CAS Suffers Loss With Cut, other letters
To the Editors:
I am outraged at the College Faculty Council’s decision last Friday to deny the return of the Asian American history position vacated last spring by Professor Daryl Maeda. This decision not only cuts the amount of courses at Oberlin College offered in Asian-American studies almost by a third, it also will do an incredible detriment to any students interested in U.S. history or comparative American studies. Moreover, this will put added strain on the CAS professors who are mostly junior faculty and are already overworked in regards to supporting marginalized students, advising and teaching filled classes on top of doing their own research.
While these all are incredibly valid reasons for the need to support Asian-American history at Oberlin College, I would like to specifically point to how this decision does not even fit in with the administration’s own Strategic Plan passed last spring.
According to the Strategic Plan, the College should “ensure appropriate verticality in every arts and sciences degree program.” Since there are several students within CAS who are concentrating in Asian-American or Asian-Pacific American Studies who expected to be able to continue into higher level Asian-American history classes to complete their major, this cut hinders verticality in their field of study. Moreover, the Strategic Plan also states “develop a plan to recruit and retain faculty and administrators of African American and other American racial minorities.” As the majority of Asian-American scholars are of Asian descent, the cut of the Asian-American history position directly affects the ability of the College to increase the number of faculty of color.
Finally the Strategic Plan also emphasizes the need for Oberlin to “enhance the educationally enriching possibilities of our diverse community by expanding and diversifying our applicant pool and by working to strengthen the pool of applicants of color to the College and Conservatory.” How does the College expect to “expand” and “diversify” our applicant pool if the school doesn’t even consider the issues pertaining to Asian-American students an important aspect of our curriculum? It is clear that this decision goes against many of the desires and priorities as set forth by Oberlin’s own Strategic Plan.
This decision does not only illustrate the lack of commitment of the College to students of color, but also its own Strategic Plan. This decision does nothing but harm and needs to be overturned.
To the Editors:
This is in response to the College Faculty Council’s decision to cut the Asian-American history position from the college. As a major in both history and comparative American studies, I am left unsettled and disheartened knowing that a crucial part of both programs may not return in the near future.
Classes in Asian-American history offer students the chance to explore often forgotten and silenced voices within American history. Asian-American history is integral to American history: without the inclusion of Asian-American history, the American history program is severely lacking and fundamentally damaged.
Furthermore, Asian-American history is crucial to the young and growing comparative American studies department. Prior to the cutting of this position by CFC, Asian-American history constituted an integral part of the CAS program. CAS was originally formed out of a movement for Asian-American studies. By eradicating Asian-American history from the curriculum, a disservice is being done not only to current and future students who will now lack an essential field of study, but also to the students and faculty who fought for this position for decades.
Now, it seems that we are back to where we started. As a first-year, I was involved in the movement to bring an Asian-American sociology position to campus, with the understanding that the professors in sociology and history would provide knowledge through different disciplines within Asian-American studies. I am thankful for our current Asian-American sociology and English professors, but by losing Asian-American history, the growth that Asian-American studies at Oberlin was experiencing is now halted.
The Asian-American history position is not a dispensable part of the College. Without it, not only are students of history and comparative American studies left short-handed, but the College’s commitment to “diversity” is called into question.
To the Editors:
We, the undersigned, are writing to express our deep frustrations regarding the decision made public last Friday, Nov. 11, by the College Faculty Council (CFC) to cut the Asian-American history position. The loss of this position is severely detrimental to our academic, social and personal growth. We are extremely disappointed because CFC’s verdict has effectively pushed Asian- Americans and Asian-American issues further to the margins of this institution — academically, socially and politically. This decision is representative of the Council’s failure to recognize the academic legitimacy and integrity of fields such as Asian-American studies in particular, and ethnic studies in general. More importantly, this decision is emblematic of a serious lack of understanding of and commitment to the needs and concerns of students of color.
The decision by the current CFC is shocking also because this Council appears to have chosen to ignore decisions made by past Councils as well as the Educational Plans and Policies Committee (EPPC). This position has been reviewed twice in the past seven years and each time its importance has been reaffirmed. Furthermore, the current Council has shown disregard for the efforts invested by students for over 35 years to institutionalize Asian-American studies on this campus. Asian-American students and allies have committed themselves individually and academically in order to acquire the knowledge that these history classes have provided. This position was created out of a groundswell of student activism for classes related to Asian-American issues and ethnic studies. In fact, the comparative American studies (CAS) program was established with the understanding that the classes provided by this history position would play an integral role in the curriculum. Decisions such as these hinder students from pursuing a comprehensive CAS or history major.
