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Campus News

Co-op Living on Campus

by Zoe Sarvis, staff writer

Photos by Kaitlyn Waters

Here at Warren Wilson you will find most of the students are eating at Cowpie or Gladfelter for their meals, with the exception of 25 students who belong to either Preston House or Shepard.

These houses are the co-op houses on campus. Residents cook their own meals and are completely off the meal plan. Shepard house is made up of 17 students, while Preston is made up of 8.

Preston house has been around for six or seven years, and was founded by students who decided that they did not to live in a hierarchical living situation with an RA and RD, and they wanted to cook their own food.

Several students wrote a proposal and presented it to Student Caucus. While the co-op house does not have an RA or an RD, they do operate under an Area Coordinator.

“The students living in Preston run on a consensus based decision-making process based around a non-hierarchical living idea,” said Chloe Smith, a senior living in Preston House.

Every Sunday night the residents of the house eat together and discuss the chores that they did that week, and any decisions that may impact the house, which would have to be agreed upon by everyone.

The chores that the members have to do are based off of two chore wheels. The first is a house chore wheel that includes cleaning the restroom, cleaning outside, etc.

The other chore wheel is the food chore wheel, which entails making sure that the fridge is stocked with staples, which would include beans, rice, grains, desserts and snacks.

“The house mainly cooks from bulk due to the budget, so the chore wheel will assure that everybody can contribute to everyone’s meals,” said Smith. “Also on the chore wheel we have our weekly family dinner which is on Sunday. Two people are responsible for cooking our weekly meeting meal on Sunday.”

The house is given the money that would otherwise have gone to Sodexo, Warren Wilson’s food provider, for their meal plan. The students receive a check which combines all the residents’ money together.

“It is about $150 a week,” Smith said. “We are living cooperatively because our money is pulled cooperatively to buy food we then share.”

Shepard House is a much newer house compared to Preston. In addition, Shepard is a larger house, with more residents. The original idea for Shepard, however, looked very different from what it is today. Originally, the idea was to have four or five students living in a small house together, but today, it is four times that size, as the school was unable to fund a smaller co-op house. Shepard, which was originally a wellness dorm, was then converted into the co-op house that it is today.

Shepard House has a sign up where the members are assigned cooking crew and cleaning crew, which is Monday through Thursday.

Friday and Saturday night the members of the house fend for themselves, and similar to Preston, the house has a communal dinner Sunday night and holds a meeting to discuss things regarding the house, and any other news the members of the house decide they want to share.

Three or four people cook dinner for the whole house and then three or four others will clean up afterwards.

“That’s basically all the chores we do, heavy duty still comes in and cleans the space, we do a deep clean Sunday nights after dinner,” said sophomore Shepard resident Barely Colello.

Shepard runs the same way as Preston does financially, with the portion of money given to them.

“We usually go to Amazing Savings, and we get eggs and milk and vegetables from the farm and garden,” said sophomore Lizzie Haworth, a resident of Shepard.

Even though Preston and Shepard houses have their slight differences, when asked about living in a Co-Op, the members were able to offer unique insight to their opinions and experiences.

Why did you choose to live in a co-op house?

“I predominately wanted to be off the meal plan and learn how to make cooking for myself part of my life, and not like when I get out of college to be like ‘Oh no, I can’t scan a piece of plastic and get food anymore.’”- Barley Colello (Shepard)

“I was displeased with living in a dorm, I didn’t really feel a sense of community. I didn’t like the lack of accountability in the dorm living space. I also like to cook and being off the meal plan made me feel more independent from the school. I really like living in a house, in a neighborhood.”- Chloe Smith (Preston)

Why do you value cooking your own food?

“I think it’s a great way to dip my feet in to being an adult. I really love to cook and wanted to learn to cook, and I think it’s a great way to bond with people. But I never cooked every single meal for myself, my entire life I’ve never done that. It was a really great way to experiment and play and develop in that sense, and I honestly feel way more comfortable graduating and being able to cook my own meals.” – Marissa Bramlett

“I think it’s a really important part of being in tune with yourself and taking time to heal yourself and a way of honoring and nourishing your body. A lot of people ask me if I’m stressed out about having to cook my own food and I think it helps me, I have an outlet to go steam some kale and honor my body.”- Barely Colello (Shepard)

How does living in a co-op house affect your college experience?

“I am probably more of a recluse because I live here.”- Paige Seago (Shepard)

“It kind of fits really well into the evolution of Wilson. Until now I have lived in a different dorm with a different roommate every single semester. That’s what I really needed and wanted, and now it feels really appropriate as a junior to be able to sink in. And honestly I don’t see my out-of-Shepard friends as often, but it’s totally worth it.” – Marissa Bramlett (Shepard)

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