The Oberlin Review
<< Front page Commentary December 8, 2006

Not So Free with Friedman, other letters

To the Editors:

Regarding the column by Jonathan Bruno (“Friedman: In Memoriam,” Dec. 1), while I am pleased that Bruno saw in the Nobel Prize winning economist an exceptional proponent of freedom and a critic of “the state’s might being used to coerce individuals,” I would have to say that my own interactions with Mr. Friedman were considerably more problematic.

Milton Friedman was one of a group of economists from the University of Chicago (the “Chicago Boys,” as they were called) who helped General Augusto Pinochet solidify his economic program in Chile in 1975 after two years of brutal repression. The Chicago-Chile connection goes back to the 1950s, and produced a string of conservative (“free-market”) economists who eventually ran literally every important economic, financial and banking post in the dictator’s government. It is ironic in the extreme that the economist who built his theories on the basis of the importance of freedom (not just “free markets”) to the capitalist model should have seen his theories put into practice on the point of the military’s bayonets. And it is nothing short of criminal that he should have given his blessings to a regime which killed 3,000, tortured 30,000 and exiled thousands more who held the wrong ideas. Friedman’s supporters will claim that his brand of economics was responsible for Chile’s “economic miracle,” the envy of the rest of Latin America.

But by the end of Pinochet’s 17 years in power, some 40 percent of the population was legally classified as poor. Thanks to Friedman’s economics, the share of national income going to the richest 10 percent of the population rose from 36 percent to 47 percent over that time. It is only since Pinochet left office that the new civilian governments, implementing a modified Keynesian approach, have reduced those below the poverty line to 20 percent of the population while maintaining growth rates which averaged above six percent per year. The biggest threat to individual freedom in Chile under Pinochet was the state, as Friedman had forecast; but Milton Friedman gave that vicious state his blessing. If you place freedom as your highest principle, at least you should remain loyal to it. My own RIPs go to those who died at the hands of Pinochet and his criminal gang, not to Friedman.

–Steven Volk
Professor of History
Chair, Latin American Studies

To the Editors:

Congratulations to Oberlin for your vegan dining options on campus (“Oberlin Ranks Top Ten in PETA Poll”)!

There is good reason for students to adopt plant-based diets. Cows, pigs, chickens and other animals suffer greatly on the modern factory farm. They do not get to roam freely on big, open green pastures as some may still believe. They typically are confined in overcrowded conditions indoors in their own feces. Dairy cows are rarely allowed to nurse their young. The male calves who are not slaughtered the right way are taken from their mothers shortly after birth and placed in a veal crate so small, they cannot even turn around for 18-20 weeks. Egg-laying hens spend their lives immobilized in small wire cages. The industry standard for these cages is too small for the birds to even spread one wing.

Denying animals to do what their natural instinct tells them to do is cruel. Slaughter practices are also inhumane. Cows are often still alive and conscious as they are dismembered body part by body part. Pigs are often still alive when they are dipped into scalding hot water to ride them of their fur. Watch a video on meat production at

Luckily, there is something we can do. By adopting a vegetarian or vegan diet, many animals will be saved from this suffering. Information on eating a plant-based diet is available at

–William McMullin
Kalamazoo, MI
2004 Environmental
Studies Alumnus,
Western Michigan University

To the Editors:

The Student Finance Committee feels compelled to respond to recent criticisms of SFC policies and procedures to insure that the student body is accurately informed. SFC makes a sincere effort to be accountable to students by making all procedures clear and decisions consistent, open and transparent.

Each year we work hard with each student organization — often providing individual counseling sessions — to make sure that they complete a preliminary budget, meet with us on at least two occasions to receive feedback on how to best maximize their budget and give the organizations opportunity to ask questions to obtain accurate, reliable answers. We conduct two meetings every spring to touch base with student treasurers, including an in-depth, step-by-step tutorial in the writing of effective budgets.

After much discourse, student organizations submit budgets and SFC is faced with the difficult task of making final allocations. All student organizations have the right to appeal their budget after the spring allocation process takes place. Student Organizations also have access to ad-hoc funds for any unexpected expenses.

SFC is always available to provide additional assistance or clarification about processes or procedures either by e-mail or office hours. Furthermore, SFC policies and procedures are available on the web and all SFC records are available for review by the entire student body.

