Located on the first floor of Baldwin Cottage, Third World Co-op (TWC) is an intentional safer space for People of Color, centering international, queer, low-income, and first-generation POC. Founded on the principles of the Third World Liberation Front, TWC members define their community values and agreements each semester according to the current membership.
Historically, Third World Co-op has provided meals to a wide variety of speakers/performers of color who are brought by co-op members. TWC has also put on programs in coalition with other organizations that are focused on promoting speakers and activists of color. TWC programs have included a series of workshops with the Edmonia Lewis Center for Qwo-Li Driskill, a discussion and lecture with the Indigenous Women’s Series for Debra Harry.
Easily identified by its large wooden floor-to-ceiling windows, TWC creates a space which fosters a warm, welcoming environment that is full of sweet love, good food and mad dancing in the kitchen.
Through the glass, members can often be spotted in front of the mural, laughing, chatting, dancing, venting about white professors / classmates / people in general, and sharing the co-ops' famously well-seasoned food. TWC is a unique space at Oberlin that offers true community and access to a lineage of knowledgeable TWC alum. Come for the sazón, stay for the corazón. Have your exact birth place and time ready.
Written by various TWC members, last updated March 2023.
OSCA has always been an organization that is especially white-dominated and thus TWC/TWSJ serves as a “safe space for students who have been traditionally and structurally disenfranchised from OSCA.” After much pushback, in 1994 after 18 straight months of organizing and years of effort from students, Third World Co-op was officially established as a dining cooperative. Minorities in OSCA felt that many of its members were oblivious of privilege and insensitive to racial and class issues, asserting the need for TWC where students could feel more understood and accepted.
(TWC is a dining cooperative in OSCA and has a housing counterpart called Third World Social Justice, on the third floor of Harkness cooperative located just across the greenspace from TWC. See the TWSJ section in “Co-Ops” for more information.)
“For me, being a member of TWC is about being part of a legacy and community that have emphasized change, resistance, solidarity, and the freedom of cultural and political expression.
In Third World Co-op, I know everyone’s name and everyone knows mine. We are a small community in which camaraderie is great and cliques are few. I won’t paint a rosy picture by saying that we’re totally united both politically and socially – that’s not always true. However, I appreciate the fact that friendliness overrides differences and we can come together on many issues. As a first year, Third World Co-op has been a support network that has helped me find a place on this campus, and I am excited to eat there for the rest of my time at Oberlin.”