Oberlin College Sounds a Clarion Call for its Smelling Salts
Oberlin College in Ohio dates to the early 19th century. Oberlin claims to be the first college to admit women and black men, though Middlebury College in Vermont says that honor belongs to them. Certainly men and women from Oberlin helped save people from bondage during the slavery time, and some 1,000 Oberlin men, black and white, served during the Civil War, enabling their classmate Mary Jane Patterson to become the first African-American woman to earn a BA, in 1862. At the turn of the 20th century missionaries from Oberlin, then a Presbyterian school, felt a call to witness in China, and many died there from persecution.
Oberlin has truly been a light unto the nations.
Sadly, Oberlin has recently suffered a series of racist graffiti incidents, vandalism, and physical assaults. Apparently no one did anything about the enormities except feel bad.
More recently, someone said that someone said that he or she had seen a Ku Klux Klansman, bedsheet in full sail, walking across campus around two in the morning. However, there is no source or me-phone footage. Local police report that other witnesses report that saw a pedestrian wearing a blanket, so someone needs to verify the whereabouts of Charlie Brown’s friend Linus.
Oberlin’s president, Marvin Krislov, stood to his tackle like a true Oberlin man – he canceled classes, saying "…let us be very clear, we stand united. We will not give into hate."
However, in canceling classes, Dr. Krislov, hereinafter referred to as Aunt Pittypat, did indeed give in to hate. A few bipedal pimples with spray paint bullied him and an entire college into abandoning their vocations as scholars. Instead of standing up for the freedom to learn, to live, to work, Oberlin spent a day feeling sorry for its collective self.
That’s not exactly the spirit of the Oberlin men who helped hold the union line in the cause of freedom.
With classes canceled out of fear last week, the men and women of Oberlin finally did something – they made signs, they staged a sit-in, and they organized tolerance sessions.
Oh, yeah, a sit-in – that’ll stop evil in its clawed tracks. Hey, and signs. Wow.
One student told a rally that “I’m feeling comfortable and supported.” The content and the use of the passive voice says everything we need to know about a young adult who, given the rare opportunity to study civilization, explore ideas, develop concepts, write, dance, paint, compose music, and perhaps, like her Obie predecessors, help free oppressed peoples, could only bleat out in weakness: “I’m feeling comfortable and supported.”
Reports of reports report (finding anything solidly sourced about the problems at Oberlin is at present impossible) that two Oberlin students were allegedly / maybe / sort of arrested / detained as persons of interest / expelled from school, but if so, no one is saying why.
When Aunt Pittypat addressed the newsies at a press conference, his students reportedly yelled vulgarities at him, so maybe a culture of spoken obscenity already obtains at Oberlin, and only written obscenity is offensive to the young scholars.
In addition to sponsoring teach-ins, Oberlin has called in the Federal Bureau of Investigation to, well, investigate crudities scrawled on walls. And if that’s not a worthy use of the FBI, then what is, eh?
The reader can follow the Oberlin community as they twitter and tweet athttps://twitter.com/oberlin. Somehow one gets the idea that Oberlin College at present is the sort of place where people seriously read Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot.
Oberlin was once a moral and cultural light, a college of heroic young people who not only called for injustices to be righted, but hazarded their lives in doing so themselves. Just now about all they seem to be capable of calling for is their smelling salts.