccentricities are not looked down upon but rather, greatly appreciated. I have learned how to love, to lead, to forgive, to challenge myself, and more. I don't want anyone to be deprived of such a powerful, life affirming experience. I love this house, and everyone who I have had the pleasure to meet, even if ever so briefly.
CLOYNE IS SUCK,
May her beauty live on to inspire legions of future clones.
During my senior year at Cal, I was fortunate enough to find myself among clones and even had the honor of serving as a house manager. And I can say with the utmost sincerity that my short time at Cloyne has fostered more personal growth than all my earlier years at Cal combined. Cloyne is an anomaly in a college community in that students from different backgrounds and with various academic and personal interests come together to live as a family. It is a safe haven for the quirky to freely express themselves and for the more serious (like myself) to rediscover what they know about human interaction.
Even though I have left Cloyne, Cloyne has not left me. The interpersonal skills that I developed from interacting with the unique and creative souls I met at Cloyne have allowed me to better connect and empathize with patients that I see at medical school. And I have no doubt that my experience at Cloyne will continue to be a valuable tool in my training to become a physician.
Is Cloyne a utopia? Of course not! When you gather 150 college students under one roof, mistakes happen – some more unfortunate than others. It is easy to point out the problems in Cloyne’s history. It is always easier to criticize. But I hope that those few faults of past does not overshadow the wonderful memories and life-changing experiences that were created at Cloyne.
Cloyne is a place to dwell, to live cooperatively, and to prompt you to know yourself.
Moving into Cloyne meant that I instantly befriended from every part of academia from multiple different continents. I had found roommates willing to stay up all night discussing globalization, a disposal of educational workshops in my living room, a soccer team with obnoxious supporters, and a place which was new every day that I was there. Merely walking into common space at night yields opportunities to engage with people eager to share something interesting. It was the only place I called home while I attended school at Berkeley and my education there would have been exceptionally stale in comparison if I did not have the academic environment that Cloyne provided.
The house's beauty is in its fluidity and in its refusal to be pulled in any direction other than what the character its unique composition. During my two and half years living there I served as a Kitchen Manager, Board Rep, and Food Manager. I gained invaluable insight about myself and cooperative living through ordering lots of yogurt, dancing with a mops during kitchen cleans, and sitting on ping pong tables until 3am in budget meetings. Most of the knowledge that prepared me for these positions was directly due to the way that information about house culture and opinion was passed down to me from the Clones that came before me.
The house is a Being of its own; it is a living entity. The history of all that has come before it is alive within the murals in its hallways, the stains in the dining room, the documents on the server, the garden and landscaping, and within the consciousness of the current membership passed down from the previous generation. To purge the current Clones who live with an insight and appreciation of the house and all of its functions would serve only to instill a new membership who will live in the shadow of an unjust expulsion and place the BSC as a whole at greater risk of incident. Instead, the BSC should cherish and empower the current Clones to continue addressing all future issues that the organization as a whole faces.
I heard about Cloyne from a friend who said that the band Pangea played there. As someone who searches concert line-ups on a daily basis, I immediately researched this mysterious venue in my proximity. I was shocked to find that people lived there. 150 people. In a place with a musical legacy that stretches back to Elliot Smith, No Doubt, Green Day, and countless other bands. I knew I had to live there.
I was initially apprehensive coming into Cloyne this past fall from a sheltered background. I would tell those unaffiliated with the co-ops that I was moving in, and their first reaction would be along the lines of, "Oh, that's gonna be so crazy!"
But when I got here, I found a place vastly different from all the "crazy" stories. It was a place of political discourse, democratic council, artistic merit. Everyone contributed their share of work, put in their two cents, and took out of it a community. I saw how much effort people invested in the house, and that made me care about it too.
I recently had my faith in this community tested when I was physically assaulted by a non-resident. I had a solid support system of confidantes, but I didn't know if the community as a whole would support me in my attempt to PNG my assailant. Turns out, I was not only met with support from my fellow clones; I was given so much love and care that I neither asked for nor expected. In those moments, I realized that this is truly a community worth fighting for, and it would be a tragedy to lose it because outside perceptions reduce us to a mere "drug culture."
