Editorial highly inaccurate, other letters
To the Editors:
My letter is in regard to your op-ed article about “Wal-Mart debate reveals rift.” There are several parts of that commentary that are incorrect.
Wal-Mart first proposed an Oberlin store in 2000 or 2001. That site was near Reserve Ave. on what is known as the Gott Farm. The city did not want a big box store that close to a single-family residential zone so we refused to annex that land into the city. The developer tried developing anyway with an onsite sewage treatment system. The city fought that and after a time Wal-Mart gave up on that site. The second attempt was in 2003, when I was chairman of the council. Wal-Mart proposed a store across from the Joint Vocational School on Route 58. Again, that land needed to be annexed into the city. The township trustees stated they did not want the store there, so again the city refused to annex the land. Wal-Mart had said they would never work with the owner of the current site, so I thought Wal-Mart was gone. In 2004 Wal-Mart came forward with the current plan. Daniel Gardner was the president of council, Eve Sandberg and Charles Peterson were serving as members of council.
The plan was submitted to Planning Commission and several standing-room-only meetings later, the plan was approved. I learned later that the city manager and Daniel Gardner met with Wal-Mart privately to gain some concessions from them. To say that this deal was done by a previous council behind closed doors is an outrageous lie. The members of council that twice stopped Wal-Mart deserve an apology. This is an obvious case of fact twisting to make the “slate” of Gardner, Sandberg, and Peterson look good in the eyes of the students. The Review should also divulge that the editorial staff includes Casey Ashenhurst. David Ashenhurst works for Eve Sandberg and is a candidate for city council. [Editor’s note: David Ashenhurst is the father of Review commentary editor Casey Ashenhurst.]
It is nice to know that the “Slate” was elected with a promise to depart from secrecy and cronyism. You might want to ask Ms. Sandberg why she is the only member of council that has not divulged what she spent on her campaign in 2003.
– William Jindra
To the Editors:
I write to make two points. The first is regarding a recent editorial that you penned about the Oberlin City Council and the Wal-Mart issue. You wrote, “With the election of Dan Gardner, Eve Sandburg [sic] and Charles Peterson three years ago, Oberlin residents were promised a departure from secrecy and cronyism.” This suggests that something untoward was happening behind the scenes. Speaking for myself, what I specifically promised in the 2003 campaign was to seek to open up the process of selection and appointment to the city’s commissions, committees and boards.
This promise did not mean that people on the city’s committees and boards were not working honestly and hard. It simply meant that I, like many of the citizens we talked to during the campaign, believed that the city would benefit from a new practice of term limits (city council members have them). Term limits would allow the appointment of new individuals with some fresh ideas and perspectives to have the opportunity to serve their city. The previous common practice of not replacing someone unless they chose to step down 1) had the appearance of exclusivity and 2) did not serve to train a new age cohort to undertake the city’s affairs. A wide spectrum of representation should be sought and brought to the table, I believed.
I am happy to report that this serving council succeeded in putting before the voters a ballot question which demonstrated that the vast majority of voters favored term limits and widely-publicized processes for choosing representatives to our commissions, boards and committees. We have both today.
It is a leap from this concern to your concern about the Wal-Mart issue in which a reader of your editorial might believe that you are suggesting that this council was not transparent regarding Wal-Mart issues. Otherwise why did you raise both these issues in your editorial? So I hope to draw your readers’ attention to the fact that all votes regarding Wal-Mart were debated publicly and taken publicly. We passed an administrative agreement (not permission for Wal-Mart to come to Oberlin) after two public readings. I might add, that to my knowledge, not one person on the council was contacted between the two readings by any citizen to discuss the specifics of the Administrative Agreement. Some insightful comments concerning issues of traffic flow, etc. were raised during our public discussions; and certainly both the council and our city administration intend to do everything we can to assure a safe traffic situation around the Wal-Mart site.
Many of those people who wanted us to wait for a third reading mistakenly believed that we were voting on whether or not Wal-Mart could do business in Oberlin. Our law director clearly advised me that even if we had voted “no” on the Administrative Agreement, that would not have prevented Wal-Mart’s ability to come to Oberlin.
