A Barbie-Free Response to Professor Mehta

The Editorial Board

First, the Editorial Board would like to thank Dr. Mehta for his well researched and thorough critique. Numbers speak louder than accusations, and his breakdown of the genre distribution of Review articles in the past volume was both accurate and eye-opening to the Editorial Board.

Second: Dr. Mehta, you are correct in your underlying point. The recent letters to the editor we have received regarding the presence or lack of science coverage in our paper demonstrates a strong demand at Oberlin campus for such articles. That many of the authors of these letters are both science majors and, clearly, strong writers also show that there is no dearth of passionate, coherent science writers at Oberlin.

There are, unfortunately, holes in the Review’s coverage that result in certain areas of campus receiving less attention than they deserve. We have not ignored this problem — in the past year, we have taken steps to improve our ability to cover events relevant to town residents, Conservatory students and people of color, all of whom have been underrepresented in the Review’s coverage in previous years. We will never claim to be perfect, but we at the Review will claim that we will do all we can to cover the many different communities, people and events that define life at Oberlin College and town.

We believe the problem Mehta addresses is less centered on the sciences and math than on academia as a whole. We cover senior projects in studio art, dance, film, theater, music and creative writing, but we neglect not only the sciences but also senior theses in English, Politics, and other departments throughout the social sciences and humanities.

It is true that student performances in arts-related departments can often be more accessible to the general public than academic lectures in any field, resulting in more coverage. However, we also agree with Mehta’s point that we as a paper are partly to blame for the student disregard for academic events and, in turn, the disregard for math and science. Presentations in math and the sciences are advertised primarily within those departments (whereas Senior Studio shows, for example, are often more visibly postered all around campus) and because we fail to cover such events, they continue to be poorly attended by students not majoring in the sciences.

The problem at the root of Mehta’s critique is the fact that there are very few science and math majors employed by the Review. It’s a vicious cycle: Science writers don’t come to the Review because we ignore content that caters to them, and we lack content that caters to them because they don’t contact us.

So this is an official call to interested writers of the sciences: We want you! Support your fellow students, write nuanced critiques and show us what we’ve been missing. The Review is meant to be everyone’s paper. We welcome any individuals interested in writing science and/or math pieces to email our managing editor at [email protected] for information on how to get involved with the Review (we’re looking at you, Mr. Bixby!). We also welcome any tips that can lead us to stories in the science/math realm that we may not have known about otherwise.

One point we will not concede: The Editorial Board supports Shauna Siggelkow’s joke in the This Week section that ignited this debate. This Week is meant to be tongue-in-cheek, and we agree with College sophomore Tommy La Voy in his letter to the editor last issue that every organization — the Review and the Chemistry department included — should be able to laugh at itself.

We at the Review will continue to push forward, welcome valid criticism and strive to cover everything newsworthy in Oberlin within the pages of our weekly publication.