It is not a perfect system and some recent developments have made the process even more challenging. First, as The Oberlin Review noted, there are more and more student organizations chartered every year. As an unbiased organization, we try our best to meet the budget requests that need to be met for the newly chartered student organizations. 

Second, many student organizations are being fiscally irresponsible. Some student organizations have run up tens of thousands of dollars in debt. The Oberlin Review, for example, is more than $69,000 in debt. Since there is only one, finite resource pool that SFC can draw funds from; this debt hurts the ability of SFC to meet the needs of all other student organizations, including the fiscally responsible ones.

Finally, the most pressing problem is the proliferation of paid positions within some student organizations. There are a growing number of organizations requesting paid positions and those organizations that already have paid positions are requesting more paid positions with each passing year.

Not surprisingly, there is a strong correlation between those organizations with the most paid positions and the organizations that have the greatest amount of debt. One student organization, for example, requested 35 paid positions this year.

Many questions arise from the topic of student wages. When does an organization need additional positions? What positions in any given organization should be paid and based on what factors/standards? Whose labor on this campus do we as a student body really value and whose is seen as less valuable and less worthy of monetary compensation?

As an unbiased organization, does SFC have a right to say no to an organization that seeks a few new paid positions when other organizations have dozens? These are just some of the very important, complex and relevant questions regarding the increased (and probably increasing) number of paid positions in student organizations.

These challenges and questions will not be solved or answered by finger pointing, personal attacks or public statements intended to protect special interests. SFC is working hard to do the best job possible for all members of the student body and looks forward to working with anyone interested in resolving these serious issues in a productive manner.

Let’s move beyond rhetoric and focus on constructive, civil dialogue leading to real solutions.

–Student Finance Committee
Amanda Van Allen
College sophomore
Woan Foong Wong
Double-degree senior
Alex Jacobs
College first-year
Kyle Odum
College senior
Co-Chairs: Shibo Xu
Colin Jones
College juniors
Treasurer: Hollie Webb
Assistant Treasurer:
Chisara Nwabara
College juniors

To the Editors:

I am an independent US presidential candidate who was in Oberlin last weekend to give a talk at the Peace Community Church. While in town, I picked up a copy of The Oberlin Review and read the story about “The Day Oberlin Went Climate Neutral.”

I stand in solidarity with that.

My family and I recently completed an END GLOBAL WARMING Bicycle Tour through Ohio (that also took us through Oberlin). And several years ago, I interviewed Oberlin College’s David Orr for a position paper I was formulating about the subject of global climate change.

We stand at a precipice.

To just cut the heat back a degree or two, to just drive a little bit less in the face of this accelerating worldwide crisis — is like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

We propose every home become a Kyoto Protocol Home Zone.

That is, these home zones would include: Significantly lower indoor temperatures (with sweaters), no air conditioning, solar cells on the roofs, more trees in the yard, bicycles replacing at least one of the cars, weekly home budgeting for carbon offsets...

While in your town, I heard the colloquial phraseology: “Only in Oberlin.”

And I couldn’t help but think, what if “Only in Oberlin” the whole town went Climate Neutral, not just for one day, but every day.

And then what if this became “Only in Yellow Springs,” and then “Only in Ithaca” and then “Only in Peioria”...?   

–Joe Schriner
Cleveland, OH
Campaign 2008 independent presidential candidate

To the Editors:

We’ve all seen it before — that dreaded little blurb in a job description that calls for “three - five years of experience in a related field.” How, you ask, am I supposed to get on the job experience while I’m a full-time college student? More importantly, how am I supposed to know what I want to do with myself when I finally graduate? 

Never fear — internships are here, and the best way for you to connect with your ideal internship is at (i)Cleveland’s 6th Annual iConnect Internship & Career Expo on Dec. 21 from 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m. at the Renaissance Cleveland Hotel.

Get Experienced: There’s no way around it — internships are becoming increasingly important in today’s job market. A survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers found that 62 percent of all new hires in 2006 had internship experience. More impressive, the same survey found that last year 72.6 percent of interns were offered jobs at the end of their internship. There is no question that having internship experience gives you an edge as you enter the job market.

Internships also give you the chance to test drive a variety of career options without having to commit to something long-term. It’s never too early to start thinking about where you see yourself in several years, and internships can provide you the opportunity to see what different jobs are like before you decide exactly what it is you want to do with that hard earned college degree.

