It needs to be addressed
I speak mainly of innocent, light-hearted fun on this blog. That's mostly because I'm a light-hearted, innocent-fun kind of person, pretty good at maintaining my comfort zone, who doesn't go to "real" parties even when I hear about them (not often) because I genuinely think I'd have the most fun watching Stargate with my friends on a Friday night.
This is atypical.
Oberlin is a college. There is drinking, drugs, and casual sex.
Yes, it is easy to maintain a bubble that excludes that; for me, at least, it kind of happened automatically; it's also easy to immerse yourself in it if that's what you want. Some people are petty and shallow; most are pretty nice; some are wonderful, clever, insightful, and funny. People are proud of their skills or shy about them. People have scary work ethics or are lazy as (too lazy to choose best-sounding expletive). Basically, it's your typical microcosm of society, except with a higher average SAT score.
What provokes all this is the website obietalk.com, which a first-year started to replace the crashed Oberlin Confessional. Both sites are/were anonymous places to say whatever you want about Oberlin and other users can comment on it. It's somehow limited to users with an Oberlin IP address or other connection to the Oberlin network--I don't know how that works. There was an article in the Review about it last week, which is how I learned about it. (I'd link to the article, but the Review website isn't up-to-date.)
Anyway, I've been looking at it in a strange, voyeuristic way. As you'd expect, there's a lot on there about hookups, where to find the best parties, romantic angst, and so on. (My inner sociologist wants to study the phenomenon of anonymous website as social support now.) So, please, if you are learning about Oberlin mainly via the internet, please realize that everyone's Oberlin experience is different, and we are not all either horny potheads or practical idealists.
Now, back to your regularly scheduled light-hearted, innocent programming.
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This is your requested wake-up call
I have a 9:00 a.m. class on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and lately have been lifeguarding at 9:00 as well on Tuesdays and Thursdays. This means I've been getting up at eight. However, because I've been staying up late (because of ten-to-midnight Sunshine Scouts practices, wasting time on the Internet, or just insomnia), that's been feeling pretty early. It felt especially early on Thursday morning, after I'd woken up for a long time in the middle of the night, fallen back asleep around six, and dearly wanted to remain blissfully unconscious for just a few more minutes. . .
Grouchy and tired, I stumbled down the hall to the bathroom. On my way back, I happened to glance out a window.
I immediately ceased to be either grouchy or tired. The roof was white! It had snowed! Yippee!
I ran back into my room, grabbed my key card, and ran outside. It was still snowing and the wind was pretty strong, sending the large white flakes swirling around me. The sidewalks were mostly bare, so I found a patch of snow at the base of the ramp leading up to Barnard's south entrance. I stood there barefoot and watched the snow dance and laughed with delight until my feet began to get numb. Then I swiped my card and ran back inside, upstairs, giggling and riding the adrenaline rush, to drink cocoa and get warm.
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Finals at Oberlin range from non-existent to scary.
My first-year seminar class doesn't have a test, but we had to give presentations in small groups. The class deals with how people react to catastrophes and disasters in their lives. As it's technically a psychology class, for the final presentation, we had to take one of the people we've studied over the semester and report on what they may have done to make them more resilient, based on some psychological literature we read.
Some upper-level classes have projects instead of finals, too, I think; I know my sophomore friends have been very busy lately, although it's possible that they have tests in addition to their projects.
For ExCos, it seems, finals are different. My Superheroes class went on a group scavenger hunt, solving riddles to stop a villain from detonating virus bombs all over campus. OBehave, the improv ExCo, did a show--I didn't catch all of it, but what I saw was funny and pretty well-done. I believe that they're going to transform into a regular performing group next semester, which would make them Oberlin's only short-form troupe. I also just saw the Taiko performance done by both the ExCo students and Oberlin College Taiko--the official performing organization. I was very impressed and would consider taking the class myself later, if my lack of rhythm doesn't make me too scared of embarrassing myself to try it. (I'm not un-musical--I play the violin fairly well--but it's much easier to fake knowing where the beat is with a violin than a drum.)
