College Must Uphold Academic Excellence

Moeketsi Mosola, OC '91

To the Editors:

At Oberlin, we learn and we labor. I graduated from the College of Arts and Sciences in May 1993. I was a double major in Neuroscience and Human Bio-Psychology, and I was a member of the Oberlin Yeomen soccer team from 1991– 1993 and played for the first team. I was the chairman of the Coalition against Apartheid and White Supremacy with Moshe Thomas, OC ’93, Nducu Wa Ngugi, OC ’94, and Julie Chambers, OC ’93. I was an active member of ABUSUA, a black student movement on campus. I became an editor of the ABUSUA newsletter for two years with Amanda Beth Zola-Mosola, OC ’92. I was involved in the annual Kuumba Celebrations, ably put together by our leader, Sister Athena Moore, OC ’93. While there, I introduced the Africa Week, where we would celebrate our African heritage while we teach fellow students about our history, cultures and traditions. This would culminate in a feast at the end of the week, featuring different foods from different parts of the African continent.

When I arrived at Oberlin, the Oberlin Four were on trial; Dan Kiss, OC ’92, was one of them. These were four Oberlin students who were arrested while protesting in front of then-President Starr’s house by Oberlin police. The trial lasted for three to four weeks! I was in that court the entire trial; we protested outside the Oberlin court for four weeks. Sadly, we lost the case; those students had to do community service. They have a record that continues to haunt them today. We stood by them; they were ours, true and principled Obies. And it was for the right cause. Here is the thing: At the end of that semester we all wrote our exams and passed. Because at Oberlin, we learn and we labor. We always understood that. We understood that Oberlin is a university first; it’s about learning. We understood that the rich culture of Oberlin helped us to grow and to be fully rounded students who believe in social justice and who are prepared to defend it, if need be. Which is why we needed to study and learn, so that we can labor.

At the end of last semester, a petition gathered signatures calling for academic leniency in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests. These students must fail. A rich culture of academic excellence must be protected, and these students must be taught the true values of our university. Thank you, Oberlin College, for denying this crazy request.

This is Oberlin College — we are fearless — for we learn and we labor.

N.B. For me as a South African, Oberlin is important because the first president of the African National Congress, Reverend John Langalibalele Dube, attended Oberlin College Graduate School of Theology.

Oberlin College was the first university to accept women in higher education.

Oberlin College was one of the underground stations for slaves who were seeking freedom from the Deep South of the U.S.

–Moeketsi Mosola, OC ’91