Established 1874.

The Oberlin Review

Established 1874.

The Oberlin Review

Established 1874.

The Oberlin Review

Advancement Office Holds Giving Day Amid SFP Boycott

All In For Oberlin, Oberlin’s yearly fundraising campaign, occurred April 10. Students for a Free Palestine ran a counter-campaign, encouraging potential donors to withhold donations until Oberlin pledges to divest from Israel. Despite the SFP campaign, members of the Office of Advancement reported a successful fundraising day. 

“The response was phenomenal, with the campaign resulting in a record-breaking amount raised,” said Director of Annual Giving Ayla Sweeney, in a written statement to the Review.

Outreach for All In For Oberlin mainly targeted alumni, parents of current students, faculty, and staff. Methods of outreach included social media material and email blasts. 

On the donation page, donors could choose an area of interest to have their funds directed toward, including specific locations like the Libraries or the Allen Memorial Art Museum, branches of the college such as the Athletics department and the Conservatory, or broader funds such as a scholarship pool or the Oberlin Parents Fund, which provides resources to current students. 

Sweeney wrote that All In For Oberlin is designed to feed off a spirit of alumni engagement while reaffirming community ties.

“All In For Oberlin serves as a unique opportunity for alumni to reconnect with their classmates and alma mater in a meaningful way,” she wrote. “Through their contributions and involvement, they not only demonstrate their continued commitment to Oberlin’s mission but also strengthen ties within the Oberlin community.”

Meanwhile, Oberlin student organizations in support of Palestine organized to encourage alumni, parents, and other friends of the college to withhold donations this year. Students for a Free Palestine put together an email template alumni withholding donations could send to the Board of Trustees.

“Oberlin’s financial complicity in the ongoing genocide is inexcusable. It goes against the values of social justice and global responsibility that Oberlin claims to align itself with,” reads the template. “These are the values that brought us to Oberlin, and they are the same values that necessitate us to withdraw our support for our alma mater until we see a recommitment to Oberlin’s fight for justice.”

While numbers on the amount of emails sent to the board or donations withheld are not available, SFP noted that their social media posts about the boycott were widely viewed, liked, and shared among students and alumni.

Olivia Wohlgemuth, College third-year and organizer for Students for a Free Palestine and Jews for a Free Palestine, an unofficial Jewish student group that organizes anti-Zionist Jewish holiday events, said that SFP wanted to remind the board — and the current Oberlin community — that the fight for Oberlin to divest goes back decades. 

“There’s this narrative that we’re trying to combat that the students on the Oberlin campus are the only ones who care about divestment from Israel… and there’s this question of ‘What do alumni think? What do parents think? What do donors think?’” Wohlgemuth said. “I think with this campaign we hoped to be able to hear from other stakeholders in the Oberlin community… and stakeholders in the Oberlin community who are better financially positioned to give money to Oberlin.”

Sweeney and Wohlgemuth used similar language describing the meaning of donating to the school.

“Each donation is not just a financial contribution but a vote of confidence in the transformative power of an Oberlin education,” Sweeney wrote. 

Meanwhile, Wohlgemuth says that SFP will continue to communicate with alumni in favor of divestment.

“So many of the alumni that I talk to and work with are people who think so highly of Oberlin, who speak so lovingly of their experience here and about all of the opportunities… they were offered at Oberlin,”  Wohlgemuth said. “They all have great relationships with Oberlin — and they’d love to be able to financially support students having the same opportunities they did, … but they cannot in good faith give their material support to an institution that feels so ideologically divided from them on this issue.”

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