We are not a drug culture. We are a culture of celebration, acceptance, creativity, democracy, and yes, even academia.
I came a stranger, and I stayed a friend.
The story of how I came to live in Cloyne may differ from some people's stories - we all have different stories.
During my freshman year, when thinking about where I would live after leaving the dorms, I visited a friend at Stebbins and after talking to her about the coops I decided I would place myself on the waitlist. Cloyne was my last choice. I feared that it would be too large, and I had heard that it was a wild place. It just seemed like a space in which I would not fit in. As the fall semester of my sophomore year began I was still on the waiting list. So, for the first five weeks of the semester I was living at home and hoping that I would soon get a spot in one of the houses. Finally, I received an email from the BSC saying that there was a spot for me in Cloyne. I literally freaked out...like in a bad way. I decided that I would absolutely not move there. This attitude, however, got me nowhere. MY PARENTS FORCED ME TO LIVE AT CLOYNE. This was probably, in part, because they wanted to get me the hell out of their house, but also because they could somehow see what a truly amazing space Cloyne was. My dad was familiar with Cloyne because members of the house had been active in the anti-apartheid movement on campus in the '80s, something which he was very involved with and he swore that he had lived in places "just like Cloyne" when he was in his twenties and that his experiences in these houses had been incredible. For the stubbornness of my parents I am eternally grateful.
It is hard for me to express how transformative my experience at Cloyne has been and how thankful I am that I ended up living in this crazy place. It is within the colorful walls of this house and specifically in "Superdank," the beautiful sun filled quad that I lived in for 1.5 years where wisteria grew through the windows and which every semester changed in color, decoration, and "vibe" as old roommates moved out and new ones moved in, that I have made what I know will be lifetime friends. This house enabled me to form friendships with people all over the globe. It is here that I have been able to partake in (or awkwardly watch, depending on my mood) spontaneous dance parties on a Tuesday night, talk through a tube that stretched from the window of my room to the window of the room below me for two weeks and that was dragged up 3 flights of stairs to my room when I wasn't home, and it was here that I learned how incredible sriracha is on popcorn.
Cloyne is a place where diversity is promoted and "weirdness" is more than accepted. The talent here is incredible. First and foremost, we are a house full of thinkers. We are also a house of painters, dancers, actors, computer programmers, filmmakers, photographers, aspiring scientists, doctors, architects, urban planners, lawyers, writers, farmers, and much, much more.
I am graduating in May and have always had plans to move out at the end of the semester. After 3 years of living in Cloyne my time to leave has come. I hope that this house will continue to live on and that generations of students will have the opportunity to experience this crazy, quirky place that I love so much.
I was in Cloyne for two years and living there fundamentally changed my perspective of… pretty much everything. It’s no exaggeration to say that there is nowhere else in the world quite like it. I had the pleasure of being a part of the most radically diverse community that I have yet seen, and it troubles me to imagine a future without this dense haven of compassion, love, acceptance, and expression.
I find myself not infrequently referring back to my days at Cloyne Court. The succulent afternoons sharing a swinging bench with 5 others, eating a tacky stirfry generously graced with Sriracha, Tapatio, ketchup, or some combination of the three. Blasting Jimi Hendrix, Sublime, or some unidentifiable electronic music at 9 pm in the kitchen so that pot washing resembles a dance rather than a workshift. Not giving a fuck or two worries about acting silly because in this house, there is no such thing. Lunatic is an embraced word here. And what about the walls? Isn’t it the most beautiful thing? Think about all the different ideas and personalities splashed onto the Cloyne canvas throughout the decades. I myself took part in history and added my own piece to the collage. Every stroll down the hallways elicits a different story.
