VOL. 19, NO. 11
EST. 1999 MAY 24, 2019
OBERLIN’S STUDENT CULTURE MAGAZINE Editors-in-Chief Sophie Jones Ian Feather
Back Page Crossword by Olivia Hacker Keating Photo by The Review
Managing Editor Charlie Rinehart-Jones
Content Editors PJ McCormick Devin McMahon Ben Richman Jane Wickline
Layout Editors Natalie Hawthorne Grace Kirk Leora Swerdlow Nico Vickers
Copy Editors Nell Beck Eleanor Cunningham Olivia Hacker-Keating
Staff Writers Jason Hewitt Zoe Jasper Sam Schuman
Photo Editor Emery Webster
Contributing Writers Abby Lee Raphael Dreyfuss
Web Editor Leah Yassky
From there, the column spirals into an extended High School Musical-themed allegory that is earnest and obnoxious and I can’t reprint it. But as I was navel gazing at this picture of myself as a prudish senior, wearing a scoop-neck t shirt and trying unsuccessfully to gracefully grow out a buzz cut, I began to wonder, what did this innocent young tyke think of Oberlin when they arrived? And because I began journaling when I came to college because I was worried I would forget these four years, too, I know the answer. For those of you who did not have the unique pleasure of being an Oberlin freshman in fall 2015, or for those of you who did but forgot, allow me to take you on a journey…. Its Wednesday of Orientation Week, 2015. You’re reclining in a extra-long twin bed in your Dascomb open double. The smell of fourth meal is wafting up from the first floor. You’ve just followed Marvin Krislov on Instagram and checked Yik Yak for any potential BY SOPHIE JONES | CO-EDITOR-IN-CHIEF parties. Splitchers is tonight. You do not know what Splitchers is but you know you have at least an hour before you and your orientation Every semester here is different for everyone. Everyone’s Some years ago, I was the Editor in Chief of friend group of 12 bi-curious ladies and one gay boy will sit on the my high school newspaper. This week, as I was floor in Kahn and pass around six rasperitas to pregame for it. You experience of Oberlin is unique and hopefully you have a good memory or archived instagram posts or twitter drafts or a journal ruminating on what to write for this final issue crack open your journal and reflect on college thus far; of The Grape it occured to me that I might take to and usefully reflect on and self plagarize from. I’ll finish with a advantage of my youthful industriousness and quote from a wise high schooler I once knew, simply reprint what I wrote for my final column as Editor in Chief four years ago. Unfortunately, upon revisiting the 2015 Senior issue of dfgadfgafgafg, this is what I found;
You attend your first Splitchers, you attend your first postSplitchers ‘Sco Ramp social hour. There is no tobacco ban. You smoke American Spirits and make new friends and enemies. The next day, you and your orientation friends sit in the wooden booths in DeCafe and nurse your sugary hangovers with Yerba Mates and DeCafe Sandwiches. The semester starts, and before long, it ends. You spend your first winter term in your childhood home being kind of mean to your parents and thinking about Oberlin,
The Campus Sabra Boycott and its Off-Campus Opposition BY RAPHAEL DREYFUSS AND ZOE JASPER I CONTRIBUTING WRITERS You’ve surely seen the ads. For nearly a year now, anyone with an even tangential relationship to Oberlin has had them plastered across their Facebook and Instagram feeds: an image of anthropomorphic pretzels, baby carrots, and pita bread, all standing next to a large, glossy container of Sabra hummus. Cartoon eyes wide in terror, their stick-figure arms are raised towards the heavens in anguish as they make their desperate plea: “SAVE OUR HUMMUS!” These social media ads link to an accompanying website, SaveTheHummus.com, which hosts a petition alleging that “Oberlin Jewish Voice for Peace and Oberlin Students for a Free Palestine are threatening to limit and politicize… our snacks through a hateful boycott.” Many who received the advertisement were confounded by its tone. The text does not address any political critiques of Sabra raised last spring by a petition circulated by Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) and Students for a Free Palestine (SFP), which objected to Sabra’s parent company, Strauss Group, for its ongoing contracts with the Israeli Defense Forces and Israeli Ministry of Defense, as well as its strong public endorsement of the Golani Brigade, an IDF combat unit made infamous for numerous human rights violations. “One of the six targeted companies for consumer boycott by the Palestinian BDS National Committee,” read a pamphlet jointly published by JVP and SFP in October, “Sabra was determined to be a realistic yet important target for a selective boycott at Oberlin.” BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) is a movement first instigated in 2005 by various Palestinian civil society organizations (political parties, labor unions, refugee networks, women’s organisations, professional associations, etc.) which calls for economic direct action as a non-violent means to pressure Israel to end its dispossession of Palestinian land. SaveTheHummus.com portrays the movement as a “hateful” and arbitrary attempt to “limit and politicize our snack choices.” The unsettling, upbeat tone of the website (which demands that Sabra hummus remain “available for all students, faculty, staff, and guests to enjoy—perhaps on a pretzel, some celery or carrots, on a nice warm piece of pita bread, or even by itself on a spoon) led many students to speculate about the purpose and origins of the website. “I can’t believe how much I’m seeing this ad,” one facebook comment read, “how much did y’all spend on Facebook marketing?” While other comments speculated that perhaps the ads were the work of Sabra’s own PR and marketing team, the truth is even more bizarre. An investigation of archived versions of the Save the Hummus webpage revealed that it had, at various times, hosted identical anti-boycott petitions directed at other colleges attempting Sabra boycott campaigns, including
