The Oberlin Review

Iowa Caucuses Reveal Flaws in Archaic Primary Election System

Sean Para, Columnist

February 5, 2016

Filed under Columns, OPINIONS

This week’s Iowa caucus began the 2016 presidential campaign in earnest. The media has reported on the various candidates’ every move and turn of phrase. The results promise a tough campaign for the candidacy of both parties. Hillary Clinton beat Bernie Sanders by 0.3 percent of the vote, meaning that the two politicians will likely have a state-by-state duel in the coming months, a far cry from the bloodless nomination that former Secretary of State Clinton expected to obtain when she announced her candidacy. The Republican field remains scattered, with Ted Cruz narrowly winning the caucus with 27.6 percent of the vote, followed by Donald Trump and Marco Rubio with 24.3 percent and 23.1 percent of the vote respec...

Self-Insight Can Be Gained from Solitude

CJ Blair, Columnist

February 5, 2016

Filed under Columns, OPINIONS

Washington, D.C., is a metropolis of history, politics and tourism that has become one of the most popular residences of Oberlin alumni. Yet despite the draw that D.C. exerts on Obies, I felt out of place when I spent my Winter Term there studying invasive plants. While I left my internship with a wealth of knowledge about kudzu and honeysuckle, I found that I learned just as much outside the office on the weekends, when I explored the city on my own. It was in D.C.’s busy streets and museums that I began to understand how meaningful solitude can be in crowded places and decided that everyone should have the opportunity to try it. Since I would only be in the city for a month, I made a point to spend most of my da...

Broken ExCo System Disrespectful to Students

Cyrus Eosphoros, Columnist

February 5, 2016

Filed under Columns, OPINIONS

Columnist Note: Some ExCos are taught by community members or College staff and faculty, but the vast majority are both attended and taught by students. I’m addressing the effect that the current ExCo system has on students. I’m also largely writing from the point of view of someone who’s been a student but not a teacher. Oberlin College officially admits that the ExCo system works to fulfill gaps in the College’s curriculum. “ExCo supplements the regular curriculum by offering classes not typically available in traditional courses of study,” the College website says — the page on ExCos, by the way, is listed under “Student Life: Student Organizations,” not academics — but those classes include l...

U.S. Must Accept China’s Economic Rise

Sean Para, Columnist

December 11, 2015

Filed under Columns, OPINIONS

The U.S. is no longer in a league of its own among the world powers. The end of the Cold War ushered in a prolonged period of undisputed American hegemony, but the emergence of China as the second-largest economy in the world and an increasingly crucial hub of the global economy — coupled with China’s enormous investment in its military — signals the end of uncontested American dominance. The International Monetary Fund recently made the renminbi, the currency of the People’s Republic of China, an official world reserve currency alongside the American dollar, the Euro, the British pound and the Japanese yen. The emergence of new great powers is a phenomenon that can be seen throughout history. The U.S. should and mu...

Naked Run Helps Students Face Insecurities

CJ Blair, Columnist

December 11, 2015

Filed under Columns, OPINIONS

If there’s a better way to relieve the stress of finals than streaking through a library, I have yet to find it. Of all the strange traditions at Oberlin, the Naked Run is not only one of the most outrageous but also one of the most polarizing. This isn’t surprising, but those who say it’s too shocking or ridiculous to try may not realize its emotional benefits. The Naked Run is a rare opportunity for Oberlin students to confront insecurities about their body image, and in doing so, reject thoughts that prevent them from feeling confident. When I talk about the Naked Run, I’m speaking from experience. Every semester, at 10 p.m. on a night during reading period, over 100 Oberlin students crowd into the second...

Free Speech Still in Student Body’s Best Interest

Aaron Pressman, Columnist

December 11, 2015

Filed under Columns, OPINIONS

On Dec. 4, College junior Jasper Clarkberg wrote a response titled “Non-Black Allies Must Engage With Protest Critics” to my Nov. 6 column in the Review, “Discouraging Dissent Stifles Intellectual Growth.” I appreciate Clarkberg taking the time to respond to such an important issue and would like to rebut some of his concerns. First off, Clarkberg makes the argument that “nobody is punishing dissenters legally, financially or academically,” and that “Obies are not responsible for actively engaging with minority opinions.” While I concede that the administration does not usually punish dissenters for protected speech, my argument has nothing to do with legal protections and everything to do with effe...

