LGBTU Criticizes Dye’s Decision to Cut MRC Interns

To the Editors:

Nancy Dye’s recent decision to cut all college interns — including the four MRC community coordinator positions — is distressing, especially at a college that markets itself on multiculturalism and progressiveness. Though the administration has bowed to pressure and stated that the MRC positions will be temporarily extended for one year, the move reveals a lack of understanding of the concerns of students of color and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students.
The four MRC coordinator positions (Africana, APA, Latino/a, and LGBT) are the only formal, community–specific support structure that Oberlin offers LGBT students and students of color. The interns offer individual guidance, support for events and organizing, and many other functions that could not be maintained with a reduced staff.
The MRC coordinators provide students of oppressed groups with someone from their community whose sole job is supporting them. This role cannot be adequately filled by someone without a community-specific, full-time administrative position.
Administrators have suggested that LGBT professors and professors of color could pick up the slack in terms of providing support; this is a mistake. These professors are already overworked, supporting and counseling students of oppressed groups in addition to their teaching duties. In addition, students are not always aware of professors who are willing to talk to them, nor are they necessarily comfortable talking to the professors who make themselves available.
It would also be a mistake to replace the four community coordinators with two positions — one for gender/sexuality and another for race/ethnicity — as has also been suggested by the administration. In addition cutting an already overworked staff, this could create the problem of hiring people who were under-qualified to support all the populations to which they were responsible. A straight-identified woman in charge of “sexuality/gender concerns” for the MRC, for example, would likely be unable to address the full needs of LGBT students. Even if she were formally educated in “LGBT studies,” this could not substitute for the experience of being LGB or T. The same problem, of course, would exist for the person in charge of “race/ethnicity concerns,” as they would likely be similarly unable to address the needs of students from every marginalized racial group on campus.
Students, then, should not be placated by the one-year extension; rather, we should push to permanently keep community-specific coordinator positions, strengthen the MRC, and improve resources for LGBT students and students of color on campus. Ways of doing this include making the community coordinator positions into Assistant Deans, hiring a full-time Native American Community Coordinator, hiring and retaining underrepresented faculty, and hiring full-time professors for the Comparative American Studies department (for a full list of proposals by students involved in this campaign, email
Finally, LGBTU asks the administration to put in writing their decision to keep the MRC interns for another year, and to promise to include students in the decision-making process. These issues are too important to be decided without student input, either in closed meetings or during school breaks and exam periods. The administration must hear our call: save the MRC and strengthen resources on campus for LGBT students, students of color, and other oppressed groups.

–Peter Meredith
College senior
–April Gentile-Miserandino
College first-year
LGBTU Co-Chairs

April 19
April 26

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