The Oberlin Review

Perspective Important in Gibson’s Case

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To the Editors:

I’m writing to disagree with almost everything in Booker C. Peek’s recent opinion column, “Oberlin, Gibson’s Should Settle Out-of-Court” (The Oberlin Review, Dec. 1, 2017).

I laughed at Peek’s opening comment that the lawsuit “has the potential to be earth-shattering.” Really? Let’s maintain some perspective here. This is a tempest in a teapot, a tiny incident at a small college. Potentially earth-shattering would be President Trump’s brinksmanship with North Korea, or the increasing severity of tropical storms fueled by global climate change. Those are earth-shattering issues that Oberlin and its students should be addressing.

Peek also writes about the damage of a financial settlement. Maybe that’s what he means by “earth-shattering.” Again, I disagree. A settlement with Gibson’s will hardly cripple the school. Even if a multi-million dollar settlement is reached — though unlikely — Oberlin surely has both the resources and insurance to lessen the financial blow. While Oberlin is in the middle of some belt-tightening, let’s keep it in perspective. From all accounts, it’s still a very pleasant place to work and to attend.

Having this issue land in the lap of a new president, Carmen Twillie Ambar, compounds the “dire” situation, in Peek’s opinion. Having seen President Ambar speak about Oberlin on her recent tour of key alumni cities, I think she’s the perfect person to handle the situation. She made it clear that opening dialogue across campus is one of her priorities, and this is a situation that has raised a lot of conversation already. As an African-American — and race is the reason the original, garden-variety alleged crime has been raised to a such a fever pitch — she can handle the situation with perspective that most college presidents can’t. In fact, if she sweeps it under the rug with a quick settlement, that will cut off important on-campus discussion: “We can’t talk about it because we settled the case.” And secrecy could light additional fires on social media.

Ironically, though I disagree with Peek’s commentary, I think that a settlement is the most likely course of action. These types of disputes are almost always settled out-of-court precisely for the reasons Peek articulated — all parties want to move on, and they want to keep awkward details secret. But I’m not only an Oberlin alum. I was on the Review editorial staff for two years, and I’m a journalist today. Journalists dislike lawsuit settlements because important information is kept from the public.

In sum, I don’t think that the College is well-served by secrecy. In this particular case, I have no idea who is wrong — from the accused shoplifters, to Gibson’s, to Oberlin. It seems that Oberlin has taken a page from President Trump’s playbook of trying to bully a business. But maybe not. Maybe each of the parties is wrong to varying degrees. Regardless, I think that having more information is better than having less. If getting that information keeps this issue alive for a few more months, I can live with that.

Kevin Adler
OC ’84

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6 Responses to “Perspective Important in Gibson’s Case”

  1. Gary Schoene on December 10th, 2017 2:52 PM

    “I have no idea who is wrong — from the accused shoplifters, to Gibson’s, to Oberlin.” Really? You have no idea who is at fault? I certainly would not include Gibson’s in the list. They have a right to defend their property. There is no Black Privilege which implies a right to steal, and representatives of Oberlin College have not served the college well.

  2. steve on December 10th, 2017 5:56 PM

    You say you have no idea who is wrong or right? Who plead guilty? Who was underage and tried to buy wine? Who stuck 2 bottles of wine under his shirt?

    You can’t be that stupid. This is exactly why I hate traveling abroad and having to answer questions about ignorant Americans. In no other country would a shopowner be treated like this.

    You need to grow some balls, man. Jesus, I hate entitled white people.

  3. FRANCIS x CAREY on December 11th, 2017 9:19 AM

    Shame on you Oberlin College! I hope this lawsuit costs you a fortune.

  4. ummmmm... on December 18th, 2017 7:21 PM

    You are a journalist, and you have no idea if the “accused shoplifters(sic)” are right? Good lord…..This is not a good advertisement for the education that led you to journalism because you can

    (wait for it!!!!…….)

    READ about the facts in

    (again, the suspense…… )

    NEWSPAPERS! There you will find many facts in the public domain! You will find that there was ONE shoplifter, and a couple of hotheads who did the assaulting. If you (wait for it…this is a key journalistic technique….) READ Gibson’s complaint, and you READ the newspapers, (and even, get this,… court documents!!! Like a Journalist!!!) you can find stuff out! You’ll find the shoplifter plead guilty! You’ll find the two girls who decided to assault an innocent man protecting his property plead guilty! You’ll find out lots and lots of stuff! Hey, maybe next time you could do that BEFORE you write an opinion piece! What a novel idea!

    Ah Oberlin, a beacon of journalistic excellence worldwide!

  5. STEELWOLVES on December 22nd, 2017 7:22 AM

    I just bought a bunch of cookies from Gibson’s – really taste good.

    Merry Christmas !


  6. neal workman on December 23rd, 2017 11:07 PM

    I hope that the settlement causes one of the entities to cease to exist, and give one of the parties enough money to expand their operations.

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