Peace for Syria Feasible with Rebel, State Solution

Sean Para, Columnist

December 4, 2015

Filed under Columns, OPINIONS

The maelstrom that has engulfed Syria continues to reach new heights of violence. Recent attacks by the Islamic State in Paris, Beirut and the Sinai Peninsula have added a sense of urgency in bringing a resolution to the conflict. The refugee crisis also stems partly from the Syrian Civil War — yet another global problem born out of what originated as an internal conflict. Syria is so fractured that many doubt whether it will survive as a unified state. The only way to break this cycle of violence and preserve some semblance of Syrian territorial integrity is a negotiated solution that allows for both rebel groups and the Assad regime to exist within a common federal political space. Such an agreement would need th...

Dismissing Belief in Afterlife Makes Life More Meaningful

CJ Blair, Columnist

December 4, 2015

Filed under Columns, OPINIONS

I’m afraid of death, and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one. This fear, coupled with a little nudge from living in Kentucky, was enough to convince me to believe in God when I was a child. But as I continued going to church, I started to look critically at Christianity and question why I believed in God. I appreciated a system that encouraged good behavior, but I was bothered by the notion of heaven. Even if I wasn’t consciously aware of it, the idea that going to heaven was the main reason for living clouded my appreciation of the world. It wasn’t until I embraced Humanism, with its suggestion of the spiritual power of life itself, that I found a way to appreciate life more than ever before. Turning aw...

Content Warnings Fail to Reflect Life After Oberlin

Aaron Pressman, Columnist

November 20, 2015

Filed under Columns, OPINIONS

I have no objection to professors warning students that some information discussed in their classes may be emotionally challenging or difficult to hear. In fact, it is part of a professor’s job is to outline the content of a course and distribute that information to students before the add/drop deadline so students can make an informed decision as to whether or not they want to take the class. If a student wishes to drop a course during the add/ drop window, they have the right to do so for whatever reason, including feeling that material covered in class may be emotionally distressing. Students also have the right to speak to professors about the content of classes, and I encourage professors to be very understan...

Paris Attacks Target Multiculturalism

Josh Ashkinaze, Columnist

November 20, 2015

Filed under Columns, OPINIONS

The Paris terrorist attacks were shocking, but one particular detail was especially surprising: One of the suicide bombers who attacked the Stade de France was a Syrian refugee, according to his passport. The document lay next to him, suspiciously intact, despite the condition of his body. This led some French officials to suspect that the passport was planted by a member of the operation. Furthermore, it’s unlikely that a jihadi carrying out the last action of his life would simply forget that he had his passport on him. If the passport that identified the terrorist as a Syrian refugee was deliberately planted, which it seems to have been, this gives insight into the goal of the act: to shake France’s values of d...

Classroom Censorship Can Improve Learning Environment

Cyrus Eosphoros, Online Editor

November 13, 2015

Filed under Columns, OPINIONS

Content Warning: This article contains discussion of common triggers (rape, violence, abuse), as well as suicide and hostility to consent. I am sick of appearing reasonable to people who believe common courtesy is a civil rights violation. When we talk about social change, conservative positions have a basic advantage: Their wishes have already been granted. Progressives approach conservatives with preemptive appeasement: “No, look, I don’t believe the stereotypical things that progressives are supposed to believe. I’m perfectly normal; I want just this little thing. Won’t you let me have it?” The marriage-equality version of the “See, we’re reasonable” tactic was “We’re not threatening your...

Organic Chemistry’s Reputation Built on Unnecessary Anxiety

CJ Blair, Columnist

November 13, 2015

Filed under Columns, OPINIONS

If Principles of Organic Chemistry were assigned a character based on its reputation, it would be the shark from Jaws swimming in a pool of undergraduate minnows. I can’t think of another class so notorious that its reputation extends beyond the people who take it. Every non-science major at Oberlin can tell you about friends in organic chemistry who have panicked over failed exams, botched labs or plummeting GPAs. These stories have held true for generations, and taking orgo is now seen as a formative experience of suffering that unites all Biology and Chemistry majors. But organic chemistry has more or less stayed the same all this time, so it’s worth asking why students still haven’t figured it out. The an...

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