Off the Cuff with Miranda Harris, New OSCA Board Chair – The Oberlin Review
Miranda Harris, third year of college, will assume the role of chair of the OSCA board of directors as the nonprofit officially reopens this fall. After three semesters of absence from the campus community and one new rental contract Along with the College, the food and housing co-ops will return to campus this fall with Harris at the helm. the See again spoke to Harris about the challenges of taking on the leadership of the OSCA during this critical time of transition and heard about his vision for the future of the nonprofit organization.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
What were your previous roles and relationships with OSCA?
I am in Third World Co-op – TWC. My first semester I joined as a board rep, then my second semester I was a bulk meal coordinator, or DLEC, so sort of just coordinating whatever is going on with the cooperative discussions and be the reference person on all the main cooperatives. things that work. In the past year, OSCA has been closed, but I have been a board member [representative] again. Now I am the chairman of the board.
So I spent three semesters on the board and did various things. I’ve seen rent contract negotiations – when we decide what costs we have – elections, appointments, and bylaw reviews. This winter we updated the OSCA bylaws and I wrote a lot of revisions and these have just been voted on and approved. This is going to be one of the main things that I am focusing on in my post going forward. I love being on the board and I also really enjoyed my semester as DLEC because you get to know the cooperative so well. You are very visible, it is as if you become even more of the family. I put a lot of myself into OSCA, and it’s good to get it back to have this community that is there for you and that you come home to.
What have been the most significant changes that you have noticed in OSCA during your tenure?
It’s really the lease contract, especially because it affects how we open up co-ops. We need to fill the cooperatives rather than unilaterally opening them all. It has changed the co-ops that we are able to open – we cannot open Old Barrows, the women-only housing in a safe space. We will really try to stimulate interest and spread the word in the future so that we can open it up then. We have also updated our scholarships with the increase in the price of the OSCA. Previously, we gave scholarships of $ 500 or $ 1,000 depending on need. Now it will be half the cost of the OSCA or the full cost of the OSCA. We are updating the statutes, which updates the electoral process – there were also a lot of electoral updates. We clarified a lot of the process, especially with major objections – this was an important thing that happened when I was on the board.
There is a big conversation within the OSCA about how many co-ops can be predominantly white spaces. What do you think of the future of the OSCA as a more welcoming and representative community?
I often hear this. We have a safe spaces co-op for people of color – and I think that’s wonderful. It has been so personally meaningful to me. The most important thing about my experience in Oberlin is literally TWC. This is what I like most about this school; it is my family. I want to push back the idea that the OSCA is an inherently white space, because there is literally an entire co-op that is for people of color and that’s something really special. OSCA officers are committed to always ensuring that TWC will be open every semester while the OSCA is operational. I think centering safety, community, and the presence of people of color in OSCA is an integral part of OSCA. If we all widen our worldview a little bit more and keep that in mind, it becomes much more apparent, much faster.
As you step into this leadership position, what is your vision for OSCA going forward?
A lot of the things we do and want to be are community-centric – the community within OSCA as well as the wider Oberlin community. I really enjoyed working with the OSCA alumni. They have a working group with us to try to re-engage the alumni with OSCA and build that community and a sense of institutional memory and mentorship. The OSCA alumni are really happy and eager to come back and work with us, do workshops, cook us brunch, do career workshops on life after the OSCA and how to use those skills in the real world. , and simply share their memories and traditions. New Treasurer Emily Springer, third year double degree, and I also worked on a leadership retreat for new co-op leaders, keeping in mind that we are going to have so many new members. This is something that really turns me on – seeing all the fresh new faces of OSCA and passing on the knowledge and planting the seeds of OSCA to grow and see other people start to see themselves as part of this organization in in the same way as me. When you pour more of yourself into it, it reflects and you can see it; you can actually see your experience lasting and that makes you so much. Glad everyone gets it. We also brainstormed ideas for fun events like OSCA… to develop a greater sense of community, as well as to interact with the great Oberlin community.
What challenges do you plan to face in the coming semesters?
The most important thing that I remain aware of moving forward is that everything will be new because of the new lease. So much has changed in the way All OSCA will operate as a result. We’re kind of just going in and there’s not really any institutional memory, because everything has been changed a bit, so we’re the ones laying the groundwork for how things are going to look, at least , five years. I think a lot about making sure that we execute it properly and that we prepare OSCA to be successful in the future. I know there will always be great leadership, but I want to make their life a little easier. It is a very pivotal moment. It’s a bit like taking on an important task, because what you decide and every choice you make will then influence how OSCA works for the rest of its existence. Also, just training everyone and teaching everyone gets us a bit of a head start, but obviously that will be a huge task – training all the new members. We have a lot of ideas like working with the elders to share their knowledge so that it’s not just a few co-ops that have to do all this training.
Is there anything else you wanted to add or think people should know about OSCA?
Join OSCA! I think that makes you such a better person. It gives you so many skills beyond just the OSCA community and gives you a family and people to eat with – you can still have a social life if you are at OSCA because you have to eat then you have to go. seeing your friends – but it also gives you real-world skills that you might not even realize. I think it makes you more compassionate. I think it allows you to better organize your time. I think that makes you more considerate. I think it allows you to pay more attention to detail. It gives you so many leadership skills and opportunities. It teaches you how to make spaces accessible to everyone. You can earn a lot with OSCA.
the OSCA waiting list for catering cooperatives will be open until July 31.