Staff, Faculty of Color Stand with Campus Protesters

An open letter from staff and faculty of color at Oberlin College and Conservatory:

To the students at Missouri State, Yale, Ithaca, Claremont McKenna and elsewhere: As you have raised your voices against racism to demand better, we have been overcome by heartbreak and inspiration. It is heartbreaking that in 2015 Black and other students of color still encounter racial insensitivity, invalidation, intimidation and even violence on the campuses that promised to be enlightened and welcoming places of learning for them. Yet it has been inspiring and humbling to witness your courage and unity in confronting not just your campus cultures but also your most powerful officers to demand accountability for all students. It is outrageous that it took putting yourselves and your bodies on the line to compel the changes that we’re now seeing. We extend our respect and solidarity, as you are not just working to improve conditions on your campuses, but to create a better world.

To our Black and other students of color at Oberlin: These events have resonated profoundly for us, as surely they have for you. For many of us, supporting, advocating for and counseling students struggling to find their place in what can be a wearisome racial environment has been a continuous theme in our employment here. We care deeply about your education and success, yet recognize that the culture of elite colleges like Oberlin — what the sociologist Eduardo Bonilla-Silva has called “historically white colleges and universities” — can demand much more of you than it does of itself to be truly diverse and inclusive. Having once been students ourselves, it is disheartening and painful to realize that, in many areas, so little has changed. That said, we have also been continually inspired by your resolve to speak up, support one another and work toward a vision of a more just and equitable community. We celebrate your activism as a continuation of longtime struggles.

To the larger Oberlin community: We are proud of our institution’s history and glad that “diversity” is one of our campus’ core values, but let’s not be complacent. Diversity as a goal is empty if it is not informed by an acknowledgment of racism and commitment to ending it, by all of us. Otherwise, recruiting students, staff and faculty of color is meaningless beyond having colorful brochures and web sites. When someone vandalizes the campus with racist graffiti, let’s not simply tell the targeted students to ignore it but take seriously the fear and pain that such incidents produce, understand their cumulative effect when they occur repeatedly and condemn the actions as attacks on the entire community. When students approach us with their experiences of racial alienation, instead of dismissing their stories, let’s consider what actions we can take to change the culture. And let’s make sure that disrespect and invalidation do not remain routine experiences of our minority staff and faculty and acknowledge that the “invisible labor” they perform is itself a symptom of systemic racism.

While the current unrest on campuses arises from ongoing challenges in higher education to promote and achieve diversity, it is also informed by recent developments that have lain bare the persistence of racial inequality in America. We are in a moment where we can neither afford to deny our failures to achieve equality and justice nor rest in our pursuit of these goals.

Thomas Abeyta, Senior Associate Director of Admissions

Zeinab Abul-Magd, Associate Professor of History

Ehrai Adams, Assistant Director Office of Wellness

Dio Aldridge, Africana Community Coordinator, MRC

Yveline Alexis, Assistant Professor of Africana Studies

Kazim Ali, Associate Professor and Director of Creative Writing

Tanya Aydelott, Assistant Director of Admissions

Rick Baldoz, Associate Professor of Sociology

Adrian Bautista, Associate Dean of Campus Life

Marsha Lynn Bragg, Assistant Director of Web Communications, Office of Communications

Lisa Ann Brlas, Administrative Assistant, Office of Financial Aid

Pam Brooks, Jane and Eric Nord Associate Professor and Chair of Africana Studies

Naomi Campa, Postdoctoral Fellow and Visiting Assistant Professor of Classics

Ana Cara, Chair and Professor of Hispanic Studies

Howard Chambers, Facilities Supervisor, Service Building

Bonnie Cheng, Associate Professor of Art History and EAS

Ron Cheung, Associate Professor of Economics

Johnny Coleman, Professor of Africana Studies and Studio Art

Ana Maria Diaz Burgos, Assistant Professor of Hispanic Studies

Peter Dominguez, Professor of Jazz Studies and Double Bass

Isabella Dueñas, Program Houses Area Coordinator, Res Ed

Debra El-Amin, Clinical Director and Staff Psychologist, Counseling Center

Eric S. Estes, Vice President and Dean of Students

Andres Fernandez, Assistant Dean of Studies

Jessica Ford, Major Gifts Officer

Meredith Gadsby, Associate Professor of Africana Studies

Meena Ghaziasgar, Director of Alumni Relations

Lisa Godbolt, Client Support Analyst, CIT

Isadora Grevan de Carvalho, Visiting Assistant Professor of Portuguese and Brazilian Studies

