Alumni Leaders Support Students’ Call for Diversity, Sensitivity

Lorri Olan, Chuck Spitulnik, and Andy Rowan

To our friends in the Oberlin community:

We are the three officers of the Oberlin Alumni Association and are proud to be part of Oberlin’s long and proud tradition of standing upright and facing issues and challenges related to social justice, racial equality and inclusiveness, broadly defined. We are proud of the role Oberlin has played in defining the country’s consciousness about these issues, from the early days of admitting African-American students and women on a fully equal basis to more recent struggles over wars, civil rights, gender recognition and a variety of important social questions.

Oberlinians have always, as First Lady Michelle Obama admonished the Class of 2015 to do, run to the conflict, not away from it, to help define an outcome on any issue of moment that moves a matter forward on a thoughtful and just path.

Now, in this time of increasing recognition of the continuing battle over safety and racial equality on campuses across the county, we must stand upright again. We are reaching out to you to say that we hear the concerns especially of Black students, faculty and staff, and we share them. Though we are not on campus, we communicate regularly with both student leaders and campus faculty and administrators, and we are aware of the issues and challenges you face, and we stand with you. Like you, we call upon the entire community — students, administrators, faculty and alumni — to join together not only to understand more deeply the roots of the festering problem of racism and to work together — proactively and aggressively — on the search for solutions.

While we cannot be part of the daily work on Oberlin’s campus, we can be — and want to be — part of the overall way forward. To those who face the assault of racism and its ramifications, reach out to us and ask us to help. To those who are taking action — reach out to us and ask us to help. Many among the alumni community have worked tirelessly to address racial injustice and have expertise which we offer as we move forward.

But above all, we want you to know that we stand with you in calling upon the entire community to come together and find a way for Oberlin to stand out in this moment as a leader in higher education as a place that values social justice. We must find a way for our entire community to ensure that our home is one where all of our members are safe, valued, respected and heard. The Alumni Leadership Council will be meeting on campus this weekend, and we look forward to the opportunity to talk with students, especially Black students and students of color, and to look for solutions together to the challenges facing us in this important moment.

Lorri Olan, OC ’87

Chuck Spitulnik, OC ’73

Andy Rowan, OC ’83