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The Oberlin Review November 22, 2019

Established 1874

Volume 148, Number 10

College Strengthens Mental Health Resources Anisa Curry Vietze News Editor Drew Dansby Staff Writer Editor’s note: This article contains mentions of substance abuse and suicide.

The editorial board of On Second Thought, Oberlin’s new undergraduate history journal, lay out a strategy for the new publication. Photo by Tamika Nunley

New Research Journal Challenges Convention Nathan Carpenter Editor-in-Chief Under the leadership of Assistant Professor of History and Comparative American Studies Tamika Nunley, a four-student editorial board is launching On Second Thought, a research journal designed to publish “unorthodox” historical research by Oberlin students. The journal’s origins lie with Nunley, who envisioned On Second Thought as an opportunity for students to explore and expand the conventions of historical writing in a less demanding setting than undertaking an honors thesis. She hopes it will become a venue for students to take risks and grow. “I think that when students have the audacity to come up with an innovative idea or an innovative point of inquiry, that it’s in our best interest as faculty to meet them where they are and find out how to support them,” Nunley said. “I find that I become a better teacher … and I’m helping to fulfill the mission of the institution.” College fourth-year Grace Winters and College third-year Julia Rohde, both History majors, are the journal’s editors-in-chief. Along with Nunley, they both emphasized that non-History majors should feel comfortable submitting work. “I think the exciting thing is trying to expand how we define history,” Rohde said. “I’ve been thinking a lot about what the academic discipline considers history … and I think it’s exciting to call on people to reconsider that for themselves, with regard to their work.” The journal’s call for submissions echoes this desire to engage in unconventional historical writing. “On Second Thought is a journal for historical writing that moves beyond the limits of traditional academia,” it reads. “We believe that people are engaging with history now more than ever through popular culture; by listening and reacting to podcasts like Stuff You Missed in History Class and watching movies such as Harriet , we are participating in the creation of historical narratives and ideas.” In particular, On Second Thought ’s first issue will feature “an examination of oral history work done in the town of Oberlin,” as well as historyfocused reviews of books, art, and multimedia works. Submitted pieces aren’t meant to be overly long, and they will certainly be much shorter than the typical 50–70 page honors thesis.

Winters views the journal’s work — in part — as responding to the changing ways that students and academics engage with history. “A lot of what we talked about in our meetings about the journal is that history is everywhere,” she said. “We wanted to make it about, not modern history, but about modern ways of learning about history. … Traditional academic texts don’t include everyone’s history.” Nunley agreed, adding that many students don’t realize the degree to which their work engages historical concepts. “What you find is that most people are interacting with history to some extent, but haven’t really thought about it because we’ve created these very clear parameters around what constitutes history,” she said. Despite being an undergraduate journal, On Second Thought’s review and editing process largely mirrors that of a typical, peer-reviewed academic journal, according to Nunley. “We are taking that same notion [of peer review] and saying that the students who are on the editorial staff for the journal will be the peers that review the work,” Nunley said. “When they review the work, if it fits within the mission of the journal — which is to feature pieces of scholarship that engage with historical themes and alternative methodologies — they will return the manuscript with revisions and suggested feedback. … Once they’ve revised it to their liking, we’ll proceed with publication.” On Second Thought is housed within the History Design Lab, another of Nunley’s initiatives. According to Nunley, the lab’s primary purpose is to cultivate projects that “engage with alternative historical methodologies,” in much the same way the new journal does. She particularly highlighted the potential for promoting greater academic collaboration between the College and Conservatory. While On Second Thought will become Oberlin’s only undergraduate research journal, similar publications exist across the country. One of these is the Midwest Journal of Undergraduate Research. Founded in 2010, the MJUR is edited by students at Monmouth College, but publishes work from students across the country. “I think that having journals like you all are creating at Oberlin helps celebrate the fact that there is high-quality work that is being done by undergraduates,” said MJUR Coordinating Editor

Following unusually long wait-times for student appointments this semester, the Counseling Center has hired two part-time interim staff members. During the second week of the fall semester, a Counseling Center employee left and their position remained vacant while the College searched for a qualified candidate. Broader conversations regarding mental health at Oberlin are framed by the College’s first comprehensive mental health survey which was conducted last semester. “We are certainly backed up more than we would like to be at this point,” said John Harshbarger, director of Student Health and Counseling Services. “One way I like to look at it is if a student really is in a place where they need to talk something out and it’s impacting their academics, I don’t want them waiting two weeks if we can avoid it.” One of the new part-time staff members started working on Nov. 14, the other will begin on Dec. 3. Harshbarger said that the search for a full-time, permanent staff member will resume in between semesters. “The other difficult thing is that when you do a search at the beginning of a school year — especially if you’re looking for someone who’s done college counseling center work — they’re not looking for jobs in the beginning of the year, they’re looking for jobs in the spring,” Harshbarger said. “So we really just didn’t have a large pool of candidates.” Other resources are being evaluated as part of Oberlin’s partnership with JED Campus, a four year program that administers a survey called The Healthy Minds Study and uses its data to recommend improvements to campus mental health resources. The study covers mental health issues like substance abuse, depression, anxiety, and thoughts of suicide. Historically, Oberlin has administered the National Collegiate Health Assessment every two years, which primarily looks at the physical health of students and only covers mental health in non-specific terms. “[The National Collegiate Health Assessment] tells us that mental health concerns have been growing [at Oberlin] pretty much comparable to how they’ve been growing throughout the country,” said Eddie Gisemba, assistant dean of students and director of health promotion for students. “[The Healthy Minds Study] really helps us look at the issue of mental health as a whole under a microscope, which the Collegiate Health Assessment didn’t enable us to do.” JED has worked with over a hundred campuses to create strategic plans focused on administrative and institutional change. At Oberlin, the Healthy Minds Study was sent to all current students. Around 29 percent of Oberlin students completed the survey. “For the most common mental health conditions, such as anxiety and deporession, we do have responses in the survey that were above the national average in the colleges and universities in the study,” said Associate Dean of Students Matthew Hayden, who oversees the Center for Student Success. “We also have better than

See Undergraduate, page 3

See Mental Health, page 2






03 College Announces VP for Advancement

05 On Second Thought Promotes Audacity of Innovation

08–09 Popular Musicians at Oberlin

10 Cartoonist Eli Valley Discusses Jewish-American Identity

04 Off The Cuff with Sam Bailey

06 Outward-Facing Philosophy Deeply Rooted in Oberlin’s History

15 The Review’s Sports Editors Went Pole Dancing, and It Was Difficult

The Oberlin Review | November 22, 2019

11 OHOP, OSLAM Center Black, POC Voices on Campus

16 Marija and Lilly Crook: Sisters and Cross Country Teammates TWITTER @oberlinreview INSTAGRAM @ocreview


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College Seeks to Address Course Registration Challenges Nathan Carpenter Editor-in-Chief Ella Moxley Senior Staff Writer The course registration period for the upcoming spring semester concluded today following concerns that class offerings across several departments had been restricted this past fall due to a number of factors, including faculty leaves. Some students and faculty members feel that students — particularly firstyear students — had more difficulty registering for classes than in previous semesters. Others, including Acting Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences David Kamitsuka, argue that the data don’t support this conclusion. According to Professor and Chair of Economics Ron Cheung, who sat on the steering committee of last year’s Academic and Administrative Program Review, the Economics department has experienced a general trend of classes filling up more often in recent years. “I believe that our faculty size has not grown in proportion to the growth of our majors and the popularity of our classes,” Cheung said. “We are noticing that our classes are filling up, going to capacity, which gives us a sense that basically we need more faculty members.” Other faculty echoed similar sentiments about their own departments, including Professor and Chair of Psychology Nancy Darling, Associate Professor and Chair of Biology Roger Laushman, and Professor and Chair of Politics Steve Crowley. According to each chair, departments can find themselves short-staffed for various reasons. Laushman and Cheung cited a coincidentally high number of sabbaticals this year, while Darling mentioned a recent increase in student interest in psychology. “We’ve been really successful in our recruitment, which means there’s more students, and when you have more students you need more faculty,” Darling said. “We are at full capacity. We can’t just say, ‘Oh, we will

make the classes bigger,’ because then it’s not an Oberlin class.” For his part, Crowley mentioned that the impact of sabbaticals was ultimately less significant than he originally anticipated. “I think we have been able to fill those gaps pretty well, and we are hoping to hire some more folks for the spring,” he said. Despite the challenges noted by these faculty, Associate Dean for Academic Advising and Registrar Liz Clerkin said she didn’t notice much of an impact on course registration for first-year students. “I do not perceive that students had more difficulty registering for courses this year,” Clerkin wrote in an email to the Review. “[M]y observation was that firstyears were able to complete their schedule at the same rate as in years past.” Kamitsuka mostly agreed, citing numbers that showed little change in the proportion of courses that were fully enrolled at the end of the Add/Drop period. “In Fall 2018, 28 percent of courses were fully enrolled; this fall, 29 percent of courses are fully enrolled,” he wrote in an email to the Review. “Unfortunately, due to unforeseen personnel issues, we had three or four firstyear seminar section cancellations this year. I’m sure that made a difference in some cases for first-year students.” Ultimately, 42 first-year seminars were offered this fall, compared to 48 in fall 2018. Last year, approximately 45 percent of seminars reached full enrollment; this year, about 72 percent filled up, and only 12 had open seats by the end of Add/Drop, according to OberView, Oberlin’s course management platform. Laushman and Cheung both mentioned that allowing faculty to offer first-year seminars can restrict a department’s course offerings; Cheung specifically said that Economics chose not to offer a seminar this year due to a lack of available staff. Kamitsuka noted that in recent years, departments have offered more courses during “prime hours” and on a Tuesday–Thursday schedule, in addition to offering fewer evening seminars. “The concentration of classes in prime hours does

make access to classes more difficult,” he wrote. “We need to continue to review course scheduling and course enrollment limits for access and equity.” Clerkin specifically cited the introduction of an automated waitlist as one step the Academic Advising Resource Center is taking to make course registration smoother and more accessible. “In the past … it was not clear if [a] student would get into [a] class; it was left to the faculty member to manage the enrollment,” Clerkin wrote. “This year, if the class had an automated waitlist running, the first-years had data immediately available to them that indicated their chance of getting into the course.” Currently, only some faculty have opted into using the automated waitlist, and the AARC hopes to expand the practice in the future. Kamitsuka hopes that, once practical challenges are addressed, a data-driven approach will improve accessibility. “They can save time for all concerned,” he wrote. “If utilized effectively, the waitlist data could be very helpful in matching course offerings to student interest in taking the courses in future semesters.”

