Format for Obie Protests
Layoffs” protest on Thursday was based on good intentions
and in accord with what Oberlin College stands for — progressive
politics and a willingness to stand up for what’s right. These
good intentions, though, were poorly directed, as the inaccuracy
of information passed out on fliers at the rally attests. This misinformation
extends beyond erroneously reporting that “there was a $70,000
party to open the new Science Center.” Relevent administrators
are often not known by protestors.
inaccuracies, though, underscore a more general lack of information
in Oberlin. No one, aside from the Administration, has all of the
information as to why such cuts are being made. This closed door
policy with regards to budget information effectively treats the
student body as children.
conducting an uniformed protest is childish (and possibly more counter-productive
than mere complacency), for the student body to be truly and effectively
mobilized it must be properly informed. Instead of banging drums
during classtime in King, students should respectfully but persistently
demand the facts. This means meeting with President Nance Dye or
Vice Presiden of Finances Andrew Evans and asking (tactfully, if
possible) why budget information that effects so many people is
not being disclosed. And it means not taking silence for an answer.
such strategies of negotiation to gain information are being taught
in some of those classes the protesters sought to disrupt. A standard
three three-point strategy to create a more productive protest proceeds
through the stages of analysis, advocacy and finally action. The
analysis consists of focusing on attaining actual budget information
thus deeming the excuse of “budget trouble” unacceptable.
The advocacy expresses a controlled but passionate demand for support
from the Oberlin community and for the Administration to cooperate
in a time of financial trouble — an active persistance that
respects the unspoken rules of how to attain leverage in a corporate
world. Lastly, action, a component students here are well versed
in, means mobilizing people under the banner of fact, and demanding
changes in our community.
agree that the silence from the Administration should rightly be
an outrage to the students. But while there may be a rebellious
appeal in disrupting the system and challenging the structure of
institutions, effective action relies on more than passion for results.
Administration’s unwillingness to go to the activist groups
with better information is deplorable. Students have no other way
of knowing the basis or judging the validity of administrative action.
The powers that be must realize that “Budget trouble,”
without further explanation, can sound like very fuzzy logic.
on the other hand, must make a rudimentary effort to learn relevant
names and roles of those who control the budget, particularly Dye
and Evans — and to make sure they know those numbers that
are available. The information gained leads to analysis. Before
the drums come out we must, as students and advocates, equip ourselves
with better information — part of which the administration
is obliged to supply. Let’s follow through with a combination
punch of analysis, advocacy and action and make our professors and