In his 42 years as a student or staff member at Oberlin, former associate director of the Student Union Tom Reid, OC ’80, touched the lives of thousands of students and community members through his leadership at College Lanes, the Cat in the Cream, and the Wilder Hall Student Union Office. As current students, alumni, and members of the community, we are writing to voice our continued frustration with Oberlin College’s decision to eliminate Tom’s position. In September, we sent a petition to President Ambar calling for his reinstatement. The petition collected over 1,100 signatures and nearly 500 personal testimonials in less than a week. In November, a group of nearly 40 current students, alumni, staff, faculty, and community members submitted the petition in-person to President Ambar. Hundreds of alumni also called the Office of the President and the Office of Alumni Relations to support Tom and demand his reinstatement.
Tom’s importance to Oberlin is well-documented. He became one of the most popular teachers at Oberlin through his bowling classes. Because of his effective leadership, Oberlin College Lanes hosts a junior bowling league, several adult bowling leagues, and a seniors’ league, which help to connect the College and the Oberlin community.
Tom also served as faculty advisor of Folk Fest. Highly acclaimed artists like Odetta and Lake Street Dive have performed at Oberlin College, largely thanks to Tom Reid.
It is very disturbing that President Ambar and the Dean of Students Office have continued to ignore the voices of current students and alumni on this issue. Oberlin should not isolate students and alumni, especially in difficult financial times. We are hoping that the Board of Trustees will listen to us and understand why Tom’s value far exceeds the cost of keeping his position and why this decision does not make financial sense. We all understand that Oberlin is facing financial pressures. But nobody has received the outpouring of support that Tom has since the elimination of his position. This is a unique situation.
Because the administration has completely ignored our requests to meet, current students, alumni, and community members will continue to advocate for Tom and his reinstatement through any channels possible. Please join us for a rally in support of the reinstatement of Tom Reid this upcoming Thursday, March 7 at 4:30 p.m. outside The Hotel at Oberlin during the Board of Trustees meeting. We will continue to keep advocating for Tom’s reinstatement until the administration agrees to meet with us and reconsider this decision.