Mental Health Survey Helps College Improve Campus Resources Continued from page 1

average responses on measures of stigma around mental health. Neither of those is actually surprising to me, but [those are] our challenges and strengths.” JED also looked at resources that already exist at Oberlin. “I will say, our ratio of the number of therapists to the number of students on campus is an unusually high number of clinicians for the size of the student body,” Hayden said. College second-year Raavi Asdar and College third-year Emma Edney serve on the JED Campus working group as student senators alongside faculty members and administrators. They feel that more resources are essential to meet student needs. “One frustration that we’ve had with some of this is a lot of the staff members that have mental wellness under their umbrella, [but] they just have so much else on their plate, so even if they want to prioritize that work, they are often unable to,” Edney said. “In our meetings with the administration, we’re really trying to push that we really, really, really need to make

this an institutional priority and how that means reallocating people’s times so we can dedicate professional time to this issue.” Asdar, Edney, and others feel that the information provided by the survey further illustrates their argument that more resources need to be allocated to create a healthier campus environment and culture. “We had a higher-than-nationalaverage incidence of self-reported suicidal ideation reported by students on this campus,” Edney said. “Pretty significantly above.” Oberlin also has a higher rate of transportation to psychiatric hospitals, according to Asdar and Edney, though this could be because Oberlin has a higher percentage of students enacting helpseeking behavior, among other potential factors. Asdar and Edney are in the process of teaming up with faculty and staff to implement new resources and educate students about existing resources. This includes making students aware of the Student Health and Resource Exchange. SHARE reports provide a forum for

The Oberlin r eview Nov. 22, 2019 Volume 148, Number 10 (ISSN 297–256) Published by the students of Oberlin College every Friday during the fall and spring semesters, except holidays and examination periods. Advertising rates: $18 per column inch. Second-class postage paid at Oberlin, Ohio. Entered as second-class matter at the Oberlin, Ohio post office April 2, 1911. POSTMASTER SEND CHANGES TO: Wilder Box 90, Oberlin, Ohio 44074-1081. Office of Publication: Burton Basement, Oberlin, Ohio 44074. Phone: (440) 775-8123



Nathan Carpenter Katherine MacPhail Managing Editor Ananya Gupta News Editors Anisa Curry Vietze Katie Lucey Opinions Editor Jackie Brant This Week Editor Lily Jones Arts Editors Kate Fishman Aly Fogel Sports Editor Jane Agler Cont. Sports Editors Khalid McCalla Zoë Martin del Campo Photo Editors Mallika Pandey Chris Schmucki Senior Staff Writers Imani Badillo Ella Moxley

concerned faculty, staff, and students to alert the Office of the Dean of Students about an individual who may be at risk so that someone can check in with them. Asdar, Edney and Hayden all hope to improve faculty and student training on how to recognize when someone is having thoughts of suicide, as well as other prevention education. “We definitely are looking now at a range of gatekeeper programs and just mental health awareness and encouraging helping skills and coping skills,” Hayden said. “Somebody who has an hour and a half could take something like [Question Persuade Refer] training. Somebody who has eight hours might do something that looks like mental health first aid and get some more skills. And then at 30 hours of training, students can get through Peer Helping Skills I and II. [We’re] really building in a range of options.” In addition, the College is working on making it easier to apply for medical leave. “We made some changes to medical leave and that’s something that often happens as part of a JED process but we’ve actually made a lot of the changes that they would have recommended before starting Layout Editors

Emma Jane Haas Lila Michaels Parker Shatkin Nico Vickers Ads Manager Jabree Hason Web Manager Sheng Kao Production Manager Devyn Malouf Production Staff Gigi Ewing Christo Hays Jimmy Holland Olive Hwang Kushagra Kar Allison Schmitt Ivy Fernandez Smith Jaimie Yue

this program,” Hayden said. “One of the recommendations is about having someone that’s not involved in the [medical leave] decision-making process as a resource and advocate for students. We actually have that already, but the JED recommendation made us think [that] maybe we need to change the language of how we describe it so that it’s transparent to students and this person is not a gatekeeper stopping you but rather advocating for you.” As part of her work on Senate and within the JED working group, Edney hopes to improve awareness about the possibility of institutional change. “Raavi and I are deeply burdened by the sense that these kinds of conversations aren’t happening as publicly as we would like them to be,” she said. In addition, Asdar hopes that broader change can happen among campus culture “There’s a big component of this that is student culture — it’s how we treat one another,” Asdar said. “I think we have a responsibility to each other, otherwise people feel isolated. There is a certain amount of student agency, getting people to recognize that I have the agency, I have the ability to change that.”


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College Announces VP for Advancement

Michael Grzesiak

Photo by Office of Communications

Ella Moxley Senior Staff Writer Last Friday, the Office of Communications announced via email Michael Grzesiak’s appointment to the vice president for advancement position. The position is currently held in an interim capacity by Rachel Smith Silver, who stepped in following Bill Barlow’s retirement in June. The search committee — led by President Carmen Twillie Ambar and consisting of faculty, staff, and a student senator — conducted a nationwide search for the position. “We are excited about Mike because of the experience and knowledge he will bring to the position,” wrote Delta Lodge Director of Athletics and Physical Education Natalie Winkelfoos, who sat on the search committee, in an email to the Review. “He’s a great fit for Oberlin at this time! Mike will be a great collaborator, ambassador, and leader for our community.” Currently, Grzesiak is vice president for development and alumni engagement and chief of staff at Washington & Jefferson College. During his tenure at Washington & Jefferson, Grzesiak led a campaign that raised $100 million for the endowment, capital improvements, and other funds; he also spearheaded a $32 million dollar campaign to build a new science center. College third-year and Student Senator Patrick Powers who also sat on the committee, feels that Grzesiak’s experience at a small, private college makes Grzesiak the ideal candidate for the job. “We were looking for people who understand the liberal arts specifically — that’s one of the places where I think Mike is really strong,” Powers said. ”We’re looking for somebody who

understands liberal arts and already understands the industry-wide place that we’re in.” Before working for Washington & Jefferson, Grzesiak, a native of Northeast Ohio, worked as the Cleveland Foundation’s director of gift planning. Grzesiak attended Hiram College for his undergraduate studies and received his Master’s degree in Philanthropic Studies from Indiana University in 2008. A key part of Grzesiak’s role at Oberlin will be fundraising for the initiatives laid out in the One Oberlin plan that resulted from last year’s Academic and Administrative Program Review. The plan highlights the College’s continued financial support of academic offerings in the College and Conservatory, the Allen Memorial Art Museum, financial aid, and the residential experience. “The One Oberlin plan lays out some other areas for investment, such as integrated concentrations, career communities, intensive Winter Term experiences, and the work to ensure a more robust collaboration between the College of Arts & Sciences and the Conservatory,” Ambar wrote in an email to the Review. “These areas will be an important part of our focus for fundraising and advancement work. I am pleased that Mike will be leading us in these efforts.” Grzesiak feels ready and eager to lead future capital campaigns in his new role. “Leading a team of dedicated and talented advancement professionals who build, foster, and strengthen relationships with Oberlin’s alumni, parents, students, and friends is gratifying work,” Grzesiak wrote. “As we look to the future, I am excited to prepare for Oberlin’s next comprehensive campaign that will help ensure a strong future for this great institution.” Oberlin’s last comprehensive fundraising campaign was a seven-year initiative led by Barlow, known as Oberlin Illuminate. The program surpassed its $250 million fundraising goal 18 months ahead of schedule, in fiscal year 2014, and raised over $317 million by the time the campaign ended in June 2016. Grzesiak’s ability to strategically engage alumni and other donors will be key to the success of upcoming fundraising campaigns. “I think there’s a feeling that President Ambar, from coming to Oberlin, doing AAPR, having these recommendations, is trying to build a really strong and consistent and cohesive foundation upon which you can then do a really successful campaign,” Powers said. “To do a campaign, you need to have a really clear set of priorities.” Grzesiak will begin work at Oberlin on Jan. 1.

Undergraduate History David Gibson, 65, Passes Journal Launched Continued from page 1

Hadley Smithhisler. “Maybe it’s not the most cutting edge or the most radical or the most original work that has ever been done — but there is significant intellectual work and research and scholarly efforts that are being made by undergraduates.” According to Rohde, Nunley has played a key role in highlighting this kind of undergraduate research at Oberlin and pushing it to higher levels. “What I really respect about her as an educator and mentor is that she really wants to empower her students and force them to ask difficult questions,” Rohde said. “People are doing a lot of very engaging stuff within their majors here — and I think [Nunley]

The Oberlin Review | November 22, 2019

recognizes that.” For now, On Second Thought will focus on work produced in Oberlin, rather than drawing submissions more broadly. Nunley added that the journal will publish annually, in order to preserve a high quality of work. “With most of my projects with undergraduates, I’ve really honed in on depth rather than scope,” Nunley said. “I think that we live in a world where we celebrate when people do a hundred things at once. I really want to get us back to thinking more deeply about what it is we’re talking about.” Students interested in submitting to On Second Thought can email a draft to submit.onsecondthought@ by Dec. 1. at 11:59 p.m.

Katie Lucey News Editor David Gibson, co-owner of Gibson’s Bakery, died Saturday Nov. 16 at age 65. In a video released in August, Gibson revealed that he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in late 2018. Gibson was a lifelong resident of Oberlin and a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University. This past May, his family was awarded $44 million, a number later capped at $25 million under Ohio law, as a result of the lawsuit filed by Gibson’s Bakery against Oberlin College and Vice President and Dean of Students Meredith Raimondo. Gibson previously served on the Lorain County Planning Commission and as chairman of the Oberlin Planning Commission. Gibson is survived by his wife, Lorna (Perkins) Gibson; his children, Krista, Allyn, and Steven Gibson; and his father, Allyn W. Gibson, among others.

Security Notebook Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019 1:23 p.m. Campus Safety officers were requested to assist a student in Barrows Hall who was having trouble breathing. The student was transported to Mercy Allen Hospital for treatment. 10:43 p.m. Officers responded to a complaint of cigarette smoke odor on the second floor of Barrows Hall. The room in question could not be located as the smoke had dissipated. 11:54 p.m. Officers responded to a report of a strong marijuana odor on the first floor of East Hall. Contact was made with the occupants of the room in question, who admitted to smoking marijuana. A glass pipe was confiscated and turned over to the Oberlin Police Department. Officers removed bags from two smoke detectors. The occupants were advised of the Oberlin College smoking policy.

Friday, Nov. 15, 2019 4:35 p.m. Officers were requested to assist with an employee who cut their finger in the Stevenson Dining Hall kitchen. The employee was transported to Mercy Allen Hospital for treatment.

Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019 2:25 a.m. An officer on a routine check of Wilder Hall after an event observed an individual lying on a beanbag on the main floor. The individual was woken up, and an odor of alcohol was detected. The student was identified, answered several questions, and was able to walk on their own. The student was transported back to their residence. 11:45 p.m. Officers were requested to assist with shutting down an authorized party that got out of control at a Goldsmith Village Housing Unit. Attendees were asked to leave and complied.

Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019 12:04 a.m. Officers and the Oberlin Fire Department responded to a fire alarm in the firstfloor stairwell of the Kohl Building. Upon entering the building a strong odor of smoke was detected. Officers and firefighters located a newspaper that was burned in a trash can on the third floor and ashes on the floor in the surrounding area. The incident is under investigation. 12:59 p.m. Facilities staff reported graffiti on the east wall of Mudd Center. An officer responded and observed black spray-painted graffiti on the southernmost end of the east wall. A work order was filed for its removal. 9:57 p.m. Officers and the Oberlin Fire Department responded to a report of a natural gas odor at Zechiel House. The dorm was checked, but no odor could be detected.

Monday, Nov. 18, 2019 2:07 p.m. Officers were requested to assist a student with back pain from Student Health to the Mercy Allen Hospital emergency room. Officers provided transportation for the student. 2:46 p.m. A resident of an East Lorain Street Village House reported the theft of a speaker from their house. The speaker was last seen during Parents and Family Weekend. The speaker is large, black in color, and worth approximately $185. 3:00 p.m. A student reported the theft of their backpack from a practice room on the second floor of the Kohl Building. The backpack was blue with a brown bottom and contained a computer charger, a small guitar amplifier, pens, and pencils.

Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019 9:03 a.m. Officers were requested to assist with an ill worker at Stevenson Dining Hall. An ambulance was contacted and the individual was transported to Mercy Allen Hospital for treatment. 4:01 p.m. A student reported they were approached by a suspicious individual, once at 2:30 a.m. in the area north of Wilder Hall and then again between 3:00 and 3:30 p.m. in Wilder DeCafé. The individual said something unclear to the student and the student left the area.



Sam Bailey, OC ’19, Sustained Dialogue Coordinator

Photo courtesy of Sam Bailey

Sam Bailey

Sam Bailey, OC ’19, is the Sustained Dialogue Coordinator with the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life. Most recently, he helped organize the Oberlin Thanksgiving Multifaith Gathering, “Fierce Generosity,” which was held yesterday from 6–8 p.m. in the Root Room in the Carnegie Building. Bailey, a pluralist, gave the opening Words of Thanksgiving and played guitar alongside fellow members of Double Duck Stringband. This interview has been edited for length and clarity. Christo Hays Production Editor What does your work as Dialogue Coordinator entail? Mainly, I coordinate a program called Barefoot Dialogue, which I was involved in when I was a first-year as a participant, and then a facilitator and researcher. And now — having graduated last year — I’ve stepped into a coordinator position, which is a staff position on campus. It’s a crazy job because the range of duties is wild. I host some dialogues — we believe in homecooked food for dialogue and we’re a vulnerabilitybased model — and we feel like the first step into vulnerability is sort of like an opening of a home. So I have dialogues in my apartment and also host the cooking of a meal. And often there’s this idea we can’t talk politics — not that we only talk politics — but we can’t have serious discussion over a meal. Barefoot tries to be intentional about that and bring forth food as a uniting factor and also something to talk over. Could you talk about the “fierce generosity” Thanksgiving potluck theme? This event is one of the multiple things that I do as Barefoot coordinator. I think one of the great things is helping to organize events like this. Maysan Haydar, who’s Multifaith Coordinator at the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life, and [Director of Religious Life] David Dorsey, and Mandy Walusimbi, who works in the Dean’s office — all these people helped. So I wasn’t the only person. We have a theme every year for the potluck. What I think is good is it’s not like me explaining what fierce generosity is, or any of the people organizing the potluck. Rather we step into this whole conversation with speakers [double-degree fourth-year] Joshua

[Reinier] and [College second-year] Serena Zets speaking on it; and [Associate Professor of History] Zeinab [Abul-Magd] and [College fourth-year] Noa [Gordon-Guterman] and Edyie Woodall. All of our speakers were asked to think about what fierce generosity means to them and where they found generosity in places that they might not necessarily expect it. And also what does that word “fierce” mean? It’s an interesting word. What’s cool about an event like this is that we’re really offering it to all the individual voices, not claiming any one definition for something, but sort of holding up all the different voices that might have an idea. This event is a multi-faith gathering, so I’m curious: What does that mean in practice? What are some of the ways that it can manifest when you’re at the event? I think this is really an opportunity to have a podium and a microphone, and to include staff and faculty and students and community members in recognizing a whole handful of people existing in what we call the “Oberlin community.” I think it’s important to offer up a public setting where we come from different faiths. So I think tonight like — pluralism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Christianity — they were all represented. And so there’s a chance for these voices to all come across an audience that is also religiously diverse — you know, the different religious clubs on campus, etc. — sort of gathering for this moment. And also a lot of pastors. I sat right next to pastors in town and stuff like that. I don’t need us all to come together and hold hands, all that kind of stuff. I mean, not that that’s bad, but I don’t think this event is just wanting us all to just to conform around one thing or recognize only our sameness, but rather hold up our differences in the same room around food in a really warm way in support of one another and our different faith practices and beliefs. And I think that’s what a multifaith gathering means. How do events like this encourage interfaith dialogue? So the program I coordinate, Barefoot Dialogue, started off as solely an interfaith dialogue group where we had around a circle no more than three faiths represented in a dialogue of about 12 to 16 students who had dialogue across difference. The dialogues promoted holding up individual voices, not

Ohio Legislative Update Senate Bill 162 Introduced Ohio Senators Nickie Antonio (D–Lakewood) and Sean O’Brien (D–Bazetta Township) introduced Bill 162 last Wednesday, which would end the statute of limitations on rape and end spousal exceptions for rape. According to College fourth-year Alice Koeninger, who writes for Cleveland Scene, “The Ohio bill, if it becomes law, would still not allow charges to be brought against an assaulter in old cases in which the statute of limitations has already expired.”


Lorain County Board of Elections The Lorain County Board of Elections rejected 47 out of 4,259 absentee ballots and 50 out of 673 provisional ballots for the Nov. 5 elections. According to Paul Adams, director of the Lorain County Board of Elections, these ballots were rejected for a variety of reasons including failure to provide proper identification, missing the deadline, providing a non-matching signature, and not being registered to vote in Ohio.

seeking any sort of agreement like, “Okay, let’s believe this about the afterlife,” or whatever. Rather, it’s about just really listening and trying to understand your experience, your faith background, and your perspective on maybe the afterlife — which may be very different than mine, but it’s important to get in the same room and cultivate a belief in dialogue. So this event was co-sponsored by Barefoot and the Interfaith Student Council. Barefoot also still has interfaith groups. And interfaith work is not only sitting in a circle, but rather activism on the ground or whatever that may look like. I think this event is almost a public dialogue — not that there’s a real response, but I think what was shared tonight was a beautiful stacking of voices together on a theme about fierce generosity. And people were really using a lot of “I” voice language, which we use in Barefoot Dialogue, to explain their experiences with the idea of fierce generosity. Like Zeinab, who was the Muslim speaker tonight, spoke of her father who supported her coming from Egypt to America and holding up her passion for politics and then getting a Ph.D. and just all the support that her father gave her. How has your perspective shifted now that you’ve graduated? I think that it’s so interesting because a lot of the events that I am involved in now, whether it be Barefoot or Office of Religious and Spiritual Life events and the Thanksgiving potluck — I’ve landed in the same places that I was as a student. So I really have done four years of experiencing an event like the multi-faith potluck. But now being in a fifthyear staff position, I think that what amazes me is the work that the staff and administration do. As a student I didn’t get the opportunity to see everybody thinking things through. Not that I didn’t think they were thought out, but hearing the conversations and sitting in the conference rooms and seeing the sweat of running across campus. That’s a bit dramatic, but it’s very true. And I think that what all that people on the staff level do for students is pretty incredible. I think that we staff make a lot of mistakes, too, you know. As a student I felt that. But I don’t think that I carried the empathy that I did for staff people as much as I do this year. Because you’re in those shoes now? Yeah, and it doesn’t mean that I always agree with staff and administration — like there were some things that I didn’t agree with — and I don’t feel like I have to now, as staff. But I do appreciate the level of energy put into things. Is there anything else that you’d like to add? I think that it’s been really cool dedicating my year at Oberlin as staff to just helping to support spaces where anybody can come using their “I” voice and speak for who they are. They don’t have to speak for a world behind them or a whole people or anything like that, but rather can just be like, “I’m Sam in this moment.” I love Oberlin and I think that we do all the things we do for really important and good reasons. There’s a moment that needs to be crafted here a moment to just be yourself, though that sounds cheesy. Being like, “This is what I want to share with you, and maybe there’s some really important information within me that needs to come out.” And I think that Barefoot Dialogue supports that, and other people around this campus in other capacities support that too. Just devoting a year to that, I feel like I’ve been lucky and believe in what I’m doing.

Christopher Gibbs Announces Campaign Christopher Gibbs, former Republican and current farmer from Maplewood, OH, announced Wednesday that he is launching an exploratory committee and running against Representative Jim Jordan as an Independent for Ohio’s 4th Congressional District. “The two-party system has polarized itself into inaction through distrust and disdain for people who may not share the same views or have the same background as one another,” Gibbs wrote in a media release sent out by the exploratory committee. “Endless investigations, accusations, and hearings do nothing to move issues important to real people here in Ohio.”

OPINIONS November 22, 2019

Established 1874

lEttEr tO thE EdItOrS

Reflecting On David Gibson’s Passing

David Gibson, co-owner of Gibson’s Bakery, succumbed to pancreatic cancer last Saturday; he leaves behind a grieving and loving family of a wife, two children, and “Grandpa Gibson,” who is approaching 92, a special man still full of warmth, respect, and kindness — traits David himself embodied to the end. David’s sense of fairness, level-headedness, and endless search for the truth will be sorely missed. I join all who knew David in sending heartfelt condolences and prayers to his survivors as they mourn his passing. David is in Heaven, a most secure place where there is nothing but peace; a garden with beautiful flowers; a majestic eternity in which all knowledge resides and all questions are answered correctly; souls are in full and complete agreement on every single policy and principle; a home where even thoughts create sounds so melodious as to surpass those produced by our finest orchestras. In Heaven, they know everything. Sadly, we know very little, even less when we think we know much. But God only asks that we do our best, as David did. May he rest in peace while waiting for our arrival. – Booker C. Peek Professor Emeritus of Africana Studies