Vassar, George Mason, and Earlham. Further probes into the website’s source code additionally revealed a Google Analytic tag — a unique identification number used by web administrators to monitor site traffic — tied to four additional websites, all with the stated goals of opposing pro-Palestinian activism on campuses. The websites generally targeted specific college communities with active BDS campaigns (saynotodivestment.org, for instance, targeted students in the California Community College system, while investinpeace.org is directed at Columbia University). However one website listed under the same Google Analytics ID, academicengagement. org, is far more candid about its broader mission. The Academic Engagement Network was founded in 2015, and describes itself as “an organization of American university and college faculty and staff formed for the purposes of opposing the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, standing for academic freedom and freedom of expression, and supporting education and robust conversation about Israel in the academy.” Publicly available tax documents reveal that the Academic Engagement Network is largely funded by the Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC), a controversial umbrella organization which has recently drawn criticism for its hard-line tactics of targeting pro-Palestine student activists. A September report by The Jewish Daily Forward and ProPublica revealed that the ICC — which originated as a branch of Hillel International, but is now an independent organization — have made misleading social media advertising campaigns — like Save the Hummus— a central tactic in their fight against pro-Palestinian activism. In an interview with Jewish Currents, co-author of the report, Josh Nathan-Kazis, explains that “ICC created these Facebook pages, like ‘San Jose Students Against Hate’ and ‘John Jay College Students Against Hate’... The ads were designed to look like they were coming from student organizations, but were actually run by DC political operatives with the Israel on Campus Coalition.” The ICC is extremely well-funded, reporting a $9 million budget in 2017, which far exceeds those of similar, higherprofile groups such as the Zionist Organization of America. Million dollar expenditures have been paid to right-wing research and consulting agencies such as FP1, an organization
led by the former campaign manager of Jeb Bush’s 2016 presidential bid. Another large public-relations and consulting firm, Ohio-based JVA Campaigns, has been determined to have created the websites for both Academic Engagement and Save the Hummus. Last May, pro-Palestinian news site, Electronic Intifada, reported on an email sent from a JVAassociated to George Washington University’s student senate
which referred to one pro-Palestinian activist as “Adolf Hitler,” and warned members of the student government against using secret ballots in their BDS vote. The Grape reached out to JVA Campaigns for comments, but has not received a response. The ICC has also invested in extremely high-tech surveillance operations of opposition groups, including a DC-based “war-room” based on FEMA command centers, outfitted with wall-to-wall computer screens intended to provide “up-to-the-minute tracking of Israel-related activity at colleges and universities.” In Al Jazeera’s documentary, The Lobby, hidden-camera footage reveals Israel on Campus Coalition’s executive director, Jacob Baime, admitting that officials from ICC directly “coordinate” or “communicate” with the state of Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs in order to advance the organization’s internet disinformation strategy. “With the anti-
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NOT TARGETED CONSUMER BOYCOTT Israel people, what’s most effective, what we found at least in the last year, is you do the opposition research, put up some anonymous website, and then put up targeted Facebook ads… It’s psychological warfare, it drives them crazy”. Despite the influence of such large, off-campus pro-Israel lobby groups, support for the Sabra boycott at Oberlin has been remarkably consistent among the student body. A broad and diverse coalition of student organizations have signed on to the boycott, identifying the anti-Sabra movement’s goals as directly and critically relevant to their own organizational missions. A statement from Oberlin Students in Solidarity with Guatemala (OSSGUA), for instance, condemns the “role of U.S. funding/support in perpetuating the human rights abuses of against both indigenous Maya and Palestinian peoples.” Students for Energy Justice (SEJ) additionally has drawn attention to the environmental injustices created by the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land, such as “excluding Palestinians from access to water...and chopping down olive trees in order to expand illegal settlements.” In addition to this coalition of student organizations, as well as hundreds of
A TARGETED CONSUMER BOYCOTT FOCUSES ON A SMALL NUMBER OF COMPANIES signatures collected on a petition circulated by Jewish Voice for Peace, Students for a Free Palestine, and Oberlin Student Senate — the only body specifically designated to represent and advocate student interests — has also endorsed the boycott. There has been no public on-campus opposition to the boycott. It is clear that the Oberlin community sees the movement to boycott Sabra as inextricably connected to a broader drive towards social justice. Despite the vast community support for the Sabra boycott, however, Oberlin administrators remain reluctant to adopt an institutional boycott of Sabra products, as called for by the student coalition — citing a College policy not to take positions on “issues on which our community has a range of opinions.” This policy has not been made publically available, and has in certain cases been directly contradicted by various administrative decisions. For instance, from 2004 to 2014, Oberlin conceded to demands made by the Student Labor Action Coalition (SLAC) to remove all Coca-Cola products
“A BROAD AND DIVERSE COALITION OF STUDENT ORGANIZATIONS HAVE SIGNED ON TO THE BOYCOTT, IDENTIFYING THE ANTISABRA MOVEMENT’S GOALS AS DIRECTLY AND CRITICALLY RELEVENT TO THEIR OWN ORGANIZATIONAL MISSONS.”
