Frequently Asked Questions (An Introduction to OSCA)

  • Everyone on the wait list remains on the wait list until they get into their first-choice co-op. This means that if you are dining in co-op X because your 1st choice was not available, you will automatically be switched into your 1st choice co-op when a space opens up (unless it is a housing co-op, we first need your consent to place you!). You will be emailed notification of this change. So, if you get into your second, third, fourth, etc. choice dining co-op, and you like it, take yourself off the wait list to avoid being switched into another co-op. You will only be removed from the wait list if you are assigned to your first choice coop or if you remove yourself from the wait list.

  • If you know students in OSCA, it’s likely that you’ll get an invitation to a meal. If not, don’t hesitate to ask if you can visit their co-op. Guests are always welcome, and it doesn’t mean any extra work for co-opers, since they’re already cooking for dozens of people. You might want to plan on arriving a little early, so you can get a seat (and a plate) before food is served. Feel free to help out with the dishes afterward! (Many co-ops have a guest policy of 3 meals = work 1 crew.)

  • No. It’s applied to your Fall semester bill unless you notify OSCA by August 1st that you will not be in OSCA for the Fall.

  • OSCA charges less than the College-run programs for both housing and dining. Most underclass students are required to live on campus, and almost all students eat on campus. Because we are student-operated and at-cost, a student eating in OSCA instead of in Campus Dining Services saves thousands of dollars per year. Additionally students save even more if they live in OSCA.

    Additionally, OSCA’s sister organization, OSCA Foundation, has a scholarship program, through which members of OSCA can have a third of their board bill subsidized by OF.

    Read more about OSCA costs.

  • New students must participate in the new student lottery by going to OSCA’s website and filling out the new student application form. The new student lottery is held mid-June.

    New students may sign up on the wait list once the school year begins if they do not get into their first-choice co-op during the new student lottery or if they apply after the deadline.

    IMPORTANT: In order to get placed off the wait list as a new student, you MUST fill out a New Student Application and return it (hard-copy only!) to the OSCA Office!

  • In the Spring, students returning to Oberlin fill out an OSCA Upperclass Lottery Form (online) listing all their co-op preferences (as well as checking off OSCA as a preference on the Residential Education housing and dining forms). Each student is assigned a random lottery number, so everyone has an equal chance of getting into a co-op, regardless of seniority. The two exceptions are co-opers holding all-OSCA positions and new students, for whom 100 spaces are saved for the summer new student lottery.

    If you do not get into OSCA from the lottery, or decide to join OSCA later in the year, you join OSCA by getting on the wait list .

  • Fill out a co-op release request form. Also be sure to take yourself off the waitlist if you don’t want to get automatically placed into OSCA again!

  • During the Spring and New Student lottery (two separate lotteries), members are assigned a random lottery number. Those who do not get placed during the Spring lottery, or who do not get placed into their first choice co-op, can get on the wait list in lottery number order. When you “get on the waitlist” after the lottery is over, you are assigned a lottery number that is greater than those who got on the wait list through the lottery. If you are a new student, you get a new student lottery number which placed you after those who were in the lottery, but before returning students who sign up for the wait list after the lottery.

    Students then get placed into their co-op of preference in wait list order when vacancies open up in each respective co-op.

  • Lots! Compare our costs with the advertised prices of Oberlin College housing and dining. The final savings depends on the year-end refunds or bills (based on co-op spending).

  • OSCA offers significant savings over regular campus dining and housing. At the end of each financial year, any leftover money is refunded to the membership. Click here for more information about current OSCA costs.

  • Did you fill out the Fall/Spring wait list confirmation form? If not, you are no longer on the wait list! If you did, it may just be that no vacancies have opened up yet!

  • Due to our rent contract with the college, co-op releases can only be processed on certain days, and become effective by our effective dates. These dates are outlined HERE . We can not make exceptions to this policy!!

  • If you have questions about OSCA, or you want more information, you can call or visit the OSCA office. In the office you can also browse through the OSCA library, which has lots of information on OSCA as well as other co-operatives.

  • Winter term co-ops are separate from semester co-ops, which means that you are likely in whatever co-op you are getting emails from. For example, if you were in Pyle in the Fall, and in Harkness for winter term, you are still in Pyle for the Spring unless you got off the waitlist. If you are confused about what co-op you are in, please email the All-OSCA membership secretary at osca@oberlin.edu.

  • Nope!!

