Rochdale Principles

The principles which guide modern cooperative organizations, including OSCA, were formulated in 1844 by a group of textile workers in Rochdale, England who were fed up with the exploitative nature of the market during the British Industrial Revolution. They decided to pool their money and open a small retail store which operated on principles which have become the foundation of modern co-ops.

Open membership

Membership is voluntary without any social, racial, political or religious discrimination. OSCA membership is based not on seniority, but on a random lottery number system.

Democratic control

Each member has one vote. All elections and meetings are open to all members and all decisions are accountable to them. In OSCA, we make decisions collectively and openly. All members are responsible for participating in the decision-making process.

Limited return, if any, on equity capital

Invested capital is paid at the going rate, or less. Nobody should make a profit off of their investment in the co-op. This doesn’t apply to OSCA because we have no investors.

Distribution of economic savings

Savings are distributed back to members usually in the form of a patronage refund. Any money that OSCA does not spend during the year is refunded to members.

Education of members

Regular meetings, education of members and outreach into the community are provided according to the principles and techniques of cooperation, both economic and political. Education goes on constantly at all levels of OSCA.

Cooperation among cooperatives

To strengthen themselves and to serve their community better, cooperatives need to work together in every way practical. OSCA does this in part through its memberships in North American Students of Cooperation (NASCO), Campus Cooperative Development Corporation (CCDC) and the Federation of Ohio River Co-ops (FORC). We also try to keep close ties with other Oberlin co-ops such as the Co-op Bookstore, the Bike Co-op and the Good Food Co-op (GFC).

Political nonpartisanship

Co-ops hold no general cooperative membership in any social, religious, or political organization and promote religious and social tolerance. For OSCA this means that while individual co-op members are free to affiliate themselves with a particular political, religious or social organization, OSCA as a whole must remain neutral.