from campus vendors due to the corporation’s human rights violations — a far more logistically substantial undertaking than replacing the single Sabra product in DeCafe. In light of Oberlin community organizations’ overwhelming support for an institutional boycott of Sabra, it appears that the administration’s perception of a “range of opinions” is largely the result of deliberately misleading astroturf campaigns conducted by large, far-right political consultant agencies. The recent publication of the Mueller Report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election has marked the conclusion of a nationwide liberal uproar about the corrosive effects anonymous digital disinformation campaigns driven by private or state actors can have on the democratic process. However, an overly narrow focus on Russia has blinded us to other instances of nearly-identical tactics. The Oberlin community needs to candidly reconcile with our own susceptibility to the distorting influence of astroturf tactics, lest we continue to prioritize the voices well-funded, offcampus conservative political organizations at the expense of the genuine collective will of the community.
Between a Rock and a Hard Place
AAPR process, recent history reflect deeply inequitable relationship between College and its hourly employees BY IAN FEATHER | CO-EDITOR-IN-CHIEF I was planning on writing a fun and sappy reflection of these last four years, but as of last Wednesday’s General Faculty Committee vote of approval, the final AAPR report is now one step closer to being implemented. Therefore, considering the report includes recommendations that will make many hourly workers’ lives much more difficult, as well as the fact that the alumni visiting campus this weekend may not yet be informed on these issues, I present to you the article I wrote for our last issue: The AAPR report has been presented with the qualification that we are “One Oberlin” and as such, saving this institution from financial ruin requires that we all make “sacrifices.” The proposed cuts to hourly employees’ wages, benefits, and entire positions has been touted in many of the AAPR Steering Committee’s public presentations as a matter of increasing “equity.” So why, then, were these employees not at the table when such recommendations were developed? First, for those who are unfamiliar with labor unions and their function, they essentially act as an intermediary between their members and the business that employs them. The main purpose of labor unions is to give workers the power to negotiate for more favorable working conditions and other benefits, through a process known as collective bargaining. According to Vice President for Finance and Administration Rebecca Vasquez-Skillings, unionized employees were not a part of the AAPR Steering Committee because negotiations between collective bargaining units (unions) and the College must occur through the Department of Human Resources, and that the AAPR process did not involve such negotiations (Oberlin Review, 4/12/19). On the other hand, according to Professor of Politics and labor expert Chris Howell, the steering committee is “trying to have it both ways.” Essentially, the Steering Committee had no reason not to have the unions at the table if the committee was “simply doing an investigation into employee costs that will not eventuate in a set of recommendations for collective bargaining strategy.” On the other hand, Howell said, if the Steering Committee was identifying a collective bargaining strategy for the College (changing health benefits, wages, etc.) without the unions at the table, “it’s a violation of collective bargaining law [...] they have no business reporting on that at all.” Milt Wydman is president of the Oberlin United Auto Workers (UAW) union, which was formed at the College in 1995 and is comprised of facilities and operations staff, custodians, painters, package delivery workers, and CDS workers. According to him, it is not at all surprising that the steering committee would suggest cuts to hourly workers’ wages and benefits, given that this group had no representation whatsoever at the table: “If you have a few of the [employment] groups and they’re doing the study, they’re not going to find fault with themselves. And [the Steering Committee] didn’t-basically they found fault with the people who weren’t represented on the committee.” Still, in some of my conversations with proponents of the AAPR report, I’ve heard the claim that the College’s unionized employees essentially have no reason to be worried or complain when considering the comparative lack of collective bargaining protections for Administrative and Professional Staff (A&PS).
