As we all struggle to make sense of the events of September 11,
the College is helping students to understand the related international
In November the College Faculty Council approved a new faculty slot
dedicated to Middle East and North Africa (MENA) studies. Courses
will be interdisciplinary, providing broad coverage of the historical,
cultural, political, and social trends in the region.
Oberlin already offers courses in Islam and Sufism, but proponents
say that specific attention to the Middle East would better prepare
students to be informed citizens who need to approach this
important region with education and thoughtfulness.
English professor T. Scott McMillin is organizing a Winter Term
Interdisciplinary Institute, which will offer on-campus faculty
lectures and discussions that focus on life post-September 11. Hes
hoping that the program will help students deal with the gravity
and scope of the attacks while encouraging more on-campus
intellectual activity during Winter Term. The institute, he says,
will help the College maintain its strong and educational response
to current events.
Oberlin has also witnessed several peer-led activities since September
11. Two hundred students joined the 20,000-member peace rally in
DC in late September, and a student-organized teach-in/walk-out
day in October offered lectures and forums on political, historical,
and religious issues. Faculty members, including politics professor
Harlan Wilson and ethnomusicology professor Roderick Knight, spoke
on topics ranging from civil liberties to the music of Afghanistan,
and students facilitated discussions on war and gender roles.
I found that it was more important to educate myself about
this war and its implications for everyone in the world than to
follow my daily routine, sophomore Wendy Jackson said.
The opportunity to discuss pertinent war-related issues doesnt
happen every day, senior Bill Lascher said. It is necessary
for everyone to approach this unique political situation from a
number of angles to derive a comfortable, well-informed, and level-headed
perspective. Im not going to let America act out against Afghanistan
using my name, and in turn act out against the very principals that
it claims to protect.