Raises Safety Concerns For College
by Tobias Smith
1:30 on Sunday morning an Oberlin student was assaulted after leaving
a large off-campus party on South Professor Street. Shortly after
the attack, the student, a male first-year, went to the Oberlin
Medical Center with a fractured nose and cheekbone, among other
Three persons, none of whom are students, have been arrested on
charges of assault or complicity. The Oberlin Police Department
issued a press release on Thursday listing all three of the alleged
perpetrators as Oberlin residents, two of them as minors.
One of the attackers, who was part of a group of about five other
males, is reported to have made repeated attempts to pick a fight
with the victim. The victim did not know the attacker. The incident
began during the party, where the victim was punched and pushed
into a window. He walked out of the house, but was followed and
attacked again. At that point, a group of onlookers intervened.
An officer arrived at the scene a little before 2 a.m., by which
time the assailants had driven away.
On Sunday, Oberlin Safety and Security posted special alert notices
around campus, notifying the College community of the assault. They
are the latest in a series of yellow notices that have appeared
throughout the last few months announcing violent incidents on or
Each year incidents do not stay at an even level. You know,
you have your peaks and your valleys, Director of Safety and
Security Robert Jones said.
The College administration has also been quick to point out that
this is not a trend. One conclusion that should not be drawn
is that there is growing tension between the College and the town,
Dean of Students Peter Goldsmith said.
Some students, however, feel a strong division. I feel like
there is this big discrepancy between the town and the College.
Theres this huge double standard. Were privileged. I
think people should think about that a little more, junior
Leah Freedman said.
The party where the incident occurred, in which alcohol was served,
had been widely advertised on campus. Since the party occurred in
an off campus house, the College had little control over it.
We feel that we have an educational role to help students
understand that they have an obligation to their own safety and
the safety of other students, particularly when they open off-campus
houses to anyone who wishes to come, Goldsmith said.
A large number of juniors and seniors at Oberlin move off-campus.
Many wish to attain a greater degree of independence than is available
in on-campus residencies. If you live off campus, that kind
of waives some of the Colleges responsibility for you,
sophomore William Frost said.
The attacker, who was underage, was reported to appear drunk. There
was alcohol being served at the party and IDs were not being checked
at the door.
A red flag that comes up when I review these assaults is that
sometimes alcohol is involved, Jones said.
Another issue of concern is that no one effectively came to the
aid of the victim, despite the obvious violence taking place. My
main problem is with this campus
where everyones empowered
nobody did anything. They were just watching me. Nobody helped,
the victim said.
The College administration urges students to be vigilant about their
own safety and to avoid being naïve about who they let into
private spaces. Goldsmith emphasized that letting any random person
into your home at night can lead to serious problems.
I think Oberlin has never been an entirely safe place,
he said. It has never been a bucolic little town in the middle
In the words of the victim, It doesnt matter what medium
youre in, there are always gonna be people who are just blind
creatures with claws.