The Oberlin Review

“Hoax” Declaration Mischaracterizes Bias Incidents, Stifles Productive Dialogue

The Editorial Board

September 6, 2013

The College aired its dirty laundry to the nation last semester when media outlets swarmed campus to report on the rash of bigoted graffiti cropping up in academic and residential buildings. The coverage of the events focused primarily on an alleged sighting of a person in Klan robes, though evidence of hateful actions perpetrated against people of color, the Jewish and LGBTQ communities, and women, was much broader — both in scope and in form. As the summer came to a close, Oberlin was thrust back into the spotlight. A few conservative bloggers got their hands on the recently released police reports, in which the names of the two students removed from campus last semester in relation to the hate speech are revealed...

Hateful Speech Not ‘Isolated Incident’

Tiesha Cassel, Hannah Elhard, Lyle Kash, Tania Mukherjee, Sylvie Rosenkalt, and Kaela Sanborn-Hum

February 15, 2013

We are the Edmonia Lewis Center for Women and Transgender People, and we are writing to condemn the recent trend of hateful speech attacking marginalized communities on campus. We are acting in solidarity with the Multicultural Resource Center and other student and faculty organizers to address harm caused by racism, queerphobia, anti-Semitism and other forms of structural oppression. The ELC is a collective that is committed to dismantling interconnected systems of oppression based on sex, gender, race, class, sexuality, age, ability, size, religion, nationality, ethnicity and language. We serve as a safe space for programming and conversation. We also respect and advocate for the creation of other safe and supportive...

Oberlin’s Community Created by its Students

Steve Bagley, L. Lee Butler, Marshall Duer-Balkind, Diana Wueger, Tony Forbes, Lauren Hayes, Andrew Sinsheimer, Aries Indenbaum, Jessica Marcrum, and Jessica Raynor Sturdivant

December 14, 2012

Recently, an article that appeared on titled “Oberlin Has a Nasty Anonymous Message Board Problem” (Dec. 5, 2012) sparked vibrant discussion in online alumni networks. Several of us decided that, as recently-graduated alumni, we should weigh in. The problem of online bullying, particularly targeting women, queers and racial minorities, is far from unique. But we are appalled to think that such a thing is happening, and to such an extreme degree, at Oberlin. Oberlin may not be a traditionalist institution, but the traditions we do have — including feminism, inclusion, sex positivity, social justice, cooperation, and weirdness — are precious, and the tenor of this forum degrades all of them....

Anonymous Online Forums Stir Up Debate

Elizabeth Kuhr

December 14, 2012

Just days before the anonymous forum ObieTalk reappeared on Oberlin students’ computers and smartphones, a new Facebook page called Oberlin Compliments was created with the mission to spread positivity. The page’s overnight popularity and ObieTalk’s comeback have rehashed the long-standing debate about Internet discussion and anonymity on campus. Two Oberlin seniors, inspired by a new national trend of virtually delivering compliments, created the Oberlin Compliments Facebook page in hopes of fostering positivity. The page gives students an anonymous forum through which they can compliment one another. To send a compliment, students must either message the page’s inbox or submit a Google form with the recipient’s...

An Open Letter to the Oberlin Community

Lorena Espinoza, Jesús Gómez, Peter Nguyen, Caitlin O'Neill, Alison Williams, and Multicultural Resource Center

December 14, 2012

We are writing to respond to Katie J. M. Baker’s December 5 posting “Oberlin Has a Nasty Anonymous Message Board Problem” on the widely read website Baker sought to point out the dangers of unmoderated forums where people can post comments without consequence. Included in the article was a screenshot of a series of posts on ObieTalk from last spring, obtained under less than honest pretense. The screenshot included deplorable misogynistic, racist, queerphobic, heterosexist and violent material that contained clearly identifiable names of Oberlin students. By publishing the article, Jezebel reinforced harm done to those named as well as others who may have faced similar threats in the past. In...

