Established 1874.

The Oberlin Review

Established 1874.

The Oberlin Review

Established 1874.

The Oberlin Review

Alumni Statement to the President

Photo courtesy of Oberlin Review Archives
Audre Lorde.

Dear President Carmen Twillie Ambar and Board of Trustees, 

Audre Lorde advised the Oberlin College 1989 graduating class in her commencement address: “We are citizens of the most powerful country on earth — we are also citizens of a country that stands upon the wrong side of every liberation struggle on earth. Feel what that means. It is a reality that haunts each of our lives and that can help inform our dreams. It’s not about altruism, it’s about self-preservation. Survival.” 

Over 30 years later, the United States continues to be on the wrong side. Lorde’s words reverberate as we witness Israel’s latest wave of genocidal violence in its decades-long war on Palestine. This aggression has led to a humanitarian catastrophe of immeasurable proportion. Israel’s collective punishment of the Palestinian people has blocked food, water, electricity, and fuel from entering the besieged territory for more than four months now. The U.S.-backed Israeli military regime has enacted an incessant bombing campaign that has decimated Palestinian civic infrastructure, refugee camps, schools, hospitals, journalists, and civilians. As of mid-December, 1.9 million Gazans were internally displaced by Israel’s bombs. As we write this letter, Israel has murdered more than 28,000 Palestinians in Gaza. 

There are no universities left in Gaza. Israel has bombed them all. Where is your outrage? 

We are appalled by the inaction of the Oberlin College administration. The silence from those that lead our alma mater, and the school’s continued investments in companies actively profiting off this violence, make the College complicit in Israel’s violations of human rights and international law. This racist and colonial project of ethnic cleansing is being funded and championed by the United States and corporate interests. 

Oberlin College prides itself on a purported commitment to social justice. Alumni are continually reminded that we attended one of the first predominantly white male colleges to accept Black students and women. Although this rhetoric successfully attracts students dedicated to critical engagement and liberation struggles, our school continues to invest in and profit from the white supremacist American war machine. Oberlin College was, shamefully, one of the last U.S. academic institutions to divest from South African apartheid, despite many years of student organizing, pressure, and protest.

Oberlin students have been organizing for a liberated Palestine for over two decades. In 2004 and 2013, the student body passed divestment resolutions in solidarity with Palestine. As alumni, we are committed to continuing this work past our graduations until Palestine is free. 

We, the undersigned alumni, demand that Oberlin College: 

Disclose and divest completely from Israel and companies profiting from genocide, apartheid, and human rights violations in Palestine as identified by the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions Movement. 

Take concrete steps to protect Oberlin College students, faculty, and staff organizing in solidarity with Palestinian freedom and liberation. Condemn all anti-Palestinian, anti-Muslim, and anti-Jewish hostility on campus. 

Publicly call for an immediate and permanent ceasefire in Gaza.

Issue a statement condemning the ongoing Israeli occupation and siege against the Palestinian people and their land. Demand an end to U.S. military aid and unconditional support of Israel. Call for the release of all political prisoners. 

1,045 Alumni as of Feb. 13, 2024.

Link to the list of full signatures:

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