President Ambar Announces Hate Speech Policy in Wake of Posters

Anti-Semitic posters advocating the end of “Jewish privilege” were discovered outside of Warner Center, the Science Center, Carnegie Building, and East Hall by Safety and Security officers Oct. 20. The posters were promptly removed as they went against the College’s stated mission of diversity and inclusion and were in violation of Oberlin’s postering policy, according to Clifton Barnes.

Following the incident, President Carmen Ambar reached out to students, faculty, and staff members via email. She recognized that the incident mirrored similar events that have occurred recently in other communities and college campuses across the country, both in content and in approach.

“These actors are working from a predictable playbook — they want to create fear and distrust, and to exploit our energy, passion, and creativity for their own destructive ends,” Ambar wrote. “At Oberlin, we are simply not going to participate.”

Ambar went on to say that members of the Oberlin community should not allow such incidents to distract or derail them from the important work that they are engaged in. For this reason, she announced her decision to avoid disseminating information aboutsimilar events to the Oberlin community.

“In the future, we will not circulate information about such postings unless there is clear evidence of an ongoing pattern or a serious threat to campus safety, which we continue to monitor vigorously and proactively,” Ambar wrote. “They want a microphone. Our community’s goal should be to turn off their sound.”

Students have expressed satisfaction with how Ambar has chosen to handle further instances of postings, but hope to be alerted should similar incidents continue happening more frequently.

“The president’s decision to not alert students of hate crimes unless [they are] connected to a pattern or series of crimes is a respectable way to deal with the situation,” said College sophomore Nathan Slone. “While I absolutely understand that alerting students of any hateful incident is a responsibility of the school, I agree with the president in that students have more important things to worry about.”

College senior Dana Goldstein said that by giving such incidents attention by always alerting the community, the committers of the wrongdoing get what they want.

“I would be upset, however, if these incidents were happening more frequently and there was no discussion of it,” Goldstein said. “President Ambar said that if it becomes a pattern, then there will be emails about such posters. I’ll trust her in good faith that she’ll [send out alerts] if that happens.”

President Ambar was unavailable for comment.