China Commits Cultural Genocide Against Uighurs Leo Hochberg Columnist In mid-November, The New York Times released a trove of leaked Chinese Communist Party files detailing a massive government crackdown in the northwestern Chinese state of Xinjiang. The leaked pages make a clear statement: China has systematically targeted, imprisoned, and mistreated members of the Uighur ethnic minority who have traditionally called Xinjiang home. Several of the leaked documents detail a private speech by President Xi Jinping to party officials in which he argues that the Uighurs, a Muslim religious minority, are Islamic extremists whose dangerous ideologies must be vigorously suppressed. In the leaked pages, Jinping asserts that “the struggle against terrorism, infiltration and separatism” must use the “organs of dictatorship” and show “absolutely no mercy.” News of China’s attempts to commit cultural genocide against the Uighurs first broke in 2017 when satellite imagery and on-the-ground reports showed the CCP detaining Uighur people in a network of “re-education camps” throughout Xinjiang province, which borders Central Asia. Since their inception, the party’s official stance has been that the camps teach employable skills and encourage Islamic extremists to renounce their beliefs. Since then, the number of existing camps has grown into the hundreds and the number of detained Uighurs is estimated between one and three million. Horrific stories of sexual violence, torture, organ harvesting, and harsh conditions in detention centers have proliferated to international media sources. While the independent press has only been able to access the camps via sanitized, state-controlled visits, the point of the camps is clear: to forcibly “re-educate” Uighurs such that they cease to identify with Islam and identify instead with the CCP, which has a zero-tolerance policy for dissent and separatism. Inside the camps, Uighurs are reportedly required to learn Mandarin Chinese, repeat pledges of allegiance to China, and forswear Islam. See Ethnic, page 6 SUBMISSIONS POLICY

The Oberlin Review appreciates and welcomes letters to the editors and op-ed submissions. All submissions are printed at the discretion of the Editorial Board. All submissions must be received by Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. at or Wilder Box 90 for inclusion in that week’s issue. Letters may not exceed 600 words and op-eds may not exceed 800 words, except with consent of the Editorial Board. All submissions must include contact information, with full names and any relevant titles, for all signers. All writers must individually confirm authorship on electronic submissions. The Review reserves the right to edit all submissions for clarity, length, grammar, accuracy, strength of argument and in consultation with Review style. Editors will work with contributors to edit pieces and will clear major edits with the authors prior to publication. Editors will contact authors of letters to the editors in the event of edits for anything other than style and grammar. Headlines are printed at the discretion of the Editorial Board. Opinions expressed in editorials, letters, op-eds, columns, cartoons or other Opinions pieces do not necessarily reflect those of the staff of the Review. The Review will not print advertisements on its Opinions pages. The Review defines an advertisement as any submission that has the main intent of bringing direct monetary gain to a contributor. The Oberlin Review | November 22, 2019

Volume 148, Number 10

EdItOrIal BOard EdItOrS-IN-ChIEf

Nathan Carpenter

Katherine MacPhail

MaNagINg EdItOr Ananya Gupta

OPINIONS EdItOr Jackie Brant

On Second Thought Promotes Audacity of Innovation The audacity of innovation. In the words of Assistant Professor of History and Comparative American Studies Tamika Nunley, this simple yet powerful concept is the driving force behind On Second Thought, an undergraduate research journal she is launching this spring in collaboration with an editorial board of four students. The journal — the only one of its kind at Oberlin — focuses on publishing historical research conducted by Oberlin students. This initiative is an exciting step forward in highlighting the academic research that Obies in the social sciences and humanities engage with on a daily basis, but don’t have a suitable avenue to express other than through far more rigorous and lengthy honors projects. Honors projects are not always easily accessible to students — particularly because of the time and resources required to conduct such extensive research. Though most natural science majors have other opportunities to engage in, and sometimes publish, meaningful research with their professors, there are few such opportunities for non-STEM students. On Second Thought is intended to create another pathway for students to demonstrate their significant, historical undergraduate research in a more accessible and equally valid manner. On the surface, there are the usual benefits of expanding support for undergraduate research. For students interested in pursuing graduate school degrees, Ph.D. programs, or careers in academia, this journal provides them with the opportunity to garner skills that are tangible, desirable, and transferable in the job market, such as conducting credible research, writing, editing, and interviewing — to name just a few. Beyond these, however, the approach that Nunley — and the student editorial board that will edit submissions — are bringing to On Second Thought creates especially meaningful opportunities for both those who contribute to the journal, as well as those that read its published work. One of the journal’s biggest areas of potential impact is the room it creates for meaningful and mutual collaboration between the College and the Conservatory — an area of overlap Nunley has emphasized in her interdisciplinary work with undergraduate research. While the Academic and Administrative Program Review has previously emphasized how fortunate the College is for the musical resources available to them courtesy of the Conservatory, On Second Thought provides an opportunity for the College to share its resources as well, and invite Conservatory faculty and students to consider more deeply how their work and music and can fit into larger bodies of historiographical research. This overlap highlights the importance of envisioning historical research in an interdisciplinary context. As a field, history can often tie itself rigidly to prescribed conventions and expectations — often, as On Second Thought’s leadership explains, at the expense of inclusive, interdisciplinary work that can bring more diverse groups to the table and expand understanding of important historical concepts that inform the present day. One of the team’s core ideas is that history is all around us, often in ways that we are trained in an academic context to overlook or ignore. This history is not limited to the major, and, as a liberal arts college, it is vital that we unlearn such arbitrary boundaries of academic convention. Especially in a world where our current and impending challenges are all interdisciplinary, correcting the perception that history or any other subject is self-contained is imperative to effectively grapple with interconnected issues. For example, Oberlin’s College and community have demonstrated strong support toward solving problems regarding the climate emergency, adaptation, and resilience. However, without a working knowledge of past national and international decisions that have influenced the trajectory of environmental degradation and injustice we see today, there is no way to make responsible environmental, political, or scientific decisions regarding climate change today. History is the only insight we have as problem-solvers to correct past wrongs and create a better future. Finally, not only does this research journal create space for students to experiment with different methodologies of historical research that they might otherwise have not had a chance to explore, it also allows undergraduates to join generative academic conversation earlier in their careers. Rather than having to wait until entering graduate schools or later, students will be able to explore different ideas — when the stakes are relatively lower — as well as build professional research and writing experiences much sooner. It is important that young people join conversations regarding establishing strong historical narratives through research as early as possible. As the generation facing dire and existential consequences from past decisions, it is crucial that we do not blindly buy into “tried and tested” methodologies and ideas. By investing time and energy into building independent and critical thinking mechanisms to examine our history, we are creating the ability to learn from past mistakes and build a better world than the one we have right now. Nunley and her team of students have laid a brick on the road of the education we liberal arts students aspire to every day. Each day, Obies dare to dream that one person can change the world. On Second Thought is a powerful reminder of how this student body’s audacity to innovate can help break down the barriers that would otherwise hold us back from creating a lasting connection through crafting meaningful scholarship. Editorials are the responsibility of the Review Editorial Board — the Editors-in-Chief, Managing Editor, and Opinions Editor — and do not necessarily reflect the views of the staff of the Review.


Opi n ions

Ethnic Cleansing Threatens Uighurs Continued from page 5

“[W]hat they want is to force us to assimilate, to identify with the country, such that, in the future, the idea of Uyghur will be in name only, but without its meaning,” said one Uighur who left Xinjiang in 2017 to the Human Rights Watch. China’s recent crackdown follows decades of complex political and religious controversy over the status of the Xinjiang province, which has been claimed by China since the CCP rose to power in 1949. Xinjiang has long hosted a variety of separatist movements that have sought to remove the province from China entirely in order to seek independence. In recent decades, some Uighurs have joined radical Islamist movements around the world as well. A variety of security incidents in the years preceded the current crackdown, including riots over ethnic migration policies in 2009 and a string of terrorist attacks throughout China in the early 2010s. These events prompted hard-lining in the CCP’s approach to security in Xinjiang. As a result, the entire province has become an incredibly dense and complex security state, with mass surveillance extending into nearly every single aspect of personal and public life. Highly advanced technology monitors Uighur population on an individual level, including biometric databases, surveillance cameras, social media monitoring, and, according to a recent report, the placement of Communist Party officials in the homes of married women whose husbands are detained in re-education camps. “1.1 million local government officials have been deployed to spend about a week every two months living in the home of an Uighur host family,” read a report by The Independent. “Social media images show the new ‘relatives’ attending Uighur weddings, funerals, and other occasions once considered intimate and private.” China reportedly also uses a ‘point system’ to determine who must be sent to re-education camps and who can remain on the outside. Uighurs can gain points by showing allegiance to the Chinese state,

and they can lose points by showing adherence to their Uighur and Muslim identity — reportedly including actions such as owning a Qur’an, contacting Uighur family members living abroad in countries which China considers ‘sensitive,’ such as Afghanistan and Syria, and even for having family members and acquaintances whom the CCP considers suspicious. Those whose points fall too low vanish into the ever-growing network of re-education camps across Xinjiang. Finally, perhaps the most chilling aspect of the point system is that detained Uighurs’ points are affected by the actions of their family members on the outside. This encourages Uighurs who are still free to remain docile in order to help secure the release of their family members. China’s ethnic cleansing and cultural genocide of the Uighur people is massive in scope and flagrant in its abuse of human rights, yet international responses have largely been muted. Most governments around the world fear that, were they to call out China on its actions, China would wield its considerable economic might to exact punishment upon its critics. As such, few governments have been willing to outwardly criticize the CCP thus paving the way for China to continue oppressing Uighurs with little to no political consequences. Today, hope for the Uighurs appears quite dim. China is a one-party political system, and the country lacks enough of a political opposition to stop this cultural genocide campaign from within. The only force which could save the Uighurs now would be widespread international condemnation. Naming and shaming the Chinese Communist Party for its actions, sanctioning Chinese state officials, and enforcing economic sanctions against Chinese businesses involved in the detention of Uighurs would pressure China to slow down or halt the crackdown. However, given China’s growing grip on the global economy, the world seems unwilling thus far to stand up for Uighurs’ rights. If the international community doesn’t act soon, the Uighurs may very well cease to exist altogether.

