Above you’ll find a brand new video interview with Griffin Gallati ’15, fictional ten-year-old astronomy and music major who holds several jobs on campus and is reported to be “one of Wesleyan’s more unique students.” Subtly nestled into Wesleyan’s homepage yesterday, it was a valiant effort—and clearly took an admirable amount of work on the part of whomever Wesleyan pays to feed into student narcissism every weekday with a video camera—but let’s just say Oberlin wins this round, probably forever. Presenting the Oberlin (err, Meowberlin) homepage, as it appeared yesterday, April 1:
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.”
In a semester that has seen the current incarnation of the Wesleyan ACB get mentions from PSafe and other school officials due to its creepy spasms of racism, it may be an object of comfort, or of worry, to know that the ACB of Oberlin, our sister (?) in the Midwest, has had some problems with repressed negative feelings as well. Jezebel has the story of a former student named Cate Minall, who was at first called a slut on Oberlin’s Oberlin Confessional board (which, by the way, requires an Oberlin e-mail address to sign up for, thus ensuring that all intolerance is perfectly endemic to your community) in the 2006-2007 school year. She was like, “okay, fine, everyone gets called a slut on this board. I’m just going to starve the trolls and ignore it.” Things began to escalate and get creepy, though, as some anonymous listener stealthily picked her life apart:
But then things spiraled out of control. Anonymous posters wrongfully accused Minall of spreading STDs, stealing boyfriends, and sleeping with professors in order to pass classes. A 60-page thread piled up overnight that was dedicated entirely to Minall’s sexual exploits, some accurate but most completely false.
“It got to the point where I couldn’t go anywhere on campus, because everything I said in class would be posted and torn apart,” Minall, now 24, recalled. “It wasn’t just on the computer anymore.” Friends and prospective love interests were scared away by the rumors. One night, her room was broken into and trashed. Someone found her address and posted it online, threatening to contact her family and let them know what their little girl had been up to — or, rather, what Oberlin Confessional thought she was up to.
Yesterday, Oberlin College’s Sexual Information Center and Students United for Sexual Freedom posted the above video, entitled Oberlin Has Sex! They say this about the video:
Recently, students at Wesleyan made an incredible video protesting the potential federal defunding of Planned Parenthood. They’ve called for other college campuses to make similar movies, and Oberlin College has responded!
They then quote the same letter included below the Wesleyan video. Good to know that other colleges have begun picking up the message.
For information on more places the original “I Have Sex” video has appeared in the past few days, check the EDITS section at the end of the original responses post.
Apart from the strategic planning sessions, focus group polling, and glossy brochures, I like to think there exists some kind of collective soul at the core of a university—not a living, breathing thing capable of articulating itself but, rather, a sort of impression that’s mainly crafted by students… an identity, a shared understanding, an ideal… and a hope for the future.
That student-formed vision often runs up against the realities of the marketing campaigns that Admissions pumps out to boost our rankings and, ultimately, the quality of incoming classes—however they choose to define that.
We’ve reported on parts of this before; for example, there was Oberlin’s adoption of a cheesy new slogan: “We are Oberlin. Fearless.” The same marketing agency that created that gem was also the one that spun our very own “Independent Ivy” campaign back in ’98-’99, which led to much student protest.
Isn’t it only a matter of time before the next hired gun pumps out another catchy, bold, and fearless media message for Wesleyan? (Sorry, Admissions: “The Art and Science of Education Since 1831” isn’t catchy, bold, or fearless.) Isn’t it time we became more aware of the marketing messages being cultivated by the administration? Isn’t it time we thought about where we want Wesleyan to go?
This was all brought to the surface by a confluence of factors: the Roth administration’s clamping down on things like Zonker Harris Day, its refusal to let the chalking moratorium lapse, and its general reluctance to support “things that are stupid”—all the while defining “stupid” as whatever, in its opinion, it thinks will turn away the kind of high school students it wants to attract. It’s that thinking that leads our president to say things like:
“Zonker Harris day should not be on the calendar next year, and it won’t be,” Roth said. “The institution should make it clear that it’s not supporting things that are stupid.”
What an efficient way to do away with decades of tradition for the sake of robbing the Ivies of a few of their potential students…
And then, Andrea Silenzi ’07 sent us an NPR report by Dan Bobkoff ’05, bringing Oberlin’s advertising campaign back into the news (bonus: they play MGMT’s “Kids” at the end of the segment).
I listened, and was particularly struck by one section:
It’s too early to know if the strategy is resonating with prospective students. Consultants hired by Oberlin say it’s polling well in ongoing focus groups.
And then it hit me: is this how we’re going to define the soul of Wesleyan? Does our school’s image depend on the results of focus groups, opinion polls, and target demographics, or does it depend on us?
Here’s hoping for the latter.
Some dude is so unhappy with his liberal arts degree, he’s selling it on the school’s classifieds page:
OC History Degree
I graduated from Oberlin in December of 2005 and my degree was mailed to me as I had little interest in returning to the school for graduation ceremonies. Since graduating I’ve found that I can’t seem to make my degree work for me. I’ve taken it to a number of specialists but to no avail. My guess is that its simply a broken unusable degree so I figured I’d sell it. The original cost was around 140,000 dollars. I’d be willing to let it go for about 5000 dollars. Don’t be alarmed at this enormous drop in value, I simply need to be able to pay for food and a place to stay and five grand should get me by for about 5-6 months. Perhaps you’d have better luck in making this Oberlin College degree do something other than occupy space in a 7 dollar CVS brand frame.
my email is firstname.lastname@example.org