The Oberlin Review

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...

Discouraging Dissent Stifles Intellectual Growth

Aaron Pressman, Columnist

November 6, 2015

Filed under Columns, OPINIONS

The first tenet listed in Oberlin College’s mission statement is to “graduate ... students who have learned to think with intellectual rigor, creativity, and independence.” Yet it seems to be increasingly common on campus for students who make up the majority opinion to stifle dissent. We must allow for a free flow of ideas, and students must exhibit the intellectual capability to respect dissent. I have been disappointed with the frequency with which students holding popular beliefs on campus immediately dismiss the views of those who disagree. I find this especially problematic at a school that so strongly prides itself on tolerance, acceptance and diversity. All too often, students dismiss dissenting views as “violent...

Can I Appropriate My Own Culture?

Cyrus Eosphoros, Online Editor

November 6, 2015

Filed under Columns, OPINIONS

Día de los Muertos has been a culturally important feature of my life for as long as I can remember. My first grade class wandered off to the neighboring cemetery to see the wreaths, photographs and stuffed animals people laid out on family graves. Afterward, I’d accompany my dad to take photos of them. Every year, my community center in Todos Santos, Mexico, had the biggest altar I’d ever seen, which stayed up long past the day itself because the people who’d built the huge, room-size display were that proud of it. During my junior year of high school, a fellow student and I built an altar for the murdered women of Juárez, a city across the border from El Paso, where young women — mostly poor and working...

Russia Prevents Ukraine from Joining West

Sean Para, Columnist

November 6, 2015

Filed under Columns, OPINIONS

The calm that has settled over eastern Ukraine in the past two months has been billed by many as a victory for the West. Russia, as the narrative goes, has failed to take over the territory as it had originally intended. The Russian economy has been battered by sanctions and the drop in oil prices, a staunch juxtaposition to Ukraine’s economic outlook, which includes state reform and a potential political recovery. “Ukraine has turned toward the West and is lost to Russia forever,” experts say. While this is a convenient narrative for Western governments, it is patently false. The “Russia lost in Ukraine” narrative does rely on facts and evidence. It is certainly true that the Ukraine crisis has isolate...

Waving Can Promote Sense of Community

CJ Blair, Columnist

November 6, 2015

Filed under Columns, OPINIONS

Forty percent of my social interactions are unreciprocated waves. There are times when I think that I’m the only one who feels this way, but in my second year at Oberlin, I’ve learned that plenty of other people share my uncertainty about waving. College is one of the most ambulatory times in a person’s life, and on a small campus like Oberlin’s, it’s all but certain that students will pass by someone they know on their way to class. When they do, they have the choice of acknowledging or ignoring this person, and the decision they make can demonstrate their uncertainty about how exactly to handle such a brief interaction. Social interaction has always been a struggle for me, and every time I pass someone...

Captagon Floods Market, May End Civil War

Josh Ashkinaze, Columnist

October 30, 2015

Filed under Columns, OPINIONS

I don’t think any of us know what the life of a typical Saudi prince is like, but I think everyone would be surprised with what one Saudi prince was up to on Monday. Abd al-Muhsen bin Walid bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud was detained at Rafik Hariri International Airport in Beirut for trying to smuggle two tons of Captagon — a new amphetamine-type stimulant — on his private plane. TIME calls the Captagon trade “Syria’s Breaking Bad.” What is Captagon? It was originally an ADHD medication prescribed in the ’60s and was banned in the ’80s because of its addictive potential. Now the drug has made a comeback because of the civil war in Syria. Prescription Captagon was just a mild stimulant, but as factories ...

Mental Illness Comprises Part of My Personality

Cyrus Eosphoros, Online Editor

October 9, 2015

Filed under Columns, OPINIONS

Erin Jones sparked the #MedicatedAndMighty hashtag after she decided to resume psychiatric treatment and posted a photo on Facebook: The selfie of her with her new prescriptions spread to Twitter and the phrase took on a life of its own. The hashtag has expanded beyond people taking photos with blue slips and pill bottles to become a space for people to talk about their experiences with psychiatric medication, their current situations and their illnesses. People daring enough to talk about their experiences with mental illness in public have, of course, drawn others who are angry at this trend. Some criticisms are obvious: telling people who’ve been on psychiatric medication for years that they’ll soon get sick...

Appalachian Stereotypes Ignore Region’s Complex Social History

CJ Blair, Columnist

October 9, 2015

Filed under Columns, OPINIONS

Being a Kentuckian at Oberlin puts me in a strange position. While my home state is only four hours away, every day quietly affirms that it’s farther than anywhere else in the country. This feeling stems from my ties to Kentucky’s Appalachian region, one of the most enigmatic places on Earth. Though I wasn’t directly raised in Appalachia, generations of my family on both sides have lived there, and I’ve come to accept it as a permanent part of my identity. As one of only a handful of Kentuckians at Oberlin, I quickly realized that almost no one here understands what Appalachia is, and any opinions they have fail to account for the complexity of the region. Appalachia is a place known for its stereotypes, and...

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