My second point is to commend The Oberlin Review staff for undertaking to educate the campus community and other of your readers about the affairs of the town. Because so many of your readers are registered to vote in Oberlin, you are providing a critical public service. I, therefore, also must note that all of our city council business meetings are public — we meet the first and third Monday evening of each month in the local court and would welcome your attendance. So, too, are our boards, committees and commission meetings publicly conducted. Members of the campus community can consult the City of Oberlin web page for a listing of these groups and their members, and then be able to contact the relevant people to learn when and where these groups are meeting.
I look forward to your continued coverage of town affairs and hope to see additional participation from your readers at our meetings.
– Eve Sandberg
To the Editors:
On July 26, 2005, I filed two complete petitions for the office of Oberlin city council at the Board of Elections. Although this filing was considerably early, I wanted to get everything in order so that if problems arose, I would have a cushion of time to address those problems.
I received detailed attention and support at the Board of Elections, partly, I think, due to confusion that had arisen over forms filed the previous year from Oberlin Council candidates. I spent nearly an hour with three different officials going over my forms line by line. They pointed out to me problem spots that they had encountered on other candidate’s forms, and they assured me that I had properly addressed those areas. I was told repeatedly that my forms were in order, I paid the $45 filing fee and I was given a receipt. Still, aware of how laws and forms change, I asked for additional clarification on the forms as well as on future reports and the timetable for those reports. The two officials who had been reviewing my forms then called in a third person who acknowledged the difficulty of being certain all steps were understood and had been followed. She took an additional 20 minutes reviewing the steps and procedures.
I left the Board of Elections very impressed with the time they had taken with me, confident in their assurance and secure in understanding future deadlines and obligations.
This confidence turned out to be badly misplaced and very costly to my candidacy.
Since I had filed so early, I returned to the Board of Elections in August with the filing receipts and other timetable forms I had been given to simply double check the process and to be sure my actions were in order. Again, I received extensive attention, was assured my understanding was correct and my forms were in order.
I was shocked to read in The Lorain Journal that my candidacy had been disqualified, particularly since I had been so conscientious and persistent about the filing process. I am not naive. I realize that the process is ultimately my responsibility, but I thought I was addressing that responsibility by accepting the help and judgments of the Board of Elections on two different occasions.
If the Board is not an agency to turn to for confirmation, help and education, I believe this should be made absolutely clear. Of course I knew that signatures would need to be verified, but I left the Board’s offices secure in the completeness and accuracy of my submissions. I may be pursuing legal action to reverse the Board’s decision, and I also will be filing as a write-in candidate, but I feel strongly that officials at the Board of Elections share culpability in my situation.
– Sharon Fairchild Soucy
To the Editors:
The Wal-Mart controversy has created cleavages in the student community as well as in town. Some argue that Wal-Mart is a logical proposition with the attached benefits that it will provide jobs for the jobless and cheap goods for Oberlin residents who suffer from the “artificial’ overpricing of town stores that we as students create. The position of Oberlin Citizens, For Responsible Development, though perhaps more theoretical, is every bit as concerned for the material well being Oberlin residence as our opponents. Wal-Mart exemplifies an economic model that we totally reject. Its employees in America make seven dollars an hour without benefits and the vast majority of them are on welfare even with employment. Likewise in Honduras, employees make 42 cents per hour and work 14 hours a day and women under 17. WM uses a pre-1930s model of radically squeezing employees and breaking unions, it is changing the dynamic of labor and management and playing on the circumstantial weakness of Labor Unions in our current time. For Oberlin, it will confer initial economic benefit while putting a ceiling on further development. Incoming traffic means nothing. People shop at Wal-Mart, eats at the lunch counter and leave. Seven dollar an hour salaries won’t put any new stores in business and their employees will only be able to afford Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart products en mass function as a Geffiin good monopolizing the low end of the market. Wal-Mart may offer some benefits, but it is a devil’s bargain for working class Oberlin. Or so we believe.
