Imagine: you're a spunky wide-eyed prospie on your first tour of Vassar College, ready to dive head first into the history of this beautiful, mostly late 19th and early 20th century campus, when you see an out-of-place bauhaus structure, directly outside the admissions building. This weird, flat, rectangular fish bowl is known as Ferry House, Vassar's only vegan co-op.

File:Dexter M. Ferry Cooperative House, August 2014.jpg

Image from WikiCommons

Your tour guide probably throws in a quick, "that's the vegan house!" comment before moving on, but Ferry House has a transformative history that deserves to be told. 

Built in 1951 and designed by renowned modernist architect, Marcel Breuer, Ferry House offers one of the few cooperative housing options to students. Here are some of the reasons why Ferry House is such a unique space on campus, and why we should be promoting co-ops, rather than dismantling the ones that exist. 


One of the reasons I chose to move from Main Building to Ferry House was its close-knit community of only 21 students. Main is the largest dorm, so as a more introverted person I felt extremely disconnected from everyone else. In Ferry, you're able to build bonds with everyone as you all learn to cook, clean, and work together in an intimate and inviting space.


If there's one thing to learn while in college, its responsibility, . In Ferry, learning to cook for 21 people has its challenges, but it enables you to cook for as many people as you want! Also, having semester jobs, bi-weekly jobs, and daily jobs really keeps you on your toes as you navigate the space, making it healthier, safer, and cleaner for everyone.


As residents of a vegan co-op, we commit ourselves to sustainability and environmentally aware living. While not everyone in the house is vegan, or even vegetarian, the fact that all of our communal meals (which means week-night dinners) are vegan and cooked with ingredients bought at the locally-sourced Adams Fair acre Farms or from the Poughkeepsie Farm Project, makes a huge step toward reducing the energy consumption of the house as whole.

People who Actually Use the Kitchen

Before I even set foot on campus freshman year, I had hopes that I would be cooking a lot more, as I had read every dorm is stocked with a fully functioning kitchen. Unfortunately that wasn't the case for many reasons, one being time and all the work I had to do, but also because I was on a meal plan, and had no need to cook for myself. Thus, the dorm kitchens sat empty most of the time, save for the occasional baking excursion. In Ferry, you're not on a meal plan, so cooking is a necessity, and it brings a lot of life into the kitchen, where you are certain to make a lot of memories.

It's Cheaper than Regular Housing

Some people may not know this, but because residents in Ferry House aren't on a meal plan, housing costs are lower than in normal dorms. This allows for some breathing room for students, especially students who have taken out money in loans, as well as lower income students who simply need the money and can't afford to spend it on a meal plan they don't even want.

Nice Restrooms

This is something that I notice every visitor says when they visit Ferry House for the first time: "Wow, your bathroom is so nice!". After having lived in Main, which is ranked as having some of the worst dorm bathrooms, it was a pleasant surprise to see just how nice the more recently renovated bathrooms in Ferry were.

Great Food

Dinner is always something to look forward to because you really never know what the day's dinner cooks will be planning to make, and Vassar students always prove to be creative and inventive. Of course, sometimes someone accidentally burns something, or doesn't make enough food, but its all part of the learning process. You don't have to start out as an amazing cook, but the beauty of living in Ferry is you learn to become one. Also, our monthly bulk orders always provide us with house favorites, from rice, to flour, to the oh-so-popular Panda Puffs.

Before I end, it is important to note that cooperative living is under threat, not just at Vassar College, but in colleges and universities nationwide. With next year's proposed meal plan change, many of the things about Ferry House that I've just mentioned may be hard to sustain, or simply lost. While the meal plan change is aimed at ending food insecurity, a very real problem on campus, what is also real is the way in which Ferry combats insecurity with cooperative living.

Colleges and universities should not be gutting existing coops, but promoting their philosophies toward sustainability and food security. We've seen an increasing demand for food co-ops, like Ferry, and it is time administrations see their benefit to campus housing and student life.