Kiss My Sass: Interim Wastes Valuable Co-op Bonding Time

Sophia Ottoni-Wilhelm, Opinions Editor

When I joined a co-op last year, I was really excited to break free of the athlete-oriented culture I had been immersed in during my glorious and short stint playing varsity soccer. I couldn’t wait to make some new friends, eat a ton of local food and save $3,000 a year while escaping the CDS system.

I joined Pyle, one of the largest co-ops on campus with over 100 members, and thought that my chances of finding some awesome people were pretty good. I went to every meal but, try as I might, I couldn’t make a single friend, because the co-op was in the midst of this thing called interim. During interim, every co-op policy and position is discussed at length during meals.

Each day, I stood in line to get my food and, as soon as I sat down, the facilitated conversation started and lasted until the meal was over. It was a pretty terrible time. I hassled my friends to come with me to meals but they hated it because 1) the discussions were long and seemed pointless, 2) they were conducted using a top-secret language that only co-op members understand and 3) they couldn’t have a conversation with me or anyone else. The only relief came when someone, normally one of three people, would get really upset about something arbitrary.

Not to worry, though, interim only lasted another month and a half, at which point I could talk to people for longer than 30 seconds and started making friends. Just as I originally suspected, Pyle was chock full of weird, smart kids hanging out and eating healthy food. I even learned that we have an Ultimate Frisbee team at Oberlin that was named after a vision team mem- bers had during an acid trip. Whoa.
I’m back in Pyle this year and couldn’t be happier about it. I’ve met some amazing people and I love having conversations with them. The only problem is that it’s November and we just, and I mean just, finished interim. I’ve spent the past two months wanting to talk with the friends I have and meet new people, but it’s impossible with all the talk of fridge etiquette and the number of times a semester meat can be served. The most exasperating part is that I can remember having the exact same discussions every semester. The wis- est comment I’ve ever heard during discussion went something like this: “During this same discussion last semester, the same comment was made, but we still decided to keep the status quo because of…”

Bottom line, interim isn’t welcoming and it doesn’t accomplish much. The policies don’t change much, if at all, and people just get angry. It’s not too bad for people who have friends already, but in a giant co- op, it’s hard to tell who is on their own.

My friend Megan visited Pyle last week to ask if she could weigh our compost for a biology study of waste per person across campus. When she wanted to make an announcement, she turned to me and asked if she had to check with someone first. “Does the co-op have a leader? Like a president or something?” she asked. I laughed and explained that co-ops are run on consensus. Thinking about it further, I thought that she had a point.

Co-ops should be dictatorships. I started asking around and, not surprisingly, some of the Frisbee bros had given this issue a great deal of thought, probably during an acid trip.

“In our [Nikhil and Bubbles’s] Theory of Dictatorships, you could still have discussions and the dictator would still listen to people. We’d just skip the needless squabbling over details and everything would happen a lot faster. We just finished meat and animal product policy [at Keep]. We finished everything else five weeks ago but it took us until now to finish this one policy,” said Bubbles, the Frisbee captain.

The interim issue is in no way unique to Pyle; it is experienced by all co-ops to varying degrees. It’s time something is done about it. It’s time to put the Theory of Dictatorships into action and get some serious Machiavellian Princes up in here.