OSCA Alums Celebrate 50 Years of Co-Op Living
story and photo by Liz Fox '01
"Foraging for food was the most important thing I learned in OSCA,"
said Andy Waxman '93, who was among 50-plus Obies who returned to
campus in April for the 50th anniversary of the Oberlin Student Cooperative
Association. On the agenda: a concert by folk singer Joe Hickerson
'57; a renaissance of the formerly banned Bike Co-op's Bike Derby;
workshops explaining the Oberlin Sustainable Agriculture Project (OSAP);
a tour through the Adam Joseph Lewis Center for Environmental Studies;
and an all-OSCA picnic on the lawn of Old Barrows.
of the alumni astonished their friends and classmates with performances
of their own devising at the Harkness Night Club. OSCA founders Al
McQueen '52 and Joel Welty and Nancy Cooper, both '51, were on hand
for the weekend celebration.
The lasting impact of OSCA was not lost on current students or alums.
After watching McQueen's slide show about the association's history,
treasurer-elect Jason Clark '02 remarked that even the Hobart parts
(dishwashers and large mixing machines) looked the same.
"The students in Al's slides could have been the same students who
today wear retro clothes," he said. "Each year we struggle to reinvent
the wheel because those who learned how to run the organization
leave town. But this must happen for the people left behind to learn
to live democratically. Al's slides gave me hope that the organization
has not deteriorated. We're still doing good things the right way."
But OSCA members are not always so earnest. Hilary Greer '96 recalled
the time when, as president in 1994-95, she and another member engineered
an elaborate misunderstanding as a prank, and the April Fool's Day
board meeting ended in a pie-throwing contest. "OSCA has shaped
who I am and who I will become for the rest of my life," said Greer,
who worked as executive director of the National Association of
Student Cooperatives for two years after graduation.
The anniversary weekend sparked OSCA members' decision to create
an alumni advisory board and an OSCA Alumni Association. For details,
email firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, graduation year, the co-op
you lived in, and any official position you held there.
"OSCA was my most important experience at Oberlin," said Waxman.
"Some things haven't changed since it started. I hope it stays
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