Oberlin Blogs

The Best and Worst of Student Organizations

November 9, 2023

Natalie Frank ’26

When you are in Oberlin, OH (pop. 8,249), you can get sick of running through cornfields and riding cows around campus. If you’re like me, you’ll turn to student organizations. As a second-year, I have participated in (as a member or leader) nine student organizations on campus. Here, I give my honest, unfiltered opinions on each of them.


OCircus & Tumbling Club
Two girls smiling. next to each other
Nora and I before our performance last year

Even before coming to Oberlin, I knew I wanted to participate in the Circus. There is no cooler story than I ran away and joined the Circus. Though I had no skills to show for my interest, I attended nearly every practice for a year. Along the way, I learned how to juggle four balls and cartwheel and made an awesome friend group. Next weekend, I will celebrate my fourth circus performance*, and I cannot wait.

* November 17th & 18th, 7pm (doors at 6:30pm), Hales Gymnasium


Pottery Co-op

Last year, I was a part of the Pottery Co-op. It is Oberlin’s best de-stressor, and only a fraction of the student population is involved! It requires only a few hours of cleaning / clay-making every semester and a sliding-scale donation ($5-30). After you have completed the requirements, there is a two-story house on the edge of campus full of clay for you to use. Officers fire the clay for you and organize fun events, like the Pottery Co-op parties, Empty Mugs, and more. On quiet, rainy days, nothing is like walking to the Pottery Co-op, plugging Lizzy McAlpine into the speakers, and carving a bowl to store my rings. If that doesn’t entice you, it also offers a really inexpensive way to make gifts for your loved ones and a stress-free way to start pottery. 



I have attended Hillel events, from bagel lunches and popsicles and Havdalah to craft events and High Holiday services. While I enjoy the acceptance of this Jewish community, I found some of the events programmatic when I want more of a family vibe. I disagree with Hillel’s recent statements about the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, so I have not attended their events recently. If you are interested in Hillel, I encourage you to seek out their events!


Magician’s Club

My second-floor RA in Frouse (French House) runs the Magician’s Club. A few of my friends and I attended the first meeting. I sat in the back of the small lecture pit as Shawn, my RA, brought a student volunteer on stage. While he flipped through mind-bending card tricks, we watched in rapture. In the end, without explaining, Shawn asked a volunteer to try the trick back on him, and we laughed as they struggled through the trick. Though I left the Club with no magic tricks, I have never laughed so much on a Sunday night before a 10am Monday lecture. Just know that if you want to become a magician for a $60k tuition, Shawn makes it possible. 


A woman facing a younger girl, pointing at the camera
Chana and I talking together outside of Mudd

Every Friday night, I visit Chabad’s house for Shabbat dinner. As much as I love the four-course meal, Jewish jokes and stories, and delicious desserts (rugelach, cake, chocolate trifle, cookies, etc.), I attend because I have the children there. Their ages range from three to sixteen, and I love playing with or talking to them. It has become an integral part of Oberlin to me and has contributed family and Jewish love to my life. 


Experimental College (ExCo) 

ExCos are Oberlin-student-taught classes on fascinating subject material you couldn’t find in a lecture hall. I have taken two ExCo courses at Oberlin College. The first of them was MythCo, a popular course on Percy Jackson. While I love Percy Jackson, I took four lecture classes that semester and found the lecture format of the ExCo challenging. Still, it was a fun class, and I loved that reading Percy Jackson was our homework.

The second course I took was TumbleCo, a course taught by one of my friends from OCircus. I loved this night class, as it gave me a safe space to work out every Tuesday and learn how to tumble. Because our instructor mainly was trained in dance tricks, we learned kicks, springboard flips, and other awesome moves. 

ExCos can be a toss. Most of them are fun, but you have to know your limitations and what you can do on a Sunday morning or Tuesday night. ExCo has everything you could ever want to learn about, from journalism to toads, Taylor Swift to dance.


Oberlin Burlesque
Natalie upside down on a pole
Me doing a layback on pole

I joined OBurlesque as the pole officer. OBurlesque has the best atmosphere that I have seen in a student organization. Everyone is incredibly uplifting, supportive, respectful, and accomplished. When I attended my first show this Halloween, I was amazed by the talent. Burlesque is a performance art that combines stripping with satire, humor, acting, dancing, singing, and fabulous costumes. I consider it a prerequisite to graduating to attend an OBurlesque show. 


Oberlin Skilled Handlers in Training (OSHIT)

When the jugglers of OCircus made a student organization, they thought of the most professional name they could: Oberlin Skilled Handlers in Training. What would the acronym of that be?


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