The Oberlin Review

An Open Letter to Students

Susan L. Phillips, OC ’76

February 28, 2020

 It’s with sincere and profound sorrow that I want you to know that the Susan Phillips Social Justice Scholarship Fund spring interviews have been suspended indefinitely. I know that this will disappoint the students who have benefited from stipends each summer for the past four years, and will deprive others of important internship opportunities in the future.  I have looked forward tremendously to coming to campus in the spring to listen to your creative project proposals and again in the fall to hear about your actual experiences. You have restored my faith in the future during these bleak, divisive times for America — more than I can ever express. Therefore, the decision I’ve made to suspend the program t...

Affirmative Alumni Engagement Vital in UAW Discussions

Paula J. Gordon, OC ’68

February 28, 2020

 Editor’s Note: This letter was previously posted on an online forum for Class of 1968 announcements.  I support Oberlin College, including financially, as it wrestles with economic realities in the interest of its long-term survival. Our astute Board of Trustees — made up almost entirely of alumni — hired President Carmen Twillie Ambar to accomplish this daunting task.  As a lifelong union member, I strongly support the College in finding the most humane, responsible, equitable, and socially-responsible results possible under the current circumstances. Positive responses to President Ambar’s forthrightness, transparency, and clarity — all of which I applaud — are more productive than threats of pun...

Oberlin Community Should Appreciate Ambar’s Honesty

Jeff Witmer, Professor of Mathematics

February 21, 2020

Last week, my son lost his job — through no fault of his own. New management told several workers that the company couldn't afford to keep them. So after three weeks’ notice, my son is now applying for unemployment payments and looking for a new job. This heightens my sympathy for workers affected by President Carmen Twillie Ambar's announcement.   These are difficult times for the College, which has a very real budget problem affecting all employee groups, although unequally. Given her decision to focus on the core mission of the school and to explore savings by reducing compensation for some unionized workers, President Ambar might have waited until after Commencement/Reunion Weekend to announce her plans. I'm sur...

Oberlin Has Pursued Policy of Hostility Towards Workers

Jeanne Morefield, OC ’91

February 21, 2020

I am an academic in the United Kingdom, and next week, my colleagues in the University and College Union and I — at 74 universities across the country — are striking for better working conditions. I am grateful every day that I have a union so that I don't have to depend upon the whims and empty promises of colleges and universities to do right by their employees. And now, in a complete violation of everything that has ever made Oberlin unique and powerful as an institution, President Carmen Twillie Ambar is posed to deny that basic right to many employees currently on Oberlin’s campus.   This is not about fiscal responsibility. This is about breaking the union and about the imposition of unnecessary, Shock Doctrin...

College’s OSCA Stance Inconsistent With One Oberlin Recommendations

Editorial Board

February 14, 2020

 When the Steering Committee of the Academic and Administrative Program Review released its final One Oberlin report in May 2019, a number of its recommendations concerned changes to the College’s relationship with the Oberlin Student Cooperative Association. This Editorial Board was reassured then, by what appeared to be a commitment from administrators, to engage in a process to learn more about the value OSCA brings to the institution. Now, nearly a year later, we’re not so sure that administrators are committed to such a process — and recent developments have troubling implications for the future of a transparent and good-faith One Oberlin implementation. The One Oberlin report recommended engaging “in ...

AAPR Prompts Concern Among Union Supporters

AAPR Prompts Concern Among Union Supporters

April 12, 2019

Oberlin is considering eliminating over 50 staff lines — a decision which could impact up to 40 current employees — as part of the Academic and Administrative Program Review. This is part of just one of the AAPR steering committee’s areas of recommendation meant to address Oberlin’s structural budget deficit. The steering committee referenced Oberlin’s exorbitant employee costs as a reason for the area of recommendation, claiming that 63 percent of Oberlin’s operating budget goes toward em...