Brenda Grier-Miller, Associate Dean of Academic Services

Sergio Gutiérrez Negrón, Visiting Assistant Professor of Hispanic Studies

Fredara M. Hadley, Visiting Assistant Professor of Musicology

Dana Hamdan, Assistant Director for Student Engagement, Career Center

Tabassum Haque, Special Projects Researcher, Office of the Dean of Arts & Sciences

Jesse Hernandez, Associate Director of Admissions

Roberto Hoyle, Visiting Instructor of Computer Science

Jason Hudson, Director of Wellness and Student Athlete Services

Yumi Ijiri, Professor of Physics

Kimberly Jackson Davidson, Associate Dean of Students

Caroline Jackson Smith, Professor of Theater and Africana Studies

Christopher Jenkins, Assistant Dean for Academic Support, Conservatory of Music

Gillian Johns, Associate Professor of English and Africana Studies

Eboni A. Johnson, OC ’97, Reference & Instruction Librarian, OC Libraries

S. Marina Jones, Faculty-in-Residence and Lecturer of German

David Kamitsuka, Associate Dean of the Curriculum, Arts & Sciences, and Professor of Religion

Joy Karega, Assistant Professor of Rhetoric and Composition

Shozo Kawaguchi, Associate Dean of Community Life

Jiyul Kim, Visiting Assistant Professor of History

Gunnar Kwakye, Assistant Professor of Neuroscience

Leslie Kwakye, Assistant Professor of Neuroscience

Shelley Lee, Associate Professor of History and Comparative American Studies

Rosalinda H. Linares, Reference & Instruction Librarian, OC Libraries

Sean Mair OC ’09, Concert Sound, Student Union

Shane McCrae, Assistant Professor of Creative Writing

Rostom Mesli, Postdoctoral Fellow in Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies

Ann Mickel, Administrative Assistant, Office of the Registrar

A.G. Miller, Associate Professor of Religion

Pablo Mitchell, Associate Dean of Faculty Development, Arts & Sciences, and Professor of History

Jan Miyake, OC ’96, Associate Professor of Music Theory

Stephanie Mora Hernández, OC ’13, Returned Fellow, Oberlin Shansi

Pipo Nguyen-duy, Professor of Studio Art

Tamika Nunley, Assistant Professor of History

Afia Ofori-Mensa, Director, Office of Undergraduate Research and Visiting Assistant Professor of Comparative American Studies and Africana Studies

Willis Okech Oyugi, Visiting Assistant Professor of History

Vannessa Pelaez-Barrios, Lecturer Hispanic Studies and Director of La Casa Hispánica

Joo Won Park, Visiting Assistant Professor of TIMARA

Swapna Pathak, Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies

Andrew Pau, Assistant Professor of Music Theory

RaShelle Peck, Director and Faculty-in-Residence, Afrikan Heritage House

Gina Perez, Professor of Comparative American Studies

Charles Peterson, Associate Professor of Africana Studies

Anna Phung, LGBTQ Community Coordinator, MRC

Baron Pineda, Associate Professor of Anthropology

Trecia Pottinger, Bonner Scholars Program Director, BCSL

Alysia Ramos, Assistant Professor of Dance

Julio Reyes, Latinx Community Coordinator, MRC

Donna Russell, Assistant Director, Career Center

Chie Sakakibara, Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies

Adenike Sharpley, Africana Studies

Rumi Shammin, Associate Professor and Director of Environmental Studies

Brittnei Sherrod, OC’11, Assistant Director of Admissions

Darrick Strange, OC ’73, Database Administrator, CIT

Harrod Suarez, Assistant Professor of English and Comparative American Studies

Kristen Surla, Asian Pacific Islander Diaspora Community Coordinator, MRC

Danielle Terrazas Williams, Assistant Professor of History

Carissa Thompson, Campus Dining Manager, Lord Saunder Dining Hall

Marcelo Vinces, Director, Center for Learning, Education and Research in the Sciences

Clovis White, Associate Professor of Sociology and Africana Studies

Marco Wilkinson, Managing Editor, Oberlin College Press

Robin Wong, OC ’15, Student Engagement Fellow, Career Center

Nanette Yannuzzi-Macias, Professor of Art