The Oberlin Review

Former Professor Files Lawsuit Against The College for Discriminatory Hiring

Katherine MacPhail and Anisa Curry Vietze

September 18, 2020

A former Oberlin dance professor filed a lawsuit against the College on Sept. 3 alleging discrimination in hiring for being a straight, white, married woman from the Midwest, as well as workplace retaliation. The College has not yet responded to these allegations. Former Visiting Assistant Professor of Dance Alice Blumenfeld worked at Oberlin from 2018–2020. In the summer of 2019, Blumenfeld learned that the College planned to terminate her position and instate a tenure-track position in its stead. Blumenfeld was one of four candidates considered for this role and was not hired.  “While Ms. Blumenfeld was more qualified for the tenure-track position than the individual Oberlin hired, she failed to meet the id...

College, Gibson’s Bakery File Briefs Appealing $25 Million Verdict

College, Gibson’s Bakery File Briefs Appealing $25 Million Verdict

June 12, 2020

Last Friday, the College filed to appeal the $25 million verdict that Gibson’s Bakery won in their case against Oberlin College and Vice President and Dean of Students Meredith Raimondo. A jury found the College guilty of libel last June and initially awarded the Gibsons $44 million in damages, later capped at $25 million due to Ohio state laws regarding tort lawsuits. The Gibsons argued that the College supported students in protesting and boycotting the bakery following accusations of racism in ...

Oberlin, Gibson’s Should Forgive and Forget

Booker C. Peek, Professor Emeritus of Africana Studies

November 15, 2019

 Legally, there will be one winner and one loser in the lawsuit filed by Gibson’s Bakery against Oberlin College. But on all other levels — reputation, emotional, historical — Gibson’s, the College, and the City of Oberlin will suffer from the devastating effects for generations to come. Are there no prayers or people capable of getting the two sides and their reinforced, high-powered lawyers to settle their differences privately? The answer some may give is “no.” The bridge for a settlement has crumbled. As the dispute heads to an appellate court, to hope for a miracle is similar to asking that a long-anticipated Super Bowl game not be played and opting instead for a coin-flip to determine the winner. A...

Gibson’s Bakery Files Cross-Appeal

Gibson’s Bakery Files Cross-Appeal

November 1, 2019

Gibson’s Bakery has filed a cross-appeal in the ongoing lawsuit that the bakery’s owners brought against Oberlin College and Vice President and Dean of Students Meredith Raimondo. This cross-appeal comes after the College’s Oct. 8 decision to appeal the June jury verdict finding the College and Raimondo responsible for libel and intentional infliction of emotional distress related to a series of 2016 student protests against the bakery. The jury initially awarded the Gibsons $11 million in compens...

Retribution, Restitution, and Race in Ohio

Ava Zuschlag, Contributing Writer

September 20, 2019

 Five years ago, Tamir Rice is shot and killed. In the aftermath, several things happen. The two officers who responded to the call, who fired the shots, are temporarily reassigned to more menial positions. Tamir’s family files a wrongful death suit against the officers and the city of Cleveland. Almost a year and a half later, “in an effort to reduce taxpayer liabilities,” the city agrees to pay the Rice family a six million dollar settlement.  This year, a thirty-minute drive away from Cleveland, Gibson’s Bakery wins damages for defamation. After a shoplifting incident ended in violence, student accusations of the shop owner’s racism negatively affected the business. In the judgement, the jury awards ...

College Should Respect Any Future Appeal Decision

Booker C. Peek, Emeritus Professor of Africana Studies

September 13, 2019

 Oberlin College should pay the Gibson family a lot more than the almost $25 million that the very fine Lorain County jury awarded if it is a fact that former President Marvin Krislov and Vice President and Dean of Students Meredith Raimondo aided and abetted the student demonstrators to engage in activities intended to bankrupt the Gibson family because the Gibsons are racist. Oberlin College should appeal this verdict. Replays in sports give officials a chance to make sure they made the right call. When the action is shown 10 or 20 times slower from every possible angle, sometimes the original decision is left to stand, and sometimes it is reversed. No matter the final call, some remain unhappy, while others ar...