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I had a big sociology paper due at noon today that I submitted a little after midnight. (Papers are submitted online sometimes, through this website called Blackboard, which also has class forums and required readings and so forth.)
To reward myself for getting it in early, I did fun work today: I got my hair cut, did some Christmas shopping, worked on this post, went to the Taiko show, etc. Downtown Oberlin is really a nice place. There's a great little comic book/roleplaying game store called Infinite Monkey that I am careful not to go to too often, lest I need to take out more student loans to cover my graphic-novel expenses! (PARENTS: If you don't talk to your kids about Neil Gaiman, someone else will.)
There's also the Oberlin public library, which is why I'm able to resist Infinite Monkey so well. One of my friends, an Oberlin native, tipped me off about it. They've got a great range of materials and everyone who works there is friendly and funny. I've gotten into discussions about Firefly and Batman and Roald Dahl and Ray Bradbury while my books are being scanned.
Responses to this Entry
Whatever party scene exists at Oberlin, I would argue that it differs significantly from the environment you'd find at other schools, specifically larger universities with Greek systems.
While excess and over-doing it exist, it is not the same gross phenomena you might find at other places. The lack of Greek system, and in general the type of people that go to Oberlin, goof off and spend their weekends in a variety of ways. This includes (something that is definitely not atypical) weekend sci-fi fests, various types of dancing, cultural and charitable events, and more! There's always something to do at Oberlin, be it a Monday night (maybe a comedy sketch show at the Cat) or a Friday night (the art walk was this weekend, as well as the performances of the Eclectic Nutcracker and the Seagull).
I don't want any prospies to get the wrong idea about how Obies play. Everyone has their own way. I know you know this, but I'm just reinforcing that Oberlin is not a typical party-zone.
Also, obietalk is ridiculous and really only good for wasting time (that being said, I'd rather waste my time watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer).
Posted by: Ray on December 13, 2009 7:41 PM
I despise the existence of anonymous confessional boards for colleges. I really, really wish there were a way for administrations to shut them all down.
Posted by: Prospie on December 14, 2009 9:48 PM
I thought it's important to mention that the party scene at Oberlin does in fact exist. It doesn't seem to get mentioned much in the blogs, making it seem like we're idealizing the College; I want to be as accurate as possible.
That said, Oberlin's ***not*** scary, and if I say that, then you can trust me, because I'm the most neurotic well-adjusted happy geek you ever met! I'll say it up front: I was a little nervous about going to Oberlin. Actually, what freaked me out was an article in the Review when I came to visit about how someone gave a workshop on dating--not to remedy socially awkward nerds, which I would have been all in favor of, but so that people understand there's an alternative to hooking up. You can read the article here: http://www.oberlin.edu/cgi-bin/cgiwrap/ocreview/20090410.php?a=a_Go_Out&sec=arts
/That/ shook up my mental picture of my college life. I mean, here I'd been thinking about maybe a little casual flirting and dating, like in the old 50s novels I found, but without the inconvenience of the 50s!--and then the Big Bad Real World shows up and says that doesn't exist anymore, that I'm archaic, that having a rough idea of how to date is slightly less useful than having a rough idea of how to fight an honor duel. So clearly, flirting was out, because it would be sending the wrong message, ie, "Let's do it."
But my fears were unfounded. People do go on dates and have normal, like, **relationships**, and no one has hit on me yet. Life is good.
So, prospies-who-are-like-me: DO NOT FEAR! Oberlin isn't frightening! Really!
That said, I think ObieTalk, while a waste of time, shouldn't be shut down. I've got a Libertarian streak that insists people have a right to waste their time if they so choose. Besides, if it were closed down, people would just resort to bathroom walls and other such low-tech options again. (Interesting side note: so far in my Winter Term research, I have not seen a single "For a good time call" scribble. My guess is that it's all online now. My inner sociologist is really intrigued...)
Posted by: Tess on December 14, 2009 11:04 PM
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