PHOTO COURTESY OF THE OBERLIN REVIEW Howell views this line of reasoning as “ludicrous,” arguing that just because the unionized employees may technically be less vulnerable, this alone does not provide sufficient justification for making cuts to them. Furthermore, even a brief look into the recent history of unions in this country is enough to recognize that they are increasingly under attack by both public and private actors. And while the College may claim to be at the forefront of progressive politics, recent events would indicate otherwise. Most recently, just last year the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) found that the College had violated OCOPE’s contract with the College by placing temporary workers in OCOPE positions for longer than the collective bargaining agreement stipulated. For the record, this was not the first interaction between the College and the NLRB in recent years; according to the NLRB website, there were nine other labor grievances filed against the College between 2004 and 2018. There is also something to be said about the fact that the UAW did not have a collective bargaining contract with the College until 1995, as it took five years of struggle and the eventual threat of a strike to finally bring the College to the negotiating table. Wydman told me about how prior to the UAW’s first negotiated contract, hourly workers were underpaid, overworked, and generally treated poorly by administrators. An example of this was the College’s 1990 decision to implement the “Performance Management” program in an attempt to cut operating costs, which required custodial staff to carry around clipboards and write down every detail of their day-to-day work. The AAPR report suggests the re-implementation of a similar program in order to increase employee “efficiency.” Despite their hard-fought collective bargaining contracts with the College, many unionized workers continue to feel as if they are under attack by the administration. As was reported in last issue’s “Oberlin’s Impending Budget Crisis” article, OCOPE president Diane Lee says that over 30 OCOPE positions have been eliminated since 2016, when the most recent collective bargaining contract negotiation with the College occurred. But what about the Steering Committee’s finding that hourly staff’s health benefits are roughly twice as much as other employee groups, and that wages are 34% higher, on average, than hourly employees at other schools in the region? Or the
Steering Committee’s claim that reducing these disparities is an issue of achieving “equity”? According to Wydman, several other UAW members, and Professor Howell, there are two distinct issues with such an argument. First is how these numbers were calculated. According to Howell, the individuals who comprise hourly staff are, on average, older and less healthy relative to their counterparts--thus, their health care premiums will inevitably be higher. The five Stevenson Dining Hall chefs that I spoke with expressed genuine confusion about how they could be considered to be currently making ‘too much’ in terms of wages--their theory is that non-unionized hourly employees from other schools were included when the Steering Committee made their calculation. Second, regardless of the accuracy of the health benefits and wages figures, Howell claims that over the past couple of decades, the unions have agreed to take lower pay in return for higher benefits during collective bargaining negotiations. Thus, according to the Stevenson chefs, cuts to either health benefits or wages would force many hourly employees to find alternative work that can support themselves and their families. Because there exists a large pool of low-paid temporary workers that could be brought in to fill dining and custodial positions if this were to happen, the chefs are fearful that this might actually be the administration’s strategy. While this is obviously a personal concern for them, they also expressed fear for the students who would be subject to a decrease in the quality of services that would inevitably occur. The point here is not that the steering committee is hellbent on abolishing Oberlin’s unions, and it would be premature to make any conclusions about how hourly workers will fare when the AAPR recommendations are finally turned into concrete implementations. Still, it is undeniable that, even before the AAPR process began, the relationship between the College and its hourly workers has been anything but harmonious, with many of these workers feeling like they have been constantly under attack. The phrase “One Oberlin” may have a nice ring to it, but conversations with both this group and labor experts like Chris Howell make it clear that it is empty rhetoric at best, and intentionally misleading at worst.
We Need A Late Night TV Revolution BY ABBY LEE | CONTRIBUTING WRITER I’m like any other annoying internet junkie. I follow trends, pop culture news, and your standard celebrity gossip. I type “Amy Schumer pregnant” into Google one letter at a time, just like you. I want to know if it’s true! I’m no conspiracy theorist, obsessive stan or troll; I am just a moderate-to-extreme consumer of celebrity/ film/TV/ music news. It’s my form of escapism. Let me live! This also means that, against my better judgement, and because my YouTube subscriptions list hasn’t changed since middle school, I still click on Jimmy Fallon or James Corden segments that include a celebrity I’m intrigued by. I wish I could break the habit, because it’s mostly just a massive waste of time, but I seem to be programmed to believe that I must stay up to date on entertainment-world happenings, even if that means subjecting myself to Fallon’s incessant slapping of his desk and laughing. I have been making a stink about suffocatingly white male late night hosts for a while now. Oddly enough, at the same time I pitched this article, essentially a “what the f is up with the late night vortex of drabness,” the Indian-Canadian YouTuber Lilly Singh announced live on The Tonight Show that her own late night show, A Little Late with Lilly, would air in the fall on NBC after Late Night with Seth Meyers. Singh, under her YouTube moniker Superwoman, has 14.5 million subscribers. This is objectively exciting news. There has never been a queer woman of color as the face of a network late night talk program. Coming from YouTube, she has an entirely different audience, and schtick. She’s one of those “WHAT’S UP YOUTUBE!” creators, you know the ones. The thing about your average live comedy talk show these days is not just the depressing lack of representation, they’re just fucking bad. There are so many problems with late night culture, it’s honestly hard to express succinctly. But I think the biggest and most obvious issue is the plague of straight, cis white men hosts. Sure, they have slightly different niches,
but they could all trade shows and no one would notice or care. They sit behind their desks in their crisp suits, while the live audience loses their shit over Hailey Baldwin opening a beer bottle with her teeth. If we stop treating late night TV slots like the institution of comedy that it certainly is not, then perhaps some more di-
keep it afloat. It can feel like an accomplishment to have Singh in the mainstream of NBC late night, but airing at 1:35 AM, her audience will most likely be literally sleeping baby boomers, because they are the only people with cable. However, NBC seems to have
“THE BIGGEST AND MOST OBVIOUS ISSUE IS THE PLAGUE OF STRAIGHT, CIS WHITE MEN HOSTS.”
