Ohio’s Oberlin College, ranked the third most liberal college in the country by Newsweek and the College Prowler, cancelled classes Monday in favor of a “day of solidarity” after a slew of reported “hate-related” incidents.
The school essentially said that, after the sighting of someone in Ku Klux Klan-style garb, they felt the issue could not wait another day.
They posted this message on their website:
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. [Emphasis added]
Students have already begun making posters for the rally, it seems:
The Oberlin Review documented a number of the “hate speech incidents” as they were happening, choosing not to alter the language or censor the posts (extreme content warning):
Feb. 9: Vandalism in the Science Center included the replacement of “Black” with “Nigger” on Black History Month posters, drawings of swastikas, damage to the “Year of the Queer” posters and reported destruction of the Chinese calendar.
Feb. 12: LGBTQ Community Coordinator Lorena Espinoza found a note in the Multicultural Resource Center that read “Nigger + Faggot Center.”
Feb. 16: Students found a number of offensive notes written around Burton Hall. “Whites Only” was written above a water fountain, “Nigger Oven” was written inside the elevator and “No Niggers” was written on a bathroom door.
Feb. 17: The Office of Safety and Security released a Special Alert of a strong-arm robbery of a student near West College Street and Cedar Street. The student reported that he was approached by an individual who made a derogatory remark about his perceived ethnicity and then physically knocked him to the ground.
Feb. 26: Posters were defaced in King including those advertising “Year of the Queer” and the Affirmative Action panel, at least one of which had a swastika drawn on it.
Feb. 27: A swastika drawn onto the outside window of West Lecture Hall in the Science Center was seen being removed by custodial staff.
Scott Wargo, an Oberlin spokesman, told the New York Times: “I’m not sure why anyone is doing it, but those actions have made people uneasy and say we need to come together and discuss this.”
The New York Times adds:
Founded in 1833, Oberlin was one of the first colleges in the nation to educate women and men together, and one of the first to admit black students. Before the Civil War, it was an abolitionist hotbed and an important stop on the underground railroad.
“We believe that today’s events—and our ongoing work and discussions—will strengthen Oberlin and will strengthen us all,” the school’s invitation to the “Day of Solidarity” rally concludes.
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