Outward-Facing Philosophy Deeply Rooted in Oberlin’s History Nathan Carpenter Editor-in-Chief

Editor’s note: This column is part of a series that will focus on Oberlin’s history as a town and an institution. The series will be published regularly throughout the fall semester. When then-First Lady Michelle Obama spoke at Oberlin’s commencement ceremonies in 2015, she had the institution’s social justice reputation in mind. “If you truly wish to carry on the Oberlin legacy of service and social justice, then you need to run to, and not away from, the noise,” Obama said. “Today, I want to urge you to actively seek out the most contentious, polarized, gridlocked places you can find. Because so often, throughout our history, those have been the places where progress really happens — the places where minds are changed, lives transformed, where our great American story unfolds.” Obama’s invocation of Oberlin’s long-standing practice of running towards the noise spoke to many elements of this community’s historical legacy — some proud, some more troubling, and all traceable back to its founding as a radical, early-19th century experiment. When John Jay Shipherd and Philo P. Stewart founded Oberlin, they intended for their new settlement to have a purpose and mission outside of Northeast Ohio. Their primary work of religious conversation, led by the famous minister Charles Grandison Finney, inspired their belief that the world needs Obies — a belief that this institution remains convinced of today. President Carmen Twillie Ambar began to employ this rhetoric almost as soon as she stepped foot on campus in 2017, urging the Oberlin community to be outward-facing as we get down in the trenches with communities in Lorain County and beyond. For better or for worse, this outward-facing philosophy is baked into Oberlin’s DNA. In his autobiography, John Mercer Langston — the man for whom Langston Hall is named — wrote about working as a schoolteacher during his time off from school. When Langston was a student in the late 1840s and early 1850s, Oberlin’s long break was in the winter, instead of the summer — an unusual schedule especially in the 19th century, when many took the lengthy summer break to help out on their families’ farms. In Langston’s own words, the uniqueness of Oberlin’s calendar was intended, “so that any students desiring to engage in teaching for such term, either public or private schools, could do so … to make the most of themselves as scholars and useful members of society.” During that break, Oberlin students and faculty would fan out across the country. Some, like Langston, found opportunities to teach, while others traveled to preach the abolitionist cause to often-hostile congregations across the South. A similar sense of collective, outward-facing agency grew in Oberlin, as it did on campuses across the country, just over a century later during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. While students initially felt distant from a movement perceived to largely be taking place far away, over time they embraced their potential to make substantive change — in nearby Cleveland, across

Ohio, and beyond. Several students took semesters off and spent them in the South, reporting remotely for the Review from the frontlines, bringing news back to an eager and anxious campus. In many ways, those students were — whether consciously or not — invoking the legacy of Langston and others. They recognized that the skills and knowledge gained at Oberlin could be used to advance causes across the country. All this is not to say that the way Oberlin has spread its values to other communities throughout history has been uniformly positive, or even anything close to it. Undergirding much of Oberlin’s outward-facing social activism — particularly earlier in its history — has been an air of arrogance and moral superiority. As I’ve written previously, early Oberlin’s abolitionist values were not rooted in a sense of social justice or drive for racial equity — rather, Oberlin leaders like Finney and Shipherd opposed slavery and supported racial integration from a religious perspective, rather than a moral one, and believed it was their calling to spread their religious convictions to the less enlightened. Oberlin’s air of superiority continued into the 20th century, perhaps most notably symbolized by the construction of the Memorial Arch on Tappan Square. The arch was designed to memorialize the missionaries — most of whom were either Oberlin students or related to an Oberlin student — who were killed during the Boxer Rebellion while on a mission to China in 1900. For years, the arch has been a point of contention on campus as many students — particularly those of Asian descent — feel that the arch stands as a reminder of the imperialism that grew out of Oberlin’s extreme religious convictions. During almost a decade of protest, the path of the commencement procession forced students to choose to either pass under the arch or walk around it. As we consider how Oberlin can continue to strive to make a real difference outside of the confines of campus, our arrogant history is as important as our more noble moments. It’s true that Oberlin has a lot to offer the world, but we can’t assume the world wants everything we want to give. Issues that feel pressing in the classroom can have less urgency in spaces where people are struggling to meet their tangible needs — a reality we’ve occasionally overlooked as an institution, and one that I don’t see us fully understanding today. It’s exciting to have a leader in President Ambar who invokes Oberlin’s history of outward-facing engagement in much the same way that Michelle Obama did more than four years ago. Despite the mistakes Obies have made and will continue to make, President Ambar’s rhetoric reveals her empowering faith in us as agents of change. However, that faith, which many share, should also push us to examine a question not frequently asked on this campus — whether Oberlin is actually good at sending people out into the world. For many of us, at first pass, the answer might be an obvious yes. But looking at our history reveals that this gut reaction can, and should, be tempered. We should certainly be proud of the moments when Obies affected positive change in the world, and learn from the moments when our often well-intentioned approach didn’t quite land. Only then, in the words of Obama, can the greatest version of our collective Oberlin story unfold.

Clair Wang, Staff Cartoonist


Senate Updates on Warren’s Medicare for All Transition Committee Progress Plan Reveals Lack of Commitment Patrick Powers Contributing Writer

Christo Hays Production Editor

This article is part of the Review’s Student Senate column. In an effort to increase communication and transparency, student senators will provide personal perspectives on recent events on campus and in the community.

Policy and tactical differences matter in the health care debate. Despite spending over $10,000 per capita on health care — more than any other Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development nation, and more than double most of them — the U.S. is only the 35th healthiest country in the world. The health care industry fleeces millions of Americans every year while making life-saving drugs, treatments, and care regimens effectively unattainable, and these same Americans are fed up. This year, only improving the economy outranked improving health care on Americans’ list of priorities — and then only by one percentage point. Next year, health care should top the list if trends prevail. With the 2020 presidential election bearing down on voters, there is no better time to address our broken health care system. The most critical decision Americans can make is who leads that charge. Policy and tactical differences matter. Despite a broad field of Democratic candidates, only two of the major candidates — Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders — support Medicare for All, the health care policy based on Sanders’ yet-topass Medicare for All Act. The act proposes Medicare on steroids, providing hospital care, emergency services, prescription drugs, mental health services, substance abuse treatment, dental, hearing, visual, and more, for everyone. No insurance premiums, deductibles, or copayments.

As part of Student Senate’s mission to inform the Oberlin student body about the work going on throughout Oberlin’s various administrative governance structures, we’d like to offer a snapshot of the work going on in some of the committees in which senators serve. This is by no means a comprehensive list of all the work Senate is doing at the moment. Still, we hope it will provide some valuable insight. Arts and Sciences Academic Restructuring Committee update: Cait Kelley ASARC is one of several committees created this year to formulate specific recommendations for how Oberlin can achieve the goals laid out in One Oberlin. So far on ASARC, we’ve discussed the possibility of reorganizing the College of Arts and Sciences according to the Divisional Model proposed by One Oberlin. Under a Divisional Model, academic departments and programs would be assigned to larger divisions, each with a Division Chair. Departments would then have Department Heads, not Department Chairs. There are pros and cons to this model, which is only one of several possibilities that would achieve the goals of saving money, increasing departmental efficiency, decreasing the silo effect among departments, and increasing collaboration across disciplines. Much of the committee’s time thus far has been taken up by developing an intensive survey about the Divisional Model and other models that will be sent out to all faculty in continuing faculty lines. We’ve also discussed how best to gather information about the work of administrative assistants, the people who do the bulk of the administrative work in the Arts and Sciences. Through these conversations, we hope to learn more about how offices and departments interact and if those relationships could be changed or improved to help meet the goals of One Oberlin. JED Update: Emma Edney The JED team has identified which strategic recommendations will be placed under the purview of the Policies & Procedures Working Group and the Education & Prevention working group. The team has met once this semester and will meet again before the end of the semester. The team has identified core areas of improving resiliency, educational programming and campaigns, awareness of mental health resources, and universal design in campus spaces. This committee is engaged in the second year of the four-year process in partnership with the Jed Foundation to self-assess policies, programming, and data regarding mental health and student wellness before implementing strategic recommendations to reach target goals. Winter Term Update: Bridget Smith This fall, the Winter Term Committee, under the direction of Professor of History, Comparative American Studies, and Africana Studies Renee Romano, has been hard at work preparing for Winter Term 2020. The committee has worked with Bon Appétit to offer a $300 dining plan for January. It has worked to change the policy regarding Winter Term teaching requirements, presenting a proposal to the General Faculty this week that would require professors to either host a program or sponsor programs three out of every four academic years. This coming January, there will be over 50 on-campus programs, and there will be on-campus events every day over the Winter Term period. Sustainability Liaison Update: Wenling Li On Nov. 2, The First Church in Oberlin Green Team held the third annual Oberlin Green Group Harvest Vegetarian Potluck Dinner and Celebration at First Church in Oberlin, where we gathered with a variety of Green Groups to share ideas and prioritize activities for the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Following this potluck, College fourth-years Olivia Vasquez and Madeleine Gefke, who serve as the two student representatives for the Environmental Studies program, reached out to campus Green Groups to form the Earth Day 50 Symposium Student Planning Committee. The planning of the 50th anniversary Earth Day is challenging in terms of budgeting, event planning, and the partnership among the extensive range of green groups. It also has a relatively broad audience, as the event is not only for Obies but also for high schoolers, senior citizens at Kendal at Oberlin, and all Oberlin residents. We invite all interested people to join the planning committee to help make this celebration of local sustainability a success. The Oberlin Review | November 22, 2019

I’m not going to lapse into Medicare for All apologetics. If you need convincing, both Sanders’ and Warren’s campaign sites provide links to studies on the potential savings and other benefits of Medicare for All. But if you support Medicare for All, if you value the prospect of a healthy and equitable America, there’s only one candidate who’s earned your vote — and it’s not Elizabeth Warren. Last Friday, Warren released a corollary to her plan to institute Medicare for All, outlining a “transition period” during her presidency when she would assemble a “Medicare for All option.” If “Medicare for All option” sounds familiar, it’s because you’ve more or less heard it before. It holds the moderate line, a tepid compromise à la Pete Buttigieg’s “Medicare for All Who Want It.” Still, even this moderate stance shows some promise, thanks to the leftward shift in the Democratic Party spearheaded by Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and their ilk. Warren promises anti-corruption, antitrust reforms targeting insurance and drug companies; executive action to reverse President Trump’s attacks on health care; and stepwise improvements to the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid, and, of course, Medicare. Under Warren’s direction, the latter program would extend to cover people 50 and older, and a free option would cover minors and families making approximately $51,000 or less per year. Those proposals sound excellent, yet it appears Warren will take her health care agenda no further. After presenting her “Medicare for All option,” Warren’s plan contin-

ues: “And finally, no later than my third year in office, I will fight to pass legislation that would complete the transition to full Medicare for All.” A candidate willing to wait three years to attempt passing Medicare for All isn’t serious about passing it at all. If it seems like I’m twisting her words, here’s Warren from Wednesday’s debate: “I want to lower the age of Medicare to 50 and expand Medicare coverage to include vision and dental and long-term care. And then in the third year, when people have had a chance to feel it and taste it and live with it, we’re going to vote, and we’re going to want Medicare for All.” While Warren promises stalls and stopgaps, Sanders has vowed to introduce a Medicare for All bill in his first week as president — no conditions or questions asked. I believe that Warren genuinely wants to pass Medicare for All, but I don’t think she will. As Carl Beijer of Jacobin magazine rightly noted, splitting the health care fight into two phases will be its death knell. Half measures will divide activist support into those who are willing to work for incremental change and those who will refuse to compromise. Republicans will attack half measures as radical, making it easier to kill Medicare for All when it comes around. The fight can’t wait until three years into the next presidency when whoever occupies the White House is fully ensnared in the web of pressures that seem to capture every president. Let the candidate who will fight on day one lead the charge — he wrote the damn bill.


