Oberlin Students Don’t Actually Support Free Speech

To the Editor:

I have witnessed the total decline of rational discourse this year at Oberlin College. The most recent example was reaction to The Voice. Two articles produced behavior befitting high school students of the rudest nature. As the writer of one of these articles, I have been followed, mocked and have seen The Voice publicly condemned. The other author has been yelled at, detained and witnessed the frenzied dance of one girl ripping up a copy of The Voice. This is not the way rational, civilized people behave, and certainly not the way to reach an understanding of the author’s views. Yet these actions are not denounced by the majority of college students nor are they opposed by the administration or professors. 
The articles irrationally opposed by certain groups of people are “Racial Determinism” and “The Reparations Racket: Clamoring for the Unearned.” The former is an article I wrote to proclaim that many of the devout fighters against racism are in fact extremely racist people. I proposed an old notion, but one forgotten in the universities: that only beliefs, ideas, and individualism are meaningful (not one’s race, sexuality, or gender). The latter article was an eloquent and logical case against reparations. The author made a flawless argument by citing problems of logistics, and the larger problem that reparations infringe on our rights. 
Both articles should have made people think. Yet I fear that our most snarling opponents hardly gave the ideas we presented and defended a second look. To date only one person has written to me (albeit in a crude and disrespectful manner). Why do so many students prefer to argue from intimidation? Why are such students afraid to question and seek the reason for the source of their anger? Why are such students not contacting the author or editor to learn of his/her motivations? There is obviously something terribly wrong in the way these students are taught to think and what they believe they can get away with. 
This year Oberlin College has witnessed the decline of free speech. Citing the Dec. 8, 2000 issue of the Review, “Freedom to demonstrate and to do so discourteously is well ingrained in our society and especially so here at Oberlin,” says Mr. John J. Picken, OC ’56. This was one editorial, of many, voicing opposition to the actions taken by protestors at Secretary of the Treasury Lawrence H. Summers’ speech. More recently a student was beaten in his dorm room for an article he wrote in The Grape, an alternative newspaper. The shame this caused in the Oberlin townspeople was expressed by an editorial in the April 17 issue of the Oberlin News-Tribune, “...it is indeed a crime to hear of such blatant brutality...these students should be expelled and sent home. We don’t want them in our community.” On the opposite spectrum, the ignorant attitude to this attack was verbalized by Molly Ryan in the April 27 issue of the Review, “I feel that expulsion is too harsh of a judgement to pass on these students.” She may be able to ignore the seriousness of stepping on a man’s rights and beating him, but others cannot and should not. Two weeks ago a college professor had to write to the Review in order to get his findings posted on the Oberlin web-site. It was in the school’s favor not to post his finding that environmentalist economics cannot be followed and that the Lewis Environmental Studies building is the most energy-expensive building on campus. 
The state of the university has been on the decline since the ’60s (when the student movement successfully undermined the importance and role of the administration). Academic integrity is no longer a part of the universities. Administrators being overrun by student pressure groups and professors with no beliefs to stand for pose as the modern educators. They are the greatest threat to the future of the university so long as they continue to allow the students to dictate the curriculum and the regulations. To date, Oberlin College speakers are at the mercy of the mob. Oberlin student minds are taught to believe that reason is impossible, that reality is in their minds and that anything big is bad: “Big Business,” “Big Government” and “Big University.” 
Disrespect for the freedom of speech does not appear randomly. Disrespect for everything that makes America the freest country on earth is accepted and financially supported by Oberlin . (See next year’s Student Finance Committee allocations). So when Oberlin students drown out the Secretary of the Treasury, thrash one student for his writing and intimidate others, we can all truthfully say to the professors and administration, “Brothers, you asked for it.” 

–Janeé J. Garcia
College sophomore


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