SAST Responds to MRC Dissolution

To The Editors:

It was with outrage and dismay that we heard about the termination of the 25 intern positions — effectively cutting the Multicultural Resource Center. Since it is already undervalued, staffed entirely by interns, these staffing cuts disproportionately affect the MRC. The MRC is a vital source of support for the many underserved communities on this campus. The MRC supports members of these communities as people, as activists and as students, providing educational opportunities that allow students to see our identities and experiences reflected and that are meaningful in our struggles. The MRC makes possible the vast majority of events that address areas of study underrepresented in the college curriculum; for example, while the College fails to support — and in fact, undermines — APA studies, the MRC Community Coordinators have been integral to the organization of the APA conference. In addition, although the College has failed to provide any courses on Native American studies, the MRC has provided essential support to the Indigenous Women’s Series.
The College has proposed replacing the four Community Coordinators with two non-identity-specific positions in Race/Roots of Multiculturalism and Gender/Sexuality. It has been suggested that the second position would also direct the Women’s Resource Center. The oversimplified divisions proposed force already underserved students to compete amongst themselves for even scarcer resources. Such identity-blind multiculturalism relies on both artificial divisions and the lumping together of distinct issues and communities. The current structure of the MRC, with the Community Coordinators, allows for indispensable community-specific support as well as collaboration between many communities. The proposed restructuring of the MRC would fail to provide this community-specific support; it is ludicrous to believe that one individual could possibly represent and support all race-related concerns and efforts on this campus. Not all multiculturalism is anti-oppression, and the College’s proposed version is one such example. Having unsupported people of color, or a WRC, on campus — for example — does not make Oberlin College anti-racist or anti-sexist. Rachel Beverly and the Community Coordinators are central to anti-racist, anti-sexist and anti-homophobic work on this campus; they should be commended for their exemplary concern for students, their dedication and their labor. Instead, the entire decision process regarding the restructuring was badly handled and disrespectful to the Community Coordinators, the students, and especially the MRC director, Rachel Beverly. She was neither consulted on the restructuring of her department nor invited to the meeting at which such changes were announced.
The only problem with the MRC as it currently exists is that it is undervalued and unsupported by the administration. Given the resources and support it deserves, the MRC would be able to add a Native American/Indigenous Community Coordinator and continue to provide meaningful support to those communities that Oberlin College claims to value but largely underserves.
Finally, it is vital to note that the proposed restructuring of the MRC is part of a larger conservative administrative trend, which includes the elimination of need-blind admissions, the institutional racism that causes the revolving door for faculty of color — most recently, Ms. Charfauros — and the utter lack of staffing support for the WRC, to provide only a few examples. Oberlin College is in the process of betraying everything it professes to support in its promotional material; how can its students and their allies be expected to “change the world” while under attack by the administration?

–Myrl Beam
College sophomore
–Kate Eubank
College junior


April 19
April 26

site designed and maintained by jon macdonald and ben alschuler :::