verse and interesting programming could take place. I mean, there’s so much about this tradition that no longer makes sense, and doesn’t hold up in our current culture of media consumption. Late night television slots were once the vehicle for delivering wholesome comedy and cultural commentary to the American people. Now, it feels like an anachronistic, corporately endorsed barometer for “American” culture. Yet networks are still trying desperately to
figured out two important things: TV is now on the Internet, and America loves Fallon. Basically all of The Tonight Show’s segments are uploaded to YouTube (the channel has over 20 million subscribers), and top segments get tens of millions of views. Adding Singh to the late night crew makes sense, seeing as NBC’s strategy of transferring their programming to YouTube is working tremendously well. It’s not all so bleak; there’s a lot of inter-
view or late night-style comedic programming that’s bold and exciting. In the realm of political satire, Samantha Bee and Hasan Minhaj are adding fresh, dynamic takes on the trash fire state of the world. Maybe it’s because they’re not behind a desk. See, it’s the little things that can really take late night to the next level! Personally, I have been a huge fan of the First We Feast show, Hot Ones, hosted by Sean Evans. As an interviewer, he’s poised and amazingly wellresearched, and the concept- interviewing celebs while they eat the spiciest wings around- is innovative and fun. We watch interviews with our favorite actors, musicians, sports stars, or what have you, because we want to get as close as we can to their authentic selves. Capturing the guests while they become victim to incredible spiciness renders them entirely vulnerable and unguarded, which is thrilling to see. At this point, maybe the lack of nonwhite dudes in late night reflects the fact that comics are no longer aiming for those roles. There are so many ways to be a comedian now, why would anyone’s ultimate career goal be performing as a cog in a network’s plugging-a-celebrity’s-new-movie machine? The structure of these shows is formulaic and tired, and the further we stray from that standard, the better. It would take a lot for late night on networks to change. Its main function is to be a vehicle for advertising, corporately sponsored comedy, and press for entertainers. But I think other creators, comedians or interviewers, who are inspired by the late night talk tradition would benefit from taking creative liberties, ones that don’t involve ruffling Trump’s hair or showcasing how Jennifer Lawrence is a freak just like you and me.