The position of Oberlin Citizens for Responsible Development is not “all too simple” as the Review claims. Every disinterested individual who read the article (whom I’ve talk to) admitted they were swayed by coverage either to support Wal-Mart, tacitly, or to abstain from opinion. The column and article of the work together to paint the issue as human interest of bourgeoisie liberal elites versus small town populists. The editorial claims that students oppose the construction agreement for “largely political reasons.” To the extent that Oberlin is a polity, the Wal-Mart is political and political reasons are admissible. The editorial remarks lead students to believe that conflict is a matter of identity, that they will be identified with the elite if they oppose Wal-Mart. It does not offer logical argument so much as a manipulation.
City Council President Dan Gardener’s letter to the Review which appeared Sept. 23 in which he generously confers upon them “kudos” for “thoughtful and nuanced treatment of the Wal-Mart issue in Oberlin.” No one with vested interests, (i.e. Dan Gardener’s pro-Wal-Mart position) ever gets that excited by truly “nuanced” journalism.
The article (not the editorial) starts off with the notorious inflatable rat, but immediately moves to distinguish it from the typical AFL-CIO rat with which we’re all familiar. The OCFD does not see the rat as “far from” its usual significance. Nor do members of the AFL-CIO actually, sending a speaker in support of the anti-Wal-Mart position to a panel next here at Oberlin next Wednesday. “It is a complicated issue — even the city council members are ambivalent about the effects it will have on downtown Oberlin.” Right, they see our argument; only they look beyond it (after all, they all support Wal-Mart), whereas the OCFD must be considered myopic for taking a clear position. Furthermore, why did OCFD spend two hours talking to Emma Dumain of the Review to have guys like Charles Peterson or Dan Gardener state our position for us? The article that follows, furthermore, does not elucidate the complexity of the situation. The article is a collection of variously spanned quotations; little to no objective information is supplied.
If you want more information, as well as opinion, come the panel of labor leaders coming to Oberlin on Wednesday the sixth to discuss Wal-Mart and the Living Wage.
– Edward Livingston
To the Editors:
The state has frozen its funding of Ohio public libraries for this biennium and after that plans to cut its share of their financial support. At the same time the formula that has divided state funding among Lorain County libraries is being changed and will send a smaller share of this already falling amount to the Oberlin public library. These two events will require either a decrease in the level of services provided by our Oberlin library or an increase of our funding support.
On Nov. 8 the ballot will include a levy to replace the local tax that supports the Oberlin Public Library plus a $0.25 million increase to compensate for both failing state funding and the decreasing Lorian count distribution of that funding. We urge all our voters to approve it and to contact both friends and acquaintances for their support as well. Devote an hour to do this. It will be time well spent!
The Oberlin Public Library is among our town’s most important assets. It serves everyone but it is critically important to our schools, our children, the non-affluent and the aged. It is both well and frugally managed. As part of both Oberlin’s an our surrounding townships infrastructures it helps to maintain our values and culture. We hope all voters in the November eletion will support its continued and unimpaired operation.
– John Picken
To the Editors:
I love September weekends in Oberlin! As a student they meant coming back to campus and being able to hang out with friends for a time before papers were due and exams were starting. As an alumna, September brings Alumni Council weekend and a chance to connect with other alumni and with current students.
Alumni Council weekend this year once again spotlighted how devoted alumni are to meeting and helping current students. For those of you who may have missed it, there was a panel discussion for students on how to make the most of their community service. There was also a networking reception and a dinner where students could discuss career, educational or job-seeking goals with alums who have already been there and done that.
For alumni, such as myself, these encounters give us a small chance to provide to the students the same sort of guidance we either had or wish we had when we were in their shoes. Many of us, over 2100 in fact, have indicated a willingness to do more.
Did you know that there is a database of alumni career mentors available for students to search? By meeting with a counselor at the Career Services you can gain access to OBIEWeb, the Alumni Online Community, and reach out to alumni in a field or geographic area that interests you. The alumni can help with informational interviews, networking advice and other job seeking help. We’re here, able and willing to help if you’ll just reach out to us.
