As a first-year, I was lucky enough to eat in Old Barrows, one of the nine student dining co-ops on campus. My brother, Dylan Luers ’09, had suggested during the summer that I join OSCA during my first year, and I’m glad I followed his advice. That first year, I baked bread in the fall, and in the spring I cooked dinner once a week with Willie Kunert ’12. The food and people at Old Barrows were great; I loved eating and cooking with the same group of students in a homey, noninstitutional atmosphere, and, as a result of my first year, I’ve continued to try and join a co-op every semester since.
In the spring of my second year, when I was a member of Old Barrows again, I finally went to the annual pig roast at Tank. I got there early and sat on the porch-swing while people wandered onto Tank’s front lawn. Someone hooked up a loudspeaker and iPod while the buffet was set up. The pig, which had been roasted over charcoal in a square cinderblock cave, was carved and ready to serve, wafting an earthy, charred aroma over the buffet table. When a sizable crowd had gathered, I got in line and admired the spread. There were baguettes, corn muffins, baked beans, potato salad, pork, barbecue sauce, and probably some vegetables that were too healthy to stick in my memory.
My friends and I found seats on the lawn while the buffet line swelled. People stepping down from the porch stopped to check out a table crowded with root beer, cream soda, candy, bubbles, and face paint. When the lawn was filled with clumps of hungry Obies, the cooks were given a long ovation for their work. The Outhouse Troubadours, a campus bluegrass band, started playing. People painted faces and hung up a pinata because, well, why not?
Besides members of almost every co-op, the pig roast crowd was a mix of hipsters, jazzers, hippies, artists, athletes, and everyone in between. Events like this, where wildly different people end up hanging out together, are common at Oberlin. Bookworms, jocks, and musicians end up at the same concerts and in the same classes; indeed, there are more than a few bookworm-jock-musicians. At first, these categories are noticeable, but they start to fade when you see such motley groups day after day.
My advice to new Obies: go to events you would not have even considered in high school. See the operas and go to art exhibits even if you are “not the type” who does these things.
And go to the pig roast. Get there early.