Astrology at Oberlin BY ZOE JASPER I STAFF WRITER “Sometimes it’s hard to say or know what we mean. Give yourself time and space to work things out carefully. You’re having trouble expressing yourself right now.” I read this line of my daily Co-Star horoscope and it immediately rings true. When I attempt to express why I place so much value in my astrological chart, I can’t find an answer that feels right. Astrology is a fun and silly way for me to understand myself and others, but could it also contain hidden depths of spirituality? According to Time, astrology can be traced back to several ancient civilizations. In ancient China, noblemen looked at eclipses and sunspots to predict the future of their emperor’s daily life. By the middle of the second millennium BCE, the Sumerians and Babylonians kept track of where the gods were in the sky by observing the positions of planets and stars. In Mesoamerica, the Aztec and Maya calendars had different cycles for the sun, moon, Venus, and possibly Mars, Mercury, and Jupiter. However, it was the ancient Greeks who set in stone the twelve star signs en vogue today. Back then, astrology was used to do anything from “working out the most fortunate time to get married, making financial deals, or assisting in the soul’s ascent to the afterlife” (Huffington Post). Today, we use astrology for the equally important task of determining compatibility with our crushes. In our modern era where hard scientific evidence largely determines how we make sense of the world, what real value does astrology have to offer? “[Astrology] kind of just slid its way into my life,” said second year Olivia Guerriero. “There
“IN OUR MODERN ERA WHERE HARD SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE LARGELY DETERMINES HOW WE MAKE SENSE OF THE WORLD, WHAT REAL VALUE DOES ASTROLOGY HAVE TO OFFER?” are so many memes about it. And so many people around me into it. It became a part of my speech patterns, ’cause so many people around me were describing things in terms of the stars, which is kind of an addicting thing.” For college students at Oberlin, there is no denying that astrology has become imbued in our cultural discourse. Astrology has a dominant presence online, from the highly successful Co-Star app, and the whimsical @astropoets of Twitter, to the endless onslaught of memes based on the signs. Perhaps it is just a fleeting internet trend, no more significant than Vine or Tik Tok, but it certainly provides us with fodder for conversation and connection. Second year Grace McAllister emphasizes astrology’s role as a social tool: “I think astrology is so prominent in Oberlin culture because it’s a way for people to connect with each other in a low-stakes way and test the waters of conversation. I see people connecting over it all the time.” However, not everyone wants to have their charts read. A 2017 study by Pew Research Centre found that in the US, twenty percent of adult men believed in astrology, compared
to thirty-seven percent of women. Astrology is not based on scientific evidence or rational thinking, but a holistic process of connecting the cosmos with our emotions, personalities, and relationships. Without hard evidence to back it up, astrology is often dismissed and its believers patronized, especially by straight cis men. Underlying their steadfast belief in science is men’s toxic fear of engaging with anything feminine and mystical, let alone taking it seriously. Second year Francesca Mansky concurs that “there’s nothing worse than a man who shits on astrology. But maybe part of astrology’s prominence in Oberlin is that this place allows things that are shit on by dudes to have a little more space.” Unfortunately, the cultural association of astrology with women and queer people has not been lost on businesses. The Daily Hunch sells personalized horoscopes for $5 a month, and Bite Beauty has a line of lipsticks to match each zodiac sign. Along with astrology, traditional and ritual practices of magic have been rebranded as trendy products. Just last fall, Sephora came under fire for their $42 “Starter Witch Kit” that packaged “objects associated
with New Age beliefs, divination, and indigenous practices together in one box” (Vox). Guerriero enjoys astrology, but acknowledges its ability to snowball into exploitation. “I think it is totally like coopting spiritualism to fit a college aesthetic. It definitely goes hand in hand with having a tapestry on your wall, burning incense, and appropriating other cultures.” Despite its flaws and critiques, perhaps astrology is more than a superficial trend. According to data from the CIRP Freshman Survey, the number of college students with no religious affiliation has tripled in the last thirty years, from ten percent in 1986 to thirty-one percent in 2016. As much of our generation rejects organized religion, perhaps college students are left searching for meaning and spirituality in other places, but without restrictive structure and expectations. While the earth is literally burning around us, politics are post-apocalyptic, and capitalism leaves us feeling exhausted and inadequate, astrology can provide a connection to something greater. It allows us to make sense of the overwhelming and chaotic universe without adhering to organized religion. “Sometimes [my horoscope] is exactly what I need to hear and so validating. It’s a reminder that what’s happening to me is cosmic instead of my own doing,” said second year Talia Putnoi. “Maybe it takes some responsibility off me, which I find lightens the load.” Whether astrology is merely inspiration for funny memes or a legitimate spiritual practice, I’d like to leave you with the knowledge that the Greek word kosmos is best translated into English as “beautiful order.”