I left Cloyne over a year ago and am in medical school now in Chicago. It’s true, the cliché that you don’t truly appreciate what you had until its out of reach. At Cloyne, I could be whoever, experiment with different character manifestations of myself, and get away with it. Here lies the value of Cloyne, it is a safe place for play. To take part, I had to learn to see the beauty that lies in human interaction and shared experiences. This isn’t easy and difficult to teach in other settings. I have carried this outlook with me since, along with a fistful of other wisdoms that my fellow pirates have imparted upon me. We should cherish the environment and eclectic culture that this hotel of 150 students magically radiates.
Cloyne is an anchor for me, and I always look back to my time there wishing that the rest of the world were a bit more like Cloyne. Or I think, “Cloyne Is Suck,” and am infinitely happier knowing that I had the fortune of being a clone.
Freddy D Uquillas
From the moment I joined Cloyne upon first arriving at Cal, it has served as an incredible mentor in my life and academic endeavors not just for myself, but for the friends I got to meet there as well. Thanks to Cloyne Court’s encouragement, I got to further develop my public speaking skills by preparing and facilitating Community Action Workshops (CAWs) on behalf of the Berkeley Student Cooperative (BSC), two of which centered on the neuroscience of substance use and prevention. While living there, I also successfully passed certification exams for running the 3T MRI ($3M machine) at the UC Berkeley Brain Imaging Center, was awarded biomedical research and academic fellowships by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, had 3 first-author scientific poster presentations at international conferences, submitted a first-author manuscript to a peer-reviewed journal, and accomplished much more under its care and guidance than I probably would have without its inspiration and support. Lastly, during my last semester there (SP ’13), I was awarded a prestigious pre-doctoral research fellowship from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).
Its passion for free speech and discovery is easily noticed, and its strong work ethic makes it a strong asset within the Berkeley community. Cloyne Court is truly full of leaders and active, dynamic scholars. It is also a dedicated and creative institution whose awareness of the world around it moves other organizations to look more deeply, too. For the time I was at Cloyne, it has always housed students that care for one another and who take time out of their own work to help others.
In conclusion, I am confident that Cloyne Court will continue to make significant contributions to the creative performing arts, academia, and progress in general. However, its existence as it stands now is in danger and it is my hope with this note that its current values, autonomy and positive and creative environment for those that need it are not compromised by the current proposal by the BSC Board of Directors.
Thanks for reading.
There is no place in the world, I'm quite sure, like the Cloyne Court Hotel.
I came to Cloyne, like all Clones, in the unlikeliest of circumstances. There's no 'right' way to find yourself pulled into the coops, nor to establish oneself at a place like Cloyne. Still, looking back at my path, I can't help but laugh. I lived in a fraternity for my first two years at Cal. During my sophomore year, the woman who I was dating lived in Cloyne. I remember visiting her there for the first time and being horrified. The murals and graffiti on the walls; the carpet that felt like the green side of a sponge; the two people in kitchen scrubbing pots with nothing on their bodies but a gift-wrapping of saran-wrap. I was a fratboy, and my particular brand of uncleanliness and shenanigans suddenly seemed like something out of Happy Days or Gidget compared to Cloyne's proud, gilded anarchy.
I also probably got side-eyed for my cargo shorts and Abercrombie polo, if I'm being honest, which, while not totally undeserved, was enough to send me packing out of the front door and back into the warm, comfortable embrace of bi-weekly cleaners, catered dinners, and teasing pledges.
But if anything is capitol T, True, in this world, it's that people change. At first superficially (I went to a few music festivals; I experimented with drugs), and then deeply and meaningfully (I experimented with, and reexamined my sexuality; I allowed my personal politics to evolve and attenuate; I ate vegetarian and then stopped eating vegetarian; I left the country for 6 months). When I came back from Auckland I required something new and mysterious. I followed a dear friend into the abyss, the cantata of Cloyne Court.
And but, my God, what journey. On my first day at Cloyne, the day I moved in, I sat, naked, with a group of Old Clones, in a duct tape patchworked kids pool.
