The Oberlin Student Cooperative Association
OSCA is a student-owned and student-operated non-profit corporation that provides at-cost housing and dining services to around 600 students at Oberlin College–a quarter of the student body. As an organization, OSCA is entirely separate from Oberlin College, but all OSCA member-owners are Oberlin College students.
Each member of OSCA contributes a certain number of hours of work to their respective co-op each week. Members are in charge of almost every task, including food purchasing, cooking, cleaning, coordinating work charts, enforcing food safety, sitting on the Board of Representatives, and more. Together, 8 co-ops make up the umbrella organization of OSCA, and each individual OSCA co-op is responsible for its own day-to-day operations. All-OSCA staff members and employees of OSCA oversee general operations. Through the All-OSCA structure, all 8 co-ops are able to function as a united organization.
I’ve been a member of OSCA every semester I’ve been at Oberlin, and worked for them all but one semester. I’ve had a diverse set of roles, from buying food for my individual coop (80 people), to running the housing for all 5 housing coops (180 residents) including training and managing a staff of 8. This organization has been one of the best parts of my Oberlin experience, providing a strong community to live and eat with, as well as work experience leading a non-profit that serves a third of the student body each semester. Below you’ll find my positions and responsibilities within the organization.
OSCA works through consensus. Every decision the organization makes is voted on by every member. For every job I’ve had with the organization I’ve had to facilitate discussions and solve disagreements. I’ve been trained extensively on how to lead these group discussions, make sure everyone’s voice is heard, and balance the conversation so everyone has input on the decisions. I’ve led discussions about organization policy, community agreements, housing policies and procedural practices.
I trained and managed a team of 8 people, the Housing and Loose Ends Coordinators for each building. I trained them on community building and resident support, as well as OSCA and Oberlin College policy. Throughout my term I supported their work with residents, managed conflicts between them, set goals for them and monitored their progress. It was a hands on position, where I had to balance my goals (and the organizations) for them with their initiatives and ideas for how they wanted to run their buildings.
This job involved working with many different parties. As housing coordinator I regularly met with representatives from Oberlin College, to make sure the housing policies aligned and were fair for both groups, as well as to make sure the OSCA facilities were safe and clean. I’ve had to negotiate disagreements in policy, balancing advocating for the residents with the needs of the college. I’ve collaborated to implement new policies, and create initiatives that build community and connect the two organizations.
OSCA is a student run non-profit, with a full student board. The needs of our members change all the time, so we are constantly planning for the future and writing new policies. While I worked, there were negotiations between OSCA and Oberlin College on the status of our two organizations. My job included writing new housing policies, helping plan for the future of OSCA housing and set the groundwork to get there. I also served on the General Management Team, and so helped to solve organization problems and work with the other leaders in other branches to think about organization wide change.
May 2018 – May 2019
- Ran all housing operations for 5 houses with 180 residents total
- Trained and managed a staff of 8 people to run buildings and build community in dorms
- Worked closely with Oberlin College Residential Education to negotiate the housing policies of our two organizations
- Conducted weekly inspections of physical housing facilities to make sure they were fire-safe, operational, and clean.
- Helped to coordinate and run organization-wide operations.
Jan 2017 – May 2017
- Cooked a meal for Tank Co-op, 80 people, each week.
- Planned the meal, coordinated the kitchen, and served the food.
- ServeSafe certified, and head cook food safety trained.
Housing and Loose Ends Coordinator
May 2017- May 2018
- Ran housing operations for Tank Co-op
- Facilitated house meetings, to determine house policy and build community
- On call 24/7 for residents
- Served as a resource for OSCA and College policies for residents
- Ran house programs to build community with residents
Sept 2016 – Dec 2016
- Bought food for Tank Co-op each week, to feed 80 people.
- Took requests, managed and updated spreadsheets, and communicated with dining members about food needs