Radcliffe Students Praise Cooperative House System
From manufacturing chlorine in chem lab to baking good apple pie for dinner--this is the double life that 36 Radcliffe girls living in cooperative houses lead. Menus and recipes become as important for them as math formulas or the analysis of a Yeats poem.
Radcliffe's three cooperative houses. Edmunds, Everett, and Peach were founded a few years ago to lower living costs. The approximate charge for room and board in a coop is $450 per year, about half of the present cost for a single room in one of the regular dorms. This saving is increasingly important in view of the rising room rates at the Annex.
Girls living in the coops take turns at planning meals, shopping, and cooking. Planning the meals requires imagination, and the girls take pride in the variety and excellence of their cooking. No one has to be afraid of mistakes, however. The girls are tolerant of errors and there is always someone ready to pitch in and help if the cake doesn't rise, or something "just goes wrong" with the mashed potatoes.
Cooperation in these houses is not an empty word. The girls think in terms of "how to make it, rather than "where to buy it." Shopping becomes a science. Girls who have the job of purchasing agents do comparative shopping, learn where things can be bought most cheaply, and buy wholesale whenever possible.
"We actually eat better here than in the dorms," they claim. Helpings of food are plentiful, and there is the added attraction of raiding the icebox between meals. Peanut butter, crackers, and fruit are to be had for the taking at Peach House. Girls sign up for the things they take and the cost is apportioned at the end of the year. Harvard men often appear as guests at meals, and generally seem impressed with the domestic talents of the girls.
One of the most valuable aspects of coop living is the training and experience that it gives in homemaking.
There are few disadvantages, the only serious one being the amount of time spent in work in the house. Most of the girls feel that it is valuable training in managing their time efficiently. Commenting on coop living, "M. F." Blakeslee '52 (Edmunds) said, "The only problem is lack of time, but the house offers so much more than dorm living--a home atmosphere and greater freedom."
Kathy Bridge '54 (Everett) said that she likes the feeling of taking care of herself, being more on her own, and the informality and independence of coop living.
Cooperative living has more advantages than the saving of money. Ann Yeomens '54 (Everett) voiced the sentiments of many of the girls when she said, "I think the whole college should be cooperative--you save money and you learn so much."