Oberlin College should pay the Gibson family a lot more than the almost $25 million that the very fine Lorain County jury awarded if it is a fact that former President Marvin Krislov and Vice President and Dean of Students Meredith Raimondo aided and abetted the student demonstrators to engage in activities intended to bankrupt the Gibson family because the Gibsons are racist.
Oberlin College should appeal this verdict. Replays in sports give officials a chance to make sure they made the right call. When the action is shown 10 or 20 times slower from every possible angle, sometimes the original decision is left to stand, and sometimes it is reversed. No matter the final call, some remain unhappy, while others are pleased. But a slow-motion review brings a measure of relief to all.
After all the appeals have been exhausted and all the charges are left standing against the College, the College will have to pay even if many may still find it hard to believe those facts.
Any appeal should be simple, straightforward, and brief. For example:
1. Raimondo was on the scene to ensure the safety of the students, to make sure that the deaths that occurred at the Kent State University Vietnam War protests in 1970 were not repeated in a similar tragedy in Oberlin. That objective was achieved.
2. Outsiders in support of Gibson’s could have shown up with guns.
3. The judge ruled that the students, like all Americans, have a right to free speech; Raimondo, even if she had wanted to, had no right at all to limit their speech.
4. Krislov did not behave in any way that damaged Gibson’s reputation. Any student, professor, administrator, etc. who did should be held accountable as an individual, not the College collectively.
5. The College is not Goliath; all the money it has must go to help all students — and Black students in particular — cover tuition, to pay salaries to the janitors, food service workers, professors, etc.
6. Any funds paid to Gibson’s by the Board of Trustees are very likely to hurt students, faculty, secretaries, and the like because it subtracts from funds going to these groups.
7. There has never been any meeting, plan, etc. by President Krislov, administrators, or faculty, etc. to cast aspersion on any business, let alone one in Oberlin, never mind what a few young students might say.
8. The College’s image or reputation to attract students may have been irreparably damaged by the charges that it tried to hurt Gibson’s.
9. The first jury’s verdict stains much of Oberlin College’s storied history and legend, as well as that of those who have worked and currently work at the College.
The appeals process may not change that decision, but history needs to record that the College fought valiantly to get the facts right, to have a fresh set of eyes and minds look at the slow-motion replay as fairly as possible. In the end, the College will pay Gibson’s what the appeal facts require.