Assault Raises Safety Concerns For College
by Tobias Smith

At 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 injuries.
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 around campus.
“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. There’s this huge double standard. We’re 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 College’s 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 everyone’s empowered…and 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 of nowhere.”
In the words of the victim, “It doesn’t matter what medium you’re in, there are always gonna be people who are just blind creatures with claws.”


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