Obie praises new OC Republicans, other letters
To the Editors:
Oberlin is getting something it’s been sorely needing for decades. Yes, I too wish it were a theatre space, but we’ll have to settle for the reconstruction of the Oberlin College Republicans. Why do we need this group? Because like it or not, there are people in your classes, dorms and sipping from your drinking fountains who didn’t vote for Kerry and think abortion is a bad idea, and a forum for this definitively marginalized group must be established. What is there to fear or become offended or angry about? Absolutely nothing, because finally the liberal hipster can put his money where his cigarette is and verbally duke it out with an equal adversary: a flesh-and-blood, pro-life, pro-death penalty conservative peer. Fellow students, rejoice! I cannot tell you the number of times I have been unable to resolve an argument because I do not know the other side of the story. Now I can get it straight from the elephant’s mouth! If I want to truly understand the horrors of gay marriage or the advantages of a smaller government, I now know to whom to turn. Of course, it works both ways. If the Republicans are going to come out of the closet, they damn well better know their stuff, because if there’s one thing liberals feed on, it’s stupidity (on the other hand, they are well used to disappointment).
About a week and a half ago, I had the honor of attending the inaugural meeting of the newly re-formed OCRs. While the dominant topic of the meeting was logistics and organization, the first part was spent discussing the reasons people had for joining the group. The reasons ran the spectrum from unfocused liberal-bashing to experiences of persecution from fellow schoolmates. As I listened, I felt a strange mix of sympathy and discomfort.
I felt discomfort because whatever my political views are, they are undoubtedly not Republican and I wasn’t sure whether dissent in a den of dissenters would be welcome. I felt somewhat like a Jew at a Nazi rally or little Linda Brown on her first day at her new school. Associated with this feeling of extreme discomfort was extreme embarrassment. I was embarrassed because it was during the course of the meeting I realized I had prejudged these folks based on the way they see the world and in getting caught up in all the things about Republicanism I disagree with, I realized I had forgotten that these views are held by actual human beings. O bitter shame of bigotry! There is no bio-friendly detergent strong enough to wash your stench from my messenger bag!
I felt sympathy because the horrible truth is that Republicans on this campus are being persecuted. We can’t make jokes about Asians, gays, Muslims or lecherous professors, but for arbitrary reasons, Republicans sink through the cracks of this safety net. Even during the meeting, some kid poked his head into the room, patronizingly shook his head, and wandered off, booing as he went. To trash this group because you disagree with the worldview it represents is to shit on John Oberlin’s grave. It is 100 percent pure, uncut hypocrisy.
There is no group on this campus that should be unable to express its views to the campus at large for fear of reprisal and though some of us may feel resistant to change or to having our views challenged, it is nothing to fear or lash out about, and in the end our views shall be made stronger through such challenge.
With regard to the Herzl exhibit currently on display in the main level of Mudd Center: Hillel was never the sponsor of the Herzl exhibit, although it was briefly initially mistakenly listed as such. The exhibit’s sponsor is Oberlin Zionists.
To the Editors:
Students for a Free Palestine would like to clarify a point about our campaign to divest from the Israeli military, since there are commonly held misconceptions. Our campaign is to get Oberlin College to divest from companies that hold contracts with the military of Israel. It is not a divestment from the entire state of Israel, but rather a specific action to target a) the severe brutality and human rights violations carried out by the Israeli military and b) to draw attention to the special relationship between the U.S. and Israel. Military divestment does not delegitimize the state of Israel. Rather, it targets the military, the institution that physically enacts occupation and brutality, and calls for reform of their policies. Military divestment does not target or harm the Israeli economy or people.
We support an end to human rights violations worldwide. However, it is important to keep in mind that Israel receives more U.S. aid than any other country and is the fourth largest military power in the world. Targeting one country’s military in particular is a focused action designed to enact concrete change. To understand why military divestment is effective, it must be understood as a kind of shareholder advocacy, by which a company’s shareholders can change company practices that they don’t agree with. This can be achieved by filing a complaint with the company, or voting on the concerns that other shareholders have raised. If the company does not change its practices, you can divest. This sends a clear message that certain policies won’t be tolerated.
