Oberlin Student Cooperative Association (OSCA)

Oberlin, Ohio, United States

  • Last updated: December 30, 2015 (1 year ago)
  • Listing created on: December 31, 1999

Mission Statement

To promote and develop cooperative living at Oberlin College in accordance with the Rochdale Cooperative principles so long as such activity is not inconsistent with the fundamental principles and policies of Oberlin College. To buy and acquire food and other supplies for the rooming, dining, living and studying of student members attending Oberlin College to be sold to them at actual cost. To arrange and provide for the social and cultural enrichment of its members at actual cost.

Community Description

The Oberlin Student Cooperative Association (OSCA) is an association of eight self-managed student-run housing and dining cooperatives at Oberlin College.

OSCA, est. 1950, is a unique co-op in that it houses and feeds 174 student owners and feeds an additional 441 student owners in dining facilities, saving its members thousands of dollars per year from the regular campus housing and dining rates. Individual houses are self-managed, and decisions for the association are made democratically, with representation from all of the individual units. Some decisions are by simple majority and consensus; the Board of Directors runs on consensus. It is not an exaggeration to say that OSCA is the most complex, intense, and authentic “real life” experience available to Oberlin College students.

OSCA buys food from local farms as much as possible; meals are vegan and vegetarian with some meat; accommodations are made for dietary restrictions. The co-op leases its facilities from Oberlin College.

OSCA educates its members through various programs that include purchasing foods from local farmers, the Nicaragua Sister Partnership (women’s farming cooperative), conference subsidies, and scholarships.


  • Type(s): Student Housing or Student Co-Op
  • Programs & Activities: School, Educational Institute or Experience
  • Location: Small Town


  • Status: We do not have land


  • Adult Members: 174
  • Visitors accepted: Yes
  • Visitor Process:

    Email us. Office hours are Monday through Thursday, noon to 4 p.m., in Wilder Hall, room 402.

  • Open to new Members: Yes
  • Membership Process:

    Members must be enrolled as students at Oberlin College.


  • Decision Making: Modified Consensus (everyone agrees, with some exceptions or fallbacks.)
  • Identified Leader: Yes, multiple identified leaders
  • Leadership Core Group: Yes


  • Dues, Fees, or Shared Expenses: No
  • Shared Income: Partial share of income
  • Required Labor Contribution per Week: 0
  • Open to members with existing debt: No
  • Additional Comments:

    must be an Oberlin College student

Sustainability Practices

  • Energy Infrastructure: We are connected to the grid.
  • Current renewable energy generation: Up to 25%


  • Common Facilities: Library
  • Internet Available: Yes, community provides it
  • Internet Fast?: Yes, it’s fine.
  • Cell Phone Service: Good for most people.
  • Shared meals: Approximately all meals
  • Dietary Practice: Local (food sourced within 150 miles), Organic (no pesticides or synthetic fertilizers), GMO Free (only non-genetically modified organisms), Mostly Vegetarian, Mostly Vegan, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free
  • Dietary Choice or Restrictions: No – people may eat however they wish.
  • Special Diets OK: Yes
  • Alcohol Use: No, this community does not permit alcohol use.
  • Tobacco Use: No, this community does not permit tobacco use.

Community Network or Organization Affiliations

The Fellowship for Intentional Community (FIC), Federation of Egalitarian Communities (FEC), North American Students of Cooperation (NASCO)