The Oberlin Review

Campus Cornerstones: The History Buried in Our Walls

Nathan Carpenter, Editor-in-Chief

October 11, 2019

 Editor’s note: This column is part of a series that will focus on Oberlin’s history as a town and an institution. The series will be published regularly throughout the fall semester.  In January 1886, just over two decades after it was built, Oberlin’s second Ladies’ Hall burned down. After the smoke of Oberlin’s first major fire cleared, the building’s cornerstone was opened, revealing a collection of documents placed inside when it was originally laid in 1861. It was common practice in early Oberlin to fill cornerstones with mementos of the time, not to be viewed again until the building they supported came down. Among the second Ladies’ Hall collection was the town’s charter; Oberlin Colleg...

Carmen Ambar and Bobby Fuller: Contrasting Two Presidencies

Nathan Carpenter, Editor-in-Chief

October 4, 2019

 Editor’s note: This column is part of a series that will focus on Oberlin’s history as a town and an institution. The series will be published regularly throughout the fall semester. “The time is ripe for a new look at the fundamental propositions and the fundamental building blocks that underlie a liberal arts college education.”  So said Robert Fuller, Oberlin’s 10th president, in his 1970 opening address to the Oberlin community held in Finney Chapel. But it could have been said just as easily by President Carmen Twillie Ambar, Oberlin’s 15th president, who came to Oberlin in 2017 with a similar vision — to respond to broader shifts in higher education by reforming the Oberlin experience.  ...

Oberlin College’s History Still Deeply Relevant

Del Spurlock, OC ’63

September 27, 2019

 Congratulations, Oberlin, on your remarkable history as a town and institution. I believe that Editor-in-Chief Nathan Carpenter’s “hope to fully understand our present-day challenges” should remain a driving force of his series (“Oberlin’s Early History Rooted in Religious Convictions,” The Oberlin Review, Sept. 20, 2019). Oberlin’s last 100 years provide a testament to the sources of your generation’s acute challenges now and in the years ahead. And Henry Churchill King, Oberlin’s longest serving president — and a former Review editor — will prove to be the prophet of the age.  On Sept. 27, 1919, King, the internationally-honored mathematician, ethicist, theologian, orator, and founding mem...

Community Healing More Important Now Than Ever

Booker C. Peek, Emeritus Professor of Africana Studies

September 20, 2019

 Almost two years ago, in 2017, I wrote you pleading for Oberlin College to seek an out-of-court settlement with the Gibson family (“Gibson’s Links Black People to Anti-Semitism,” The Oberlin Review, Dec. 1, 2017). But nothing seemed to take place until it was announced in April that efforts had failed and that the case was going to trial this past May. It did, and the jury ruled in favor of the Gibson family. Last week, I wrote again hoping that Oberlin College would appeal the local jury’s decision to award millions of dollars to the Gibson family (“College Should Respect Any Future Appeal Decision,” The Oberlin Review, Sept. 13, 2019). But after receiving more information, I urge the College to tr...

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 ...

Strange Acquisitions: How We Got The Carnegie Building

Isabelle Smith, Contributing Writer

April 19, 2019

 Many Oberlin students are aware of Oberlin’s rich history. Some even first heard about Oberlin in their high school history books. However, few students are aware of the captivating stories that Oberlin’s physical buildings themselves hold.  In a previous Review article, College senior Kameron Dunbar detailed the interesting history behind Langston Hall and urged readers to discover not only the stories of how Oberlin acquired these buildings, but also the reasoning behind the names of certain buildings (“Community Should Reflect Upon History of College Spaces,” March 9, 2018). Another example of a building with a very interesting, yet mostly forgotten history is the Carnegie Building at the corner of W...

SOAR Program to Benefit Sophomores

Meg Parker, Contributing Writer

November 16, 2018

The brainchild of Associate Dean of Students and Interim Director of the Career Development Center Dana Hamdan, the Sophomore Opportunities and Advising Resources program is one of the most exciting things to come to fruition at Oberlin this year. When Dana called me into her office to discuss the then-unnamed initiative, I had the same thought as when I first learned about the Peer Advising Leaders Program: “I wish I had had this!” There are some challenging parts of my college experience I would never want to redo (Intro to Computer Programming and off-season lifting with former Strength and Conditioning Coach Grant Butler included), but if I had the opportunity to go back and enroll in SOAR, I would do so in...

Unity, Cooperation, Community this Voting Season

Booker C. Peek, Emeritus Associate Professor of Africana Studies

October 12, 2018

A week ago we celebrated the inauguration of Oberlin College’s 15th president, Carmen Twillie Ambar, the first Black and second female president. She wasted little time in her acceptance speech to remind us that over 180 years ago when it was legal to own slaves, Oberlin College’s founding fathers voted to be the first college to admit both women and Blacks. While today we might think that the vote was an easy unanimous one just for men to do the right thing, President Ambar underscored the fact that the Board of Trustees was actually split, requiring the chairman — Finney at the time — to break the tie. Nevertheless, Oberlin College did do what history commanded, and we can boast of our College’s long and...

President Ambar: We’re Still With You

Editorial Board

October 5, 2018

Today’s inauguration of Carmen Twillie Ambar as Oberlin College’s 15thpresident gives our community a moment to reflect both on the first year of Ambar’s presidency and the collective challenges and opportunities now in front of us. In some ways, it’s hard to believe that it’s only been a year. Ambar has assumed the reins at a time of great turbulence, true; but she has stepped fully into the moment, and her commitment to tackling the challenges Oberlin faces has not wavered. She’s become an integral part of this campus— certainly to the point where it feels like she’s been here for a while. Be it conducting the Oberlin orchestra, being a regular face around Philips gym, sharing her playlist with the...

Constructive Institutionalism Includes Diverse Perspectives

Editorial Board

May 25, 2018

Oberlin has reached many milestones this year — some deserving of celebration. Among those was the beginning of Carmen Ambar’s presidency. Ambar has worked to be more transparent and communicative than former President Marvin Krislov, whose time at Oberlin was marked by campus tension and administrative opacity. Ambar’s presidency has begun at a time of great financial uncertainty for Oberlin. To her credit, Ambar has made an effort to be candid about those challenges, carrying out a series of campus presentations regarding the College’s financial outlook this winter. She has also called upon all of us — students, staff, faculty, and alums — to be Oberlin’s stewards, institutionalists concerned not only with Oberlin...

Oberlin Pays Tribute to Austin Bombing Victim Draylen Mason

Oberlin Pays Tribute to Austin Bombing Victim Draylen Mason

April 6, 2018

The murder of 17-year-old Draylen Mason by the Austin, TX, serial mail bomber has received attention from communities nationwide, but particularly at Oberlin College and Conservatory, the latter of which had accepted Mason around the time of his death. The College, now grappling with how to honor Draylen’s memory, has encouraged community members to donate to two funds associated with his family and life. The College released a statement announcing its support for Mason titled “Honoring Drayle...

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...

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