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Monday night coffee with our new president

September 23, 2008

One Monday evening a month, Oberlin's president Marvin Krislov clears some time from his busy schedule to hang out at the coffee shop in the library and talk to whatever Oberlin students show up. I think that this has been going on for a year, but last night was the first "Coffee with Krislov" that I have attended.

When I arrived at about 10:15 there were eight or ten students crowded around Marvin, waiting to shake his hand and talk to him about whatever.

With his bald head, middle-aged physique, and awkwardly casual white sneakers, Krislov looked like one of my dad's friends (and probably one of your dad's friends for that matter). He talked in a comfortable and unpretentious, but decidedly adult tone. He fielded questions about the MENA program, study abroad, and other details of Oberlin life that are probably far below his usual list of concerns. He asked people what dorms they lived in and what their majors were. A friend who was working at the coffee shop told me that the cookies had disappeared quickly, as had the coffee.

There is no specific purpose of these monthly coffee dates. My impression is that the idea is just to make the president seem visible and accessible. When I first arrived at Oberlin three years ago I remember people talking about how they had never seen the president of the college. It would be difficult--though still possible--to say that about Krislov. He has made himself seem accessible and caring. This year nobody seems to have the blind (read: ignorant) resentment of administration that is not unusual among Oberlin students. I guess that means that the Krislov Administration is some sort of success.

I actually didn't talk to Marvin last night. My friends' band was playing at the 'Sco at 10:30 so I didn't feel like waiting. Besides, I didn't really have anything to say. But it's nice to know that I could have.

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