Chris Baymiller, OC ’71, is Associate Director of the Student Union
and has been on staff since 1982. Among other things, his duties involve
concert/event programming, student organizational advising, Concert Sound, the
’Sco and supervising 50 student employees. Since the Union is open seven
days a week, 16 hours a day, he ends up working almost every day from
Orientation through Commencement. Needless to say, he is looking forward to the
How did you get started working here?
I started working here as a
fluke. I had been working for the federal government, went on strike and was
ultimately fired by Ronald Reagan. I took the Union position as a temporary
three-month fix, but here I am 24 years later.
What is it about Oberlin that’s kept you here for so long?
wife and I are both Obies, which I guess makes us the quintessential
failures-to-launch. I attended during the Vietnam era and I found my entire
Oberlin experience quite transformational. What with daily protests, draft card
burnings, Kent State, etc., it was really a great time to be here. Since I am
originally from Toledo, Ohio — a conservative city that offers nothing of
value to humanity other than its Museum and the Mud Hens baseball team —
the Oberlin community seemed more open and tolerant of different lifestyles. We
wanted to raise our children in a multicultural environment. So we stayed. Also,
I was in danger of being drafted into the war and it just seemed pointless to
move until that resolved itself. Oberlin is our home and we love it. No regrets
What is the biggest problem you’ve had to deal with at the
There was, I guess, an anarchist band called Crash Worship, and they
were known for throwing fluid at their concerts and using a lot of pyrotechnics.
The students really wanted them, so I relented. They had to sign a contract and
they agreed not to use any pyrotechnics or throw fluid. When they came, though,
they set off this big smoke bomb and the whole club was filled with smoke.
Nobody could see anything and all the smoke alarms went off, so the fire
department showed up. This was only six minutes into the show. A lot of students
said it was the most exciting six minutes of a concert they had ever witnessed,
but after so much work put into getting them there, it turned out to be kind of
trying for me.
What is the most bizarre thing you’ve seen at either Drag Ball or
Safer Sex Night?
Well the most exciting thing was at Drag Ball when we had
Lady Chablis emcee for two years in a row four or five years ago. She was from
the movie Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. When she came down the
stairs, there was a thunderous applause and then she stage-launched into the
crowd. I was in charge of being in the dressing room when she changed, and she
had about four outfit changes during the show. It was so hot and her dress was
so tight on her that I literally had to use a shoe horn to get her into it.
If you could get any band to play at the ’Sco, who would you
Gosh. A lot of the bands we want to play here do play here.
We’ve had Phish, Blink-182, The Black Keys. A lot of cutting-edge bands
like that. I know it’s pretty far out of our price range, but I think
Wilco would be great to have.
If you could say anything to the Oberlin student body, what would you tell
I guess I would just say that I loved going to school here and I love
working here now. I know a lot of colleagues who transferred to a different
institution and they regret leaving. Anyone who’s interested in coming
here, I would really encourage to come. We also have over 100 student positions
in the Student Union and it’s the greatest job on campus - we’re
taking applications now. We have a 100 percent return rate. It’s an
experience you can’t find anywhere else.