Established 1874.

Special Perspectives

Of the responses, a few students’ perspectives stood out, some of which identify as Black, having mental health issues, and/or low income. All of which consider at least one aspect of this plan to be rated 5 on a hardship scale of 1-5. It is especially important to elevate these voices; even when a situation is difficult for everyone, it is most difficult for people who are part of marginalized groups who struggled especially in the wake of the pandemic.

 

Student A

This is a white student who self identifies with mental health issues, and reported that they have limited access to mental health services. Being off campus made them feel more depressed/anxious, more isolated, and more bored. They characterize not having summer break as a level 5 hardship. Their petition to enroll in the fall semester was denied.

 

I think the way that third-years were simply told we were going to be the ones not returning in the fall was deeply inconsiderate to us as people who have been at Oberlin longer than anyone else who returned (save for the senior class). Especially because Conservatory third-years were allowed to return (without any appeals process), I felt extremely alienated and as though the College does not value me as a student or a member of campus life. I was given many promises “not to worry” during the months of May through August, but ultimately none of the faculty or staff who made those promises reached out or offered any help this past semester.

I largely did not keep in contact with anyone who was back in Oberlin. Since they were all together and at school, I was often made to feel as if I was disrupting their time at college by trying to be with them virtually. I really only consistently spoke to other third-years who were also home.

I felt very alone and isolated from all the people who would be going back, and I felt confused and anxious about what I was supposed to do with myself without school. I was greatly concerned for my mental health, and for how I would be able to get back into my routine at school in the spring when it has now been disrupted for 11 months.

 

Student B

This is a Black student who self identifies with mental health issues, and reported that they have limited access to mental health services. Being off campus made them feel more depressed/anxious, more isolated, and more bored. They characterize not having summer break and the January delay as a level 5 hardship, and staying home in the fall as a level 4 hardship. 

 

“I was so mad . I get they want us to be on campus and I really want to be on campus but it’s becoming more and more clear that all Oberlin wants is our housing money.”

I think the Junior Practicum was pretty good. In theory, it was perfect, but they trapped/forced a lot of us into it because it was the only way to earn Winter Term credit this year. The program was cool and they had some really interesting people come and talk to us but not all of them were as good as others. One thing that was good is that there was time provided to us to give our feedback and Dana really seemed to care. 

I was so confused and angry because 1) I wanted to be on campus and get to see my friends after a hard few months, but I was so angry that I wasn’t allowed to take classes. I got trapped into doing the Junior Practicum which was cool, but [the Junior Practicum] trapped me into staying at Oberlin because I basically took a semester off. Now I can’t do a summer internship program that in the end would be more beneficial to me because I have to do the summer semester.

In theory, it was a really good idea. I think if they would’ve let [third-years] take classes online this fall it would’ve been better. I think it shows how Oberlin only cares about our money and did it to stop [third-years] and [second-years] from being able to transfer and secure our housing checks.

Student C

This is a low-income Black student who self identifies with mental health issues, and reported that they have limited access to mental health services. Being off campus made them feel more bored. They characterize not having summer break and the January delay as a level 5 hardship, and staying home in the fall as a level 4 hardship. 

 

I felt that Oberlin was setting us up for failure. I would’ve much rather taken the fall semester remotely than do this. Three semesters in 11 months?? Honestly, at this point, it’s getting disrespectful.”

“The three-semester plan lacks thoughtfulness and compassion. I mean, c’mon now, would it have been difficult to have two semesters, and in the fall, the [third-years] take remote classes, and in the spring, the [second-years] take remote classes?? Yes, people prefer in-person learning but Oberlin students are not babies. We understand the present circumstances and know that remote is safer. And this plan could’ve been better IF Oberlin asked its students what WE wanted to do. Instead, though, they took this paternalistic approach and told us what was best for us. It’s ridiculous. Oberlin College makes me want to transfer.”

“It shows that Oberlin College doesn’t care about serving its students. They really only care about serving themselves. Because no one can look at me and tell me that ‘three semesters in 11 months is what’s best for y’all.’”

It is worth mentioning as well that this survey was distributed while third-years were off campus, hence people who were put in harder situations by the trimester plan likely did not have access to this survey. There is evidence that Black students and people of color, students with mental health issues and/or limited access to mental health services, and low-income students among other populations reported generally higher levels of hardship in response to different aspects of this plan.

 

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