Get Connected: Not only do internships help you build the experience necessary to find your ideal job after graduation, but they also help to build your social and professional networks.  Internships are a wonderful way to connect with others and work with talented people in a variety of work environments. In any internship experience, you can count on building new relationships that will help to shape your future. Many of these connections will be potential employers! 

How (i)Cleveland Can Help: If finding that perfect internship seems like a daunting task, be assured that help exists! (i)Cleveland, a partner in the Cleveland Leadership Center, is a program that provides talented undergraduate students with connections to internship and entry level employment opportunities with employers in Northeast Ohio. 

Since 2000, (i)Cleveland has worked with more than 900 students from 75+ schools nationwide, and from over 180 different majors. Last year alone, (i)Cleveland employers offered student members more than 70 internships and nearly 50 full-time, entry-level positions. Time after time, employers look to (i)Cleveland members first when they are seeking talented interns.

(i)Cleveland hosts a number of events throughout the year, all focused on helping students connect to, and make the most of, meaningful internship experiences. The signature event, the iConnect Internship and Career Expo (Dec. 21, 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Renaissance Cleveland Hotel in downtown Cleveland), welcomes over 60 different companies for students to meet with. Participating employers include National City Corporation, Lincoln Electric Company, Ben Venue Laboratories, Sherwin-Williams, the Cleveland Indians and many more.  This event is the best way to connect with that perfect summer internship.

The best part about (i)Cleveland is that membership is FREE! (i)Cleveland members must have a 3.0 GPA or higher, and must demonstrate leadership and communication skills through an online application.

If you are interested in plugging into your future, apply for (i)Cleveland membership today by visiting and clicking ‘Students’.

–Will Goldstein
Cleveland, OH
Program Director for (i)Cleveland

To the Oberlin College community:

The Jewish holiday of Hanukkah is just around the corner. Because it usually falls so close to Christmas some might suggest that Hanukkah is given an elevated status that it does not deserve.

The tale of Hanukkah is not even included within the TANAKH — the Hebrew Bible. In reality, however, Hanukkah is one of the most beautiful of Jewish holidays. It is a festival of lights, a celebration of a miracle that occurred when the Jewish people were once in desperate need of a miracle. When I arrived as a freshman at Oberlin in the mid-1990s I suppose I was hoping for a miracle, too.

I was spellbound when I visited Oberlin’s campus in the fall of 1992. When I met with a few faculty from the Classics Department outside of King Hall, I felt that I had stepped right into a scene from ancient Greece.

But I was also somewhat naïve. I remember walking through the Conservatory and hearing music coming from one professor’s studio. Naturally, I knocked on the door and asked if I could sit in on the lesson. It seemed like the natural thing to do!

And I guess you might say that I was naïve when I saw the inspiring ad campaign that Oberlin used back then. A beautiful picture of planet earth was surrounded by outer space, and framing our planet was a provocative question:  “Think one person can change the world? So do we.” And I guess you could say that I was naïve when I arrived at Oberlin thinking that everybody would naturally just get along at such an enchanting campus.

Most of the time, most of the students did get along with one another. But there was another reality that existed among the various interest groups on campus.

The more experiences I accumulated in my four years at Oberlin, the more I discovered deep rivalries and prejudices lurking under the pleasant veneer of our liberal arts college. Sometimes it felt like you couldn’t trust anybody because, at root, everybody else had a hidden agenda. Perhaps this was due to the legacy of our late-postmodernist discourse.

Everybody was defined by some category or another. All of these labels were meant to make us more “enlightened,” more tolerant of difference. But sometimes the rules of identity politics also created false ideological barriers between people who otherwise might have become good friends.

In my attempt to play the role of a student activist I sometimes lost control over my words. And one of the central lessons of Judaism is to develop a sense of self-control in all that you do. I had learned in Sunday School that to be a Jew is to be a mensch — a Yiddish word meaning “a good human being,” a decent and respectable person. And in some of my attempts to become a student leader I lost my sense of self-control. 

I stopped being a mensch.

For the past few years I’ve been haunted by memories of times when I took a stand based on the radical logic of “by any means necessary.” I remember feeling that Oberlin students were somehow socialized into thinking that if the cause is just then the means are allowed. However, I once spoke with a Hillel Rabbi on this subject and he suggested that the ends do not justify the means.

