Professors Urge Campus to Engage in Inclusive Discussion

To the Editor:

Regarding the recent statement on anti-Semitism written by Professor of Politics Marc Blecher and signed by over 170 faculty, we would like to add our voices to the conversation and explain why we did not sign our names. While we agree with many of the statement’s sentiments and on the importance of denouncing anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry, we did not feel comfortable signing a statement focused on a particular case when there is an ongoing College process in relation to it. We also did not feel comfortable signing a statement that seemed to focus more on condemning a colleague rather than on the challenge of fighting anti-Semitism.

Anti-Semitism is as abhorrent as any other form of racism, and we reject it absolutely. We wish to express our support for our Jewish students and colleagues as well as our respect for the faculty who both signed or chose not to sign the statement. Conversations on Oberlin’s campus have grown increasingly difficult, often mirroring fractious national political speech. We thus urge all constituents — administrators, faculty, staff and students — to seek forms of dialogue that can foster a more open and inclusive campus. This work began with an emotional and powerful conversation at the April 6 College faculty meeting and continues through small discussions hosted by the Center for Teaching Innovation and Excellence leading up to a forum for all faculty to discuss anti-Semitism, racism and bigotry at Oberlin. We welcome these opportunities for dialogue and debate and are hopeful that they will move us to a better place of understanding, respect and regard for each other as members of a shared community.

Wendy Kozol
Professor and Chair of Comparative American Studies

Shelley Lee
Associate Professor of History and Comparative American Studies

Gina Pérez
Associate Professor of Comparative American Studies

Renee Romano
Professor of History, Comparative American Studies and Africana Studies and Chair of History department