Popular Musicians at Oberlin

Layout by Lily Jones, This Week Editor

The music scene at Oberlin is one of the school’s greatest draws. On almost any given night, students can attend performances by their peers, visiting artists, and sometimes faculty. The school attracts world-class performers, often with the help of student-run groups, so it isn’t surprising that many popular musicians visited the school when they were on the cusp of mainstream fame. This week we have featured a selection of those artists from the last 10 years. Don’t worry if you missed them — you never know when the next big name will grace Oberlin with their talent. All quotes are from past Review articles. Kendrick Lamar

Chance the Rapper

Photo courtesy of Pitchfork Photo courtesy of The Grammy Foundation

“He brought it. He had the crowd in the palm of his hand as he performed a good portion of his newer, more popular hits from Section.80.” (“Kendrick Lamar Excites Up-and-Coming MCs”, Dec. 2011)


“The genuineness of Chance’s youthful enthusiasm made even the planned moments of spontaneity — breakouts into dancing, stripping layers off until shirtless and spraying water at the crowd with strobe lights — memorable not just for students but for a rapper on his way up. ‘Thank you all so much,’ Chance said before coming back on to perform a four-song encore.” (“Chance The Rapper Greeted by Packed ’Sco Crowd”, Dec. 2013)

Joey Bada$$

Photo courtesy of The Oberlin Review

“Her fame notwithstanding, SZA is naturally relatable — the type of artist you can’t help but root for. She appeared genuinely happy to spend her Friday night with a room of college students, despite having to travel nearly 900 miles for a Minneapolis performance the following night.” (“SZA Delivers Vibrant, Playful Performance”, Sept. 2014)

Photo courtesy of Billboard

“Chances are Oberlin’s hip-hop-heads were the first to snag tickets, but Bada$$’s appeal extends beyond fan circles. Matthew Kornberg, a College first-year with a ticket to the event, said, “I feel that it will be one of the best live shows of the year” (“Joey Bada$$ to Serenade ’Sco with ’90s Flair”, Mar. 2015)

Snarky Puppy


Photo courtesy of The Oberlin Review

“The show sold out in only two days. [Charlie Kimball, College first-year and avid Snarky Puppy fan] said that the group appeals not only to Conservatory students but to all students who enjoy music.” (“Snarky Puppy to Bring Eclectic Sound to ’Sco”, Mar. 2015)

“The energy of the performance was matched by the equally energetic and sizeable crowd that shouted compliments to the singer throughout the show and hushed each other when offstage noise became distracting from the music.” (“Edgy Indie-punk Artist Enchants at Memorable Show”, Apr. 2015)


Jamila Woods

Photo courtesy of BBC

Photo courtesy of Chicago Magazine

Photo courtesy of The Oberlin Review

Noname’s music is characterized by mellow beats and political messages. Audience members were thrilled to hear an old favorite, ‘Sunday Morning,’ and stood on the stage with her singing along.” (“Feature Photo: Noname Gypsy”, Nov. 2015)


“‘Being able to have a Black femme artist on campus is just really incredible,’ Annika Hansteen Izora said. ‘A lot of white, masculine music is really upheld and is the center of attention in all music spaces here. To be able to have an empowered, incredible force [like her] on campus is going to be really amazing.’” (“Acclaimed Poet, Musician Jamila Woods to Perform at Cat”, Mar. 2017)

Weekly Events Friday, Nov. 22

Artist Recital: Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

Photo courtesy of

“‘We’re bringing in the biggest — in terms of name recognition — performer that we’ve ever had,’ said Daniel Markus, double-degree fifth-year and Solarity co-chair. ‘Solarity has been trending in this direction for a while, but this is by far our biggest splash.’” (“Lizzo, Iglooghost to Make For Memorable ‘Solarity’”, Dec. 2018)

Artist recital performance by the innovative Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, featuring soloists lestyn Davies, countertenor, and Katharina Spreckelsen, baroque oboe. Tickets range from $10 to $35, though discounts are available for students, seniors, military, and alumni. Tickets are free for students with a discount code. 7:30 – 9:30 p.m. // Finney Chapel Friday, Nov. 22 – Saturday, Nov. 23 OMTA Presents: Pippin OMTA’s fall musical about a young prince seeking excitement and adventure. Tickets on sale at the door for $5 (cash

or check only). Friday at 8 p.m.; Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. // Wilder Main Saturday, Nov. 23 OSlam Grand Slam OSlam’s annual slam poetry competition hosted by Nani Borges. The night will also feature performances from And What?! and DJ Josie Owens. 8 – 10 p.m. // Finney Chapel Saturday, Nov. 23 – Sunday, Nov. 24 Chxpo with Sparkitmoe and Coolerkin Performance by Cleveland rapper Chxpo, featuring performances by Sparkitmoe and Coolerkin, both from Uptown D.C. 9:30 p.m. – 1 a.m. // The ’Sco

A r t s & C u lt u r e

ARTS & CULTURE November 22, 2019

established 1874

Volume 148, Number 10

Cartoonist Eli Valley Discusses Jewish-American Identity

Eli Valley discussing his comics in Dye Lecture Hall.

Kate Fishman Arts & Culture Editor Simon Idelson When cartoonist and activist Eli Valley was young, he used to imagine superheroes and supervillains battling on the pages of the Hebrew Bible, the physical seam of the book serving as the divisive line between good and evil. Valley’s father was a Rabbi, and he says that comics initially provided him with a sense of escape from his Orthodox Jewish upbringing and countless hours spent in the synagogue. Today, Valley is a well-respected cartoonist whose work has been featured in

Photo by Lucie Weismueller

The Nation, The New Republic, The Village Voice, The Guardian, and The Daily Beast, among other publications. Oberlin Students for a Free Palestine and Oberlin Jewish Voice for Peace brought Valley to campus this Tuesday to give a talk on his work. Valley’s cartoons highlight the complicated relationship between American Judaism and Israel. The cartoons sharply critique American Jews and non-Jewish politicians who ally themselves with neo-Nazis and white supremacists in their mutual support of Israel. His full-length comic book Diaspora Boy features the titular character — a grotesque old man who is constantly in need of help and advice

from “Israel Man.” Israel Man is a Superman-like adonis who towers over Diaspora Boy and whose perfectly-coiffed hair, muscles, and smile sharply contrast with Diaspora Boy’s hairy, wart-covered body and sickly physique. Valley is best known, though, for drawing similarly jarring caricatures of political figures like Donald Trump, Benjamin Netanyahu, Steve Bannon, and Fox News anchor Meghan McCain; they represent the paradigms, politics, and contradictions of American Jewry in the 21st century. Stylistically, he’s inspired by the aesthetic and cultural roots of American Jewish comic art and satirical criticism. “Mad comics [were] made by children of immigrants, bringing a Yiddish sensibility, — both culturally but also, even linguistically — throwing Yiddish in everywhere,” Valley explained. “They were coming out during a time of American [consumerism and political and cultural] conformity, and so they were satirizing American popular culture, but at the same time really going for the jugular. And the art was just incredible. … That was my main source [of inspiration].” College fourth-year and SFP Treasurer Matt Kinsella-Walsh thinks that Valley’s comics speak to the problematic tropes underpinning Zionism. “He did a really good job on showing how much of Zionism is predicated on anti-Semitism [and] has continued to replicate tropes that are [actually] anti-Semitic to Jews that do not fit into this Israeli ideologized archetype,” Kinsella-Walsh said. Zionism is the belief that there should be a secular Jewish nation state in histor-

ic Palestine. When the Zionist movement began in the 19th century, the settlers promoted the image of the “new Jew.” Whereas the diasporic Jew in the ghettos of Eastern Europe was emaciated, homely, and hunched over their religious scripture, the Zionist Jew was a fighter, hair bleached blond from hours working under the hot Mediterranean sun, and whose back straightened and shoulders broadened. These 19th-century ideas are still influential today — political leaders from both the United States and Israel, Jewish and non-Jewish, portray the diasporic Jew as lost, sickly, and pathetic, while the Israeli Jew is authentic, powerful, and attractive. “The Jewish [political] right, and the right more broadly, have succeeded in altering the definition of anti-Semitism to [mean] anti-Israel, or to [mean] criticism of Israel even,” Valley explained. “And in so doing [the right is] actually trying to erase a large segment of American Jewry, [an act] which itself is anti-Semitic, but because they are represented in leadership positions within the Jewish community, there’s never sufficient pushback and so their line becomes the [official] line.” College second-year and Liaison for JVP Mira Newman found that comics are a really successful way to conceptualize the difficult concepts addressed in Valley’s work. “I think that it’s really cool that a lot of what he does– comics– are very accessible to a wide audience when a lot of things on Israel and Zionism, specifically anti-Zionism, [are] very theoretical and [inaccessible],” they said. “He puts it in these really See Anti-Zionist, page 13

Dystopian Play The Size of a Fist Explores the End of the World Aly Fogel Arts & Culture Editor In the dark of Kander Theater, Bee, an adolescent girl, sits on the floor, trying to draw a tree. Behind her, a ladder in the back of the room stretches from floor to ceiling, making the audience feel as if they too are underground. Bee’s father peers at his daughter’s drawing, perplexed and disappointed by its inaccuracies. Bee explains she’s never seen real trees to reference. Deep in a small ’50s bunker, designed to weather nuclear fallout, the two characters in The Size of a Fist live in a futuristic dystopian reality ravaged by climate change. The ever-inquisitive Bee has grown up with only books to teach her about the natural world, which she calls the “Above.” “Growing up, I was a huge fan of science fiction and particularly dystopia,” said College fourth-year Delaney Kelly, who wrote and directed the play. “Since [climate change] looms so heavily on my generation, I think it’s incredibly timely and relevant to combine that with my interest in dystopia as a narrative.” It’s easy to see the environmentalist themes in the show. Papa and Bee long to be back in the “Above,” and they savor each of the moments that connect them to nature. Bee sometimes stands in the shower, pretending that it’s rain, while Papa, who lived his adulthood above ground, tells Bee stories about gardens before she goes to bed each night. College second-year and Stage Manager Katie Homer-Drummond explained that, when it was clear the world would become


unlivable, Papa struggled to feel stable and hopeful in the midst of crisis. Bee, as part of a generation that may never live above ground, struggles to feel hopeful about the future at all. As Bee gets older, the two fight about her desire to go outside. “Bee is really all that Papa has in his life,” said College third-year James Dryden, who plays Papa. “[The] purpose of his life at this point is really keeping her safe. And so they’re somewhat at odds in that sense. This gets brought up a lot of times [when] Bee really wants to go outside and learn about the world and from his point [of view] it’s too dangerous out there.” College second-year Sophie Falvey, who plays Bee, explained her character’s motivations in the show. “She spent her whole entire life in this sort of bunker with their limited knowledge of the outside world,” Falvey explained. “There’s real kind of urgency and I think growing frustration and growing kind of anxiety about not being able to get out.” In addition to these two generations, the play references the generation before Papa, who Kelly sees as a part of her own generation. “While never seen, [Bee’s grandfather’s] perspective is often referenced by Papa,” Kelly wrote in an email to the Review. “[The grandfather] would have taken for granted the beauty and stability that nature provides, while also witnessing the irreversible effects of climate change taking shape. Papa would have instead taken for granted the man-made effects on the environment. In this play, it’s very crucial that climate change is not shown to have happened all

College third-year James Dryden and College second-year Sophie Falvey performing in The Size of a Fist. Photo by Chris Schmucki, Photo Editor

at once. Climate change is interpreted by each subsequent generation that inherits the aftermath.” The play opens with a classic 1962 song, Skeeter Davis’ “The End of the World,” in which a woman croons, “Don’t they know it’s the end of the world?” Witnessing the fate of Papa and Bee, the audience is forced to question just how soon that end is coming and what can be done to help future generations. However, the play doesn’t have a pessimistic tone. The cast and production team stressed that they want the audience to leave feeling inspired and capable to change the world around them, not defeated.

