Incoming Students Voice Support for UAW

Dear President Ambar, 

Oberlin Admissions chose an incoming class that cares about the world, and many of us committed out of a belief that the College felt the same way. Now, we’re not so sure. When we learned of Oberlin’s plans to lay off 108 unionized workers and replace them with an outside contractor, we were forced to question whether or not Oberlin is truly the school that was marketed to us. Oberlin claims the motto, “Learning and Labor,” but does it practice it? We have yet to be on campus, but we know that both learning and labor are equal parts of the ecosystem that makes Oberlin such a special community. We know that one cannot exist without the other. 

“Think one person can change the world?” was repeated to us countless times throughout the process of applying to Oberlin. Oberlin has repeatedly promised us that it cultivates a community where we can learn to make change, and yet now we see the College actively dismantling the organized labor that makes this school run. We are only as good as the communities and spaces that shape us. So how can we learn to fight for justice at a school which, by devaluing and dismissing the members of the United Automobile Workers union that are its foundation, is only modeling injustice? We fear arriving on campus in the fall only to find that the community that drew so many of us to Oberlin has been destroyed by union-busting. 

We have grown up watching the slow dismantling of unions, and have felt the devastating effects of this firsthand. We have seen our families and communities affected by rising inequality, and have worked jobs where the absence of organized labor is too keenly felt. Many of us are only able to attend Oberlin because of our families’ union-won wages and benefits. If Oberlin continues forward with union-busting, it will be practicing the same anti-worker politics that are eviscerating families and communities across the nation and which harm its long-term survival. 

A recent advertising letter from the College read, “Oberlin is the right place for you … if you think complacency is not an option.” When it comes to the livelihoods of dining and custodial workers, we refuse to look the other way. We find comfort and pride in the powerful organizing work by current students and are excited to learn and organize alongside them. We believe that being a member of the Oberlin community means standing up for justice, and we call on the administration to match its community’s values. We’ll see you in the fall — get ready for a fight. 


Sky Milstein ’24 

Kimberly Love ’25 

Despina Rizopoulos ’24 

Ellis Liebeskind-Blaufarb ’24 

Saphira Klearman ’24 

WD Williams-Derry ’24 

Olivia Wohlgemuth ’24 

Eli Sadow-Hasenberg ’24 

Martina Taylor ’24 

Maya Irizarry Lambright ’24 

Anna Sophia Abundis ’24 

Leah Coco ’24 

Zoey Birdsong ’24 

Andrea Orozco ’24 

Penina Biddle-Gottesman ’24 

Hannah Isenberg ‘24 

Peter Fray-Witzer ’24 

Nessie Slyker ’24 

Daphne May ’24 

Lily Crikelair ’24 

Sydney Rosensaft ’24 

Caroline Smith ’24 

Roxana Reisch ’24 

Jonah Covell ’24 

Becca Schiff ’24 

Willa Frierson ’24 

Joshua Bowen ’24 

Owen Potter ’24 

Ros Kish-Levine ’24 

Lanie Cheatham ’24 

Anna Holshouser-Belden ’24 

Alex Thompson ’24