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Davis, California

Friday, February 23, 2024

Ask Katehi

What do you see as the future for the co-op community in light of the recent decision to close the Domes?

Cooperative communities like Baggins End, commonly known as the Domes, have been a part of UC Davis for many decades. As an on-campus living option, they have provided an innovative residential experience for students who – through their relationships with others – gain self-reliance and independence as they manage the health and welfare of their community in a holistic manner. At UC Davis, we are pleased to offer and promote this unique opportunity as it meets the needs and interests of a number of our students.

Over time, unfortunately, the Domes facilities – constructed in 1972 – have been found to be in need of extensive repairs due to health and safety concerns. And like many facilities on campus, replacement has been determined to be the most prudent response.  After careful thought and consideration of all possible alternatives, we made the decision not to renew leases in the Domes.

Instead, a new task force led by Assistant Vice Chancellor Bob Segar will look into what the future holds for sustainable living and learning communities on campus. Assisted by faculty, staff and students who currently live in the cooperative communities, the group is looking at an approach that would create a shared vision for a new community. The planning process is focused on developing a comprehensive strategy that includes: valuing the student cooperative residential experience; a strong connection to related academic teaching and research programs; a sound business plan for financial and organizational stability; and that employs innovations in the sustainable living systems that are now available.

Meanwhile, Student Housing continues to provide an opportunity for cooperative living in the Tri-Cooperatives housing area, which includes Davis Student Co-Op, Pierce Co-Op and Agrarian Effort. Information regarding the Tri-Coops is available on the Student Housing website at housing.ucdavis.edu/housing/cooperatives.asp.

Got a question for the chancellor? Send it to campus@theaggie.org.


  1. So true that the cooperatives have provided an innovative residential experience for students who – through their relationships with others – gain self-reliance and independence as they manage the health and welfare of their community in a holistic manner!!! So let’s foster, nourish, keep them.

  2. Don’t take Ms. Katehi’s response as statement of fact. The University’s principles of community state that each of us must “recognize that we have an obligation to the community of which we have chosen to be a part,” and that we must, “strive to build a true community of spirit and purpose based on mutual respect and caring.” In the University’s action towards closure of the domes community, the administration has willfully ignored its own salient tenants in favor of a short-sighted and under-researched conclusion to what has been an integral part of the Davis community for 40 years.

    Additionally, as UC administrators cite an interest in leading the world in “sustainable” and alternative technology they ignore a massive experiment in low-impact, alternative living right here in Davis. Each dome is an experiment in maximizing functional living space while minimizing the footprint of dwellings in order to allow for diverse and lush organic gardens and plentiful outside living space. The spirit of consensus tends to value each individual’s contribution while incentivizing collaboration and innovation, fostering the development of inspired and passionate individuals ready to solve global problems with creative and compassionate solutions. The domes legacy is one that should be celebrated and cherished for the unique contribution to our community that it is; please feel empowered to share your support for the Domes with University Administrators.

  3. Chancellor Katehi’s statements here are erroneous at best, and quite possibly meant to be intentionally misleading. Please consider the following:

    1. Ms. Katehi claims that UCD is pleased to offer this unique opportunity to students, but willingly allows the closure of a part of the program. Her focus on Bob Segar’s SLLC task force seems an obfuscatory strategy to distract readers from the reality that students presently living at Baggins End are being forced to leave on July 31. This long-term plan, though commendable, makes no attempt to establish continuity for the community or the housing of its residents. This is the issue at hand.

    2. Ms. Katehi refers to the many opportunities the SLLC will provide, including opportunities for academic research programs, a business plan, and organizational stability. Yet the cooperative living communities already provide all this. It is because of negligence and inefficacy on the part of student housing’s administration that research projects at the co-ops have been difficult recently. Only a couple years ago, Engineers Without Borders (EWB) came to Baggins End with a plan for the installation, study, and maintenance of a composting toilet system. Despite support by students, residents, and the inherent research value in such a project, student housing’s administration quashed the idea. If this administration has been so unwilling to undertake student-run projects in the past, what guarantee does this new task force provide?

    3. Ms. Katehi refers the reader to other cooperative living opportunities on campus – i.e. the Tri-Cooperatives. She fails to mention the recent crusade undertaken by student housing to shut down one of the three houses. She fails to mention the massive budgetary problems student housing is citing in managing these properties. She also fails to mention that these budgetary problems did not exist before student housing took control of the cooperatives’ budgets. She does not mention that several years ago, her administration forced the Tri-cooperatives to take out a loan that they could not possibly pay back. Are such irresponsible fiscal practices common in this administration? All this seems a directed effort to take control away from the students. As recently as ten years ago, Baggins End residents controlled a great deal of their budget – including rent adjustments, allocation of funds for gardening or maintenance, and future planning. Now, this is all done by student housing administration (for which they cite enormous costs), and students are allowed no control of the system. The inability of this administration to provide a transparent, financially solvent budget is particularly frustrating.

    4. Ms. Katehi’s statement leaves a lot out. The question asked regarded the future of the co-op community, in light of the potential closure of the domes. Ms. Katehi made no mention of the current residents at Baggins End, or what plans exist to house these residents in continuity of the program. She also made no mention of continuity of the program. Student housing administrators Ramona Hernandez, Emily Gallindo, and Faye Perata have all clearly stated that the current residents will retain access to the site, tools, gardens, and community structures – even if the domes are not inhabited. Ms. Katehi’s omission of this fact is very concerning – perhaps her administration is not really invested in this? Similarly concerning is student housing’s internal confusion regarding this “committment to continuity” – the domes’ liaison, Faye Perata, wrote in an email to residents that “there has been no definite plan for the use of this space after July 31, 2011”

    5. Ms. Katehi states that her administration, after careful consideration of all possible alternatives, found it more prudent to replace the domes, rather than repair them – and to discontinue their use, rather than replace them. Residents agree that some repairs are in order, but disagree with the administration’s response. Ms. Katehi fails to mention that her administration recently stated its intent to spend Baggins End’s $40,000 reserves (from residents’ rent) to bulldoze the property. She fails to mention that despite he administration’s claim that repairs would cost over $900,000, residents have found innovative solutions involving generous donations and student labor, cutting this to less than 10% of the administration’s inflated costs.

    In short, the administration has demonstrated they are both unwilling and unable to successfully manage cooperative living areas on-campus. I believe that the administration’s recent propensity to try to shut down all the co-ops on campus is a reflection of this. I encourage the University to seek outside property management from an independent housing manager. There is extensive precedent for such outsourcing, including Orchard and Russell Parks. It’s time to save the domes – let’s not leave it up to them.


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