Reviewing Oberlin’s Campus Climate Report
Commencement/Reunion Weekend was wonderful! The mood was buoyant, the weather was mostly pleasant—especially on Commencement day—and the events were terrific. I greatly enjoyed talking with so many students, alumni, parents, faculty, and staff.
Putting on such a sprawling, multifaceted event—commencement and reunions are held separately at many other colleges—requires so much planning and follow-through. I deeply appreciate all the thought, effort, and care that went into Commencement 2016. Many, many thanks to all involved.
Thank you Class of 1966 for coming back to your alma mater and for your energy, ideas, and generosity! And thank you Class of 2016 for four eventful years of growth, challenge, and change. On behalf of everyone at Oberlin, I wish you all the best and look forward to helping you with the next stage of your lives.
Campus Climate Report
I would like to update our community on Oberlin’s response to some significant challenges we faced this past academic year. The senior staff and I have been actively working for months to address them. We have taken many steps to reinforce our commitment to building a diverse and inclusive campus culture where every student can achieve their full potential.
A summary of what we have done and are doing was published on May 19 when the Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion issued “Cultivating Campus Climate: How Oberlin Meets the Challenges and Opportunities” detailing our efforts to address the concerns of black students and the allegations of anti-Semitism. The report also presents the work that has been done on sexual misconduct and disability. I encourage you to read the report, which can be found on our web site.
Those steps haven’t made national news. But they demonstrate that we can make progress by working together to marshal our community’s intellectual, teaching, and creative skills to tackle the difficult challenges we face as a college and as a nation.
I also want to share with you some things I stressed to multiple audiences at Commencement.
We will not tolerate bigotry in any form at Oberlin.
Nor will we let expediency and demands for summary judgment abrogate anyone’s rights to fairness and process.
Those are our core principles. As we address the issues I’ve just mentioned, we must and we will continue focusing on all forms of social justice because all forms of bias are antithetical to Oberlin’s educational mission. All forms of bias stand in the way of being the college, community, and world that we aspire to be.
Our community has had many difficult discussions these past few months on campus and off. Having those discussions is what Oberlin is all about. But we must be able to talk about and engage with difficult issues with humanity and integrity.
The Strategic Plan is example of that. It was dramatically revised to reflect our shared, central commitment to diversity and inclusion, and it has a strong focus on compositional and interactional diversity.
Other specific steps we have taken relating to campus climate include hiring a new interim director of our Multicultural Resource Center, Toni Myers, and a new ombudsperson, Kimberly Jackson Davidson. We have also created Think/Create/Engage, a new annual series designed to showcase the exploration of complex topical issues using the tools and resources made available by the synergy of a liberal arts college and a conservatory. The inaugural series is titled The Framing of Race. I am also happy to report we have a new executive director of Oberlin Jewish campus life and Hillel, Rabbi Megan Doherty. We’re thrilled to have her join our community. And we are deeply grateful for the outstanding service that Gregg Levine provided as Hillel’s interim director.
Congratulations to the Oberlin Preying Manti on a fine season that saw them go all the way to the USA Ultimate DIII Nationals in Winston-Salem, North Carolina! The team tied for 15th in the nation. I’m told there is a strong group of players returning next year.