  • When you hear that students run OSCA, it’s not just a slogan. Students do everything-long-term planning, member education, cooking, cleaning kitchens and bathrooms, ordering food, planning menus, managing finances, keeping track of membership lists, training new co-opers, and facilitating discussion. Every student who works in OSCA is a user-owner. OSCA does hire three paid staff people: the Financial Manager, the Office Intern, and the Food Safety Coordinator. These employees are not supervisors. They work with and for OSCA students, but students do almost all the work. If you need to talk to someone about something relating to OSCA, the best person to talk to is an OSCA student.

  • The longer answer: Due to our tax status, we cannot prioritize any student over another on the wait list. However, if you are already in OSCA, there are ways to switch you between co-ops. Please contact the All-OSCA Membership Secretary at osca@oberlin.edu or the All-OSCA AcessCo for more information.

  • If you select as many co-op options as possible, there is a higher likelihood you will get off of the wait list faster. However, it all depends on how full the co-ops are and how many people are leaving.

    Contrary to popular belief, expensive gifts and marinated tofu won’t move you up the wait list any faster. Finding and messaging the All-OSCA Membership Secretary on Facebook also will not help you!

  • Be aware that loans and scholarships are applied directly to your account at the Oberlin College’s Office of Student Accounts. If you are in a co-op, your College account will have surplus funds because you are billed directly by OSCA. You will need to request a credit refund from the Student Accounts Office in 25 Carnegie Hall. If the loans or scholarships will not be available until after the due date of your OSCA bill, you will also need to notify or talk to the OSCA Treasurer. Note that your College account credit refund check will be made out directly to you, so you will need to stop by the OSCA office and endorse your check over to OSCA.

  • To be placed into Old B/TWC, you must BOTH get on the wait list and fill out an application. Here is the Old B application , and here is the TWC application .

    Once you’ve done both those things, your application has to go through a selection committee, which can take a while! If more than two weeks have passed since you’ve filled out the application and added yourself to the waitlist, please email the All-OSCA membership secretary at osca@oberlin.edu so we can make sure both forms were processed!

    Additionally, if both co-ops are full, you’ll just have to wait until a vacancy opens up!

    • OSCA’s budget is around $2.9 million per year.
    • OSCA houses 174 students, and feeds 601.
    • 20-25% of the student body is in OSCA.
    • OSCA is the second largest student co-operative in the country.
    • The town of Oberlin has more co-ops than any other American city, except for Berkeley.
    • In 1950 students founded the first Oberlin student co-operative at Pyle Inn.
    • OSCA is the largest student organization on campus.
    • Oberlin has the highest percentage of the student body involved in housing and dining co-ops of any college or university in the country.
  • If you’re not sure exactly who you want to talk with, contact the OSCA Office between 12:00 and 4 PM, Monday through Thursday.

    • Local foods: OSCA has established connections with local farmers. Whenever possible, co-ops purchase food from nearby farms, supporting area farmers rather than agribusiness.
    • Composting: OSCA composts as much food waste as possible.
    • Recycling: OSCA recycles glass, plastics, cardboard, metal, and paper.
    • Nicaraguan Sister Partnership: OSCA supports a women’s farm co-op in Nicaragua, sending money to establish a loan fund to assist its members in purchasing cows. OSCA has also sponsored trips by Oberlin students to meet with the Nicaraguan co-op members.
    • Environmental Issues: OSCA tries to use environmentally-friendly products whenever possible.
    • Accessibility: OSCA’s Accessibility Committee works to make OSCA more physically, socially, and financially accessible. This has resulted in the chartering of Third-World Co-op and the formation of the time-aid program, as well as the Subcommittee on Privilege and Oppression (COPAO).
    • OSCA rents space to the Bike Co-op, which occupies the east side of Keep Co-op's basement.
    • Loans and Grants: As one of the most financially stable student co-ops in the country, OSCA is able to loan money and give grants to local businesses and other co-ops. OSCA currently supports environmental, community revitalization efforts, other co-ops, and gives grants to non-profit and charitable organizations.
    • Socially Responsible Investing: OSCA invests the majority of our assets in socially responsible funds such as the Kagawa Student Loan fund and and credit unions.
  • Third World Co-op (located in Baldwin, no affiliation to Third World House) is a special interest co-op, geared to serve specific needs that the other co-ops may not meet. Third World Co-op provides a safe space to people of color, international students, low-income students, and first generation students.

    Read more about OSCA co-ops.

  • OSCA is an acronym for the Oberlin Student Cooperative Association. It is pronounced “AH-skuh”. If you hear people refer to “the co-ops,” they’re probably talking about OSCA.

