Racism Exists in Oberlin, other letters
To the Oberlin College Community:
As a member of the Africana and Latino communities, I am writing to express my disappointment in Oberlin College. I am a ninth-semester student, an African American Studies major, a member of Dance Diaspora and of Afro-Chicana decent. I want to address important issues that have worsened since my enrollment in Fall 2001: admission and retention of Black and Latino students, funding for the African American studies department and Dance Diaspora, and discrimination from white students and professors.
The number of African American and Latino students has drastically decreased. Example: Afrikan Heritage House dining hall, which was traditionally Black, is now predominantly white. The cultural paradigm there has switched, proving that my community is disappearing from this institution. I question the intentions of our Admissions Office and what hand the Trustees have.
It has been proven that Blacks and Latinos have systematically been denied decent educations. Society must compensate for this injustice and Oberlin College must do its part.
In my nine semesters, I have been threatened with suspension. Many of my friends have also been suspended and forced to withdraw because they could not compete in a white environment or pay their bill. Example: Pia Murray, rising senior, McNair Scholar and member of Dance Diaspora, has not been able to attend school for the past three semesters because of a $4000 balance — small number considering the amount of money put forth for certain programs. Why isn’t there some kind of fund to support students like this?
I have observed that we are often discriminated against based on race. Almost daily, white students will walk to the extreme side of the sidewalk to avoid physical contact with me or clutch their purse or bag walking by me at night. In several departments (math and theater and dance to be specific) and other administrative offices (Financial Aid), I have received a cold response as if I don’t belong. I have been treated unfairly by white professors. In the biology department, my professor was full of warmth speaking to one of the white students, but he turned a cold shoulder to me. One may suggest that this is my imagination, but this is my reality and the reality of many other students of color.
There is insufficient support for programs important to the Africana and Latino communities. The African American studies department and programs such as Dance Diaspora and Afrikan Heritage House are invaluable. African American studies is suffering for lack of professors. What is being done to ensure that this department, both historically and socially significant, will last?
When funding is cut for the African American studies department, it is cut more for Dance Diaspora. Adenike Sharpley, artist-in-residence, is the advisor/choreographer for Dance Diaspora. Over the past 13 years, Sharpley has successfully helped many of her students go on to graduate programs at premiere accredited higher education institutions. She has helped many McNair and Mellon Scholars complete project goals. But Professor Sharpley has been denied tenure. There are no tenured, full-time female professors at Oberlin College.
Afrikan Heritage House is an important community space and historical icon to Black students here. However, neglect and disregard for basic living amenities is unacceptable. Afrikan Heritage House should remain a healthy living space so the “The House” will survive at least another 30 years.
Without your acknowledgement of these issues the number and cultural health of Black and Latino students at Oberlin will remain stagnant, if not eventually nonexistent. I sincerely hope that there is a solution.
To the Editors:
In last week’s Review, I was the athlete chosen to be interviewed for the wonderful “In The Locker Room” article. While it was a very pleasurable experience to be interviewed by the wonderful Matthew Kaplan, I was horrified when I read the opening statement “Adam Morse comes from the beer drinking, NASCAR racing and George Bush supporting Pine Tree State...”
I imagine that all of my fellow peers from Maine also freaked out. So I would like to clarify a couple of things...Beer is consumed in Maine, a couple of people may watch NASCAR, but they are in the severe minority...and we do not support George W. Bush. While his pop resides in Maine and the secret service even rented our summer house for a while because it was so close to the Bush compound, we as a state do not support him. We voted for Kerry. Second, Travis Grout also thinks about Narwhals...more often than binary code. Thanks for your time.
–Adam Charles Morse
To the Editors:
When you’re taking up the entire sidewalk with your group of friends, please be aware that it’s respectful and courteous to move over so that the person who’s walking on the same sidewalk in the opposite direction doesn’t have to walk on the grass/mud/snow.
–Carol A. Spiros
To the Editors:
On behalf of the Senior Gift Committee, I’d like to inform the senior class that the final gift ideas are presented as an online survey this week. The survey is posted at www.oberlin.edu/seniorgift. All seniors (a.k.a. fourth- and fifth-years in Obielingo) should receive an e-mail with this link.
The Senior Gift is a decades-old tradition in which the graduating class gives something back to Oberlin. In recent years, it has generally been in the form of scholarship and internship funds.
We’d like to thank those of you who submitted ideas for consideration. This year’s gift idea solicitation process collected a broad spectrum of proposals, which certainly reflect the diversity and creativity of our class.
After some intense deliberation, we’re proud to present the following four gift ideas:
The Young Alumni Internship Fund provides stipends for students of financial need to pay for housing, food and other expenses while participating in an unpaid internship.
The Textbook Fund helps a few students each year who do not have the financial means to purchase books and supplies for their classes.
The Digital Sustainability Display is an on-campus, interactive touch-screen display that presents real-time environmental data about and builds momentum for Oberlin College’s move towards Carbon Neutrality.
The Gender and Sexual Identity Scholarship Fund provides tuition aid for students who do not receive financial support from their families due to gender identity or sexual identity.
The choice is yours! The polls will close on Friday, Nov. 18. Thanks in advance for your participation. We’re looking forward to seeing you at the upcoming fundraising events!
The Senior Gift Committee