Diversity Not Reflected in Tenure
on campus may remember last year when the College decided to deny
Professor Chafauros McDaniel tenure — a curious administrative
move for a college that prides itself on maintaining a multicultural
Many students question how the College can stand behind a front
of multiculturalism if their actions sing a different tune, and,
in this case, causing a nationwide boycott of 500 members of The
Association for Asian Americans. The College lacks the multiculturalism
it sells itself on while continuously letting go of professors of
color for the past 15 years. This can not be presumed as a coincidence.
The College maintains its position for the reason of dismissal of
Chafauros was her incomplete dissertation, and a two year extension.
However, there was little consideration for what she and other professors
of color have done for the College’s student body. Chafauros
was a professor in high demand for advising and private readings
by mainly students of color; she was also the co-chair for the East
of California Annual Conference. Irrespective of Chafauros’
activities the College did not allow the student body agency in
the decision of her dismissal aside from the student evaluations
sent out for all professors up for tenure. The College has neglected
to consider how her departure effects the Asian and Pacific Islander
If the Dean of the College can refute the assertion that “the
college has not worked hard to obtain professors of color”,
(see article page 1) why is it so difficult to retain them? Is there
something intrinsically wrong with the system that effects the lives
of professors of color at Oberlin to the point that they are unable
to remain here?
Marginalized groups of people must work hard to sustain a sense
of community and professional intellectualism. Too often this reasoning
gets clouded in a language of victimization that invalidates the
purpose behind such work. Though, when this problem has occurred
for 15 years and a nationwide protest is declared against the College,
it is time to rethink past actions and reassess time constraints
placed on cultural studies professors who are completing dissertations.
The study of and being a part of a marginalized culture effects
one’s productivity in a different manner than when the study
is of the culture of the majority. There is an intrinsic difference
in the manner of studying that should be acknowledged. Many members
of the Oberlin community are appalled at the oversight of such differences.
Such incongruency must be acknowledged and resolved if diversifying
the faculty is truly a goal of the Administration. Student and faculty
members are here because they choose to educate themselves but education
should never be restricted to the classroom. There should be a means
to qualify a faculty member’s involvement with the student
body as a form of field study that can only aid one’s dissertation.
Successful Prodding of Trustees
Oberlin by definition is an outspoken community,
but recently it’s become all too clear that it’s not
enough to voice opinions about campus politics while lounging in
Wilder Bowl or shuffling between classes. With the recent campus-wide
uproar over budget cuts, hiring freezes and seemingly unexplained
bonuses, Oberlin students have their work cut out for them. To be
“involved” in the behind-the-scenes workings of the
College now requires more time and energy, because things seem to
be shifting on so many levels — finances, academic offerings,
dining and living accommodations, to mention a few. But, leave it
to Oberlin students to take on an extra challenge: Thursday night’s
Trustee-Student Forum was hugely successful. Its open dialogue was
the sort of discussion between trustees and students that has not
been seen on this campus for years.
It’s a breath of fresh air that this bridge
has been crossed, but it is crucial that this dialogue continue
well into the future. The trustees’ willingness to answer
pointed and heated questions on topics ranging from Dye’s
bonus to issues about Oberlin’s facade of diversity surprised
many students. It is important to be able to put faces to names
of the trustees, to know who is dealing the cards that determine
Oberlin’s future. Students should demand to meet with Administration
at all levels, to write letters, hold forums, discuss campus concerns.
Every student has a wish list for Oberlin, not generally involving
huge budgets. It’s time that students fight for the things
they “bought” when they came to Oberlin: diversity,
progressive thought and community action.