The Oberlin Review

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...

Oberlin Finds Great Candidates in English, Price

Kathleen Abromeit, Public Services Librarian

November 1, 2019

 Today I have chosen to write in support of Ray English and Mary Price for Oberlin City Council. Oberlin has been fortunate for many years with a wonderful City Council, and I commend those who are currently serving. Ray and Mary are in the mold of leaders who in the past have unselfishly, and with vision, made important decisions to improve our community. Ray English is committed to social justice, environmental sustainability, and community development. He exhibits a remarkable balance of attention to detail and practicality as he navigates conflict resolution, mediation, and community dialogue. He is also a recognized leader in the Citizens’ Climate Lobby working diligently on issues of environmental issues at the n...

In Face of Adversity, Obies Keep On Keepin’ On

Editorial Board

September 6, 2019

 Over the course of the summer, many people around the country seemed to suddenly be worried about Oberlin students. An explosion of media attention following an initial verdict in the lawsuit filed by Gibson’s Food Mart & Bakery against the College and Vice President and Dean of Students Meredith Raimondo inspired people who have never set foot in Ohio to weigh in on whether we have our heads screwed on straight. The Review’s inboxes were flooded with messages written in varying degrees of hysteria. Some wanted to know if Oberlin students knew how stupid and short-sighted we are. Some accused us — both the Review staff specifically and the student body at large — of being sheep at the beck and call of...

AAPR Process Must Value, Respect All College Employees

Jae Muth, Contributing Writer

April 5, 2019

The areas of recommendation first publicly presented by the Academic and Administrative Program Review steering committee on March 13 and 14 have exposed clear divisions between different parts of the Oberlin community. Students, faculty, staff, and administrators each face a challenging set of potential changes that, to this point, have only been offered to the campus community in blurry terms.  The vague statements — veiled in large part by the language of development, progress, and nominal references to Oberlin’s ethical standards — have incited confusion, misunderstandings, and difficult conversations among the people who attend and work at Oberlin. Yet, student discourse largely seems to ignore the most...

Don’t Be A Voluntourist

Kameron Dunbar, Columnist

November 30, 2018

The first time I realized I was voluntouring, my group had just left a monastery and orphanage in Yangon, Myanmar, after spending about an hour surveying the grounds. Just before we left, we bestowed “ceremonial gifts” of pencils and school supplies through a dramatized exchange that was perfectly staged for the iPhone videos fellow Americans took. We left feeling good about ourselves, but the kids there barely benefited at all. This type of travel experience is not uncommon, and the issues noted here are not unique. The story of the Christian missionary who recently died after disturbing a remote island community close to India has brought several important concepts and considerations to a national stage: “mission...

Sensationalist Media Compromises Credibility for Click Bait

Editorial Board

September 22, 2017

In the past, the College has been a target for outside news sources that cherry-pick the Review’s pieces on topics ranging from the cultural appropriation of food in the dining halls to the contentious dismissal of former professor Joy Karega. Their goal is to malign the credibility of colleges like ours. Last week, The Washington Times marked another chapter in the on- going manipulation of our reporting by twisting our story on Chair of the Board of Trustees Chris Canavan’s email revealing the deficit and consequent declaration of financial cuts (“Enrollment Drop Creates Financial Shortfall,” Sept. 8, 2017) to argue that the College’s underenrollment results from a reputation fostered by its studen...

Greater Focus Required for Oberlin Activism

CJ Blair, Columnist

April 18, 2015

If there’s one thing Oberlin students know how to do, it’s to ensure that their political beliefs are heard. The truth is that Obies are known in and out of academia as the college students who hurl their most radical politics in the face of whoever’s in throwing distance, without restraint or willingness to compromise. Anyone who goes to Oberlin knows that this fervor can get very annoying, but they also know that it is what helps Oberlin move toward its progressive goals so much faster than other colleges. For this reason, it’s worth considering how our strong political beliefs are articulated to ensure that they expedite the advancement of the issues we really care about, and so that we don’t get lost discussing...

Winter Term Creates Air of Detachment

Margo Josephson, Contributing Writer

March 6, 2015

Oberlin fluctuates between a place of safety and an isolated hub of culture trapped in the Midwest. I return to campus each semester with a different mindset. Sometimes I crave the seclusion of the College and its fierce social justice spirit. Other times I panic at the thought of being in the hinterlands, past cornfields and plains of soybeans, remote from city life and up-tempo society. I stayed on campus the entire fall semester, with no desire to return home to NYC. The high pace of the city and urban mass of people speeding from one place to the next was unappealing next to Oberlin’s quietude. When I returned for Winter Term, my concept of the city changed. I fell in love with New York again. I was enchanted...

Social Movements Must Incorporate Environmental Justice

CJ Blair, Columnist

February 20, 2015

There’s no doubt that Oberlin is a place known for its conscientious and progressive students. While Oberlin’s sustainable Adam Joseph Lewis Center and a handful of environmental organizations demonstrate concern about environmental issues, day-to-day conversations between students tend to favor social, rather than environmental, justice. This is by no means a bad thing, but such conversations often fail to see the ways in which environmentalism is just as pressing a concern as social justice, as well as how the two are inextricably tied. If it sounds like I’m going to condemn the social justice initiatives on campus, let me assure you that I’m not. The way in which Oberlin responded to the horrendous incidents...

Online Prejudice Reveals Weak Allyship

Samantha Smylie, Contributing Writer

December 5, 2014

When the St. Louis County prosecutor announced late on Nov. 24 that a grand jury found that “no probable cause exists to file any charge against Officer [Darren] Wilson,” millions around the country were in shock, outraged at the decision not to indict the Ferguson, MO police officer who killed Mike Brown, an unarmed Black teenager, in August. According to Dorian Johnson’s eyewitness testimony, Wilson fired shots at Brown after a confrontation, and Brown then tried to flee the scene. Wilson chased after Brown; once confronted again, according to witnesses, Brown put his hands in the air in an attempt to surrender and show that he did not have a gun. However, no one will ever really know Brown’s true intentions,...

TIME Misses Point with Poll, Apology

Taylor Field, Staff Writer

November 21, 2014

TIME magazine announced its fourth annual poll on Nov. 12 in order to determine “Which Word Should Be Banned in 2015?” The poll lists 15 options for words to be banished, and beneath the poll, TIME elaborates on “the type of person who would like to see each nominee launched into the deepest, darkest, most hopeless eternity from whence there is no salvation nor return.” Included in this year’s poll were expressions deemed tired or overused, such as “bae,” “kale” and “said no one ever”; those considered grammatically incorrect, such as “I can’t even,” “literally” and “obvi”; and, finally, the most disturbing category: miscalculated attempts at social justice via censorship. This year, TI...

Self-Awareness, Humor Can Make Oberlin Approachable

CJ Blair, Columnist

November 7, 2014

Oberlin is known globally for its art programs, liberal views and political activism. But what about its sense of humor? If this is a school that does so much good for the world, why are its students often labeled unreachable and intimidating by outsiders? There’s room for debate about that, but I’m inclined to say that it’s because Oberlin students tend to take themselves too seriously. There’s hardly a school out there as distinct as Oberlin. Why, then, are we hesitant to have a sense of humor about ourselves? While a proposal to laugh at ourselves may sound odd, I’ve seen it applied in extremely productive ways at other colleges. Over fall break, I visited a friend at the University of Chicago. Though...

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