The Oberlin Review

Oberlin Has Transparency Problems

Les Leopold, OC ’69

March 13, 2020

Oberlin College’s administration claims that contracting out 108 union dining and maintenance jobs will save over $2 million a year. But where is the evidence for this claim? Good governance requires full transparency so that all the stakeholders impacted have the information needed to evaluate such dire actions as well as the overall financial health of the College. That is far from the case here. Here’s what we have NOT seen to date:  1) The proposed non-union sub-contracts: How much do they cost, and with whom? How long do they last? How are quality control and student safety issues handled along the way? What are the quality, performance, and labor relations history of the contractors? 2) Administra...

College’s OSCA Stance Inconsistent With One Oberlin Recommendations

Editorial Board

February 14, 2020

 When the Steering Committee of the Academic and Administrative Program Review released its final One Oberlin report in May 2019, a number of its recommendations concerned changes to the College’s relationship with the Oberlin Student Cooperative Association. This Editorial Board was reassured then, by what appeared to be a commitment from administrators, to engage in a process to learn more about the value OSCA brings to the institution. Now, nearly a year later, we’re not so sure that administrators are committed to such a process — and recent developments have troubling implications for the future of a transparent and good-faith One Oberlin implementation. The One Oberlin report recommended engaging “in ...

Senate Updates on Committee Progress

Patrick Powers, Contributing Writer

November 22, 2019

As part of Student Senate’s mission to inform the Oberlin student body about the work going on throughout Oberlin’s various administrative governance structures, we’d like to offer a snapshot of the work going on in some of the committees in which senators serve. This is by no means a comprehensive list of all the work Senate is doing at the moment. Still, we hope it will provide some valuable insight into the conversations going on amongst faculty and administrators that will affect Oberlin’s students in the weeks, months, and years to come.  Arts and Sciences Academic Restructuring Committee update: Cait Kelley ASARC is one of several committees created this year to formulate specific recommendations...

Building Consensus, Transparency Among Slocum’s Strengths

David Snyder, Oberlin Resident

November 1, 2019

 I am pleased to write this letter asking you to vote for Linda Slocum for Oberlin City Council on Nov. 5. Here is why Linda deserves re-election: Linda Slocum brings experience and community-oriented thinking to City Council. Serving her second term as the council’s vice president, Linda has focused on making local government more effective, efficient, and transparent. Linda has also worked to build consensus among council members by solving problems and not pursuing her own agenda at the expense of others.  When she is re-elected, Linda will continue to be a consensus-builder, stressing collaboration on the challenges and opportunities the city faces....

Senate Progress On Transparency Sets Example For Administration

David Mathisson, Columnist

October 11, 2019

 This semester, Senate has made transparency a priority in order to bring together our community and foster cooperation between students and the administration. Senate is working to release more information to students this year than at any time in the recent past, improving the student body’s access to policies that work for us all. I’m optimistic about Senate’s work this semester, and believe that Senate’s work will set an example on transparency for the administration to follow. With that in mind, the severity of Oberlin’s transparency crisis means it must remain in the public dialogue until transparency and access become cultural norms of our community. In my recent campaign for Senate, I engaged h...

Student Life Leaves Student Priorities, Voices Behind

David Mathisson, Columnist

September 13, 2019

 Last Friday, when the police were patrolling campus and handing students jaywalking tickets in excess of $100, student voices called for a better solution. At the time, Campus Safety largely dismissed those voices. It took over a hundred people speaking up to gain administrative support for a solution that focused on the students. The fact that we need numbers like that to enact win-win policies is demonstrative of a problem bigger than just the crosswalk: the administration’s chronic refusal to involve students in policymaking is leading to bad policies in many areas of student life. On Monday, after a protest planned in response to the tickets received over 120 responses on Facebook in less than 48 hours, I began...

Academic and Administrative Review Process Not the Enemy

Lior Krancer, Production Editor

April 26, 2019

 As of yesterday, a year has passed since President Carmen Twillie Ambar shared the list of Academic and Administrative Program Review Steering Committee members with the Oberlin community. The AAPR is daunting because it indicates that hard decisions will need to be made to secure Oberlin’s long-term financial future. However, the fact that we have a dedicated program to address our serious deficit shows that Oberlin’s administration understands the gravity of our current financial struggle.  During this process, I have come to see a pattern of Oberlin students leveling sweeping criticisms of the AAPR rather than meaningfully confronting the potential danger we face. While there are plenty of reasonable concer...

Students Need More Data

Editorial Board

April 5, 2019

Since the launch of the ongoing Academic and Administrative Program Review, transparency has been an oft-repeated concern of Oberlin community members — and for good reason. The AAPR is the first comprehensive analysis of Oberlin’s finances and was created to address the College’s structural budget deficit. As a recent report from the AAPR steering committee reminded us, their work “is an ambitious effort that touches almost every part of the institution.” This breadth of responsibility, understandably, comes with considerable apprehension. However, as the Review reported following the initial public rollout of the AAPR’s areas of recommendation on March 13, AAPR leadership has taken important steps toward...

Discussions Regarding Dining Changes Must Include Student Input, Voices

David Mathisson, Contributing Writer

April 5, 2019

The Office of Residential Education sent an email to all rising juniors March 19 notifying students that previously promised meal plan options would no longer be offered. Instead, the office planned to limit them to more expensive meal plans that provide fewer options to students. Concerned about the impact on low- and middle-income students, a small group of passionate student activists planned a boycott in response. Later that day, because of the accessibility concerns, I joined as an organizer. I created a food donation plan to ensure every participant would get enough to eat during the boycott, regardless of income. I’d like to thank Vice President and Dean of Students Meredith Raimondo and the Dean of Students...

Policy of Silence Threatens Students

Editorial Board

October 27, 2017

In the wake of anti-Semitic flyers being discovered by Safety and Security on Warner Center and Peters Hall early in the morning Oct. 13, President Ambar announced in an email to the students, faculty, and staff that the College would stop notifying the community of discriminatory postings “unless there is clear evidence of an ongoing pattern or a serious threat to campus safety.” As a group that includes multiple marginalized identities, including Judaism, the Editorial Board is surprised, confused, and frightened about the implications of such a sudden sweeping decision. First and foremost, we believe that marginalized students have a right to be informed about any all possible statements of hate and threats ...

Exclusive Governance Fails Students

Editorial Board

September 8, 2017

In an email from this past summer announcing to faculty and staff that Oberlin’s revenues would fall well short of targets and create a deficit of $5 million, incoming Chair of the Board of Trustees Chris Canavan, OC ’84, began with the salutation “To the Oberlin community.” It was a stroke of profound irony. For all that it contained — including discussion of decreased enrollment, sub-par student retention, a projected five percent budget shortfall over the next decade, and a salary freeze for the second consecutive year — the letter was most significant in what, or rather who, it omitted. Despite the grave financial implications for current and future students, we were never informed, and Ca...

Ambar Provides Opportunity for Needed Change

Editorial Board

September 1, 2017

Each new academic year offers an opportunity to turn a new leaf. With the end of former President Marvin Krislov’s decade-long tenure this summer, that opportunity has perhaps never been greater at Oberlin. Simultaneously, however, the institution has never seemed to be in a more precarious position in recent memory than it does now. Just within the last year, Oberlin has seen cuts to administrative assistant and custodial positions, threats to eliminate programs like faculty research status, yet another tuition increase accompanied by an overhaul in room and board requirements, and the resumption of business with Gibson’s Bakery after controversy that sparked massive student protests. Together, these choi...

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