Co-ops over time

Jan. 25, 2012, 1:00 a.m.


SPRING First co-op at Stanford, Walter Thompson House, established, filling the Japanese House, which was emptied by President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s internment order


AUG. 23 The Stanford Daily publishes an op-ed “obituary” for the termination of the Thompson House: “With the passing of the co-op…our regrets are deepened that the winds of freedom will blow henceforth less briskly”


MAY Two co-op experiments undertaken: Jordan House and a nonviolent house later named Columbae

OCTOBER Former Chi Psi fraternity house becomes Columbae. The Stanford Daily comments on a “trend towards transforming dying fraternities into co-ed houses”


Ecology House established in Cowell Cluster, changed to Terra in 1973


Synergy established as a house for “exploring alternatives”; Hammarskjöld established as a theme house for “international understanding”

Co-ops over time
Synergy in 1986 (Courtesy of Lee Altenberg)


Fraternity Theta Chi begins functioning as a co-op, but only officially splits from National Chapter and renames itself Chi Theta Chi in late 1980s


Phi Kappa Psi, a former fraternity, becomes co-op Phi Psi

JANUARY-FEBRUARY  Students write an op-ed in The Daily on need for Androgyny House “centered around an awareness of how traditional male/female roles are dehumanizing and oppressive to society.” Debate conducted in Daily editorials, op-eds and letters to the editor on new theme house. Synergy resident Richard Korry ’77 comments,  “There’s not much support for alternative lifestyles these days”

• Configuration Advisory Panel on Housing recommends the establishment of a theme house for studying sex roles (Androgyny); Columbae, Synergy and Jordan House considered for replacement

• Satirical letter to the editor of The Daily suggests “non-practicing episcopalian,” “macho,” “Latvian” and “theological engineering” as possible theme houses in response to the trend toward more theme housing



“There’s not much support for alternative lifestyles these days.”



MARCH 2  Androgyny House replaces Jordan House, only to be replaced one year later by German theme house Haus Mitteleuropa


Columbae founder David Josephson discusses origin of Synergy House at the 10th Anniversary Synergy Reunion. Attempts to terminate Synergy countered by “Save Synergy” campaign, with a 700-signature petition and alumni support

Co-ops over time
Columbae co-founder David Josephson speaks with members of Synergy in 1982 (Courtesy of Lee Altenberg)


Kairos, formerly a self-op, is listed as a co-op in the Draw


OCT. 17 Loma Prieta earthquake hits Northern California. Residents of Synergy, Columbae, Hammarskjöld and Phi Psi are rendered temporarily houseless due to earthquake damage.  “It looked like Columbae was going to just walk right off the foundation,” a Columbae resident comments to The Daily.


 “It looked like Columbae was going to just walk right off the foundation.”




WINTER Lee Altenberg Ph.D. ’84 P.D. ’85  writes an article in the Stanford Historical Society quarterly journal detailing University founder Leland Stanford’s vision of fostering co-ops as a principle purpose of the University

Co-op community members design Stanford Workshop on Political and Social Issues (SWOPSI, the predecessor of Student Initiated Courses), titled “Cooperative Living and the Current Crisis at Stanford.” SWOPSI 146 publishes a report in May stating, “At an institution like Stanford today, we run the risk of buying into the myth of the high-status student who should be exempted from the ‘grubbery’ which those in the real world must face.” A senior in Roble responds to survey question on co-op residents, describing them as “vegetarian commies.”


Phi Psi moves from Cooksey House to vacated Alpha Delta Phi fraternity house and renames itself Enchanted Broccoli Forest (EBF)


Synergy relocates to its current location at Cooksey House, converting the parking lot into an organic garden.

Co-ops over time
Synergy resident plays guitar on the house porch in 2011 (Courtesy of Synergy Photo Pool)


Atticus Lee ’10 writes for New York Times about the Synergy experience, describing the practice of consensus with the goal of attaining “global harmony” in house decision-making

Marwa Farag is a senior staff writer at The Stanford Daily. Previously, she was the managing editor of news, managing editor of the former features section, a features desk editor and a news writer.

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