Nearly ten years after graduating from Oberlin I don’t know exactly what to think. I just know that in the heat of an intense conflict it is worth using a degree of self-restraint. If there is any purpose in my writing this letter, it is to encourage more Obies to think outside of the box — and at Oberlin it is very easy to fall prey to a sort of unconscious left-wing groupthink.

For me, all of this ties back to Hanukkah. Hanukkah is a festival of light and redemption. And it has taken me over ten years to fully come to terms with the damage that my words might have caused while I was a student at Oberlin.

I know that I wrote a few heartfelt letters to the editor back then, but I also regret my occasional lack of self-control and my political naïveté.

I regret that I was sometimes guilty of speaking Lashon Ha’ra — a Jewish phrase that is translated as gossip, evil speech or “the evil tongue.” Sometimes we don’t realize the true impact of a few insensitive or thoughtless words. And the purpose of learning to guard your speech is not only to achieve a state of peace with those people who are closest to you, but to achieve a state of peace with those people who you are not at all close to.

It is my fervent hope that Oberlin students and faculty can work together to debate serious issues with a greater sense of respect and dignity. The consequences of any other path can only lead to increased mistrust, alienation and conflict.

When the Jewish sage Hillel was once asked to describe the essence of Judaism he replied, “What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow man. The rest is commentary — go and study it.”

Perhaps we would all be better off if we could return to an ethic that truly embraces this Golden Rule. 

–Eric Mendlow
OC ’97

To the Editors:

We, concerned members of the Wilder Information Desk staff, are writing to let the campus community know about an incident that recently occurred that troubles us deeply. On a Monday night less than a month ago, four African American men were using our computer lab and a female student decided to call Safety & Security because she assumed they were not students and therefore unauthorized to be in the building. She falsely claimed to be a Wilder staff member and Safety & Security responded with four officers. When asked to leave, the men complied. The building monitor on duty had a relationship with these men. He was fully aware of their presence and knew they were causing no harm.

We are finding it very difficult to let go of this event, as its implications are enormous. The woman who called Safety & Security had no way of knowing whether or not these men possessed OCID. She assumed. Because many white people are encouraged to see black men as inherently threatening and Oberlin College is overwhelmingly white, she read the very presence of four African-American men as menacing. She called security rather then coming down to speak with us at the desk if she felt unsafe or walking over to Mudd if she needed a computer. This is a clear instance of racial profiling. In addition, Safety & Security responded with undue force.

Townspeople are all too often seen by College students and portrayed by the school itself as threats. We find this absolutely unacceptable and think it often comes from unexamined racism and classism. Although it is technically against policy, non-OCID people frequently use Wilder after 9 p.m. But these mostly white people are never asked to leave. Because we do not know everyone on this campus, there is no way for us as Wilder staff to enforce the policy of OCIDs only after nine unless we either ask every single person for their ID or profile people because they do not “look like students.” We are extremely uncomfortable with both of these options.

The idea that townspeople make spaces unsafe for us and that we are automatically safe with one another is absurd and irresponsible. One look at the extremely threatening and racist postings on the Oberlin Confessional or the long (yet often overlooked) history of sexual and physical assault of students of color by white Oberlin students bears this out. Oberlin is not a safe or welcoming space for many people and assuming otherwise is patently false.

This is also in part due to a selective process of conveying information to us as a college community about violent incidents between the college and town communities. Why was this incident not on the Security notebook? Safety & Security supplies that column directly to the Review staff, meaning they decide what we do and do not get to hear about. We demand that Safety & Security provide the Review editors with all reports filed each week, so that they, rather than Safety & Security, decide what the campus community should know about. Negative interactions with the town are frequently well posted. The criminalization of Oberlin residents will continue if we are only exposed to unfortunate incidents and ignore acts of violence (both physical and psychological) by the college on townspeople.

This letter is to make sure that such acts of discrimination do not go unnoticed on our campus and to remind us all how even with good intentions, our actions — even on campus — affect those who share this town with us. Though not all of us as individuals are connected to the College’s larger decision making process, we can — and must — hold ourselves accountable for own actions and how they affect residents of the city of Oberlin.

