OTC: Tré Quarles, OC ’18


Mallika Pandey

Tré Quarles, OC ’18, has worked with the Oberlin administration since he was a first-year. Since graduating, he has stayed on as an office assistant for the Office of Residential Education. Quarles graduated with a degree in Africana studies and hopes to be a familiar face for students in a trying time.

Gabby Greene: What brought you back to Oberlin?

Tré Quarles: When I was given the opportunity that I could work here over the summer, I thought that was a great idea as far as having set employment for a certain amount of time after graduation, which isn’t always certain. I do love Oberlin and I love working here; I love the community, I love the vibe, and I like seeing how it changes, but also how it maintains its spirit throughout time. I also would be interested in getting a permanent position here, because I like to be a familiar face as Oberlin is going through all these changes, institutionally. I think it’s important to have someone who is connected to the students but also in the administration who is able to vouch for maintaining parts of Oberlin’s legacy.

GG: And just to clarify, what were you working as over the summer?

TQ: Oh, it’s complicated. I was continuing my kind of Office/Wedding assistant position for the Office of Conference Services, and I also started a [temporary] position for ResEd as an office assistant.

GG: You mentioned maintaining parts of Oberlin’s legacy. What parts do you think should be maintained?

TQ: That’s a good question. I just think, overall, it’s important to be thoughtful and to include student perspectives in decisions that are going to affect campus culture, including big decisions like shutting down [Dascomb Dining Hall] — of course, we’ve heard all the financial reasons for it — but I think that if any other big changes like that are going to happen on campus, then there definitely needs to be people like me — who have that connection to campus that only a student could have — who can voice their opinions to the administration.

GG: You mentioned that you were continuing your work. What is your background working with Oberlin’s administration?

TQ: Well, I’ve kinda worked everywhere. I worked in Admissions for a certain amount of time, I’ve worked with Conference Services and ResEd. I also was on the board of multiple organizations and had to deal with Student Union a lot. So I’ve continually worked with them as an employee, as a student seeking advice, and as an organizer.

GG: What’s one thing that would surprise people about working in Admissions or working with the administration?

TQ: They’re human. And they’re definitely listening to the things that students say. Even if students feel like the administration isn’t being transparent, the people who work here put a lot of passion and work into what they do, and it’s something to be appreciated.

GG: What are your hopes for the administration in terms of student engagement?

TQ: That they continue to listen to the students. Student engagement and student satisfaction are what’s going to keep this institution and its legacy alive, and I think that’s what I typically go back to.

GG: What do you plan to do in the future?

TQ: Eventually the goal is grad school, but that might be a couple years down the line. I would definitely like, if the opportunity ever came, to have a full-time position at Oberlin. I think I would bring a lot of passion and the experience of being an Obie to whatever job I would have.

GG: As someone who graduated but is still involved in the Oberlin community, what is something you would have liked to hear as a student?

TQ: Despite what is happening in the administration, or even in the world at large, you make your own experience here, and you get to shape that into what you want it to be over these four years. Don’t take that for granted, because there’s a lot that you can accomplish just from your own will, which is something I wish I would have heard. That doesn’t mean that having a supportive administration isn’t needed, but there is definitely something to be said about believing in yourself and believing that you can “change the world.”

GG: And what is your favorite thing about Oberlin?

TQ: I’ve said this ever since I visited — because I visited on the Multicultural Visit Program — that it has always been the people, whether that’s the students or the people in town. Some of my favorite conversations ever have been from when I was working in the town. I always just remember how nice everyone was or how engaging the conversations were.