Last Editorial Was Misrepresentative, other letters
To the Editors:
We are writing in response to the Feb. 17 editorial, “Actions Speak Louder than Protests.” The editorial reflects some general misunderstandings of the differences between the two distinct fields of Asian American studies and East Asian studies. Misunderstandings of precisely this nature strongly reflect the need for committed institutional and student support for Asian American studies.
In several places in the editorial the two distinct fields are incorrectly conflated. East Asian studies focuses on the languages, history, politics and cultures of East Asia (which focuses on China, Japan and Korea). Asian American studies, a separate field, focuses on the experiences of Asian immigrants and Asian Americans within the United States.
The two courses mentioned — Contemporary Asian Pacific American Experience and Chinatown as an American Space — are Asian American studies courses.
To clarify, the editorial misrepresents the enrollment in the latter course as being low, whereas in fact, the enrollment numbers are sufficiently high. From the courses listed in the editorial, Central Asia in World Affairs, Political Economy of Development in Asia and Asian International Relations, do not include an analysis of Asians in America, and therefore do not pertain to this discussion of Asian American studies.
Additionally, at several points throughout the editorial, the East Asian studies department was incorrectly connected to the demonstration, which further highlights the authors’ misinformation regarding the intellectual mission of Asian American studies.
The fact that these two disciplines were conflated in the editorial illuminates the necessity for Asian American studies at Oberlin. To see the Editors of The Oberlin Review misunderstand the scope and mission of Asian American studies as a discipline that examines the political economy of Asia or the foreign policy of Central Asian nations (which is not even East Asia) conveys the progress that students on this campus need to make in their understanding of Asian American studies.
Moreover, both the Asian American studies courses mentioned in the editorial are sociology courses. Sociology was not the subject of last semester’s demonstration, but rather it was about a history position. To clarify, the demonstration was to fight the elimination of the Asian American history position, previously held by Daryl Maeda. The intent of the protest was to emphasize that history, along with English and sociology, are discrete fields of study within and equally integral to Asian American studies, and that by cutting the history position this institution effectively devalued Asian American studies as a legitimate academic discipline.
Further, it is important to note that, regardless of the course or department, enrollments are often low when regular courses are taught by visiting faculty, as is currently the case with the Asian American sociology position. In previous years, Asian American history and sociology classes have in fact enjoyed increasing enrollment numbers, when taught by regular tenure-track faculty, i.e. Professor Daryl Maeda and Professor Pawan Dhingra.
Moreover, courses in Asian American studies contribute to the intellectual mission of the College to promote new knowledge and critical perspectives of our society. Hence their relevance should not be measured simply by enrollments in the first place.
We believe that the demonstration does in fact show that there is an interest in these fields, but obviously there is a need to address various institutional structures that might be resulting in the discrepancy between participation in the demonstration and enrollment in these courses.
We believe that a continued dialogue on this topic between students, administrators, faculty, staff and alumni is required to ensure the strengthening of Asian American studies at Oberlin.
To the Editors:
I want to extend an invitation to the campus community to meet Bob Frascino, M.D. ’74, HIV-positive College Trustee and life partner Steve Natterstad, M.D. who will be presenting a personal view of HIV/AIDS from both sides of the examination table on Tuesday, Feb. 28 at 8 p.m. in Wilder 112. They will present a unique view of the virus’s impact on them, sex and society at large. Issues related to HIV transmission, prevention and treatment, including rapid HIV testing and safer sexual practices, will be addressed. An open forum for questions will follow the presentation. This program will be presented under the auspices of the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and the College’s Office of Health and Life Skills Education and Student Union and was made possible by a grant from the Robert James Frascino AIDS Foundation.
–Lori Morgan Flood
To the Editors:
Shocked, appalled, infuriated, insulted, affronted, disappointed. These are just a few of the emotions that I initially felt after viewing the cartoon The Oberlin Review chose to grace its pages with this past week. The cartoon which I am referring to is in the Feb. 17 issue on page 11 titled, “The Invisible Life of Poet.” In this letter, I would like to focus more on the conflict between the “jocks” and the “nerds” that is referred to in the cartoon. I won’t even touch the racist aspect of the cartoon, because that is a whole other box of worms.
I just couldn’t believe what I had seen. I couldn’t believe that at this college, one in which we have a deep tradition of accepting what’s different, we are still hung up on this athlete belittlement, even though Oberlin College also has an athletic history that is just as deep as the college itself. But what I don’t get is that it’s celebrated when someone comes up with a great science experiment, but if a person excels in the athletic arena, they’ve somehow trampled on any academic achievement of others. Why can’t we just celebrate both? I wouldn’t even think to scoff at someone who discovers a great new way to conserve energy over Winter Term, but when our athletes are recognized as some of the best athletes in their conferences, it is all but ignored.
I just don’t understand the prejudice. As an athlete, I’ve even heard not to take a professor because, “he hates football players.” Whether the professor hates football players or not is not the point; the mere fact that it would even be suggested is bullshit. I have never heard a person say, “This professor hates it when you know all the answers.” So why, when someone chooses to do something with their athletic gifts instead of their academic gifts, are they ostracized?
