The Oberlin Review

Student Senate On Supporting UAW

Henry Hicks and Austin Ward

March 6, 2020

 This article is part of the Review’s Student Senate column. In an effort to increase communication and transparency, Student Senators will provide personal perspectives on recent events on campus and in the community. This statement was originally released in an email to the entirety of the student body in Student Senate’s weekly newsletter. Due to Oberlin College’s financial deficit, President Carmen Twillie Ambar and administrative staff have decided to formally consider contracting with outside vendors instead of continuing their contract with the United Automobile Workers union. This could lead to a total of 108 full-time workers losing their UAW jobs: 52 full-time dining employees and 56 full-time cus...

Oberlin Must Be Sure to Take Care of Neighbors, Workers

Booker C. Peek, Professor Emeritus of Africana Studies

March 6, 2020

 Most of us agree that Oberlin College must pay all its workers a living wage. But perhaps not all support this view. There is no universally agreed-upon definition for what amount of dollars represents a “living wage” — a sum for one person or a family of four, for those living in the most expensive area of the country or the least expensive?  Let’s allow that the term lacks precision, but is a concept that must cover what we all think of as basic needs — food, housing, clothing, health insurance, etc. — with some notion of a barrier still, but hardly impossible to overcome. It is urgent for us to impress upon the College a sense of oneness as humans, caring and supporting each other in life’s jo...

Pro-UAW Activism Shows Best of Obies

Editorial Board

February 28, 2020

 With only one day’s notice after President Carmen Twillie Ambar announced the College’s plan to formally consider outsourcing 108 United Automobile Workers jobs, over 600 students and other community members assembled outside of the General Faculty meeting on Feb. 19 to voice their support of unionized employees. As Oberlin students, we are proud of the scale of the protest, the speed and skill with which it was organized, and the commitment that pro-union organizers have demonstrated to continue making their work more open to and inclusive of students and other community members of color. As outlined in our previous editorial, we believe that the College should not move forward with its proposal to outsourc...

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...

An Open Letter to Students

Susan L. Phillips, OC ’76

February 28, 2020

 It’s with sincere and profound sorrow that I want you to know that the Susan Phillips Social Justice Scholarship Fund spring interviews have been suspended indefinitely. I know that this will disappoint the students who have benefited from stipends each summer for the past four years, and will deprive others of important internship opportunities in the future.  I have looked forward tremendously to coming to campus in the spring to listen to your creative project proposals and again in the fall to hear about your actual experiences. You have restored my faith in the future during these bleak, divisive times for America — more than I can ever express. Therefore, the decision I’ve made to suspend the program t...

Students Call for Open Dialogue Regarding UAW

Jess Wilber, College third-year, Jemma Johnson Shoucair, College second-year

February 28, 2020

 As students of the Oberlin community, we are writing to call on our fellow students and faculty members in an appeal to President Carmen Twillie Ambar. It is time to launch an open dialogue with the entire Oberlin community to discuss and explore creative ways to retain individuals who have made invaluable contributions to our college lives.  As a result of recent administrative decisions, 108 United Automobile Workers Local 2192 — members of the Oberlin community — stand to lose their jobs. Those who do find jobs with outside contractors will face pay cuts, benefits losses, and degraded working conditions. Unions are critical to upholding living wage jobs and securing rights in the workplace. Replacing union w...

Administration Abandoning Oberlin’s Core

Zeb Page, Associate Professor of Geology, Tom Lopez, OC ’89, Associate Professor of Computer Music and Digital Arts, Pablo Mitchell, Professor of History and Comparative American Studies, Alysia Ramos, Assistant Professor of Dance, and Sam Taggart, Assistant Professor of Computer Science

February 28, 2020

 Institutions of higher education in the United States are facing significant challenges after decades of soaring tuition costs and a population that is increasingly skeptical of the value of a liberal arts education. Oberlin College faces these same challenges, which are exacerbated by the recent legacy of fiscal irresponsibility on the part of trustees and administrators who indebted the institution in the pursuit of vain building projects, charting an unsustainable fiscal course. The current administration and the Board of Trustees have quite rightly striven to correct these mistakes by slowing the increase in tuition and reducing the yearly draw on our endowment.  Unfortunately, in their eagerness to correct their past mistakes, the board has imposed a regime of ...

Oberlin’s Future Hinges on Razor-Thin Decisions

Booker C. Peek, Associate Professor Emeritus of Africana Studies

February 28, 2020

 College financially following the administration’s announcement of proposed outsourcing. But we should continue to support Oberlin financially — perhaps even more generously than in previous years — and encourage all our friends to join us, however razor-thin the decision to remain loyal may be in light of the impending mass firings of those most vulnerable. It’s the right thing to do. The Board of Trustees’ decision to be one of the first colleges to admit blacks in the 1800s was a razor-thin one, but it was the right decision. A decision made by President Carmen Twillie Ambar to reconsider the College’s decision to make these layoffs may be a razor-thin one, especially because the original recommenda...

Affirmative Alumni Engagement Vital in UAW Discussions

Paula J. Gordon, OC ’68

February 28, 2020

 Editor’s Note: This letter was previously posted on an online forum for Class of 1968 announcements.  I support Oberlin College, including financially, as it wrestles with economic realities in the interest of its long-term survival. Our astute Board of Trustees — made up almost entirely of alumni — hired President Carmen Twillie Ambar to accomplish this daunting task.  As a lifelong union member, I strongly support the College in finding the most humane, responsible, equitable, and socially-responsible results possible under the current circumstances. Positive responses to President Ambar’s forthrightness, transparency, and clarity — all of which I applaud — are more productive than threats of pun...

Hundreds of students protested President Carmen Twillie Ambar’s recent announcement that the College is “formally considering” contracting with outside vendors, potentially cutting 108 United Automobile Workers union jobs, in the King Building Wednesday.

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: ...

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