BY BEN RICHMAN | OPINIONS EDITOR Dear diary, Hey, how have you been? Sorry I haven’t written in a while. Also sorry I spilled coffee on you the other day. But anyway… It’s been a crazy year. O-M-G, where do I begin? How time has flown! Is it just me or does it feel like “Oil Spill” Splitchers was just last week? It feels like only days ago that Ariana Grande rose in popularity and then got boring again. Also, just checking in, is Ariana still with Pete? I haven’t really been keeping up with the news lately. It is scary to think that the senior class will be leaving and my class will take on the throne but alas time must move forward. But really looking back it’s funny how much we have all changed throughout the years. It feels like every semester includes so much change and growth, it gets tiring after a while. Looking back at my freshman self is like looking at a different person. I still have the same cute smile and dreamy eyes, but a lot on the inside has changed and oh boy have I
learned some important lessons along the way. The most important thing I learned is that no one knows what they’re doing. Like really. We are all just figuring it out. Each of us is completely lost. I used to think that everyone had their shit together and I was the only one who didn’t have their life figured out, but after meeting my fave editors Ian and Sophie I realized this wasn’t true (just a joke). This might be bad advice, diary, but sometimes you just gotta fake it ‘til you make it. That’s what I do. But really, as I’m sure you know, Mr. Diary, I was too afraid to even go to a Grape meeting or write a Grape article literally until the end of last semester. The idea of putting myself out there and potentially being judged by my peers stopped me from doing something that I was passionate about. Yet once I finally made it to a meeting I found a warm environment and lots of nice people (plus two of my best friends are on staff, so that also helped a little.) One thing my sister used to
tell me is “If it makes you nervous it’s probably something worth doing.” Though this advice might not always be helpful or true, if it’s something you’re passionate about then I think it is true. I am happy that I pushed myself to apply to be Opinions editor. And though I didn’t get it the first time around, sometimes you just have to wait until someone quits. Well Professor Diary, those are my reflections. It’s been a blast writing for the Grape and getting to know the staff. Though I will miss the senior class and our lovely editors Ian and Sophie, I’m a frickin senior now!! Wooooo!!! Thanks for reading this Diary, not like you have a choice, and I hope whatever is going on in your life is cool too. Bye <3 xoxoxox
Love, Ben Richman
Hello, Goodbye! So long to another year at The Grape, and hello! To another year at The Grape. BY PJ MCCORMICK I ARTS + CULTURE EDITOR Released just as the Beatles were starting to come untethered following the death of their longtime manager, Brian Epstein, “Hello, Goodbye” is a true nonsense song about two people having a meandering conversation (in the loosest possible meaning of the word). Our narrator, Paul, can’t help but say “hello” when his sparring partner says “goodbye.” Sometimes he says “high,” and they say “low,” and they say “why” and he says “I don’t know.” The song is a winding, meaningless conversation with itself, which makes it the perfect tune to invoke in announcing that after a year of hard work, I’m stepping down as Arts + Culture Editor of The Grape….and have proudly accepted the role of Editor in Chief for 2019-2020 year! But before I relinquish my title, there’s a few people I’d like to acknowledge that helped sculpt me into the Arts + Culture Editor you know today.
To Sophie and Ian, my competent co-Editor in Chiefs, thank you for hiring me despite that scandal I had in sophomore year where I plagiarized my own article from November for an article in April on basically the same topic. To Charlie, our hard-working Managing Editor, thank you for laying off the stuff about how I plagiarized my own article in the section of the interview where I had to discuss my biggest weakness, and re-directed it towards how I’m often late. To Molly, my future co-EIC and the Arts + Culture editor that assigned me the April article (but, critically, not the November article) that I eventually self-plagiarized myself in: thanks for letting bygones be bygones. I sincerely can’t wait until you’re by my side, co-helming the ship that is The Grape over the sea of mediocre content towards the Isle of Hot Takes. To my parents, who I never told about the plargaization
thing. You’ve always had my back, through the thick (that I tell you about to make you proud) and the thin (which I tactfully sweep under the rug). I can’t tell whether you’ve ever read any of my articles, but I do know you tell your friends that I write for a school paper with nudes in the middle, and that’s enough for me. You’re good in my book. To my best friends and all the people that make Oberlin great, Ben, Georgia, A.T., Cora, Simon, Brianne, Tamar, Blankat, Fish, Julia, Anna P, and all the others: wishing you a heartful “Hello, Goodbye” (a goodbye that implies that hello will soon follow). From the bottom of my heart: H.A.G.S I’ll talk to you all next year. Looking forward to it. Best, PJ
The Art of Texting BY BEN RICHMAN I OPINIONS EDITOR The art of adding tone to text messages is something that should not go unappreciated. The complexities of human existence -- the pain, the joy and the melancholy -- can not always be articulated through texts. Creating tone is a nuanced and tricky skill that, if done incorrectly, can lead to disaster. We are all aware of the obvious techniques to add an underlying message to seemingly innocuous texts, like the thirsty extra ‘y’ on the end of ‘heyy’ or the abrupt period after one word texts that add a sense of petty annoyance to a word as simple as ‘ok.’ These techniques, however, are not enough to capture emotions and ideas more complex than just being horny or angry. For a deeper dive into how to spice up your hastily-written words, read on. The nonchalant exclamation: For when the exclamation point needs some space. Adding a space before the exclamation point gives some breathing room, adding a chill demeanor to the sentence. It shows you’re excited, but in a fun, cool way, because you’re a cool kid, who’s down for whatever. “Amazing !” is very different from “Amazing!” The extra space between the subject “Amazing,” and the qualifier “!” allows for a reduction of the frantic tone in the original message. The same rule applies to the equally as nonchalant space before the question mark which says: I’m asking this question, I guess. The passive-aggressive ‘lol’: When you both know no one is actually laughing out loud. This lol is very different from the acronyms’ original purpose. Being straightforward is hard. Adding an lol can take the edge off of an otherwise aggressive text, allowing you to be honest with someone in a more lighthearted way: “Hey can someone please add to the google doc, its currently
