Oberlin-Wide Skillshare System Would Facilitate Connection

In light of recent events in this community, we would like to encourage courageously creative brainstorming in the continuous effort to foster a more cohesive Oberlin. The ongoing forums at Afrikan Heritage House and the community conversations facilitated by One Town, especially, have showcased a willingness to explore new avenues of social change. Following this example, we must, as members of the Oberlin community, acknowledge that divisions within this community have existed for over a century, and if we’re serious about addressing them, we’ll need new ideas.

Here’s an idea: Why don’t we create an Oberlin-wide skillshare system whereby anyone in the College and greater community could teach specific skills to interested peers? This would allow everyone to benefit from the wealth of knowledge and experience that resides in this place while simultaneously facilitating connection between different groups of people. There could be seasonal “skill fairs” where people sign up to teach and learn from their peers. Oberlin College could fund a credit system that would allow participants to earn credit towards local goods and services, and participation by high school or College students could earn them an exemption from specific assignments that their teachers design to be supplemental.

Such a system would show that the entire Oberlin community is an integral component of our education at Oberlin College, while underscoring the value of education outside of the classroom. It would also be a small step toward a more cohesive community.

It’s an unconventional idea, but that’s what we’ll need in trying to dissolve the conventions that facilitate oppression within this community. It’s an imperfect idea, but right now we must have the courage to be imperfect as we work to make Oberlin a safer space for everyone.

Authors’ note: As members of majority groups, we acknowledge both that we should not be the loudest voices in this conversation and that neither should we feel absolved of our responsibility to use our voices in the ongoing effort to change the culture of oppression within our community.

–Daniel Lobb
College senior

–Peter Saudek
College sophomore

–Essie Weiss-Tisman
College sophomore