Speaking on behalf of at least some of the 2100 who have registered as mentors, there are not enough of you who are using this amazing resource. The alumni know the value of networking and the big leg up that OBIEWeb can provide to students and we encourage you to take advantage of the database and our willingness to help.
– Susan Schwarz Rudzinski
To the Editors:
Thank you for both the “Reminder to vote in Ohio” letter on Sept. 16 and the “Obie vote to factor in local elections” story on Sept. 23. I certainly share what your reporters cite as a prevailing sentiment, that “when students [and everyone else] vote, they have an obligation to make educated decisions based on the needs of the whole community.” Continuing public discussion of the Wal-Mart and East College Street developments, the living wage charter amendment proposal, as well as other matters I have no doubt will be addressed by stories and commentary in this current issue, all indicate we are in for an unusually complex and strenuous local (off-off-year!) election season. The Oberlin Review will have considerable journalistic responsibilities these next six weeks in trying to provide both “fair and balanced” coverage of the city council and school board election campaigns, as well as some useful information and substantive discourse that may help potential voters decide on the merits of the various propositions, tax levies, issues and initiatives that will appear on the ballot here along with the candidates themselves. To top it all off, we’re going to have our first use of touch-screen voting machines in Lorain County (barring further litigation...don’t get me started on that..). Good luck and have fun with all of this!
I write specifically to correct and enlarge upon a couple of statements made in Professor Frantz’s “Reminder” letter. It is actually not true that “you may register to vote in both Ohio and your state of origin, as long as you vote at only one location in a given election”; if you register to vote in Oberlin, Ohio, you will — albeit eventually, and albeit only theoretically, perhaps — be removed from the rolls in whatever place you previously registered, whether elsewhere in Ohio or off in some other state. This does not mean you have to do anything to “un-register” back home, but it also means that, if you voted in Maryland in November 2004, say, and now register and in November 2005 vote here, you should not attempt to vote back in Maryland in 2006 unless you have gone ahead and re-registered there after Nov. 9, 2005, and met whatever other qualifications and deadlines are established for voting in the primary or general elections there in 2006.
For those who wish to vote here, the registration deadline is actually Oct. 11, not Oct. 8, but sooner is probably better, and I certainly wouldn’t recommend mailing it anytime after next Friday, Oct. 7. Registration forms are indeed available at the desk in Wilder Hall; but also available there, for those who are registered elsewhere and want to vote there (or who resign themselves after missing the registration deadline here to voting in their states of origin, or wherever they are actually registered as of Oct. 12), is a form for Ohio you can download from the Web at http://electionsonthe.net/oh/absform.htm, to request an absentee ballot from the county board of elections in that prior jurisdiction. Googling “absentee ballot request” and “[your state, and maybe your county as well]” will get you forms and instructions from all over. You should request an absentee ballot as early as possible in order to meet the return/receipt deadline, which in Ohio is 7:30 p.m. on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 8, at the county board of elections office. The deadline in Ohio for receipt (not postmark) of a written request for an absentee ballot is noon on Saturday, Nov. 5.
Other states, of course, may vary — and probably do.
– David E. Sonner
To the Editors:
I am writing in response to last week’s letter, “Student Health’s EC poster seen as inappropriate,” written by Liz Johnson. While I completely agree with the views expressed by Liz in her letter regarding the inappropriate nature of the Student Health signs, a factual error needs to be corrected.
In the letter, it is stated that the poster “demeans the difficulty of making the decision to terminate a pregnancy, even if the pregnancy is still only a few hours old...” However, emergency contraception does not terminate pregnancies. According to the FDA, “emergency contraception pills are not effective if the woman is pregnant” (FDA 1997). Instead, EC reduces the risk of pregnancy by inhibiting ovulation or fertilization. Thusly, EC prevents a pregnancy from happening, with efficacy highest in the first 72 hours after intercourse, rather than aborting one.