CFC’s decision is a great disservice to past, present and future Oberlin students. We are deeply concerned that Oberlin is not as progressive as it espouses to be and that this decision has contributed to the “mainstreaming” of the College. Moreover, refusal to return the Asian-American history position will undoubtedly endanger the recruitment and retention of students of color.
We urge the campus community to mobilize and demand that Council return the Asian-American history position.
To the Editors:
Like most Oberlin students, I often keep my politics to myself. I’m not prone to rallies or protests, and don’t (other than at the moment) write letters to the editor of The Oberlin Review. However, I felt that the editorial of the Review’s Nov. 11 edition, “The Bubble is Not Bulletproof” couldn’t be ignored. The editorial reflects what I believe to be an ignorant and irresponsible position from which some Oberlin College students approach College-community relations. To be sure, this problem is not confined to Oberlin students, nor should sweeping statements be made about Oberlin students’ insensitivity. Many students do make an effort to step back, as we all should, and examine the impact that our temporary stint at Oberlin College has on the larger Oberlin community.
But all too often, our sense of entitlement — we paid to come here, we’re young, we’ll act as we like — goes unexamined and uncontested. Not unlike relationships at the international level, we’re often unaware of the impact of our self-involvement until something calamitous, or potentially calamitous, occurs. And not unlike the acts of terror in the U.S. and elsewhere, we are shocked and appalled by the actions of people who perceive — rightly, or wrongly — that they are being oppressed.
The Review editorial board encourages us not to “let down our guard” in response to “the violent acts toward students” that it suggests are becoming increasingly common. Upping the ante, it urges us to “always carry mace or pepper spray” in order for us vulnerable students to “minimize the risk of falling victim to crimes when one should be enjoying the experience of a liberal college like Oberlin.” The board’s sensational, incriminating language perfectly reflects the entitlement that I described, and the racist and classist assumptions about our “right” to remain insulated and unperturbed during our College stay.
Students complain a lot about how there’s “nothing but cornfields” in Oberlin and Lorain County and are often happy to leave. This attitude, while perhaps understandable, is unacceptable. Twenty percent of Oberlin residents are Black. Twenty percent of people — real, live and, in most cases, truly wonderful people — in Oberlin live below the federal poverty line (Census Bureau, 1999). Many of them grew up in Oberlin, and have watched hundreds of thousands of Oberlin students — most of them white, most of them middle class — pass through Oberlin. If not because we’re committed to social justice, if not because we care about people struggling with poverty, if not because we have the privilege of attending a college that, perhaps erroneously, prides itself on egalitarianism, then at the very least, we should do it for our safety.
To imagine that pepper spray should or will solve problems like the altercation described in the front-page article “Campus Disturbed by Violent Attacks” and referenced by the editors in “Bubble” is absolutely ridiculous. I don’t know the unnamed complainants of this crime, nor do I know the named suspect. However, as a fellow resident of North Pleasant, unlike one of the complainants quoted in “Violent Attacks,” I’ve run into lots of nice people, rather than “pretty kooky guys” living “out here.”
We need to acknowledge our role in what is a complex and troubled relationship between College and community. It is incumbent on Oberlin students to change the way we treat Oberlin and its residents. When implored, as the Review editors do, to “exercise common sense,” we should. Care, be informed and be involved.
To the Editors:
Last week’s editorial column proposed that students deal with recent isolated events of robbery and violence by avoiding dimly lit areas and always carrying around pepper spray or mace. The need for students to protect themselves is now a need “that must be addressed.” Apparently, the editorial board would have students address this need by living in constant fear, arming themselves for protection from all those scary racial minorities.
To begin with, pepper spray and mace won’t do anything to protect students from crimes involving guns. When a man asks a student for his wallet and flashes a handgun, pepper spray is not going to help protect the student. Handing over the wallet might. When a man starts shooting a shotgun at students, mace won’t do anything. The editorial board apparently believes that if everyone carried weapons, the world would be safer. I disagree.
Even if living in fear and carrying weapons made students safer, would it be worth the cost to Oberlin’s quiet, serene, safe atmosphere? Would it be worth having to travel in groups, or at least tell somebody where you’re going, as if you’re on parole or in middle school? And for what, exactly? That still extremely unlikely situation where somebody might punch at you?
Our nation lives in fear, and responds irrationally accordingly. Fearful students with mace and pepper spray wouldn’t make the campus safe; instead, they’d turn every small altercation into a lethal affair, shooting pepper spray with wild abandon at the slightest threat. Too much fear is stressful and unhealthy. I, for one, would rather do without the fear of dimly lit areas and without the weapons, and instead simply not toss beer bottles into the street. That way, I’ll live longer.