A Call for Individualism and not Prohibition

Zachery Crowell

December 7, 2012

As much as it pains me to agree with the Oberlin Republicans and Libertarians, we do have a free speech problem on this campus. I think the reaction to Obietalk’s resurfacing is a clear demonstration of that. This is not to say that OCRL has acted appropriately or constructively. The hyperbolic posters likening my peers to figures like Stalin served only to prevent civil discourse. Ms. Bentivegna’s piece in the Review (“Romney Voters Shouldn’t Feel Shamed, Pressured by Fellow Students,” Nov. 9) can best be described as sanctimonious drivel devoid of logical argument. However, the response to Obietalk has been equally absurd. My friends and classmates have responded with increasingly indignant outrage as...

Editorial: ObieTalk Useless If Obies Don’t Talk

The Editorial Board

May 4, 2012

Well, ObieTalk is all over the place. Where it used to exist mostly online and in the gossip-filled first-year dorm rooms, the anonymous forum has now been featured on the Oberlin blogs, on the front page of the Review, and was even the topic of a student forum facilitated by the Oberlin College Dialogue Center earlier today. After all this, it seems evident that the controversy swirling around the rise of bigoted posts on the site is sparking a long-overdue conversation about ObieTalk and the purpose of anonymous forums in general. Naturally, fingers have been pointed — at Will Adams-Keane, for creating ObieTalk and not monitoring it closely enough; at the administration, for not blocking the site; at the si...

ObieTalk Monitoring System to Be Instituted in Response to Hate Speech

Rosemary Boeglin, News Editor

April 27, 2012

In recent months, the nature of postings on the online forum ObieTalk has elicited responses of anger and confusion from various members of the Oberlin community. The number of official complaints from students and parents has risen alongside increasing racist, homophobic, sexist and otherwise offensive posts on the site. In response to these concerns, Dean of Students Eric Estes and Vice President of Communications Ben Jones have proposed instituting a community monitoring system that would allow site users to flag inflammatory comments for removal. ObieTalk is hardly new to criticism. Student Senate has held a number of forums in hopes of increasing non-digital dialogue about the site, which has been posited as p...

Administration to Help Obies Talk About ObieTalk

Eric Estes and Ben Jones

April 20, 2012

To the Editors: In the past several months, concerns in our community related to ObieTalk have grown significantly in number and severity, as has the related correspondence to our offices from both students and parents. Meanwhile on the national landscape, the jury who convicted Dharun Ravi of bias intimidation simultaneously sent a message in no uncertain terms that “immaturity and stupidity” are not viable defenses for cyberbullying. We have always taken concerns about potential harassment and threats very seriously and continue to strongly encourage students to report them to the Office of Equity Concerns and local police, respectively. But it is the right moment to address ObieTalk and its problematic...

Dialogue Explores Line Between Public and Private

Joseph Dilworth, Staff Writer

March 16, 2012

Within a small college community such as Oberlin, the line between what’s personal and what’s public often becomes blurred. Campus organizers hoped to more clearly distinguish the two during a public discussion held Monday in Craig Lecture Hall. The event, titled “Vandalism. Adderall. ObieTalk.,” was planned by the Student Senate in conjunction with the Dean of Students Office, the Judicial and Community Boards and the Student Honor Committee. Organizers hoped that the forum, moderated by the Oberlin College Dialogue Center, would foster open dialogue on these hot-button issues. “The planners of the forum hoped to get people talking about community on campus,” said Ilyssa Meyer, College junior and ...

New Anonymous Confessional Site Picks Up Where OCon Left Off

Kira Cohen, Staff Writer

December 4, 2009

Ever since Oberlin Confessional, Oberlin’s anonymous confession website, crashed almost two months ago, many students have been without their anonymous gossip fix. A new website,, has recently stepped in to fill the void. The site was created by College first-year Will Adams-Keane, who said he started thinking about creating a new anonymous website a few weeks after OCon went down. “There wasn’t really an alternative,” said Adams-Keane, “and I knew how popular OCon was, so I thought it would be cool to have something like Obie Talk.” He put the site up in early October, after designing it himself. Like OCon, it allows users to post threads anonymously, and for others to post comments...

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