Big Pharma Lawsuits Won’t Sufficiently Address Opioid Crisis

Jackie Brant, Opinions Editor

September 6, 2019

 In a landmark case that concluded on Aug. 26, Judge Thad Balkman of Oklahoma ordered biotech company Johnson & Johnson to pay the state $572 million for their hand in the prescription opioid epidemic that continues to ravage the country. When I first learned of the case, I didn’t understand how the company known for making baby powders and soaps had a hand in perpetuating the opioid epidemic. Upon further research, I found that Johnson & Johnson actually has a hand in almost every major aspect of pharmaceuticals and first aid supplies. The company owns brands such as Band-Aid, Tylenol, Neutrogena, Acuvue contacts, Clean and Clear, and — of course — Johnson’s baby products.  However, consumer prod...

Gibson’s Case Trivializes Actual Racism

Nicholas Isherwood, OC ’81

September 6, 2019

Like many alumni, I have followed the legal battle concerning Gibson’s Food Mart & Bakery with interest and horror. Decades of Oberlin students have enjoyed Gibson’s tasty doughnuts and other treats, and have come to know the family. I am not at all surprised that the jury ruled in favor of Gibson’s. Both the experience of Oberlin students and the facts of the case indicate that Gibson’s is not a racist business. Simply put, the shoplifters were caught and when the police arrived, they were assaulting Mr. Gibson.  Polarized race relations at Oberlin are not a new phenomenon. When I was a student in the late 1970s, my political organization, The Moderate Caucus, circulated a petition opposing the creatio...

Media Coverage of Gibson’s Verdict Misses the Mark

Editorial Board

June 18, 2019

Editor's note: Due to the scope of national media attention, the Review took the extraordinary step of covering the Gibson's verdict outside of normal publication dates. Because of limited staff capacity, the Review does not moderate comments during the summer, and letters to the editors in response to any article will be reviewed for publication in the fall. Please direct any questions to [email protected] Earlier this month, a jury awarded Gibson’s Bakery $11 million following a month-long trial stemming from the bakery’s lawsuit against Oberlin College and Vice President and Dean of Students Meredith Raimondo. Then, last Thursday, it added $33 million in punitive damages. This stunning decision ...

Karega Sues College, Claiming Discrimination

Sydney Allen, Editor-in-Chief

November 16, 2018

Joy Karega, a former assistant professor of Rhetoric and Composition at Oberlin, filed a lawsuit against the College last Friday claiming breach of contract and employment discrimination on the basis of race and gender. The lawsuit, filed with the U.S. District Court in Cleveland, seeks $855,000 in damages. In February 2016, The Tower, a conservative, pro-Israeli magazine, posted a series of alleged anti-Semitic posts found on Karega’s personal Facebook page, sparking national and local controversy. Karega was placed on academic leave that month and was ultimately fired November 2017, following a nine-month review process. Her termination initiated a national conversation around academic liberties and free speech. ...

Perspective Important in Gibson’s Case

Kevin Adler, OC ’84

December 8, 2017

To the Editors: I’m writing to disagree with almost everything in Booker C. Peek’s recent opinion column, “Oberlin, Gibson’s Should Settle Out-of-Court” (The Oberlin Review, Dec. 1, 2017). I laughed at Peek’s opening comment that the lawsuit “has the potential to be earth-shattering.” Really? Let’s maintain some perspective here. This is a tempest in a teapot, a tiny incident at a small college. Potentially earth-shattering would be President Trump’s brinksmanship with North Korea, or the increasing severity of tropical storms fueled by global climate change. Those are earth-shattering issues that Oberlin and its students should be addressing. Peek also writes about the damage of a financial settlement. Ma...

Oberlin, Gibson’s Should Settle Out-of-Court

Booker C. Peek, Contributing Writer

November 17, 2017

We should all root for a quick out-of-court resolution between Gibson’s Bakery and Oberlin College. It can be exciting for us to root for our favorite teams; that is what sports are all about. We may debate who the greatest composer is, the finest painter, or the best dancer. Having all those options is what we enjoy in America, along with the right not to take part at all. But there are times when the outcome of a matter affects us quite profoundly. This lawsuit is not a sporting event; its outcome has the potential to be earth-shattering. The founders of the College settled in a wilderness in the 19th century, a site where there were no humans at all. In the intervening period — more than 150 years — we have...

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