To the Editors:
I was really excited when I opened up last week’s Review to In the Locker Room and discovered that it featured two awesome people, Jessie Oram and Meg Reitz. However, as I read the article, I became increasingly horrified with the manner in which it was written. It opened claiming that the two regular locker room goers had a conversation with Matt Kaplan “about the success of the awesome field hockey team,” yet the focus of the article was entirely on the interviewer instead of the interviewees.
I’m not interested in reading what “Kapstar” thinks is funny about sports fans, freshmen or Oberlin students’ perceptions of athletes’ academic strengths. Jessie and Meg are hilarious and a good In the Locker Room (as they arguably were last semester) highlights the often hilariousness of the interviewees, not the forced attempt at humor by the interviewer. Furthermore, the treatment of Meg’s relationship with Ethan Witkovsky struck me as completely inappropriate. The sexual innuendos were not only bad taste but out of place In the Locker Room.
Please bring In the Locker Room back to the way we grew to know and love it.
To the Editors:
How many of us depend on student loans to pay tuition? I expect a good majority. While loans may not be ideal, they help students through college. Higher education is increasingly important in society. We know the value of education but unfortunately, Congress does not.
At the end of this week, the House will vote to cut $14.3 billion from federal student aid. The 2005 Budget Reconciliation Bill, which includes the cut, would also affect interest rates and borrowing fees. The bill would increase the cap on interest rates from 6.8 percent to 8.25 percent and put new taxes and fees on borrowers. The typical college graduate owes $17,500 in loans. If the bill passes, that debt could surpass $23,300.
In addition, this bill will not balance the budget as claimed. In fact, it cuts $50 billion from government programs to help pay for $70 billion in new tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations.
As a country we should invest in education so college students don’t graduate deep in debt. Excessive loan debt can force students to delay starting a family, buying a home or choosing their ideal job. Congress should keep students from being buried in debt and bury the Budget Reconciliation bill instead.
The situation is not hopeless. The bill has already encountered strong opposition in Congress, passing the Senate by just five votes. Now the bill has been delayed twice in the House. Our representatives need a final push to vote against the bill. As constituents our voice matters. All students, faculty and staff should call 1-800-574-4243 and give your zip code to connect to your representative. Let them know you disapprove of the cut to federal student aid.
To the Editors:
Since last week’s issue of the Review was distributed, I realize that my letter to the community was misinterpreted. I would like to quickly try to clear that up.
Firstly, I must make a correction: my letter stated that there are no tenured female professors and I realize that this is not true. I meant to say that there are no tenured, full-time black female or Latina professors. My letter was a much abridged version of a statement that I read at the last Trustees forum. Originally, it was over 2000 words. In my effort to narrow the number of words down to the 600 the Review requires as a minimum for its commentary section, I must have lost the word that was clearly essential. I apologize. I was trying to draw attention to the fact that there is only one tenured black female professor in the entire school, Mrs. Caroline Jackson-Smith, who is a part-time professor. I want to emphasize the necessity for a diverse faculty in all disciplines. Furthermore, I am stressing the need for students of color to have professors with complete amnesty as an Oberlin College faculty member; professors with tenure are important to us in order to implement change for the betterment of our community as a whole.
Also, there have been claims that I only published my letter last week to gain publicity for my Dance Diaspora show, La Chingada. I would like it to be known that I had originally planned to publish my letter two weeks before Fall Break, but could not find the time to edit it sufficiently. Also, the letter was published two weeks ago in In Solidarity. I think there is something to be said for the fact that there was no public outcry of indignation until my letter appeared in the Review. Perhaps if a certain number of Oberlin’s students were more aware of the other publications on campus, my letter would not have shocked them so, what with its claims of racism and all. Finally, I would like to stress that I published my letter for one reason only: I had something to say to the greater Oberlin community and wanted to use the necessary outlets to have my concerns voiced.
Searching for change in solidarity.
To the Oberlin Community:
Important message for Oberlin Community to write and communicate with your Class Trustees. Attend the Open Forum which is currently scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 1, 9 p.m. Please look around for any changes. Just attend the forum.
I first would like to thank the Classes of 2004-2006 for electing me as the 2005 Class Trustee, a position that I take very seriously since I write to you from the tropical island of Guadeloupe, located in the French West Indies. Even on this grain of sand, among palm trees and exotic fruits, I am still interested in the Oberlin Community. I only have one personal goal as class trustee: communication. Please write and communicate with us. Just attend the forum.
My understanding is that the Class Trustee must be balanced because he/she represents not only the students, but also the administration. Since my involvement in the daily student lives is limited to what current students/faculty/staff tell me about the school and their experiences, it is important that you write and communicate with us. Please take advantage of our unique position as class trustee. Please write and communicate with us. Just attend the forum.
Take care. Remember, again, write and communicate with us. Just attend the forum. My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.