Following “Hate-Related Incidents,” Oberlin Cancels Classes for a Day of Solidarity

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Not long after Wesleyan’s own “Diversity University” panel followed on hateful remarks on the ACB and racial identification in Public Safety reports, Oberlin College is experiencing its share of diversity-related conflict.

The liberal arts college in Oberlin, OH, received reports this morning of “a person wearing a hood and robe resembling a KKK outfit between South and the Edmonia Lewis Center and in the vicinity of Afrikan Heritage House.” Shortly after, the college officially cancelled classes for the day, and students acted quickly to organize a “day of solidarity.”

Oberlin has reportedly been experiencing numerous accounts of hate-related issues recently. According to Arianna Gil Oberlin ’15, an active organizer in the “day of solidarity,” the past month has seen many “threats, attacks, defacement, and graffiti” against students of color and queer students.

This page offers a detailed timeline of the incidents of hate from February.

When asked about whether the suspects are students, Gil responded, “No one really knows who they are. I have my thoughts.”

Currently, Oberlin’s Safety and Security and the Oberlin Police Department are investigating into the incident from this morning.

More information about the “day of solidarity” and the incident will be posted later after an interview with Gil. The following is the official announcement from Oberlin on the incident and canceling classes:

Early this morning, there was a report of a person wearing a hood and robe resembling a KKK outfit between South and the Edmonia Lewis Center and in the vicinity of Afrikan Heritage House. This report is being investigated by both Safety and Security and the Oberlin Police Department. This event, in addition to the series of other hate-related incidents on campus, has precipitated our decision to suspend formal classes and all non-essential activities for today, Monday, March 4, 2013, and gather for a series of discussions of the challenging issues that have faced our community in recent weeks.

We hope today will allow the entire community—students, faculty, and staff—to make a strong statement about the values that we cherish here at Oberlin: inclusion, respect for others, and a strong and abiding faith in the worth of every individual. Indeed, the strength of Oberlin comes from our belief that diversity and openness enriches us all, and enhances the educational mission at its core.

We ask that all students, faculty and staff participate in the events planned for today:

12PM | Lord Lounge, Afrikan Heritage House
Teach-in led by Africana Studies Department

2PM | Wilder Bowl
Demonstration of solidarity

3:30PM | Finney Chapel
Community convocation: “We Stand Together” (previously scheduled for Wednesday 3/6 at 12PM)

When faced with difficult situations, Oberlin has consistently met the challenges and affirmed its commitment to the highest quality of education and the noblest aspirations of its community members. We believe that today’s events—and our ongoing work and discussions—will strengthen Oberlin and will strengthen us all.

The following is the email Oberlin students received today:

Dear Students,

We are here to notify you all that there has been yet another bias and racist event on campus. A person wearing KKK regalia was spotted on South Campus around midnight near the ELC and South. This has been another event in a string of several reflecting a terrible pattern of racism, prejudice, queerphobia, anti-semitism and other bias attacks that are happening on Oberlin’s campus. At this time, advocacy, support and solidarity are necessary emotionally, physically and spiritually.

There’s more coverage of the event in the New York Times. This seems like a good time for us to reflect on the progress we have made, and a reminder that issues like these do not disappear overnight. This is not just a problem at Oberlin. As a college that has experienced similar conflicts, we should view the incident at Oberlin in the spirit of fellow students, and keep working to build a safe environment wherever we are.

Here’s hoping our friends at Oberlin have a successful “day of solidarity.”

[New York Times]

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