And I was comfortable. I mean, ok, not at first. But as a man who's always been a bit shy and reserved and, perhaps, defensive of his body's contours and protrusions, I sat in that pool, with people whom I had met just that day, and felt no judgement. I had not, since I was maybe four years old, felt like my nakedness was so accepted, so totally banal, that the idea of feeling self-conscious about my skin was made immediately absurd.
So I bought in. I lived in a triple on the ground floor. I made a home out of the chapel, with it's horrible, beautiful scribblings on the wall. I made donuts for special brunch.
I found a space where no one was ever rejected. Sure, yes, there were cliques and groups, but they were always secondary to the purposeful purposelessness of the House. In this place, radical marxists made love with ardent Smithian economics majors. EECS students tended to basil plants with all the meticulous care of a Python algorithm. A brilliant mathematician tied glowsticks to his wall and shook sun from his hair.
Cloyne taught me that it was perfectly fine to love whomever I was driven to love. That the depths of human creativity and compassion were surely without bottom. Cloyne helped me stop biting my nails, which, at the time, was no easy thing. Around election time, a group of anarchists and cynics gathered around and let me prattle to them about the electoral college, the path to 270, and the importance of down-ticket races. When President Obama was reelected, dozens of us sang and danced. When the moon was full, dozens of us, just the same, sang and danced.
There is nowhere in the world like Cloyne. Cloyne is love. Cloyne is suck.
Please, don't take it away from the young people who will need it in the future.
Cloyne is a haven, a safety harbor in a chaotic city and extremely competitive University. Out there, people are rushing, raving, ranting, but once you swing open the doors of Cloyne you have entered a secret garden, where everything is possible and nothing is not. Cloyne is a place to release negative energy accumulated from a stressful day by swinging your body to beats in the kitchen, pouring passion into cooking a meal for 60 housemates, or laying to rest in the sunny courtyard. Cloyne is finally finding the courage to stand up in front of 100 people and play your first performance on the guitar. Cloyne is a blank wall, an open slate waiting for you to spread vibrant colors across its surface, and ultimately, your life. Cloyne stays with you, whether your leaving for class or leaving for good, Cloyne stays with you everywhere you go.
I owe my entire life to Cloyne. I say that whole heartedly. Not literally, per se - it is not like Cloyne saved me from a large boulder falling from the sky - but for the happiness and perspective and community that I have today, I owe it all.
After Cal, I went to University of Pennsylvania to get another Bachelors in Nursing and I am now a practicing Nurse in San Francisco working for the SF County Jail and for UCSF as a nurse researcher. My partner (whom I met at Cloyne) and I are both pursuing master's degrees and I am considering a doctorate to do research on public health and underserved populations. This information is to support the idea that worldly successful people can have Cloyne be their home for 2.5 years during undergrad. I would go so far to say that my experience at Cloyne facilitated my worldly success through intellectual stimulation. Cloyne is a unique place in that, in no where else have I found such a large community of brilliant, inspired, and carefree young minds. In fact, the intellectual and spiritual discussions that accompany such a life-changing experiment in community living that is Cloyne has itself inspired dozens of essays, theses, short stories and documentaries, among the support it gives to the successes of community living around the world and at academic institutions.
One of my most favorite things to tell younger people going off to college and to older folks that will appreciate the perspective is: I learned more from my time outside of class than I did in. Most of that time outside of class involves or is closely connected to Cloyne itself. Cloyne helped me realize what life was all about. Many people spend most of their lives trying to find their purpose in this world. I vividly remember this feeling that I would get that would go on for weeks at a time - the feeling of trying to hold on to the roller-coaster of realizations I was having about life and about how this world works. Cloyne took me for a wonderful ride and my life would not be the same without that my time there. 6 out of 8 of my best friends today (7 years later) lived at Cloyne and all 8 lived in the BSC system at some point. My inspiration to become a nurse was found through discussions in that very dinning hall. Maybe most significantly of all, Cloyne served as the gracious host to my then budding (now fully blooming) spirituality.
As a believer in Karma, I would say that one fantastic karmic seed ripened for me to end up as a human in this society and to have lived at Cloyne Court.
