Inept Hurricane Coverage, other letters
To the Editors:
This letter is in response to the article “Obies Still Helping in New Orleans” in the Feb. 24 issue of the Review.
The interview I gave Yan Slobodkin for this article lasted for at least an hour, during which I spoke at length about the tireless organizing on campus last semester around New Orleans (NOLA), the things we saw and did while in NOLA, the current political landscape of NOLA and the work we are continuing to do even six months after the hurricanes.
What came out of it? A smattering of quotes about how busy I am and some notion that I took an academic hit because of the need I felt to spend last semester in New Orleans. I do not know what Andrew Prober or Max Schnuer spoke to Slobodkin about, but I doubt they knew that the ensuing article would be nothing more than a fluff piece that would allow Oberlin to pat itself on its back for the sacrifices made by a few students.
I do not know whether to blame Slobodkin or the editors of the Review for this self-aggrandizing (in the broader Oberlin sense of self) and empty piece of journalism. One thing, however, is crystal clear: None of the campus publications have come even close to giving not only the issues surrounding the Gulf Coast, but also the tremendous efforts of well over 50 students involved in this relief work, the journalistic integrity and coverage that is deserved.
Where is the article about the intense organizing and fundraising that went on last September and throughout the semester? Where is the article connecting Oberlin students’ involvement in the South with that of the overwhelming number of Oberlin students in the ’60s who participated in the Mississippi Freedom Summers? Where is the article that highlights the numerous students and locals who put in huge amounts of work to aid NOLA? Where is the article that examines the racial issues that arise when thousands of White students show up in a predominantly Black city and how that affects Oberlin and its history? Where is the article that points out the failure of the state in NOLA and reveals that Oberlin students and others are the ones meeting the needs that are otherwise expected of the state?
These are the types of articles that need to be written and we owe it not only to folks who have dedicated themselves to the relief work but also to those along the Gulf Coast to give the critical attention they deserve.
Some have told me that the article may have been written like this because Oberliners want to read about some sacrifices made by a few students. Bullshit! I may not have much faith in a lot of things in Oberlin, but I do have faith that students, residents, faculty and alums would love substantive and provocative articles on these critical issues. Maybe I am completely out of focus here, but I know that the last thing I want to read about is how much reading I have and how my academic time line is now skewed because I did the only thing I felt was right. So for everyone’s sake, please get your acts together and do some real reporting.
To the Editors:
First of all I’d like to thank Anna McGlynn for her review of the show “Family Portraits.” I’d like to respond to the critique of the show made by Castano, Siegel and Siesel. How right you three students of Oberlin are, identity politics discourse has indeed degenerated. It’s degenerated to the point where you feel compelled to discredit the expressions of identity put forth by everyone who participated in Daviel Shy and Leila Macbeth’s senior show.
The evidence you use to show the show’s weaknesses are exactly where its strengths lie, as McGlynn pointed out in her review of the show. I agree, the technical perfection that you demanded from an art exhibit was not to be found, but that was intentional. The art was messy, it was personal, it was imperfect and it obviously made you uncomfortable. Identity is also messy, personal, imperfect and often uncomfortable as many of the statements proved. The art in the show tried to show those complexities as messy as they were and as uncomfortable as they made you feel.
Your critique shows the ways in which the people who created and participated in this show have not been allowed to penetrate the art world; we demand an aesthetic change to take place in what is considered beautiful and important and worth your time, which we obviously were not according to your critique.
In response to there being too much text I have this to say: As Adam Morse beautifully explained, the pictures were nothing less than re-imagined books, they were books on a wall. Books, as I’m sure Professor Nanette Yannuzzi Macias will tell you, are art. Also, the point of the text, especially in regards to the A&F photos which Leila and I collaborated on, was to educate, to make people realize the kind of discriminatory mechanisms in place in activities as mundane as buying a pair of pants. There is nothing cliché about that, since it obviously isn’t done enough as is evident by the fact that the point was lost on the three of you.
As for feeling marginalized in the space because of smoking, I have to say this: Professor Johnny Coleman, who has serious asthma and wears a mask anytime he is working in the woodshop, appreciated the concept and was able to enjoy the exhibit. I’d like to note that the space was Fisher Gallery; gallery spaces are the artists’ and they have the right to create an atmosphere that they deem appropriate. If you’ll think back to the show, the atmosphere was to be a mix between a traditional gallery space and a club, and I hate to tell you, but in most cases, smoking is allowed in both of those venues.
Art is universal and personal, and although the hegemonic discourse of what constitutes high art has tried hard to take the universal and personal out of art and deem it frivolous, we’re here to remind you that no one has the right to say what is or isn’t art.
To the Editor:
Freshwater has never been in greater demand for all the services it provides — from habitat to drinking water to irrigation to commercial uses. Across the planet, the most precious, shared resource is increasingly under stress.
The Coca-Cola Company and its worldwide bottling partners have a genuine commitment to adequate and equitable access to water. Water is vital to us all and there is much work to be done to enable safe drinking water access and protect the watersheds that sustain life.
We are committed to help protect and preserve water resources — and that commitment begins at home, in our operations. In 2004, we improved our water efficiency by six percent across our global bottling plants. Everyday, we continue to work hard to reduce the amount of water we use and 2005 results will be reported in detail in our forthcoming annual environmental report.
With the guidance of environmental and public health leaders, we have begun to see where and how we can help make a difference to this global challenge at a local level. By forging long-term partnerships with the United Nations Foundation, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and others, we are actively working with communities and addressing our responsibilities to do our part.
In India, where we have faced allegations about groundwater depletion, we have redoubled our efforts on water sustainability through investment in “rainwater harvesting” in many of our plants. Today, we return a substantial portion of the water we use to local aquifers. We’ve also partnered with local communities to set up rainwater harvesting projects that benefit the people who live there, including a recent initiative in Lucknow.
In Mali, in partnership with USAID, we are starting to address community water needs by installing well hand pumps at several locations throughout the country and by working with community groups and micro-entrepreneurs to improve water access in Bamako.
In Kenya, as with most of the African continent, many schools lack access to safe water and adequate sanitation. The greatest burden is born by girls who are often forced to drop out of school. With the Millennium Water Alliance and CARE, we are introducing Safe Water Systems in primary schools in Nyanza province.
For The Coca-Cola Company, this is just the beginning.
Coca-Cola publishes a public report about the company’s environmental challenges and progress every year. To see a copy of our most recent Environmental Report, visit www.environmentalreport.coca-cola.com. To learn more about The Coca-Cola Company’s operations, visit www.cokefacts.org.
–Jeff Seabright, OC ’77