“We live in a time of change and that can be terrifying. It’s important to acknowledge that and not try and suppress it or hide how you feel about that and to genuinely and openly speak about it and work through those feelings,” Homer-Drummond said. Kelly hopes the audience leaves the theater envisioning a positive future. “I want audience members to question what sustains them,” said Kelly. “What do they want to grow? What do they want to cultivate?” The Size of a Fist runs from Thursday, Nov. 21 to Sunday, Nov. 24 in Kander Theater. Tickets are free, and the show is open to the public.

OHOP, OSLAM Center Black, POC Voices on Campus Imani Badillo Senior Staff Writer While all students are invited to attend campus concerts and events, it is important to be mindful about taking up space at shows centering Black and Brown artists. Two groups on campus – The Oberlin Hip Hop Collective and Oberlin’s slam poetry team, OSLAM, not only center performers of color but seek to create a safe space for students of color in the audience. When attending these events, mindfulness of one’s positionality is crucial. “OHOP serves to provide safe spaces and community for Afro-diasporan people on campus, creating platforms for artistic expression and the Black voice,” said College third-year Micaiah Fox. Respect for the sanctity of POC spaces is sometimes lacking; a common problem seen in the ’Sco is the physical pushing of POC and Black students to the back of the space, even during events that are intended to serve the interests of POC and Black students on campus. This behavior — which is often aggressive and thoughtless — ignores the goal of such events. “[OHOP’s work is meant to] provide a space where Black people and POC in general [feel] welcomed and encouraged to attend on campus, especially in the ’Sco because it has traditionally been very white all the time,” said College fourth-year Amari Newman, who is also a member of the OHOP board. “We wanted to create events that would offset this tradition.” The organization not only hosts musical events, but also amplifies many other forms of artistic expression and fosters community around them. Last February, OHOP also hosted Melanin Mondays, incorporating the rich history of Black artistic traditions into the space on a weekly basis. This year, OHOP has brought Black artists like UMI and Suzi Analogue to Oberlin, so that students of color can enjoy music and voices created with their identity in mind. OSLAM embodies this same idea in prioritizing POC voices and experiences. OSLAM remains a space for people, especially Brown and Black people, to speak about pain and oppressive structures that have historically kept isolated individuals from speaking up. “OSLAM has taught me so much about community, strength, love, support, and resistance,” said College fourth-year and OSLAM officer Amy Sahud. “This team [has] not only given me a bigger

OSLAM team members bowing at the end of last year’s Grand Slam.

voice, but it also has given me better ears. Being an officer of OSLAM is not a responsibility I take lightly, and I hope to contribute to the legacy of care, joy, and strength that many of us hold very dearly on this campus.” At the beginning of each performance, members of OSLAM recognize the history of the art form, verbally acknowledging that slam poetry is rooted in Black arts and expression. Everyone is responsible for holding the knowledge that this event is meant to center Black and Brown voices. These practices not only prioritize accountability, but also can help cultivate a space to which students of color feel comfortable returning. “OSLAM was created by two black women, Annika Hansteen Izora and Nina Austin, and they have created a space for all those things through the centering of Black and Brown voices,” Sahud said. Staying attuned to group energy in a space is crucial, as is checking in with anyone who might seem uncomfortable. To ensure that audience members

Photo by Chris Schmucki, Photo Editor

are comfortable in the space, OSLAM uses tap-out people to serve as active listeners during the event and provide support to those who need it. This weekend, OSLAM will host their Grand Slam. At this event, OSLAM poets will perform their work in two rounds, and the top-scoring poets will earn spots to compete at the College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational. While the event is open to all students, it is one that will center Black and POC voices, in keeping with previous performances. At this upcoming event, it’s important to be mindful of one’s positionality. “Activism is not only organizing and educating, but also the hard work of decolonizing our minds and hearts,” Sahud said. “We must feel, we must heal, and we must grow.” The OSLAM Grand Slam will take place on Saturday, Nov. 23 at 8 p.m. in Finney Chapel. Tickets are $5–10 on a sliding scale and will be available for purchase from OSLAM members around campus prior to the event, as well as at the event. No one will be turned away due to lack of funds.

Pose Choreographer Teaches Master Class

Text by Katherine MacPhail, Editor-in-Chief Photo by Ananya Gupta, Managing Editor

The Oberlin Review | Nov 22, 2019

Yesterday evening, Twiggy Pucci Garçon brought their style and confidence to campus, teaching students about ballroom history and technique. Garçon is a performer, activist, and senior program director at True Colors United, an organization that works to provide support for LGBTQ+ homeless youth. Garçon also choreographed for the second season of Pose, a lauded show with the largest cast of transgender actors in TV history, so they had lots of wisdom to share during Thursday’s sold-out class. “I always start every workshop with a ballroom culture and history lesson,” Garçon said. “What is the story? What’s the history? What’s the significance? … Then I teach about all the categories and, like, how a ball actually would happen. Then we get into the technique part of the category that I teach, which is runway.” College fourth-year Brian “B” Smith shared his excitement about attending the master class. “I think ultimately what it is is that people are being taught to unlock a sexy part of themselves – that confident part of themselves,” Smith said. “And to do that in a safe space where no one’s judging you, it’s all about encouragement. It’s all about uplifting you. That’s the beautiful thing about it. That’s what ball culture has always been about.” In addition to teaching yesterday’s Master Ballroom and Runway Class, Garçon held a screening and talkback for their film Kiki. The film, which they co-wrote, tells the story of young queer people of color who have found a creative outlet through ball culture. Wednesday’s event was part of Kuumba Week Film Festival, the first of an annual series celebrating Black creativity.


A r t s & C u lt u r e ON THE RECORD

Frank Dawson, Agents of Change Director can Studies major here at my college and I’m a lower-B student. I had no idea what it took for me to occupy this seat and to take this class. … But now, knowing what it took, I’ve got a commitment to it. Now I’m going to be a much better student, dedicated to really learning and sharing that as well.” So I’ll never forget that. You know, it was incumbent upon us to do something because of what our parents went through to make it possible for us. If not for our parents, then we wouldn’t be able to go to Cornell or any other university. ... What my parents’ generation went through is much more difficult than what we experienced. And I think young people today need to understand that as well.

Frank Dawson.

Photo courtesy of Frank Dawson

Frank Dawson is the current dean of the Center for Media and Design at Santa Monica College. He’s had a long career in entertainment, working as an associate programming executive at CBS and a production executive at Universal’s Television Division. Dawson earned his Bachelor’s in Sociology from Cornell University and his Master of Science degree in Television and Radio from Syracuse University’s Newhouse School. During his time at Cornell, Dawson and other student activists made national news when they occupied a school building to protest the mistreatment of Black students on campus. He co-directed the film Agents of Change, which documents protests at both Cornell and San Francisco State University. Last Thursday, Dawson visited Oberlin for a screening of Agents of Change, followed by a Q&A, as part of the Kuumba Week Film Series, which celebrates Black creativity. These interviews have been edited for length and clarity. Aly Fogel Arts & Culture Editor Could you talk a little bit about your film, Agents of Change? Agents of Change is a film that documents how Black Studies programs were launched, and what it took to get them launched, who some of the major players were, and the chronology of events at two schools — San Francisco State in 1968 and and Cornell in 1969 — as examples of what was happening all across the country on college campuses. Why did you choose to focus on San Francisco State and Cornell? [Filmmaker] Abby Ginzberg and I both attended Cornell, although we did not know one another at the time. Abby was a second-year and it was my first year, and we both were involved in a major incident that’s depicted at Cornell. I was one of the Black students inside the building that we occupied as part of a demonstration for a Black Studies program after one of other incidents happened. Abby was a member of the Students for a Democratic Society, an organization that was supportive of what we were doing and formed a ring around the building for our support. A friend of mine knew Abby, and I wanted to tell the story. So he put the two of us together, and we decided to do the project together. It took us seven years to complete it. I know you’ve screened this film at universities across the country. How have students reacted to the film? We’ve been touring with the film for three years now, and it still resonates because of the time we’re in now. One of the characters in the film is Ramona Tesco, and something she had said that didn’t make it into the film is, “We were written out of history.” People don’t know this story. Students today assume that Black and Ethnic Studies and Women’s Studies were always departments. They … never question how the departments came about and what it took to make them come about. I was at Broward Community College screening the film in Fort Lauderdale, FL. And in the Q&A afterwards, there was a young Black student in the front row who had tears in her eyes. I called on her, and she said, “I’m so ashamed of myself, because I’m an African Ameri-


Other than Agents of Change, what projects have you worked on? In 1980, I was the only African American television programming executive at CBS. I was recruited by Universal, and I became the only Black television programming executive at Universal at that time. Because of that experience protesting at Cornell — as far as advocacy and seeing something that I believe needed to be changed and committing myself to that — that’s always been a part of my career. At CBS, I founded the West Coast chapter of the CBS Black Employees Association. There was a gap there where the black employees were complaining about being in lower-level positions [even though they had] a higher level of education than their [bosses]. When I got to Universal, I was able to get them to set aside a fund of money so that I could start a workshop to train more writers of color to come into television. Bill Cosby then started a program at [the] University of Southern California to do a similar thing. While I was working at CBS, I was recruited to teach in this program at USC to bring more African American writers into television. I did that for six years as a visiting lecturer, and that’s how I transitioned into education. … I’ve been in education for more than 20 years.

