OSCA’s Decision To Kick Out Kosher-Halal Co-op Upsetting, Disappointing

Hannah Seidel

On March 17, the OSCA Board of Directors decided to remove Kosher-Halal Co-op from the Oberlin Student Cooperative Association. As a member of both organizations, I am deeply ashamed of OSCA for this decision. I am disappointed, I am upset, and I am angry.

I am ashamed because throughout this process, the OSCA Board and General Management Team have been uncooperative and dishonest to their membership. This important decision should have been made by OSCA as a whole, because democratic member control — one member, one vote — is one of the core principles on which OSCA was founded. However, because the Board met in confidential “Executive Sessions,” behind closed doors (perhaps “under the table” would be a better phrase), and claimed the issues were too sensitive to be public, no one in OSCA knew what was going on — including the members of KHC.

If OSCA truly intended, as it stated early in the process, to negotiate a solution to the problems that have admittedly plagued the KHC-OSCA relationship, why was the decision so one-sided? Where was the negotiation? The problems in question were never brought up to KHC, so KHC never had a chance to fix them. For example, some food safety issues were used as “evidence” against the co-op (and since have been corrected), but were not brought to the attention of KHC’s Food Safety and Cleanliness Coordinators at the time they were discovered. This clearly indicates that OSCA was never actually interested in solving the problem, but rather in finding an excuse to kick Kosher-Halal out.

I am disappointed because OSCA has been a home to me throughout my time at Oberlin. I myself have served on OSCA’s Board of Directors and once found it a welcoming and supportive environment. However, this semester I had to resign due to the stress of these meetings, in which I saw my beloved co-op disparaged and misunderstood.

At OSCA Board meetings this semester, past problems with the co-op, long since corrected, were brought up as though they were relevant to the present discussion. The attitude was that because KHC has had difficulties in the past, it will always cause OSCA problems, so let’s cut our losses now. Every member of OSCA knows that co-ops change from semester to semester, so blaming a co-op for things that happened 10 years ago is just ridiculous.

I am upset and angry because this decision came at a time when the entire Oberlin community is reeling from a series of horrible anti-Semitic, racist and homophobic attacks. OSCA even held workshops about allyship and privilege, but when the opportunity arose for OSCA to demonstrate that allyship by supporting Muslim and Jewish students on this campus, OSCA failed. OSCA generally prides itself (or used to) on its accessibility and diversity, and yet the Board of Directors decided to force certain Jewish and Muslim students out of the organization.

After all of this, I can barely recognize the OSCA I once loved in the organization it has become. OSCA is broken, and I can only hope that other members of OSCA, as well the larger Oberlin community, recognize and protest the inherently undemocratic and discriminatory nature of the decision OSCA has made.

Therefore, I call upon the Oberlin community to stand up for the principles of inclusiveness, democracy and communal support that OSCA once stood for. KHC certainly does, and I invite you to join us as we work to build the kind of cooperative community that this campus deserves.

—Hannah Seidel
College senior