After almost 39 years of providing cooperative housing and experiential living for UC Davis students, the 14 dome structures at Baggins End will be taken down.
Student Housing released a letter to the 26 current Domes residents informing them of its decision to not renew the leases that end on July 31.
In the letter, Associate Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Emily Galindo said the costs of ADA improvements, addressing health and safety concerns and bringing the Domes up to current building codes was too substantial.
Each dome was estimated to cost $43,000 to make the necessary changes, said Associate Director of Student Housing Ramona Hernandez.
“It is clear that such a significant financial investment in the current Domes structures is not a good use of students’ rents, the present reserve and a loan that would create substantial liability for future residents,” Galindo said in the letter.
Even though the initial building loan was paid off in 1980, the residents’ rent has gone toward utilities, maintenance, administrative oversight, student programs, fire and police services and the construction of other buildings like the Yurt and the greenhouse, Galindo said.
“You can imagine over time, with operational expenses, we have only been able to put a certain amount in reserves,” she said.
However, residents are not taking Student Housing’s letter as the final say in the matter, said Teal Miller, a senior animal science major and current Domes resident.
On Feb. 21, the Domes community held a brainstorming session with current community members, alumni and supporters to discuss ways to preserve the community.
“We believe Student Housing does a good job with first year housing, but cooperative housing is different,” said Veronica Pardo, a community development graduate student and current Domes resident. “Our goal is the continuity for a community we cherish.”
It would be nice to save the current structures for historical purposes, but the change for the community at this point is simply structural, Pardo said. The community needs to exist at the same location in some way.
As of now, Student Housing intends to take down the Domes due to safety related issues, but not everything will have to go.
“We are going to preserve the commons area, the gardens, the Yurt and Herb Hall,” Hernandez said. “The current residents can form a registered student organization. [Student Housing] will enter into an agreement with them, where we will make it possible for them to be able to use the previously mentioned places. They can still have a presence on campus, but they can’t live at the site.”
The future of the space where the Domes are currently located is still undecided.
“[Student Housing] has recommended that the land continue to be used by a future living/learning community,” Galindo said. “We support a similar style community at that location and have no different plans to utilize that space.”
The Sustainable Living/Learning Task Force, chaired by Associate Vice Chancellor for Campus Planning and Community Resources Bob Segar, will help create the next generation of cooperative housing at the current Domes location.
“We know that the Domes have a very long tradition, and that the students who live there are very passionate about it,” Galindo said. “We admire that and believe it’s a good thing. It says a lot about the program, and we want to have those types of options for students.”
Hernandez estimates that it will be three to five years before another cooperative community will open.
Student Housing has offered assistance to help current Domes residents find housing for next year.
“It was very important to us that we provide [housing] information as early as possible, so they can look at their options for next year,” Galindo said. “We have provided them with information about on and off campus housing availability. We also have a staff member who is available to provide personal assistance.” Still, some residents are hesitant to look for housing for next year. “To look for new housing would say we are giving up, which we are not,” Pardo said.
MICHELLE MURPHY can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.