There has been criticism that SFP’s military divestment campaign should focus on divesting from the militaries of every country with human rights abuses rather than the Israeli military. This is simply ineffective; it is neither financially sound nor achievable. Divesting from the Israeli military is not about maintaining moral purity and withdrawing from everything unethical. It is a targeted action linked to a larger national movement of campaigns to divest from the Israeli military. It does no good if one institution divests; it is only effective and noticeable when there are many people and institutions divesting from the Israeli military together. We are a part of a movement nationally and internationally and divestment from the military of Israel is an action that many Palestinian human rights peace activists are calling for. Secondly, our campaign is targeted at the military of Israel in particular because we are Students for a Free Palestine and this is our focus. We encourage campaigns on this campus calling for military divestment from other countries to be sincere and to not appropriate people’s struggles for political gain. We would like to work with other military divestment activists to develop an analysis around how U.S. global power and corporate interests exacerbate human rights violations in a number of countries, including Israel.
Most importantly, we encourage the entire student body to educate themselves. Ignorance is not an excuse. Students for a Free Palestine is having an education series from now until the end of the semester. You can find more information on the events calendar or at www.oberlin.edu/~sfp. Don’t forget to vote on the Student Senate referendum!
–Rachel Marcus, College junior; Nina Sarnelle, College sophomore; Roni Ginach, College first-year; Lee Gargagliano, College junior; Robin Beck, College first-year; Lina Elbadawi, College senior; Yussef Cole, College senior; Rasha Al Sarraj, College senior; Pegah Rahmanian, College junior; Ina Kelleher, College first-year
To the Editors:
I am writing to explain changes to the O-Pass beginning this June. Changes include increased service around breaks, requirement of students to pay standard fares per ride, the rescheduling of Route 33 (the airport shuttle) to operate more efficiently and the establishment of an OC Transportation Committee. Reevaluation of the O-Pass was initiated in response to system-wide cuts of Lorain County Transit (LCT) service. Originally, LCT intended to decrease the airport shuttle’s weekday service from nine runs a day to four. Right now, it’s looking more like six runs a day with extra buses running more frequently around breaks.
This spring we will experiment with increasing the number of airport shuttle buses running at the end of the semester. Whereas adequate break service was merely an implicit understanding in previous O-Pass negotiations, increased service will now be organized in advance of breaks as an explicit component of the O-Pass contract.
Requiring students to pay standard fares clarifies the original purpose of the O-Pass: to increase students’ ability to travel to and from campus. A trade-off exists between providing students free rides and increasing service. The O-Pass directly finances running the airport shuttle when the LCT cannot afford to run buses. This investment does not offset the need for students to pay per ride on the rest of the system. The only revenue LCT gains from the O-Pass comes from non-students riding the airport shuttle on the weekend. LCT loses revenue when students (who were paying fares three years ago) ride for free. To recover some of this lost revenue, LCT negotiated an increased O-Pass fee of $8.00/semester/student (up from the original $7.27/semester.)
Is it in students’ best interest to pay for ridership in advance? It is only logical for the student body to invest in expanding public transportation. Requiring the entire student body to pay some students’ fares is both unnecessary and unfair, however. Furthermore, paying per ride gives a market incentive for the LCT to respond quickly to student demand. The only advantage to paying fares in advance is the convenience of just flashing an ID. In the face of major cutbacks, ensuring a high level of service far outweighs the convenience of not carrying change when riding the bus.
Why don’t we just increase the O-Pass fee? The budget for 2005-2006 is already set. In the future we could increase the O-Pass fee to, for example, run a late-night airport shuttle on Saturday night so people can rock out in Cleveland. We could also provide free ridership in the future if students are willing to pay for it.
Since its establishment in 2003, the O-Pass has never before come under student review. No follow-up studies were conducted by OPIRG (the founders of the O-Pass) and annual contract negotiations were handled by Vice President of Finance Ron Watts. This has been problematic because the initial O-Pass agreement was imperfect and neither LCT nor the College administration have been able to solicit student involvement. Establishing a Transportation Committee will increase communication between students, LCT and college administrators. The Transportation Committee will be responsible for negotiating the annual O-Pass contract, researching student transportation demands, organizing increased bus service around breaks and analyzing student parking issues.
Students’ access to the airport and to Cleveland are not in jeopardy. In fact, students will be better served by a bus system which is more responsive to student demand. Please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or concerns you have about these changes. We will not sign the new contract with LCT for another week.