Resistance to COPAO
COPAO, an OSCA committee that strives to challenge issues of oppression and privilege within the OSCA community, has received a lot of criticism from some members of the Oberlin community who feel as though they are being unfairly indoctrinated with some kind of PC agenda. A good example of the more satirical criticism bestowed upon COPAO is the original Oberwiki article, contained on this page. For a critique of this article, see Resistance to "Resistance to COPAO".
Hello, my Oberlinian acquaintance, and let us welcome you to the Wiki page for COPAO (pronounced Ka-POW!), an internal committee within OSCA whose acronym stands for the Committee on Privilege and Oppression. If you'll please speak into the computer your name, your favorite shape of pasta, and your choice of pronouns, your computerized COPAO rep will be pleased to get things started on this discussion.
COPAO wants you to know that your opinion is very valuable to COPAO. Anything you say or do is welcome at the COPAO table or in discussion with your COPAO rep. You have a right to feel absolutely free from Ableism, Racism, Sexism, Classism, Genderism, Majorism, Yearism, and -ism-ism. COPAO loves hearing any opinions you have and debating pertinent issues in the open, loving, accepting environment of our discussion tables--which are MANDATORY, of course, to enlighten the more... "uncouth" of our co-op brethren, methren and zie-ethren.
What's that? You say you've never heard of some of those terms? Well, that's probably because you are a white, racist, bourgeois, misogynist prick, and we're here to inform you that your opinions are wrong, wrong, wrong, you fucking asshole. We're going to post fliers all over the fucking campus and email everyone in the co-op and tell them in the most passive-aggressive way possible that SOMEONE in the co-op with your initials and pronouns is making other people feel UnCopomfortable with their InCoppropriate actions.
Thank you for your beautiful opinion. I hope you feel very enlightened by our correction, and that your understanding of COPAO has been improved. We love hearing diverse viewpoints of all kinds.
COPAO language is sometimes difficult for non-coopers to understand. The following guidelines explain in simple terms the mannerisms to take on when you find yourself inadvertently involved in a COPAO discussion.
- "This is just kinda... fucked-up."
An always-acceptable reply for any social justice issue. Swearing inspires harsh feelings in all, no further extrapolation necessary. Another popular theory: when you can't use any insults or expletives that might possibly be construed as offensive, you just replace them with "fucked-up". "Retarded"? "Fucked-up." "You're a cunt"? "You're so fucked up".
- "We live in a co-op."
A tell-all, end-all statement of logical reason, this phrase serves as a useful placeholder when you're not certain how to punctuate your sentences.
- "That's cultural appropriation!"
No matter what the situation, some form of cultural appropriation can always be dug up from the rafters. If you're quick on your toes, almost anything can be constituted as cultural appropriation in some way.
- "I'm tired of straight white males dominating the conversation."
Straight white males are the only group one can be biased against, by dictum. It is always acceptable to throw this out there, as it's the only form of prejudice tolerated, even promoted, within COPAO.
Other terms you should acquaint yourself with for these purposes: safe space, hegemony, entitlement, marginalized, narrative, dynamics, solidarity, normative, discourse, binary, systems of power, heteropatriarchy,dialogue, systemic, and the three all-important words "I feel like--".
COPAO was founded as an offshoot of the OSCA Accessibilities committee. COPAO is fond of claiming that they are responsible for the agency of Accessibility's actions, such as the Harkness wheelchair ramp.
COPAO can be understood by the analogy of medieval government, through the lens of the Catholic Church. This is because COPAO is structured as a theocracy. All-OSCA is the equivalent of a medieval government, such as England or Italy, which supports and maintains the COPAO representative. COPAO representatives are essentially high priests/priestesses/ziests, meaning that they are infallible. This means that their word is taken as God, since they are inspired by the Gods of Social Justice. Figures 1 and 2 show the differences between the United States' democratic structure and COPAO's structure.
Since COPAO is infallible, if you oppose COPAO, or do anything that could be interpreted as anti-COPAO, then you are a racist, sexist, homophobe, and possibly a terrorist. The Divinely Inspired COPAO representatives are fully licensed to accuse you of being any of these -isms, preferably via email disseminated throughout the entire co-op.
Being accused of prejudice is relatively similar to being accused of witchcraft in the 16th century: Denying only affirms one's guilt. Admission or denial results in the same ostracizing.
Ultimately, all this makes OSCA a safer, happier and more open place.