  • OSCA offers payment plans, and the OSCA Foundation offers Financial Need Scholarships allocated at $500 and $1,000 award amounts. Tell the Treasurer in advance if you’re having problems paying on time, and we can almost always work something out! If a member has neither paid their semester bill nor notified OSCA within 30 days after the due date, the expulsion procedures will begin. If you are expelled, you cannot join OSCA until overdue balance is paid. If you have a remaining balance in your account, your name may be turned over to a collection agency.

  • Yes. If you know you will be LOA (leave of absence) for the Fall semester, you still need to sign up for the lottery to obtain a lottery number. Once the lottery is over, remember to put yourself on the Spring semester wait list no later than Commencement Day (extended deadline for students who will be away) to keep your current lottery number. You do not need to pay a deposit if you will be away Fall semester because OSCA cannot guarantee you a spot for Spring.

  • You will be charged or refunded for the number of whole weeks remaining in the semester on the effective date of your co-op entry or departure. Any year-end refunds or bills will be calculated based on the number of weeks you were certain co-ops as an OSCA member.

    You will not, however, be refunded if you do not notify OSCA that you want to leave your co-op by the Wednesday, 4PM, before the final semester changes in November (for Fall) and in April (for Spring). This policy is in place to deter students from switching to Campus Dining Services (CDS) just for finals (because no one will take your place, which puts a lot of extra work on everyone else during a stressful academic time).

  • OSCA is a student-owned and student-operated non-profit corporation that provides at-cost housing and dining services to hundreds of students at Oberlin. The corporation is entirely separate from Oberlin College, but all member-owners of OSCA are Oberlin students. Each of the 8 individual OSCA co-ops is responsible for its own day-to-day operations, and together they make up the umbrella organization of OSCA.

    • To establish an organization to promote and develop cooperative living at Oberlin College in accordance with the Rochdale Cooperative principles so long as such activity is not inconsistent with the fundamental principles and policies of Oberlin College.
    • To purchase, lease, enter into contractual arrangements with Oberlin College and/or others, or otherwise acquiring facilities for housing and feeding student members attending Oberlin College and to furnish such facilities to student members at actual cost.
    • To buy and otherwise acquire food and other supplies for the rooming, dining, living and studying of student members attending Oberlin College to be sold to them at actual cost.
    • To borrow money and issue, sell, or pledge bonds, promissory notes, or debentures, payable at specified times or payable upon the happening of a specified event or events secured by mortgage, pledge, or otherwise to accomplish the purposes aforesaid.
    • To arrange and provide for the social and cultural enrichment of its members at actual cost.
    • And, in general, to do all things necessary or incidental to fully accomplish the foregoing purposes.
  • OSCA rents its on-campus buildings from the College, so the primary relationship between Oberlin College and OSCA is a tenant- landlord relationship. OSCA works with the College, especially Residential Education and Dining Services, to insure that both tenant and landlord are upholding the rent contract, which is renegotiated every three years. As a member of the larger Oberlin community, OSCA also takes a large role in the recycling and composting initiatives on campus.

  • A co-op is a business directly controlled by its members. Members are user-owners; they patronize the business but also own its earnings and assets equally. They control the co-op’s day-to-day operations, its finances, and its mission. OSCA is a housing and dining co-op; other types include food co-ops, housing co-ops, rural electric co-ops, and financial co-ops (credit unions).

  • Campus address: Wilder Hall Room 406
    Telephone: (440) 775-8108
    E-mail: osca@oberlin.edu

    More ways to contact OSCA.

  • Each co-op has a workchart to organize the work of all of its members. In dining co-ops, each co-oper does 4-5 hours of volunteer work per week. Some co-opers are elected to positions (such as committee representatives, food buyers, bread bakers, and Directors of the Board), while others sign up for jobs on the workchart (such as cooking, cleaning, chopping vegetables, and soaking beans). Still other co-opers have “all-OSCA” positions, working not for a specific co-op, but for OSCA as a whole (such as the President, Treasurer, Membership Secretary, Operations Manager, and Housing Coordinator). Housing co-ops have a separate workchart that generally involves one hour per week of household chores.

    Read more about OSCA positions.

  • Assuming your co-op stayed under budget throughout the fiscal year, you will receive a refund check after the end of the prior year fiscal year (June 30th), likely in late October or early November. Over the past couple of years, they have ranged from a $400 check for members of some co-ops to an $80 bill for others.

    • Wilder 402 (Finance Office)
    • Wilder 406 (Business Office)
  • 615 Oberlin students—about 22% of campus—are members of OSCA each semester. 174 of these co-opers are in housing co-ops, meaning they eat, sleep, and live in co-ops. Most of our members only dine in OSCA, and live in either a college-run Residence Hall or off-campus.