News Releases

Oberlin College Statement on Bias Incidents

August 23, 2013

Communications Staff

A report issued by the Oberlin Police Department regarding racist, homophobic, and anti-Semitic incidents which occurred on the Oberlin College campus this past February and March has generated speculation on some web sites regarding the motives of the alleged perpetrators.

These actions were real. The fear and disruption they caused in our community were real. While Oberlin College takes great pride in its historic and ongoing commitment to diversity, inclusion, and respectful discussion of ideas, we draw the line at threats and harassment of any kind.

We will not tolerate acts of hatred and threats of violence regardless of motivation. We are proud of the way our community came together to respond to these incidents with education, discussion, and reflection. As Oberlin's people have since our founding in 1833, we will continue striving to make the world better for all through education and discourse based on reason, facts, and respect.

Oberlin College, like every institution of higher education in the United States, is legally bound to comply with the Federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. In accordance with that obligation, in March, the college community was notified that the administration's investigation had led to the identification of two students who might be responsible for the incidents, and both had been removed from campus. The timing of this announcement was decided in consultation with law enforcement and considered both the integrity of the ongoing investigation and the need to communicate with the community in as timely a fashion as possible. The college cannot provide any further information on who might have been responsible for these acts or their motivation.

Some commentators have suggested that the perpetrators engaged in these actions merely to provoke a reaction from our community.

As we have stated, these incidents occurred on a virtually daily basis over a period of weeks. The acts in question included racist, homophobic, and anti-Semitic graffiti, flyers, and Internet postings, as well as written harassment of targeted individuals including threats of bodily harm and rape.

We take all such threats seriously and recognize that our obligation is to assure the safety of all members of our community. Many students, faculty and staff raised reasonable concerns about their security on our campus, based on these incidents and threats. Oberlin College will not tolerate an atmosphere in which people feel threatened on the basis of their race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation, under any circumstances.

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