On Tuesday, 5 March, my alma mater made the front page of the New York Times — the article popped up as the third most-emailed.
But, unlike what you may expect, Oberlin did not make the front page for some great achievement in environmental design or for some students doing amazing service trips during Winter Term or for having tons of alumni serve in the Peace Corps.
Oberlin made the front page because the College canceled classes on Monday, 4 March for a “day of solidarity” in light of a series of vandalism acts — mostly in the form of hate speech written on walls and posters — targeting Oberlin’s black, Jewish, and LGBT communities. These acts were brought to a head when someone wearing a KKK outfit was spotted early Monday morning on South Campus near Afrikan American Heritage House, a safe space where a large population of Oberlin’s students of color live.
These events are not only scary and threatening; they are shocking and sad at Oberlin, a place with such a progressive tradition of liberal values and openness to people of all races, religions, and sexual orientations.
Due to these events, Oberlin College President Marvin Krislov and the deans decided to cancel classes on Monday, 4 March in order to come together for what Krislov called “‘a different type of educational exercise,” one intended to hold “an honest discussion, even a difficult discussion.'” (read the NY Times article here.)
I’ve gleaned from Facebook posts that the turnout at the Finney Chapel convocation and the Wilder Bowl rally were astonishingly huge. That is a hopeful thing to come from all of this: whoever has been committing this vandalism, Obies still gather together in solidarity to keep working toward a more equal, hate-free (or at least tolerance-focused) world. Although I am saddened by what has happened on campus, I am still proud to have attended Oberlin College and I am proud to be part of a community that sticks together and provides support from near and far. I stand in solidarity with Oberlin, now and always.
To read more details about the incidents and response…
- Another Obie alum wrote a nice response here.
- Huffington Post article and short video here.
- A short CNN video here.
- …it even made news here in the UK.
- And a provocative response to the incident here.
What are your thoughts? Post them in the comments section below.