The Oberlin Review

COVID-19 Outbreak Continues, College Moves to Remote Campus

COVID-19 Outbreak Continues, College Moves to Remote Campus

March 13, 2020

In an email sent to the campus community Thursday afternoon, President Carmen Twillie Ambar announced that today will be the last day of classes prior to spring break and that students should plan to leave campus by noon on Monday, March 16. The decision is meant to help contain the spread of the novel coronavirus — known as COVID-19 — following the discovery of five confirmed cases in nearby Cuyahoga, Stark, and Trumbull Counties. Students should not expect to return to campus for the remainder...

Students Discuss UAW Concerns with Trustees

Students Discuss UAW Concerns with Trustees

March 13, 2020

Student activists met with members of the Board of Trustees last week to denounce the College’s announcement that they are considering outsourcing up to 108 United Auto Worker jobs. In the meeting, students expressed their concerns and presented petitions that had been signed by students, alumni, and the broader Oberlin community. Elsa Schlensker, College fourth-year and chair of the Student Labor Action Coalition, was one of the students who presented. “The overall message that students h...

Pressure Mounts Against Outsourcing Proposal; Senator Sherrod Brown Voices Support of UAW

Pressure Mounts Against Outsourcing Proposal; Senator Sherrod Brown Voices Support of UAW

March 6, 2020

Campus controversy continues to swirl around President Carmen Twillie Ambar’s Feb. 18 announcement that the College is “formally considering” outsourcing dining and custodial services, a proposal that could impact jobs currently held by 108 members of the United Automobile Workers union. While students and alumni have made their dissatisfaction with the proposal known, regional politicians and media have also begun to take notice — most notably Senator Sherrod Brown (D–OH), who circulated ...

Administrators Address Potential Impact of COVID-19

Carson Li, Staff Writer

February 28, 2020

As the newest iteration of coronavirus, known as COVID-19, continues to spread around the world, Oberlin — like other colleges and universities across the country — is preparing to address challenges that the virus may inflict on campus life. Administrators are taking steps to support current and prospective international students impacted by the viral outbreak, as well as to anticipate the potential financial impact of COVID-19 on Oberlin. According to President Carmen Twillie Ambar, some of the potential financial difficulties could stem from foregone tuition from students who would not be able to come to campus in the fall, should international travel restrictions remain in place until that time. “Most colle...

Rapid Response Team Debuts at UAW-Related Protests

Rapid Response Team Debuts at UAW-Related Protests

February 28, 2020

President Carmen Twillie Ambar’s Feb. 18 announcement that the College is formally considering outsourcing 108 dining and custodial jobs currently held by United Automobile Worker union members incited a campus-wide conversation and student-led protests and demonstrations. As activism in support of UAW continues, the College is in the midst of considering how best to approach its relationship with student activists. One approach taken by the Division of Student Life is to assemble a Rapid Res...

College “Considering” Outsourcing Dining, Custodial Services

College “Considering” Outsourcing Dining, Custodial Services

February 21, 2020

Employees in Oberlin’s chapter of the United Automobile Workers union are reeling after a Tuesday afternoon email from President Carmen Twillie Ambar to the campus community announced that the College is “formally considering” contracting with outside vendors to provide campus custodial and dining services. If the College ultimately chooses to outsource, more than 100 union employees could lose their jobs on June 30, when the transition would occur. According to President Ambar’s email, O...

Outsourcing Proposal Creates Unfair Burden; Cuts Must Come From Elsewhere

Editorial Board

February 21, 2020

 After reading Tuesday afternoon’s announcement from President Carmen Twillie Ambar and engaging in conversation with many campus stakeholders, we firmly oppose the College’s proposal to contract with outside vendors to provide campus dining and custodial services. We support the 108 unionized United Automobile Workers employees who could lose their jobs as a result of this proposal and strongly advocate for Oberlin’s administration to identify another area in which to find the approximate $2 million in annual savings that this decision is expected to bring in.  It is important to remember that the financial imperative driving the administration’s proposal to outsource more than 100 jobs is indisputable and i...

Living Wage and Health Care for UAW Workers Proves Urgent

Booker C. Peek, Emeritus Associate Professor of Africana Studies

February 21, 2020

 President Carmen Twillie Ambar, Oberlin College’s first Black president and just the second female president, shared with us all an impressively argued, 900-word announcement titled “Dining and Custodial Negotiations,” which reported that the College has proposed to, very shortly, cut every single one of its custodians and dining hall workers without warning, unceremoniously — a Trump-like “Get out of here, you’re all fired!” President Ambar’s defense of her actions is quite solidly based upon One Oberlin, which is the name of the final report produced by the Academic and Administrative Program Review. The president offers an unassailable argument for the protection of the College’s core value: ...

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...

William Quillen Named Dean of Conservatory

Anisa Curry Vietze, News Editor

December 13, 2019

William Quillen has been hired as dean of the Conservatory after serving in the position on an interim basis since June 2018. In May, Oberlin launched a confidential national search for the position. Quillen was vice-chair of the Academic and Administrative Program Review’s Steering Committee, alongside Acting Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences David Kamitsuka. The Committee led the institution-wide evaluation and made recommendations to address the College’s financial issues. “I am excited that Bill will continue to provide thoughtful guidance and leadership as dean of the Conservatory,” President Carmen Twillie Ambar said according to a Dec. 10 College press release. “He has demonstrated a vision fo...

Outward-Facing Philosophy Deeply Rooted in Oberlin’s History

Nathan Carpenter, Editor-in-Chief

November 22, 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. When then-First Lady Michelle Obama spoke at Oberlin’s commencement ceremonies in 2015, she had the institution’s social justice reputation in mind. “If you truly wish to carry on the Oberlin legacy of service and social justice, then you need to run to, and not away from, the noise,” Obama said. “Today, I want to urge you to actively seek out the most contentious, polarized, gridlocked places you can find. Because so often, throughout our history, those have been the places where progress really happens — the pl...

College’s Appeal in Gibson’s Case Misguided, Avoidable

David Marwil OC ’70

November 8, 2019

 I urge the College to refrain from appealing the Gibson’s case. Instead, Oberlin must turn inward and reflect on what led to this unfortunate state of affairs in the first place. The behavior of the College, by which I mean students and administrators alike, revolves around the false premise that Gibson’s was a racist institution. The College’s actions towards Gibson’s were arrogant and mean-spirited throughout. My sense is that Gibson’s would not have filed suit if the College had treated them well, even if they had already suffered some losses. My experience as a physician is that, in most cases, patients do not sue unless they are disgruntled, even if the physician makes a mistake. Certainly, Gibson’s had...

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