I agree wholeheartedly that the issue of unprotected sex should not be trivialized by Student Health. Emergency contraception is safe, relatively accessible on the Oberlin campus and an effective way to deal with the potential problems that may result from unprotected intercourse.
– Samantha Goldstein
To the Editors:
On Thursday, Sept. 15, two Asian-American students were verbally and physically assaulted by two other students at the University of Michigan. The incident began when a male student urinated from a second-floor balcony on an Asian-American woman. When confronted by the student and her friend, the assailant and his friend began yelling racial slurs at the two Asian-American students walking below. Moreover, at least one student reportedly threw eggs at the two Asian-American students. This incident is currently under review by authorities at the University of Michigan. It has also been reported by the Michigan Daily that the Ann Arbor Police are investigating the incident as a case of “ethnic intimidation.”
This incident follows on the heels of the arrest of a Princeton University student who admitted to terrorizing over 50 women of Asian descent by clipping snippets of their hair, spraying them with his urine and pouring his semen or urine in their drinks at university dining halls.
The two events described above barely even begin to scratch the surface of the pervasiveness of hate crimes on college campuses. According to the Hate Crime Statistics Report, in 2003 there were 884 occurrences of hate crimes on college campuses, which is 11.8 percent of all hate-crimes nationally reported. Of these, 54 percent were racially-motivated, 18.6 percent religiously-motivated, 16.6 percent motivated by sexual orientation-prejudice, 9.5 percent by ethnic or nationality- prejudice and 0.7 percent by ability- prejudice. Given that hate crimes are notoriously under-reported, particularly on college campuses, these statistics do not provide a complete picture of the insidious nature of these crimes.
The purpose of this letter is two-fold: first, to create visibility around the UMich incident, to join the students and faculty there in speaking out against hate crimes and to support them in ensuring that colleges and universities pursue a zero tolerance policy towards hatred and bigotry on their campuses. I therefore urge you to sign the petition to the administrators at the University of Michigan, available online here.
I would also like to take this opportunity to urge us all to critically examine how our silence, indifference or dismissal of issues of hate and prejudice implicate us in the perpetuation of these occurrences. Prejudice and hatred permeate every aspect of society and are not limited to certain spaces or people, as is evidenced by the occurrence of a hate crime at a “progressive” school such as UMich. This incident, among numerous others, makes it painfully obvious that as politically conscious social participants we cannot afford to be complacent in the fight for social justice. I therefore urge us all to step away from the comfortable rhetoric of “this does not happen at Oberlin” and to actively question how these issues may apply to the Oberlin community in a larger societal context. To this end, I invite you to attend events over the next few weeks that will address the issue of hate crimes in society. Please keep an eye out for information regarding these.
Once again, I encourage you to sign the petition.
– Rashné Limki
To the Editors:
As per the charter of the Student Honor Committee, I am submitting a summary of cases heard by the Student Honor Committee during the Spring 2005 semester.
March 3, 2005: A Conservatory sophomore was accused by a professor of cheating on an exam and found responsible. The student was assigned a five page paper on the Honor Code and the specific ways it applies to the Conservatory, as well as ten hours of community service.
March 7, 2005: A College first-year was accused by another student of using unauthorized aid on an exam and found not responsible.
March 7, 2005: A College senior was accused of plagiarism and found responsible. Because this was a second violation of the Honor Code, the student was expelled.
March 13, 2005: Two College seniors were accused of unauthorized collaboration on a homework assignment and found responsible. One student was assigned two three to five page essays; one about academic resources at Oberlin, the other about a recent news event related to academic integrity. The second student was assigned a three to five page paper about ways to help friends who are struggling academically.
March 13, 2005: A first-year College student was accused of cheating on an exam and found responsible. The student was assigned a two page paper on what to do in cases where just studying isn’t enough to get a good grade.
March 13, 2005: A Conservatory junior was accused of cheating on an exam by a professor and found responsible. The student was assigned a five page paper on what constitutes the Honor Code at Oberlin, especially in Conservatory classes, and ten hours of community service.
