Life in 2D and the omnivore's dilemma
Gertner is a member and resident of the vegetarian co-op at 2 Dickinson St. (2D), a beige, three-story house located across from Henry Hall at the corner of University Place and Dickinson Street.
Originally housed in the basement of Blair Hall, the co-op was founded in 1976 as an eating option for students without meal contracts, according to a letter published by 2D founding member William Braham ’79.
Though the co-op is technically off-campus, undergraduates can draw into 2D for University housing. Graduate students who belong to the co-op, however, may not live in the house. The combination of co-op members and non-members as well as vegetarians and non-vegetarians in the house has led to some tensions and inconveniences for 2D residents, students said.
Most current 2D residents are not members of the co-op and instead belong to eating clubs, have meal contracts or are independent. Many of these students explained that they drew into 2D because they had late draw times and few other options.
“My roommate and I got kind of screwed on room draw,” James Bryant ’10 said. “It was kind of a weird situation. I never thought I would live in 2D, and the first thing that surprised me was how close it is to all of the dorms and Henry. I realized it wasn’t going to be that big of a deal.”
Unlike most University buildings, 2D entry is not accessible to all students with an electronic proximity card (prox). Instead, only residents and co-op members have proxes that can unlock the door.
Otilia Pupezeanu ’10, who lives in 2D but is not a member of the co-op, said this system has some disadvantages.
“I don’t feel isolated because of the location, since the house is basically part of the campus,” she said. “But my friends can’t really visit me because not all the proxes work here.”
Some residents also said they have encountered difficulties with the co-op’s vegetarian cooking.
Members of the co-op noted that nearly half of its 30 members are not vegetarian, while four or five are vegan. Many of the non-vegetarian members said they joined the co-op because of the low cost: 2D members pay only $500 per semester to eat there.
David Ponton ’09, an independent student who lives in 2D, said he has had trouble living in the house as a non-vegetarian. When he was cooking chicken for his lunch one day last fall, Ponton said, a co-op member told him to stop, citing an unofficial “no meat” rule.
Ponton continued to cook meat in the kitchen and, after a few more confrontations with members, he contacted the Housing Office. Housing administrators told him that though a “no meat” rule is not written in the Room Draw Guide, it is implied since the co-op is vegetarian.
“At this point I was just confuzzled,” Ponton said. “There was nothing in the Room Draw Guide that suggested that the kitchen was a meat-free zone.”
Ponton said he then contacted Undergraduate Housing Manager Angela Hodgeman and requested to meet with her several times regarding the issue, but she never met with him despite three months of correspondence and a 13-e-mail exchange on the matter.
“Of course, she made time to meet with the co-op representative, who sent out an e-mail with a list of non-debatable kitchen rules,” he said.
Ponton said he continues to cook and eat meat in the kitchen because he believes that, though the group is vegetarian, “kitchens have no feelings either way.” He also does not use any of the co-op’s utensils or cooking equipment and has never seen any other 2D resident cook meat with the kitchen equipment, he said.
“I am thoroughly annoyed by the idea that stipulations implied in a contract are considered to hold weight,” Ponton said. “In this case, Housing is conveniently reading something into the Room Draw Guide that was never there.”
Pupezeanu also cited the no-meat rule as a drawback to living in 2D.
“It is kind of inconvenient for me because I can’t bring meat to the kitchen, since this would really upset the people in the co-op,” Pupezeanu said. “If you’re not in the co-op, and you plan to cook at some point, you should not choose to live in 2D unless you’re vegetarian.”
For residents who are also members of the co-op, though, 2D provides a close-knit community, several students said.
“I come to the house and sit down at the same table with the same people at the same time every day, and it’s like family,” Zoe Saunders ’10 said. “It’s a good balance that I needed in my life: separating my home life from school life.”
Gertner said he joined the co-op as an alternative to the eating clubs, where he “never felt comfortable,” and the “expensive” dining hall meals. He noted that, while he is still learning how to cook, 2D membership has been an overwhelmingly positive experience for him. “It’s full of wonderful people who are also amazing cooks,” he said.
Daniel Stanton GS, a member of the co-op, said that it hoped to have more members living in the house next year. He added that there have been discussions regarding allowing graduate student members of the co-op to live in 2D.
The Housing Office has yet to move on this request, however. “No decisions have been made with regard to the future of 2 Dickinson at this time,” Hodgeman said in an e-mail.