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Murphy, Thomas H. (ed.) / Wisconsin alumnus
Vol. 72, Number 7 (May 1971)

Godfrey, Earl; Wessing, Jim
Student standpoint,   pp. 27-29

Page 27

CO-ED LIVING: The First Year at Le Chateau
q Ear Godfrey and Jim Wessing
The co-authors are seniors. Mr. Wessing,
from Lomira, is in American Institutions.
Nr. Godfrey majors in biochemistry, and
comes from Janesville.
  A visitor entering the old brown-
stone at 636 Langdon-formerly the
Alpha Chi Rho house-would notice
little unusual activity. Groups of stu-
dents are studying in the lounge,
1-working in the kitchen, playing cards,
and listening to records. Then why
has the Le Chateau Co-operative at-
tracted so much attention in this its
first year of operation? Because it is
1the first coeducational living unit on
'the campus established with the sup-
port and approval of the University
  In recent years, the co-operative
  movement has grown tremendously
  all across the country, and most sig-
  nificantly in student housing. Al-
  though the Madison campus has had
  many stable living co-ops, other ven-
  tures have been tagged "hippie comr-
  munes". Our intent, after three years
}in the men-only Rust-Schreiner
'Scholarship Co-op, was to establish a
1o-ed co-op for the scholarship student
1 with financial need. This desire grew
from a dissatisfaction with all-male
dorm life. Due to the isolated loca-
Ition of Rust-Schreiner (near Camp
I Randall), its men had little chance
to interact with girls except in the
classroom and on highly formalized
dates. Our social activity consisted
mainly of playing cards, watching
TV and drinking beer at nearby stu-
  dent bars. We felt that a co-ed living
  experience would be a more natural,
  hOme-like situation.
  In the fall of 1969, a committee of
  Students from the four scholarship
  "O-Ops began work leading to the
  formation of Le Chateau. With the
  I help of the Office of Student Hous-
  hng a two-year lease was signed with
the Alpha Chi Rho alumni for their
   There are 25 men and 20 women
in the co-op; they live on separate
floors. The unit is supervised by a
married housefellow and his wife.
(She is also the business manager.)
The students do all the work except
cooking supper, which brings the
board and room cost down to an
inexpensive $825 per year.
   What do residents think of their
co-ed living experience? As one girl
in the house put it: "I've lived in a
girls' dormitory, and the environment
is unnatural--people are always con-
cerned with appearances. Co-ed liv-
ing helps you just live with kids with-
out trying to put up a front." A sur-
vey recently conducted in the house
showed some surprising results. Al-
though many had thought grades
might drop in a co-ed situation, the
house grade average actually rose over
last year. Secondly, dating within the
house has not been extensive. Half
the residents who said they dated,
had not dated anyone in the house.
And one resident commented: "Stu-
dents aren't likely to get into any
more trouble here than in an apart-
ment or dorm. In fact, people are
probably liable to get into less trouble
here." Thirdly, three-fourths said
their participation in group activities,
such as parties, had increased over
last year. And about 90 per cent said
co-ed living did not restrict their
    Perhaps the most interesting result
 was that most residents thought they
 could discuss personal topics better
 with members of their own sex as
 well as with members of the opposite
 sex. As one sophomore man said:
 "We're a more close-knit group. My
 male friends are closer to me now
 than at Rust-Schreiner." Many mem-
                    continued on page 29

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