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March 21, 2013

KKK, really? It is 2013!

Oberlin Students unite to overcome racially-charged hate crimes

By Alberto Paneccasio

The recent closing of classes had the whole community in an emotional stir.

Oberlin College in Lorain County canceled classes Monday, March 4 to hold a “Day of Solidarity” following a very busy month of hateful vandalism and the latest report of a person spotted on campus wearing a look-alike Ku Klux Klan outfit.Oberlin Students Unite

Ever since Oberlin College was founded in 1833 by a Presbyterian minister and a missionary, they have been a leader in progressive reforms. Even today it is viewed as one of the most liberal campuses in the country, and the incidents were very unsettling for many students.

In the midst of a busy February­ — which is Black History Month in the United States — there were several acts of vandalism and graffiti on the college campus that targeted the Jewish, African-American and LGBT communities, and were reported in The Oberlin Review.

These racial acts of vandalism included Black History Month posters that were defaced, as well as graffiti in the elevators with racial slurs. Notes were even found at the LGBT Community Coordinator’s office with these slurs as well. These graffiti-like signs included swastikas that were heavily drawn on campus, according to the Cleveland Jewish News Report.

The incident caused a lot of students to feel anything but normal. The students are quite shaken up even to this day on the matter.

These 16 incidents, to be exact, were reportedly displayed a pattern of prejudice, racism, homophobia and anti-Semitism.

“The classes were canceled on March 4 so that the school officials could gather for a series of discussions of the challenging issues that have faced our community in recent weeks,” said Marvin Krislov, Oberlin College school president. “The incidents are being investigated by the Office of Safety and security at the college and the Oberlin Police Department.”

The school itself recognizes and actively supports the distinctive cultural identities and histories of all people and groups.

Oberlin College and its founders had the idea of integration more than 170 years ago. In 1835 the college took the decision to admit students without regard to race or gender.

That was then. Today, 175 years later, the town is doing very well with all of its business, and of course the most liberal college around.

The incident must be seen as a very serious occurrence. More so because Oberlin is seen as a privileged elite school. The college has remarkable history on civil rights and was a stop in the underground railway during the time of slavery.

To think that it was a student is a possibility because the community is diverse, but it could have been anybody.

The FBI is now investigating the matter with the possibility that it could be anyone, a student or a staff member or a resident in the college town.

From all the facts it seems that the decision to cancel classes for a day was a precautionary step, and it gave the community the opportunity to hold rallies and talk about it so that students could overcome what had happened. The incidents should not have been taken lightly and the college has shown the will to get to the bottom of it.Oberlin Students coming together

For someone to deface a university that does so well for their students is completely out of this world. It is 2013, not back in the day when the KKK was started.

“It’s hard because it’s not something you would expect on Oberlin’s campus,” said Gabriel Moore, a student.

Since the community gathered for a day of solidarity, people have been coming together and working very hard to listen, to learn, to teach and to share their thoughts and feelings about the recent incidents.

Student working groups have been meeting to come up with ideas for moving Oberlin forward. Administrators have met with campus leaders and will continue to work collaboratively with community members to make Oberlin stronger.

“To help ensure the safety of the entire campus community, the college has increased its Safety and Security patrols and presence in key campus locations, and increased the presence of the Oberlin Police Department on campus,” said Scott Wargo, director of media relations.