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90th Anniversary Gala

Join us for an unforgettable gala celebrating our alumni, rich history, and all the meals we have shared over the decades.

This fall, Berkeley Student Cooperative is commemorating our 90th year with an unforgettable gala that celebrates our rich collective history of eating and living together: “Food Through the Decades at the BSC.”

Join us for an evening of dinner and drinks emceed by renowned chef and author and BSC Alumnus, Narsai David. We will have guest speakers, music, and mingling.

90th anniversary gala

Event Details

Saturday, October 21, 2023
5pm – 10pm

International House
2299 Piedmont Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94720 (map)

Admission includes dinner & dessert (vegan options available), wine & beer, and nonalcoholic beverages. Space is limited, so please don’t hesitate to register!

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Meet Narsai David

When the topic of conversation turns to food, count yourself lucky if you’re with Narsai David, whose polymath perspective and lifetime of experiences in the culinary world are sure to educate and enthrall. His accomplishments are almost too numerous to list, ranging from chef to the stars, cutting-edge restauranteur, and gourmet merchant to national culinary personality, wine expert, and vintner.

While he’s been a fixture in the fine dining and food critic worlds for decades, his climb to the top of the industry included some formative years in the co-ops. While developing his skills at local restaurants, he shared them with his fellow students, working his way up from kitchen crew at Cloyne to Chairman of Central Food Services.

Since then, he’s been a consistent co-op booster and an incredible asset to our alumni community. We’re thrilled to welcome him to the gala stage as host of our 90th anniversary celebration. With Narsai David at the helm, the evening is certain to be full of entertaining anecdotes and fascinating conversation exploring the topic of food through the decades at the BSC.

BSC (formerly USCA) History at a Glance

In 1933, Harry Kingman’s inspired collective action kicked off a revolution in housing accessibility. His original concept quickly inspired 14 others, who worked together to grow their new cooperative to more than 200 members within the first two years. The University of California Students’ Cooperative Association (UCSCA) made education more attainable for thousands of students throughout the last 90 years, and continues to do so today. Their original ideals are with us as well:

  • Antidiscrimination
  • Access to Education
  • Expansion
  • Member Education

You’ll often hear from co-opers that they learned more in their houses than they did in their classes.

The legacy of the co-ops includes generations of members with higher self-sufficiency and greater emotional intelligence than their peers in other housing situations. Working together develops your brain! This was as true in the early 20th century as it is now. The 1930s and 40s were a time of incredible change and growth for the co-ops, welcoming women and creating connections between otherwise disparate groups, all in the name of affordable, safe student housing.

The 1950s brought a name change (University Students’ Cooperative Association – USCA) and a visit from Eleanor Roosevelt, who spoke at the organization’s 25th anniversary. 

Growth continued in the 1960s, and another revolution was on the way: co-ed living at the Ridge Project! The Central Office also appeared on the scene, streamlining services and operations. With all that additional capacity, expansion to the south side of UC Berkeley’s campus was the focus for the 1970s and 80s.

When UC Berkeley closed their themed housing in the 1990s, USCA stepped in to fill the void, opening African-American Theme House, Convent (Graduate/Re-entry Student Theme) and Oscar Wilde House (LGBTQIA Theme). 

To continue on this progressive path, the co-ops focused on access for disabled members, earthquake retrofits, and energy efficiency improvements in the 2000s. In 2007, the organization also updated its name to Berkeley Student Cooperative, as we know and love it today.

While the BSC may have worked hard to maintain membership in its early years, in the 2010s, it was well known to be the best place for low cost student housing in the Bay Area, at a time when local housing costs and student fees were increasing.

Co-op leaders managed to lower rent for the first time, giving added relief to members working hard to pay for school. As real estate costs continue to rise, expanding is more difficult than ever, and demand is high: the waitlist to enter the co-ops is never empty. The future is bright, and with the support of alumni donors, the co-ops will continue the mission to expand affordable housing opportunities to more generations of students to come.

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