Nearly a quarter of Oberlin College students belong to the Oberlin Student Cooperative Association (OSCA). An Oberlin co–op isn't just a place to eat and live. It is a home that is defined, built, and sustained by its members. The students who belong to each co-op collectively decide how they want to live and share every duty, and in the process they learn independence, responsibility, and cooperation. The bonds that come out of this experience—and the memories of witty pranks, elaborate special meals, and tea and stories in the lounge—bring students back to their co–ops year after year.
Students can choose to live and eat in one of OSCA’s eight co-ops, or they can opt for board-only memberships and live in a residence hall. Members work designated hours a week in their co-op to ensure the co-op is well maintained and well managed.
In exchange for their labor, OSCA members get three meals a day, 24-hour access to a fully stocked industrial kitchen, and a board bill that is significantly lower than Campus Dining Services. Co-ops operate at cost. And if a co-op is particularly thrifty, each member receives a refund at the end of the academic year.
Two of OSCA’s eight dining co-ops are primarily vegetarian and vegan. Another is a safe space for students of color, low-income students, and first-generation college students. An interfaith co-op, managed apart from OSCA, follows Jewish and Muslim dietary laws. Membership in the individual co-ops ranges from 15 to 200. Spots are awarded by random lottery, except for the special interest co-ops that require an application.
As one of the largest and oldest student co-op systems in the country, OSCA has the resources to undertake awesome projects. We make our own tofu, granola, bread, yogurt, and seitan; buy as much food as possible from local sources; and send compost to a nearby organic farm. OSCA's Committee on Privilege and Oppression provides a forum in which we can discuss complex issues of race, class, gender, sexuality, and ability. OSCA also supports a women’s agricultural union in Nicaragua, and organizes regular exchanges with them.
When you visit Oberlin, come eat in a co-op. OSCA serves lunch at 12:20 p.m. and dinner at 6:20 p.m., and loves guests.