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Oberlin Student Cooperative Association Recruitment Video, Past and Present!

January 27, 2021

Elise Steenburgh ’22

I’ve been meaning to post this blog since March 2020. With the Oberlin Student Cooperative Association (OSCA) lottery opening up on February 1st, 2021, I thought it was high time that these videos be revealed to the greater Oberlin community. Sign up for the OSCA Lottery at https://osca.coop/ to get your spot in an OSCA co-op for the academic year 2021-2022. You can also learn more about OSCA here: http://osca.csr.oberlin.edu/.

This first video is an OSCA recruitment video made in 1978, meant to give students an inside look at the cooperative experience at Oberlin College. 

The second video was made during the 2019-2020 academic year by OSCA's Programming and History Coordinator (Grace Hamby) and with the help of many others. The video is both an advertisement and a gesture to OSCA's past and future. Co-ops have lasted for more than fifty years now as students remain interested and engaged with the principles of cooperation. Great meals continue to be made and pots continue to be scrubbed. OSCA is a place for future students to find their own niche and learn what it means to be an active member of their community. So enjoy the video and join a co-op today!

I hope you enjoyed the parallels between the two videos, but also saw how OSCA has changed and grown since 1978!  

Here's a quote from Hamby, the mastermind behind the video:

I have been a part of OSCA, specifically Harkness, since my first-year at Oberlin and I love it. I really, really love it. In a co-op what you do matters. If you make good tofu, people will compliment you. If you leave the butter unwrapped, people will scold you. You realize that to be a part of any community, you need to take on a certain amount of responsibility. In doing so, you also realize that you are able to do a lot more than you thought you could. 

In my second semester at Oberlin my then roommate Sezny Watkins showed me the 1978 OSCA recruitment video. I realized that the co-ops have a history, one that is over fifty years old, one that I hadn’t even thought about. I thought about all the times I had scrubbed burnt pots on crew before, and realized there were probably generations of co-opers who had gone through the same trials and tribulations. 

With my cooperative spirit invigorated I decided that I too wanted to pay my time in Oberlin and in OSCA forward. That is why I thought of remaking the video, to help incoming students learn about OSCA and as an homage to the OSCAns who made the original video. I hope future OSCAns can look back on this video and feel the same sense of pride and community that I did knowing that they are part of a living tradition at Oberlin.

-Hamby OC ‘20 

And here are a couple of thoughts from myself, who happened to play the part of "OSCA Man" in the remake:

I have lived in Harkness every semester of my time at Oberlin. For my first 2 years, Harkness was the best co-op on campus (I speak with absolutely 0 bias, confirmed, facts). This year, my third year, due to Covid-19, Harkness (like the other co-ops) is part of Res-Ed, but I am hoping to keep the cooperative spirit going with my new housemates and continue some Harkness traditions. Nevertheless, I am SO excited for OSCA to resume in Fall 2021! 

During the 2019-2020 academic year, I was a Hark HLEC (Housing Loose Ends Coordinator). In other words, I was an RA with that lovely, very important OSCA twist to the job. I like to think that as an HLEC, I was an ambassador for OSCA, helping first-years transition to co-op and college life, being a bridge between the college and OSCA, and working to build upon OSCA's amazing, and sometimes crazy, legacy. Some of my proudest moments at Oberlin have been as HLEC, building a strong and intentional community, hosting fun events and projects, and making Harkness more than a dorm — making it a home. 

On basically the last day of classes before we got sent home due to the pandemic, Hamby knocked on my door, asking if I would help with the video. Me? As THE OSCA man? I didn’t know if I could handle such a (ridiculous) honor, but I did it because I truly love OSCA, I love the old recruitment video, and I wanted to be a part of the new one. 

With OSCA, I have gained SO many incredible skills and developed relationships with other co-opers that I'm sure will last a lifetime. From learning about decision-making through modified consensus as a first-year to facilitating discussions as an HLEC, from being unable to chop onions without crying to planning, cooking, and serving my very own special meal for 100+ co-opers, from casual mealtime conversations to late-night collective existential crises in the lounge, there are myriad opportunities to learn and grow with your fellow co-opers. 

My home at Oberlin is in OSCA. There is so much history, tons of interesting personalities, and with so many co-ops, you’ll definitely find your place with people who are interested in good food and good fun.

For more OSCA updates, check out the OSCA Facebook page

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