An Open Letter from Arabic 102

March 15, 2019

On Feb. 22, the Review published an article announcing that the Arabic teaching assistant position would be cut next year (“French and Arabic Teaching Assistant Programs Reduced”). This was quickly followed up with another article explaining that due to concerns over its long-term sustainability, Oberlin’s Arabic program would be cut and replaced with an online Shared Language Program (“Arabic Courses to Be Offered Digitally,” The Oberlin Review, March 8, 2019). As first-year Arabic language students, this decision saddens us. We strongly believe that this path will seriously harm Arabic study and related fields at Oberlin. However, as much as we have been upset by the decision to cut the Arabic program, we have ...

Administration Must Justify Reductions to Language TAs

Shogo Ishikawa, Contributing Writer

March 1, 2019

As reported in the Review last week, the French and Arabic departments are undergoing budget cuts, resulting in decisions that will potentially affect the overall quality of language education and the education community at Oberlin (“French and Arabic Teaching Assistant Programs Reduced,” Feb. 22, 2019). As a non-French Oberlin student who appreciates the French language and culture and the broader language community, I believe the administration’s decision to reduce the number of French TAs is unacceptable and has been left completely unexplained. For my Winter Term project, I wrote an essay arguing for the need to establish an absolute educational standard to which all programs must adhere: any class or progr...

Hello Safety, Goodbye Security: An Unexpected Budget Cut

Madisyn Mettenburg, Production Editor

September 21, 2018

Like any first-year reluctant to abandon the air-conditioned luxury of their home, Campus Safety — formerly known as Safety and Security — has certainly been dragging its feet on its move to Dascomb Hall. While no one quite knows when they will move into Fourth Meal’s decrepit shell, even less is known about its sudden rebranding. Why the switch from Safety and Security to merely Campus Safety? Is it because now, in the midst of a budget crisis, “security” is the latest tenant to be sacrificed at the deficit’s jeweled altar? And what acronym can we possibly revere now, with the snappy “S-’n’-S” struck down alongside it? Students living in South Hall have been some of the first to feel the effect...

Students Shouldn’t Bear All Cost of Incoming Financial Decisions

Duncan Reid, Contributing Writer

March 9, 2018

After listening to President Ambar’s presentation and going over the notes, one thing kept repeating itself in my head: That just doesn’t add up. President Ambar mentioned that our tuition is similar to our peer institutions, and thus a 3 percent increase is reasonable. While our tuition is roughly similar, what students pay, including fees, is not. The average net price that Obies pay, including financial and merit aid, is around $45,000 per year, according to College Factual. The average net price per student at Oberlin’s peer institutions is far less — anywhere from $21,841 at Amherst to $32,763 at Kenyon. That doesn’t add up. A year ago, incoming first-years were told that they had to buy into a more expens...

Office of Disability Resources Vital to Community, Institution

Editorial Board

October 6, 2017

As significant budget constraints threaten to jeopardize everyday aspects of campus life, the Oberlin community has rallied around the Office of Disability Resources — an office that a large number of students regularly depend on for support. Neglected over the course of the past few semesters, the ODR is a perfect example of the kind of resource that is so vital to Oberlin’s core values that members of our community must make sacrifices to keep it afloat. The departure of former Interim Director Isabella Moreno is — and should be — a wake-up call for students and administrators alike, as it represents the latest debacle in a history of inadequate service for those who need it. The ODR must be staffed to full stren...

Student Representation Imperative for Long-Term Change

Kameron Dunbar, Contributing Writer

September 22, 2017

This article is part of the Review’s Student Senate column. In an effort to increase communication and transparency, Student Senators will provide personal perspectives on recent events on campus and in the community. “What does Student Senate even do?” is a question I am asked quite frequently. In short, we do a lot, but much of our work is behind the scenes. We appoint students to institutional committees and act as an official liaison between students and the general administration, among other responsibilities. We even feed students over fall break — a task the administration never took up as its responsibility. While most of our work is done outside of the spotlight, we’ve been engaged in a very public figh...

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