March 20, 2005: A College junior was accused of cheating on an exam by another student. The student was found not responsible.
March 23, 2005: Seven students, six Conservatory and one College, were accused by a student of cheating on an exam. Four were found not responsible, two were found responsible, and one is no longer enrolled. The students found responsible were each assigned a paper, three- to five- pages in length, about how the Honor Code Committee establishes responsibility in Honor Code cases.
April 6, 2005: A Conservatory first-year was accused of cheating on an exam and found responsible. The student was assigned a questionnaire about the nature of the Honor Code and meetings with a tutor.
April 10, 2005: Three Conservatory sophomores were accused of unauthorized collaboration on an exam by a professor and found responsible. All three were assigned two- to three- page papers on what the Student Honor Committee can do to help students from different academic backgrounds understand and apply the Honor Code in the same ways.
April 10, 2005: A College senior was accused by another student of cheating on an exam and found not responsible.
April 17, 2005: A double-degree junior and a Conservatory junior were accused of unauthorized collaboration and cheating on an exam by a professor. The double-degree student was found responsible and the Conservatory student was not. The student was assigned a three- to five- page paper about campus resources for dealing with anxiety, specifically in the context of exam-taking.
May 1, 2005: A double-degree sophomore was accused by a professor of plagiarism and found responsible. The student was assigned a questionnaire about the nature of the Honor Code and a two- to three- page paper about resources on campus for students having emotional difficulty.
May 1, 2005: A Conservatory first-year was accused of plagiarism by a professor and found responsible. The student was assigned a questionnaire about the Honor Code at Oberlin and a two- to three- page paper about what they could have done to avoid finding themselves in a situation where plagiarism seems like a valid option.
May 5, 2005: A College junior self-reported for plagiarism and was found responsible. The student was assigned ten hours of community service and asked to submit a three page paper about a recent case of plagiarism in the news.
May 8, 2005: A Conservatory sophomore was accused by another student of cheating on an exam. The student was found not responsible.May 8, 2005: A Conservatory junior was accused by another student of plagiarism and found not responsible.
May 8, 2005: A College sophomore was accused by a professor of cheating on an exam and found not responsible.
May 9, 2005: A College first-year was accused by another student of cheating on an exam and was found not responsible.
May 10, 2005: A College first-year was accused of plagiarism by a professor and found responsible. The student was assigned a questionnaire about the Honor Code at Oberlin and asked to critically analyze the plagiarized paper and research process in two- to three- pages.
May 13, 2005: A Conservatory junior was accused by a professor of plagiarism and found responsible. The student was assigned a questionnaire about the nature of the Honor Code.
May 13, 2005: A College Junior was accused of plagiarizing on a paper and found responsible. The student was assigned a five- to seven- page paper about what to do differently in a similar circumstance, including information about resources at Oberlin. (F2004-11a)
May 13, 2005: A College first-year was accused of plagiarizing on a paper and found responsible. The student was assigned a five- to seven- page paper about what following the Honor Code entails at Oberlin and why it is important, as well as the line between paraphrasing and plagiarizing.
May 13, 2005: A College sophomore was accused of plagiarizing on a paper and found responsible. The student was assigned a five- to seven- page paper on proper citation methods and the definition of plagiarism, as well as a questionnaire about the Honor Code.
May 13, 2005: A Conservatory Junior was accused of plagiarizing on a paper and found responsible. The student was assigned a five- to seven- page paper about the definition of plagiarism and proper citation methods, as well as a questionnaire about the Honor Code.
May 15, 2005: A Conservatory first-year and a Conservatory sophomore were accused of unauthorized collaboration on a quiz by a professor. The first-year was found responsible for cheating, and the sophomore was found not responsible of provided unauthorized aid. The first-year student was assigned a questionnaire about the Honor Code.
May 27, 2005: A College senior was accused of cheating on a homework assignment and found responsible. The student was assigned a questionnaire about the Honor Code, as well as a two- to three- page paper about the different responsibilities of students and faculty in upholding the Honor Code.