December 24, 2020

Oberlin College & Conservatory and the Oberlin Student Cooperative Association (OSCA) signed a 5-year lease agreement yesterday that recognizes OSCA’s long-term value to the College and established conditions for the co-op to thrive for years to come.

After more than 18 months of negotiations, the College and OSCA, an independent nonprofit organization, agreed to an innovative 5-year lease that equalizes the revenue from room and board fees the College earns from all of its students, regardless of whether they belong to the co-op. This lease also formalizes the legal separation of parties and liability for OSCA operations.

“This agreement equally applies room and board fees for all Oberlin students, and establishes a flexible foundation upon which OSCA can build for the next several years,” said President Carmen Twillie Ambar. “OSCA is an asset to Oberlin, and it is our intention to help revitalize the co-op after the pandemic eases.”

Oberlin suspended all OSCA operations during the pandemic to protect the health and safety of students on campus.

The agreement meets the long-term goals outlined in One Oberlin, the College’s strategic plan created to eliminate the institution’s annual operating deficits through reorganization, academic investments and budget adjustments.

The lease achieves several goals:

  • OSCA will have the flexibility to declare the size of its footprint on campus each year, based on the size of its membership and its own choices regarding the number of residence halls and kitchens it wishes to lease in an academic year. Previously, it paid a flat rate each year regardless of membership size or makeup.

  • The lease allows OSCA to maintain up to its current size of 565 dining and 183 housing members, if demand allows.

  • It brings transparency and consistency to the fee structure. For each member or ResLife exemption, OSCA will pay a set percentage of ResLife’s published rates. That is 42% of the Gold Dining plan other students purchase and 89% of the standard housing rate. These percentages meet the College’s net revenue expectations for each student attending Oberlin. The College has historically lost a great deal more revenue on OSCA housing due to higher associated costs with the residence halls as opposed to the kitchens, so the increase there is more significant.

  • The College will continue to maintain the facilities OSCA uses. This is an ongoing benefit for OSCA, which had been planning to assume responsibility for building maintenance and upkeep.

  • With the exception of Fairchild kitchen, OSCA has the opportunity to lease all of the historically leased facilities, if demand allows.

To help OSCA resume operations and rebuild membership when operations resume as early as the fall 2021, the College has agreed to provide marketing support for the first three years of the lease.