Editorial: Obies, stay strong
Judging by the long faces and muttred curses of students throughout campus this week, the election results were a disappointment to most of the College community. The main question on everyone’s mind seems to be, “How could this have happened?”
Students should take comfort in the fact that whatever problems may emerge from the wreckage of the Kerry campaign, the failure did not occur here.
Students at this College turned out in unprecedented numbers, overwhelming our woefully unprepared polling sites and waiting for up to five hours to vote. Students who braved the long lines at the polls and were disappointed by the results should not feel their time was wasted, indeed they showed exactly what it is that makes this College special. The Oberlin College administration also deserves enormous credit for working tirelessly to make sure every vote counted. There are not many colleges in this country where the Dean of Students and the College lawyer would be at the polls at 6:30 in the morning to ensure that everything went smoothly.
The greatest credit of course, must go to the students who have spent the past months mobilizing for this Election Day. The leaders of groups like the Oberlin College Democrats, OhioPIRG, the League of Pissed-Off Voters, Lambda Union and many others deserve the heartfelt thanks and congratulations of the entire College community. It is not an exaggeration to say that the high Democratic turnout in Northeast Ohio was largely due to the activities of Oberlin students.
Oberlin has often been ridiculed in the so-called “mainstream” press as a hotbed of radical politics and unpatriotic values. No student who spends their entire day waiting in the rain to exercise their rights as a citizen or takes months of their time, including their vacations, to work for the democratic process should ever be called unpatriotic by anyone. It is hard to imagine a group of young people who care more about this country and its future than the students of this College. Last Tuesday ought to put to rest any fears that Oberlin is losing its progressive spirit or becoming “just another college.” Oberlin has never been just another college and it never will be.
This reaction was not confined to Oberlin of course. According to reports from nearby Kenyon College, students were still voting at 4 o’clock on Wedneday morning. However, it seems that Oberlin once again finds itself in the national minority. We’ve been here before.
This College was founded by men and women who believed in the simple truth that all people are created equal and no person, no matter the color of their skin, should ever be denied their basic human rights. This belief was unbelievably radical for its time and put tiny Oberlin squarely at odds with the prevailing national sentiment.
The next four years will not be easy ones for those who share the principles of this College and its students. This should not be a cause for despair but rather a call to action. A country led by a man who seeks to overturn much of the progress made in the last century needs places like Oberlin more than ever.
In Czechoslovakia in 1968, when Soviet tanks put an end to that country’s experiment with a more democratic form of socialism and advocates for democracy were in despair, the dissident and future president Vaclav Havel wrote that “the sudden assertion of human criteria within a dehumanizing framework of political manipulation can be like a flash of lightning illuminating a dark landscape. And truth is suddenly truth again, reason is reason, and honor honor.”
Havel’s words and eventual success prove that the greatest acts of political bravery can sometimes occur only in the darkest of political climates. Havel’s “flash of lightning” was very much in evidence at this College last Tuesday.
Don’t give up, Oberlin. You are the true patriots, and more than ever,
your country needs you.–Managing Editor, Faith Richards–Chief News
Editor, Joshua Keating–Commentary Editor, Casey Ashenhurst