OSCA Bans Pranks Over Pyle Incident

On Sunday, all members of the Oberlin Student Cooperative Association were emailed and asked not to participate in any pranks for the rest of the semester. The email was sent following a prank that the OSCA Board said could jeopardize the organization. For years, a friendly prank war has raged between the co-ops. One day co-opers might steal the Harkness House mascot, a papier-mâché shark, the next day co-opers might wrap toilet seats in plastic wrap. However, things escalated last Friday, when anonymous individuals played several pranks on Pyle Inn, including stealing kitchen spices and overturning several tables and chairs in Pyle’s dining room. Additionally, one prank threatened the food safety of the co-op. OSCA takes any food safety concerns extremely seriously, which is why they were particularly concerned about Friday’s prank.

The kitchen was thoroughly cleaned and sanitized following the pranks. The All-OSCA Board responded by sending out an email the following Sunday banning all pranks for the remainder of the semester. 

“We want to emphasize that the people who did this prank were not acting on behalf of their co-ops — they were acting as individuals, and no full co-op should or will be blamed,” the board wrote in an email to all OSCAns. “Nevertheless, we insist that no further pranks occur for the remainder of the semester. This prank was not lighthearted or harmless; it crossed several lines, and it could have put OSCA as an organization, as well as Pyle members, in an incredibly difficult position. … Taking their kitchenware and turning their tables upside down impacts their ability to serve a meal, which is an accessibility concern. This isn’t fair to Pyle, or to their members.”

All-OSCA President and College fourth-year Sezny Watkins elaborated on OSCA’s concerns about the pranks.

“Given that this prank crossed several lines in terms of accessibility and also functionality of our co-ops, we were very worried that future pranks would cross more lines,” Watkins said. “We had to respond quickly [to these pranks] and [that] was done via phone calls and that kind of communication.”

College fourth-year and Pyle head cook Oliver Vickers Batzdorf spoke about his experience discovering the missing spices during his morning cook shift. 

“About 10, 15, 20 minutes into the shift — I can’t exactly remember — I went over to grab spices and noticed they were all gone, and that’s what had me fuming. I was like, ‘Oh no! My meal is going to be terrible!’” Vickers Batzdorf said. “It’s funny because that, I think, was one of the more harmless [pranks]. But … at the time, that was the one thing that got under my skin a bit.”

Although the only thing left behind was salt, Vickers Batzdorf was still able to get his meal out on time, and the members of Pyle were served a slightly unseasoned lunch. 

“I agree with the policy that pranks shouldn’t impact the ability for a meal to be carried out and very much understand OSCA’s policy on ‘Pranks should not include stuff that OSCA has paid for,’” he said. “Best case scenario is just sort of thoughtless ignorance on the part of the person carrying out the prank. There’s many parts of that prank that were kind of thoughtless.”

Unlike the pranks played on Pyle, Vickers Batzdorf mentioned that OSCA pranks should carry a certain light-heartedness to them.

“[A prank should be] ultimately harmless,” he said. “It doesn’t get in the way of people being able to eat food on time and get off to class and do any number of other things that they have to do in their day.”

Watkins explained that the decision to ask OSCAns to end all pranks through the end of the spring semester was made out of necessity.

“The only way that we saw to deal with that would be to put a stop to it for a period of time,” they said. “A cooldown period seemed like it was needed to make sure that people weren’t coming from a place of trying to get back at each other.”

Watkins emphasized how both the All-OSCA Board and Pyle Cleanliness & Maintenance Team responded quickly and efficiently to the pranks and that the Pyle meal was still able to take place.