Ask anyone who has ever walked in the front door of Cloyne Court Hotel & Casino and they'll tell you that there isn't another place in the world quite like it. Yes, it's a student cooperative, one of seventeen in the BSC, but it's not just that. Cloyne stands apart due to a unique house culture that's hard to relay to outsiders.
Walking down the hall lined with murals of Where the Wild Things Are and Ferdinand the Bull, you'll pass the LibEd room, where any night in the week you're bound to find someone playing 18th century classical music on a recently tuned piano, an aerial yoga instruction, guided meditation, or a discussion on food justice. The strength of Cloyne is in its numbers. As anyone who's ever been to a Cloyne dinner knows, the range of human experience inside those walls is almost as large as their collective appetite.
While living there, every night over dinner, I could talk to a different person who was fast becoming an expert on neurobiology, conservational forestry, religious studies, art, design, film, literature, psychology, or many other subjects. Like some metropolitan city with many vibrant neighborhoods, Cloyne has within it countless micro-cultures that co-exist in a remarkable way.
Growing up playing in bands, I was drawn to Cloyne because it has a band room. Cloyne is the only place in Berkeley I knew that would tolerate me playing loud music with friends at pretty much any hour that we could meet up. I recorded part of my most recent album in Cloyne, as I know the awesome band Waterstrider has done as well. For home improvement, as a way to show how grateful I was for the space, I oversaw a project to better soundproof the band room.
Musicians like Elliot Smith, No Doubt, Devo, and more recently Meat Market, Rilo Kiley, and FIDLAR, found in Cloyne a welcome place to play shows while touring the West Coast. I worry that the newly proposed out-of-house party restrictions will be the end to a rich musical legacy I was lucky to have witnessed.
I find the fact that Cloyne is to be re-labelled as an "academically themed" house insulting, as it implies some drastic change from the current house mentality. The individual "Clones" that I have met and lived with have consistently amazed me with their ability to juggle academic achievements, creative projects, community outreach, and personal relationships. For many people, Cloyne is a place to explore, experiment, scream at the top of your lungs, and really figure things out in a nonjudgemental environment. It was here that I learned I was responsible for myself.
A vote to purge Cloyne of every current member is essentially destroying what countless generations of Clones have worked so hard as a community to make: a bizarre, and beautiful family of one hundred and fifty. In doing so you are killing a rare animal, both the first and last of its kind, and the world will be a worse place without it.
Cloyne has shown me the vast potential of large-scale, heterogeneous, cooperative communities. This home has stretched my intellectual as well as my interpersonal capabilities.
Cloyne is where I found who I am.
When I started my relationship with Cloyne by boarding Spring 2012, I found the place a bit overwhelming, yet fascinating and full of wonder. I was willing to give it a chance, so I moved in with my roommate and contributed the skills I had by becoming Network Manager. At the time, the network was in shambles: the current router had just died, our internet connection spotty at best, and the network topology a mess. We worked through it, and I haven't stopped yet.
Cloyne has provided me with the resources to work on my passion, technology, with the support and feedback of a large peer community. I've been able to root my heart into my work knowing that what I am doing has a lasting impact. By doing this work, I came to an important realization: I didn't need further schooling to push me forward, I only needed a strong will to work and a community who will support my work in exchange for mutual benefit. So I dropped out of school, and sadly ended my living stay at Cloyne in Summer 2013.
However, I will never be able to leave Cloyne in spirit, as my passion continues and Cloyne is still what I consider home. I continue to be Network Manager (for now) and am using what I have learned at Cloyne and in my time away from school to hopefully start a workers' cooperative that provides tech infrastructure to cooperatives. I love Cloyne and the culture that I have been a part of is the reason that my life is now dedicated towards open source technology for cooperatives. I am only one of many who found themselves here. To kill the current Cloyne culture is to inflict unnecessary harm on a beautiful creature while ignoring the actual issue: substance abuse and mental illness. Together we must save not only Cloyne but the whole BSC.