A modest proposal
As reported in the article “Fewer first-years for 2005” in last issue’s Review, the percentage of students of color in Oberlin’s new first-year class is 17 percent. While that may be two percent lower than last year, it is still, I think, a wonderful thing and, of course, only the beginning. If we all work together and put our minds to it, there’s no limit to how many bigger and more wonderful percentages we can attain — percentages, in fact, that make a measly 17 percent look like outright bigotry.
But while we can all agree that forcefully recruiting minority students in an attempt to increase Oberlin’s visible diversity and raise an arbitrary fraction makes us better people, it is not nearly enough, not when there’s still a minority on campus so ignored that we don’t even know exactly how many first-year students are part of it.
I refer, of course, to handicapped people. A casual trip around Oberlin’s campus reveals plenty of African Americans and Latin Americans and, in fact, four (four!) brand new Native Americans, but it’s hard to ignore the fact that precious few members of our student body are differently-abled. The handicapped are an important part of any culture, and to be truly diverse Oberlin students must interact regularly with those who have grown up in a different world with different, less abled experiences.
And I think it is downright appalling that the percentage of handicapped students on this campus is so low that we haven’t even been given a clear and understandable percentage that tells us, mathematically, exactly how diverse we are.
Fortunately, though, there is a solution. You can’t make a school a better place by turning a white person black, but you can sure make a white person handicapped. So my solution is, we must cripple a sufficient percentage of the Oberlin student body.
This is not nearly as difficult as it may sound. The process would be simple. I think, and surely you all agree, that a ten percent differently-abled Oberlin population would be an acceptable place to start, so I propose a lottery in which ten percent of the student body is randomly selected to be handicapped in a permanent or semi-permanent fashion. Amputation is ideal, but simply bashing someone’s knee with a tire iron is fine, provided the bone doesn’t heal properly.
Of course, the process would not be entirely random. We would in fact handicap ten percent of every individual group, majority or minority, so that the lottery is completely and entirely unbiased and so that even the handicapped community itself is wonderfully diverse. By way of illustration, out of the 37 new African-American students on campus, 3.7 — rounded up to four — would be relieved of one or more limbs.
When all is said and done, one out of every ten Oberlin students will be differently-abled and ten out of every ten Oberlin students will have the advantage of living and learning in a truly diverse and equal environment. That’s 100 percent!
There is one more step, though, that must be taken to make Oberlin as accepting as it could be. How can we be a diverse campus when so much of Oberlin’s administration is white and straight?
Take President Nancy Dye. Sure, she’s a woman, but there are lots of women around. Heck, you’re probably near a woman right now. You may even be one! But aside from that, she is, by all accounts, straight, and clearly Caucasian.
It seems obvious to me that Oberlin will not be all it can be until Dye is replaced by a gay Latino transgendered Wiccan. Said replacement would be, in fact, the very first gay Latino transgendered Wiccan ever to run a major liberal arts college, so Oberlin would again be on the cutting edge of liberal values, and surely a college run by a gay Latino transgendered Wiccan would be a glorious place to learn.
Naturally, if Dye were to change genders, enter into a legal union with a man
(being, at this point, male), discover a Mexican great-grandfather and begin
casting spells, I would have no problem with her/him remaining president of