I would also like to bring up the fact that the football players are the ones on this campus that “catch the most flack.” Yeah, I know the idiots are out there. The big meatheads that only know about football and beer, but if that’s your idea of a typical Oberlin football player, you’re way off. Of course, we can get loud and obnoxious in the dining halls sometimes, but I don’t get offended when I see a group of people sitting in a circle breaking the law. Why can’t we all just accept these facts and move on like civil people? “The Coward” can’t just “let it go;” they’ve been taking shit from athletes, mainly football players, their whole lives and now the tables have turned! Give me a break! When we’re both gone from here we aren’t going to give a shit, so why can’t we just squash it now? And I know not everyone thinks this way, and if so, it’s not directed at you.
I would also like to bring attention to what I have come to refer to as “The Coward.” These are the people that deface and destroy the efforts of people who are trying to inform people of the great athletic events that are going on at this wonderful campus. Signs have been vandalized, people have anonymously commented and people have disparaged, but not all of those people want to own up to their actions. And to you, I say, I understand, I wouldn’t want a group of people to hate me for something I did. *Hint* That’s why I wrote this letter, because I play a sport and you hate me for it.
So, you might be asking yourself, was this all worth it? Do you really think this is going to change people’s opinion of Oberlin athletes, mainly the football players? I would say no, not really, but if I change one person’s mind, it has made it worth it. I would also like to add that if you don’t think athletes are good people, talk to me. I’m not that hard to find, I’m the big kid who is wearing shorts in the middle of the snow storm. I just want to know what I can do to change your mind about us.
–Geoffrey “Sweet P” Peterson
To Review Readers:
By now I hope you have noticed a new addition to The Oberlin Review: my comic strip, “The Invisible Life of Poet.” While far from my first publication, The Oberlin Review is the sweetest for me, because there is a lot of Oberlin in the “Life of Poet” and I am delighted that the editors have allowed me to share it with you. The strip is first and foremost written to make people laugh, but I can scarcely make it two weeks without waxing political on some touchy issue and it’s all Oberlin’s fault.
When I was a student there, I constantly fought against the political left on campus — I stood up against political correctness and defended anyone the students hated, just for my own amusement. Like many Oberlin students, I always defined myself by my contrariness. But once I got out into the real world and saw for myself the injustices that go on every day in this nation and around the world, I began to hear those mousy leftist voices echoing in my head. That ubiquitous dismissive attitude taken toward the political right, religious conservatives and the corporate hegemony, although not itself without reproach, was, and still is, the morally correct one.
I was on campus during the 2000 Presidential election and students at the time were terrified of a George W. Bush presidency. Some were even making a fuss about Al Gore’s campaign and the corporate ownership of both political parties. I did a piece for my radio show on WOBC in which I interviewed Ralph Nader supporters on why they had decided to throw their vote away. It was just a big joke to me. Six years later I look back and wish I could say I had had the balls to vote for Nader. In fact, I didn’t vote at all and I was voting in Florida!
It wasn’t until the U.S. invasion of Iraq that I slowly came to understand the concepts of global injustice and corporate control. It wasn’t until I worked in an upscale wine store in Boston that I came to understand class structure. It turns out those disgusting hippies were right and I was wrong. Corporate and tyrannical power continue to rule the United States and the grisly effects mete themselves out around the world and in our own homes every day. The Power has dug its trenches deep and wide, making it difficult for progressives like us to fight them in Congress and in the media.
But as long as the First Amendment stands, we are free to fight them on the ground, on our blogs, at our rallies, in local elections and even in our comic strips. I hope you all can forgive my pigheadedness while living on campus and welcome Poet into your little world.
The strip running this week in the Review was written especially for Oberlin. It is based loosely on conversations I had with the anti-abortionists who regularly hung out in Tappan Square across from King. I hope you like it.
To the Editors:
Ohio is one of only two states that has a state minimum wage below the federal minimum wage of $5.15 per hour. Individuals working full-time at Ohio’s minimum wage of $4.25 per hour earn only $8840 per year, a number that is $1000 below the federal poverty level for a single person.
An amendment to the Ohio State constitution proposed by initiative petition is expected to be submitted directly to the electors in Nov. 2006. This amendment would enact provisions for an Ohio minimum wage that will set the minimum wage rate at $6.85 per hour beginning Jan. 1, 2007. It will provide that effective the first day of January. Thereafter, the minimum wage rate would be increased based on the rate of inflation according to the Consumer Price Index or its successor index for all urban wage earners and clerical workers rounded to the nearest five cents.
The Rev. Dr. Paul Sherry and Holly Sklar are authors of A Just Minimum Wage: Good for Workers, Business and Our Future. Dr. Sherry is coordinator of the Let Justice Roll Living Wage Campaign, coordinator of the anti-poverty program of the National Council of Churches and a consultant of the Center for Community Change. He is the former president of the United Church of Christ. He will be speaking on the subject of minimum wage in Oberlin.
Holly Sklar is a widely published op-ed columnist and author of numerous books concerning wages and poverty in the urban neighborhood. She is an Oberlin College graduate.
The Rev. Dr. James A. Forbes Jr., senior minister of the Riverside Church in New York City, has written in the forward: “A Just Minimum Wage reveals truths about poverty and work that could actually set us free from ignorance or inertia and help us see the depth of the crisis before the health of our nation is further compromised.”
Look for flyers around campus telling of the Just Minimum Wage forum on Monday., Feb. 27, 7 p.m. at the Monday Zion Baptist Fellowship Hall.