Oberlin alumni can be decidedly unsubtle in contriving
ways to steer their own children toward Oberlin. "Over the
years I have encountered many alums who hope their child will consider
and choose Oberlin," says Midge Wood Brittingham '60, executive
director of the Alumni Association. "Having a son or daughter
come here is very gratifying to the Oberlin parent; it endorses
the parent's life choice and creates a wonderful bond between the
two--or in some cases--three generations."
David Dickinson '71, of Medford, Massachusetts, finagled
a visit to the campus via a cross-country trip to Cleveland's Rock
and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. "I literally dragged my teenage
daughter Liza to the College in the fading twilight," he says.
"We played Frisbee with a bunch of students on the lawn of
Tank Co-op"--among his own outstanding Oberlin memories. "My
daughter loved it. Afterward, we went to a new little restaurant,
where the waiter was appropriately pierced and had wildly colored
hair, so Liza thought everything was 'cool.'
"Such are the worthy criteria for college choice,"
he adds wryly. As a student in the late 1960s, Dickenson himself
had been drawn to Oberlin's social conscience and the liberal arts.
He boasts of a "favorite romantic photo" of himself in
a cloud of tear gas, blocking the car of an ROTC recruiter during
the Vietnam War years. His daughter is completing her first year
at Oberlin, and Liza's younger sister has identified herself as
a prospective environmental studies major, class of 2008.
Cynthia Brown '74, Oberlin's regional alumni coordinator
in Columbus, says she instilled in her daughter, Oberlin senior
Kate Lansky, "all things Oberlin. We hosted visiting professors
and lecturers on all sorts of topics," Brown says. "At
first Kate would play with the Obies' kids. Then she started coming
downstairs to the events. When she was 12 or so, she said to me,
'Oberlin people are weird in such wonderful ways.'"
Lansky's short list of colleges was framed by qualities
such as ethics and intellectual rigor. Oberlin had both, and when
she visited the campus for an interview, it felt like extended family.
"Being a legacy has been a good experience for me," she
says. "I've found advice and friendship from professors I wouldn't
have otherwise met, in departments I wouldn't have been a part of.
It's given me glimpses of the College's inner workings and helped
me to better understand campus issues."
Her legacy status, however, didn't come without its
stresses. "I was worried at first that I would receive preferential
treatment. Perhaps I would disappoint the people who had known my
mom or dad. I feared that I would be viewed as 'Cindy's daughter,'
not as 'Kate.' But I quickly learned otherwise. Being a legacy has
not affected my ability to be 'me.' If anything, it has enriched
my experience here--I've even learned a few juicy secrets about
my mom's college days."
For Joel Goldberg '78, an associate chemistry
professor at the University of Vermont, not even an employee perk
of free UVM tuition is enough to quash his hope that his two children
instead choose Oberlin. Eliza, 13, will need little encouragement.
"She is dead set on going to Oberlin and likely cannot be swayed,"
Goldberg says. "She is a great match, as she is very bright,
plays piano and clarinet, reads and writes voraciously, plans on
majoring in astrophysics, and fits the Obie-as-outsider-nonconformist
mold. She recently decided to make a point of wearing mismatched
socks all the time. She would go barefoot before wearing two socks
that are the same color!"
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of Family Tree, Oberlin Roots