Since Oberlin’s founding 178 years ago, student initiative has been a driving force at the college and in the community. On campus, it is at work every day in our classrooms, laboratories, libraries, practice rooms, performance spaces, and student residences.
I know this from first-hand experience. Each semester, I teach a politics class because I love teaching and the direct connection it provides to our students. In my fourth year as president, I still marvel at how bright, creative, and motivated they are. The young men and women in my class work hard, believe passionately in the life of the mind, enjoy discussing issues and concepts, and are not afraid to try to put their ideas into action. Those distinctive attributes are part of Oberlin’s institutional DNA, and they can be seen throughout the stories in this issue of the alumni magazine.
Nowhere is our students’ initiative more evident than in the Oberlin Student Cooperative Association. Founded 60 years ago by a small group of upperclass men and women dissatisfied with what they considered expensive, poor-quality food and restrictive housing policies, Oberlin’s co-ops continue to thrive and provide food, shelter, and a special sense of community to their members. Their efforts make Oberlin a better place to study, work, and live. Thank you, OSCA, and happy 60th birthday!
Student initiative also contributed significantly to the creation of our Adam Joseph Lewis Center for Environmental Studies, which recently celebrated its 10th anniversary. More recently, students’ input and ideas were a key factor in designing our new Robert Kahn Residence Hall, and in establishing it as a community committed to sustainability.
One of the distinctive features of liberal arts education at Oberlin is that it allows students who are so inclined to craft their own majors with the advice and assistance of our outstanding faculty. Oberlin provides more opportunities for students to be creative than any other college I know. The exceptional breadth, depth, and rigor of an Oberlin education enable our graduates to continue turning their initiatives into actions that benefit the world.
I invite you to come to Oberlin and see for yourself by sitting in on classes and student activities. That is the best way to get a real sense of how distinctive and dynamic Oberlin students are.