Resurgence

But there was light in this darkness. Expansion became the catchword on co-ops lips once again. Kosher Co-op came on board as OSCA’s seventh co-op the same year OSCA purchased Bliss (1987), offering Kosher food and making OSCA a more accessible organization for Jewish students and those who chose to abide by the dietary laws of Kashrut, as well as Muslim students following Halacic dietary laws. The insurgent “Revolutionary Local Foods Party” began their guerilla campaign to supplant corporate food suppliers with organic stock from local farmers. The RLFP proved victorious and OSCA began to buy some of its food locally. Building on their momentum, the RLFP troops and other interested students help start the Oberlin Sustainable Agriculture Project in 1995, bringing even more community food to the ranks of OSCA.

Accessibility came to the forefront with Kosher’s inclusion in OSCA, and an all-OSCA vote was taken on whether to form a “special interest” co-op for people of color. It was not then successful, but in 1994, Third World Co-op opened in Baldwin, providing a space that was more accessible for people of color, low-income students, and first generation college students and creating a community for dialogue and coalition building among all students.

Old Barrows’ dining hall was closed for renovation in 1993, with the College citing “structural and life-safety hazards,” (rumors that a toilet fell through the ceiling still live on). It was temporarily replaced by the Asia House kitchen, which was dubbed “Pyle Inn” after the OSCA’s first co-op. Even though Old B’s dining space was re-opened the next year (after some quibbling over the half-million dollar renovation costs and accusations from OSCA of rent-contract violation on the part of the College for closing Old B in the first place) a new campaign to keep Pyle Inn open as a co-op was begun. Despite the Asia House residents voting 25-2 to keep the dining space open and overwhelming support from the OSCA membership, Pyle Inn was closed for a year. But the ensuing depression was short lived. The College agreed to open an eighth co-op in 1995 with meals starting the following spring. OSCA’s membership made permanent the name Pyle Inn three years later.

Staffing and financial problems that had plagued OSCA through the eighties, and had their beginnings in the early seventies, began to be ameliorated-in part through increasing hired staff. Glory reigns in OSCA-land. A Facilities Manager was hired for three years to maintain OSCA’s off-campus properties in 1996 and two years later, OSCA split into two corporations while retaining the same Board and membership: OSCA and OSCA Properties, the latter being a tax-exempt, charitable organization owning Fuller and Langston-Bliss. The tax designation created a space for low-income housing and finally allowed OSCA to fulfill its long sought after (try nearly three decades) goal of offering scholarships to students with financial need. Due to Oberlin College's subsequent requirement that students live on campus, the Oberlin housing market became glutted. OSCA Properties could not fill their housing spaces, and the Board voted to sell Fuller and Bliss houses. OSCA Properties changed its name to the OSCA Foundation and continues to provide scholarships for Oberlin College and Lorain County Community College students.

In 1999 OSCA hired a part-time Office Assistant to relieve the Financial Manager of her enormous and increasing workload. OSCA also hired a Food Safety Advisor in 2004 to assist the co-ops, and a Business Coordinator in 2010 to take over non-financial management duties.