–Shari Rosenberg
–Nathaniel Meyer
–Hannah McCorkel

College sophomores
–Eli Conley
–Dan Gillespie
–Michael McKiernan

College juniors
–Maya Bajak
–Ileana Font-Soloway
–Divya Hemnani
–Rebecca Mulligan
–Margrit Pittman-Polletta

College seniors

To the Editors:

While I was glad to see an article on midwifery as a profession in your last issue, the article contained some misstatements that should be corrected.

The stereotype of a midwife as a woman who comes to the home with a  “big black bag” (actually several big black bags, including IV and resuscitation equipment and emergency medications) is, thankfully, more accurate than ever.

Seattle Midwifery School believes that all women with low-risk pregnancies should have the choice to give birth in the safety and comfort of their own homes. In Washington state, both private health insurance and Medicaid are actually required to cover home births.

Planned home birth by low risk women under the care of a professional midwife has been shown to be as safe or safer than delivery in a hospital. (Kenneth C. Johnson and Betty-Anne Daviss, Outcomes of planned home births with certified professional midwives: large prospective study in North America, BMJ, Jun 2005; 330: 1416).

Nor is nursing the only route into midwifery. Certified Professional Midwives train directly as midwives and can obtain licensure in 22 states and several Canadian provinces. They generally practice as independent professionals in out-of-hospital settings. Nurse midwives, by contrast, generally must work in affiliation with a physician. Although progress is slow, more and more states are re-legalizing professional midwifery and out-of-hospital birth.

For more information about midwifery and home birth, Citizens for Midwifery’s web site is an excellent starting point —

In addition, when I viewed the article online, the Google ad to the right read something like “The Homebirth Debate — study shows home births unsafe.” This ad linked to a blog written by a doctor who is strongly and irrationally opposed to homebirth in general and appears to have a personal vendetta against the author Henci Goer in particular. It seems like poor editorial policy to include on a news page advertising over which the paper has no control. 

–Sharon Fuller, OC ’89
Seattle, Washington
Information Technology Director, Seattle
Midwifery School

To the Editors:

It has been more than 50 years since I graduated from Oberlin. Each time I return to campus I am impressed by some of the similarities between “my days” and the present. The greatest similarity is the involvement of the students not only in their academic studies but in community activities at all level — local, national and international. 

When I was a student it was the Civil Rights Movement, the war in Korea (yes, we demonstrated against it), getting ROTC off campus, repealing the McCarren Immigration Act and protesting McCarthyism.

Today the issues are right off the front pages of the papers. What Oberlin gave to us and still does is a social conscience. We left Oberlin with the idea that we had a responsibility to become involved in issues that would impact society. I am sure that this is still true.

When I was a student, tuition was $300 a semester and my annual cost of education was $1,400.  I was able to pay for my education by working summers and working on-campus jobs. Today the annual cost of attending Oberlin is approximately $40,000 per year and more than 60 percent of students receive some type of scholarship or financial aid.

There is no way that a student can earn this sum. What is even more significant is that tuition covers just 55 percent of the cost of an Oberlin education — each year, financial support from alumni, parents, friends and foundations helps make it possible for everyone to attend Oberlin. These additional monies must come from either donations or endowment. So, aside from a social conscience, we as alumni must also embrace the responsibility of giving back financially to maintain the ideals of Oberlin that we cherish.

Let me add one more issue to the mix. Every educational institution in the nation, including Oberlin, is ranked by various media. These rankings include an indicator called “alumni satisfaction” and are measured by the percentage of alumni who give.

As a senior, you will give a class gift to the college. This gift will be your first gift to Oberlin College and will be the first step in becoming a donor to this great institution. We all are aware that as young alumni this may be a very small sum, the equivalent of a Starbucks latte, but it’s a beginning and it counts toward Oberlin’s alumni giving rate.

In summary, we as students and alumni need to remember our responsibility to society as well as our responsibility to Oberlin College. Oberlin not only gave us an academic education but also the opportunity to develop as unique individuals.

In order for Oberlin to continue to provide these opportunities, we need to develop a Culture of Giving Back.

I wish you all good luck on your exams, a wonderful holiday season and a great experience during Winter Term. I hope to meet some of you on my visits to campus.

–Andreas Goldner, OC ’56
Chair, Development Committee
Oberlin College Alumni Association


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