empty lol” “Heard what you said about me lol” “I think I need some space lol” “I’ve never liked your experimental performance art lol” This method can also be used for equally risky non aggressive texts like: “We should be more than friends lol” “I’m in love with your brother and want him to participate in the kissing booth at my schools carnival lol” The dramatic ellipsis(...): When you want to say something… But it doesn’t matter... no one cares anyway… Any great director will tell you that pauses in dialogue can be as important as the dialogue itself. Anger, sadness, and regret can all be articulated in subtle pauses. But in a-tonal text messages, how do you add a prolonged sigh? Or a glance off into the distance? If you want the reader of your message to know you’re typing your text as you wistfully stare out of your window with a glass of brandy in hand... just add a few ellipses in there. Adding a dramatic pause in your text message tells the recipient that you are going through something deep and profound. It can add a sense of intrigue to any text message, showing that you are mysterious and dark. “I’ll do the dishes later… I just need some time by myself.” “Can I borrow your car… I just need to drive… to CVS” The ellipsis can also be useful in adding a dramatic moment of suspense before a difficult confession: “Mom… I have to come clean… I was the one who ate all the cookies from the cookie jar.” Or: “I used your netflix… to watch The Kissing Booth.” The series of short abrupt sentences: When you’re not being rude, you’re just a middle aged parent unsure of how to
relate to their children. Sometimes adding tone is not just about showing your emotions. It can also be about adding a sense of self to the voice of the message, especially if that voice is in their 50’s and is texting you that “Mom cut hair. Call soon. Bye. -Dad.” This use of voice can add a sense of character to your text, revealing more about the speaker. Simple texts like “Found your fake I.D. Not good. Come home.” can show that the speaker just discovered Facebook and is liking all of your friend’s photos, or that they were disappointed with the Big Bang Theory spinoff Young Sheldon. This text style adds some maturity and wisdom to your texting, because you don’t have time to text in full sentences, you have bills, a mortgage, and a kid who who goes to a $70,000 allyear-round summer camp. This method can also be used to try and show that you are hip to what the kids are into these days. “Your performance art is very lit. Enjoyed part where you shaved on stage. Cool stuff.” “I am lol’ing right now. Great meme. Good find.” I hope that these techniques will serve you well as you try to navigate your personal and professional relationships via text messages, Instagram DM, or even an errant Facebook message that gets lost in their message request inbox because they haven’t accepted your friend request. Emotions are complicated and communication can be hard but if I learned anything from Joey King’s character in Netflix’s The Kissing Booth, maybe the best technique for successful communication is to just be direct and straightforward. Or maybe just have the conversation face to face...
Good Good Habits from a Graduating Senior DEVIN MCMAHON | FEATURES EDITOR It’s surreal that this is the last issue of The Grape that I’ll be a part of! It’s been a wonderful four years as Features Editor, covering all the cool shit you’re all doing on this tiny campus. To those of you with more semesters here, I have some wisdom to impart!
DOs! - Tell your friends you love them! Actively prioritize enjoying the sun when it’s out and having fun when opportunities come to you over working— you can get your work done after or turn it in late. It’s often worth it. - Go home when you’re tired. - Be mindful that all of your friends come from different financial backgrounds. - Extracurriculars! When you graduate, your work outside of the classroom will be what you remember. - Share with your friends. - Conceptualize college as a transformative couple of years. Don’t judge people for who they were one, two, four years ago. Odds are they’re an entirely different person now. - Check in with friends. - Talk about the cool stuff you learn in class outside of the classroom. -Practice the politics that you preach and tip your baristas, bartenders, and waiters well. - Keep the friends who make you feel good. - Go to Office Hours.
DONTs! - Feel the need to go out every single Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. - Make people feel uncool for caring about their work or finishing it early. - Leave QFR requirements until senior year. - Neglect your emotional and physical well-being in order to get work done. Professors are always more willing to give extensions than we give them credit for. - Make stress a competition. - Shy away from classes that are out of comfort zone. -Assume anything about fellow students. Just because you all ended up at the same campus, doesn’t mean you know anything about their financial, personal/ experiential, religious, etc., situation. - Regurgitate your friends or classmates’ political arguments without understanding them. - Worry about eating alone. Solo Stevenson sessions are a beautiful thing. -Feel a pressure about these years being any type of way. - Always shit talk Oberlin. Critique, yes, but appreciate the specific opportunities that are here and nowhere else.
Answer Key Across: 3- Not much, 5- Island, 10- Lena, 12- Solarity, 13- CIT, 14- Bi, 15- Drag Ball Down: 1- Walk, 2- Mickey, 4- Mama, 6- Dascomb, 7- Four, 8- Sushi, 9- Subway, 10- Local, 11- Old