What are some messages you want viewers to take from the film? I think there’s a good balance in the film in terms of viewers understanding that no one group could have accomplished anything alone. If not for the white students that were in support of the Black students at Cornell, the outcome would not have been the same. It just wouldn’t. At San Francisco State, not only were white students and Latino students protesting, but also Asian students. And at Cornell, it was the Black and Puerto Rican students. If those groups hadn’t come together and supported one another, the outcome that was de- What did you teach at Santa Monica College? I taught media. I taught what I had lived as an occupasired would not have been achieved. tion. The class that I loved most was Media Literacy, trainWhat experiences did you have that led to your cur- ing students how to deconstruct information, to access multiple sources of information, and to find out what the rent career in the entertainment industry? I was born in Harlem, NY, and when I was two years truth really is, which is so important. Media literacy is in the curriculum of so many counold, my parents and myself and my sister moved to a tries across the globe, but it’s not necessarily embedded in public housing project on the Lower East Side of New American education. I think media literacy would really York City. … I was not a good student. I hated school, help in terms of the partisanship that’s happening right but my mother got me into a music class, and that kept now in our nation. … People listen to the other side, but me in an academic track. So that was the first thing. they don’t really hear it because they’re so embedded in The next thing was my best friend was the only Black their own beliefs. I think if we had more of a focus on instudent at this boarding school in Westchester County, formation and media literacy in our country as part of edoutside of New York City. He and I we weren’t able to ucation, that we’d be much better off … in terms of being a make the local junior high school basketball team or united nation. anything like that because it’s really, really competitive. … His parents took me up there for the first Parents’ Weekend, the first year my friend was there. He already started on a basketball team, and I was like, “Wow, I could come up here.” And that was my interest. So I told my mother, she was like, “You want to go to school? Great.” My mom took me over to the church to take the entrance exam. I became the second Black student accepted to this boarding school. The school changed me academically. I almost flunked out my first semester — the same bad habits that I had before. But a counselor put me up against the wall and said, “Do you know the opportunity you’re blowing here?” And I said, “Yeah, whatever.” And he said, “Do you know what these other boys think of you?” He said, “They think you’re just here because you’re an athlete.” … And it was one of those ‘aha’ moments. To me, it’s just like, “Wow, I’m being judged.” Other people who look like me are being judged by my own performance here. I had never considered that. The light bulb went off, and I had the ability and I really began to study and try. Long story short, my senior year, I graduated third in my class, and I got into an Ivy League college. We’re back with Book Nook, our Arts & Culture book club! In our Dec. 6 issue, we will publish the fiCan you tell me a bit about your experience at Cornal installment in our series reviewing books linked nell? to Oberlin. You have the chance to read along with us I got to Cornell and was involved in the occupation and submit your own review. All you have to do is write incident. … We got on the radio and in a coup d’etat, a few paragraphs — roughly 300 words — with your you say who you are as an organization and what your thoughts on the book and send it to arts@oberlinredemands are. I was very impressed that those students You may be published alongside some of our had their own voice. After about 20 minutes or so, the other readers! signal went dead because they switched to a remote This month, we’ll be reading Elusive Utopia: The transmitter and the leadership no longer had the abilStruggle for Racial Equality in Oberlin, Ohio by Gary ity to speak firsthand. They had to relay information Kornblith and Carol Lasser. Elusive Utopia is a histoto somebody else and didn’t have control. It was really ry of Oberlin in the 19th and early 20th centuries, from kind of interesting. its founding in 1833 as a racially integrated utopian exOnce guns were introduced, it became a national periment to the post-Civil War and Emancipation era, story. We were all trying to contact our parents back where white residents still zoomed ahead in economic home to let them know we were okay. … I got my mom and social advantages. Eventually, people of color in the on the phone, and she was crying, “What are you docommunity were just as excluded from government ing? What are you doing?” And I said, “That’s not and influence as everywhere else in America. Elusive what’s happening.” And my mother said, “Of course Utopia is a compelling read that tracks the evolution of that’s what’s happening. I heard it on the news.” the community we all currently inhabit, from its idealMy mother always believed what I told her, but my istic origins to its current operation. mother believed someone she didn’t know over her We look forward to reading this book with you and own son because she heard it on the news. I was like, hearing your thoughts! Please send submissions by “Wow. That is powerful.”... The next semester, I was Wednesday, Dec. 4. able to get my own radio show, and I found my passion.

Book Nook

Student Dining Innovations Improve Social Atmosphere Pearse Anderson Last week, a waiter sat College fourth-year Monica Dix and I at a corner table at Stevenson Dining Hall. That waiter was College fourth-year Jody Shanabrook, the founder and sole waitstaff of the Stevie Dinner Date Service, a pop-up restaurant-style dining experience available for a $5 service fee. For another $5, our dinner could have been accompanied by College fourth-year Riley Calcagno’s live violin music. “We’ve had five bookings over the past two weeks, but our business has been exploding recently, with new services to fit more diverse booking requests on the way,” Shanabrook said. Our Stevie table was transformed from a regular cafeteria table to a fine dining space with a tangerine-print tablecloth, four flickering electric candles, cloth napkins,

A table set for a Stevie Dinner Date Photo by Pearse Anderson


a single rose, and wide-brimmed wine glasses, all pulled from Shanabrook’s satchel. The first official Stevie Dinner Date had just begun. Shanabrook’s newest service is only the latest of many student-run experiments inside Stevie to make the space, often criticized as being massive and bleak, more intimate and lively. This year, the dining staff is working to make all meals, especially those in Stevie, more engaging by developing a new dining master plan. As Shanabrook fetched our drinks — chamomile tea with lemon and chilled grape juice — I thought back to all of the dining hall projects that students have spearheaded during my four years as a dining committee member. One such trend was experimenting with a classic form of food improv. When Claire Abramovitz, OC ’19, was a first-year student, she ran “Stevie Chopped,” an underground food contest in which she judged dishes like vegan faux-sushi and balsamic ice cream — which she called blasphemous. After we finished a well-plated salad of arugula, snap peas, and herb vinaigrette that Shanabrook served us, he asked if he could make us a charcuterie plate, and soon returned with toasted bread, hummus, olives, cheese, and a pickle. Food “hacks” like this are always fun to discover; encountering them is like having a new part of the menu to explore. However, it is crucial that these hacks don’t impede Stevie workers. Last month, food columnists in the Review recommended that you can “use the waffle machines in Stevie to create any delicacy under the sun” (“New Food Columnists Rate Dining Hall Desserts,” The Oberlin Review, October 4, 2019). This kind of Stevie improvisation is frowned upon by campus dining workers, given the difficulty of cleaning waffle machines with chocolate or cheese inside, as well as the possibility of allergic reactions for others who use the machines. However, this doesn’t mean Stevie management is averse to all types of food hack fun. Although numerous Stevie Instagram accounts have existed to document everything from Stevie’s oranges to

its depression meals, this Saturday, a new social media account is going live: @hackstevenson. CDS Assistant General Manager Bill Bolton created the account to promote the food hacks students have been trying for years. Now, a prize of $50 will be given to whoever submits the food hack that gets the most likes. The account will take direct message entries, and Shanabrook’s charcuterie plate has a chance to win. When the CDS administration discovered Shanabrook’s dinner date idea a few weeks ago, they responded with laughs and more questions about the service. “It’s pretty slick, man,” Bolton later said. In November, Warren Bulseco, senior principal architect with WTW Architects, came to Oberlin to conduct a student forum on the dining master plan where he announced three possibilities to retrofit Stevie. All of the plans turn the first and second floors of the dining hall into a space for eating, studying, and group activities by removing the first floor offices. Although architectural planning and development will take time and resources, CDS is aiming for more social opportunities included with dining. “To me, a more social Stevenson has places to congregate but not be in a cafeteria, where you can sit with a group but not with every other group around you,” Bolton said. Additionally, he wants the experience to be a bit more fun for all involved. “It kills me that there’s no music upstairs,” he said. “I hope to get music in the servery over Winter Term, but that’s not long term.” Most large-scale adjustments to Stevie can be expected over the summer of 2020 at the earliest. Until then, if someone wants to hear live music, consider Calcagno’s $5 surcharge for dinner date fiddle music. And if you’d like, sign up for a dinner date to try what CDS Office Manager Kathy Mueller calls Shanabrook’s project: an example of the student body’s “entrepreneurial spirit” and “creativity.”

Anti-Zionist Cartoonist Visits Campus Continued from page 10

easy terms. I think it really gives the opportunity for a lot of people to take what he says and actually understand why people think certain ways about anti-Zionism.” Naturally, Valley’s work has received significant criticism and accusations of anti-Semitism. While Valley is not deterred by the critics, he still felt alarmed by the extreme criticism he received from high profile media outlets. “When a Stanford law student calls me a Nazi and lies about my work, and then a New York Times Opinions editor amplifies that, that had actual ramifications that were extremely stressful,” he said. However, Valley maintains that his work is significant to the American public. His comics may have shock value when they portray right-wing leaders, including the president, as grotesque or even monsters, but Valley hopes his leftist messaging can hit home in a way that doesn’t just poke more fun at the buffoonery. “Hopefully it jolts people out of acquiescence to this slow but inexorable march to fascism,” he said. “I feel that it’s a more important contribution to expose the corruption and bigotry.” Valley’s lecture kicked off a week of joint JVP and SFP programming, as the groups respond to ongoing violence in Palestine and invite contentious speake rs like Valley and political activist Norman Finkelstein. On Wednesday, the groups constructed an installation in Wilder Bowl, memorializing the murders of 34 Palestinian civilians by the Israeli military, in conjunction with the assassination of Bahaa Abu al-Atta on Nov. 12. “We think this is really important to show to Oberlin students … to commemorate and celebrate these lives [of people] who died from imperialism,” said College third-year and SFP Liaison Alex Black Bessen. Most importantly, SFP and JVP want these talks on campus to turn into actionable change and open dialogue. The groups will be hosting a debrief and workshop around the past week’s events on Saturday at 2 p.m. in Wilder 115. “It’s good to have a conversation to … make sure people know where we [all] stand in terms of what [speakers are] saying,” said College first-year and SFP member Audrey Tannous-Taylor. “It can be powerful to take some of the energy that comes out of these talks, that the speakers inspire in people, and find a way to more tangibly put it towards something.” The Oberlin Review | Nov 22, 2019



Grace Burns, Varsity Soccer and Basketball Player

Hailing from Boston, College first-year Grace Burns has entered Oberlin as a member of not one, but two varsity athletic teams. Most athletes compete for sports that are separated by a winter off-season. Burns, however, is a member of both the women’s soccer and basketball teams, which overlap as fall and winter sports. While many have told her that she is being overly ambitious, Burns insists that she loves the sports enough to muster the energy to pursue them full-time. This interview has been edited for length and clarity. Jane Agler Sports Editor What inspired you to pursue both soccer and basketball, despite how hard it is? I feel like that’s not done very often here because those seasons overlap. I’ve been called crazy for doing it, but it’s what I’ve done my entire life. So, I didn’t think it was that [ambitious] to just come here and jump right in. I missed the first week of basketball season because there was that overlap. [During soccer season] I was at practice, but couldn’t participate. When you’re in one sport, you’re not allowed to practice in another. We had 6 a.m. practices during midterms and I decided to sit on the side. What is being on two separate teams like? It’s just trying to balance the two different teams and still giving time to [both] because I’m being pulled in two

different directions. But it’s gone really well. I feel like the [two] teams that I’m on now have a shared connection and we’ve done little team events together. It’s been really cute. They’re a little bit different but it’s really supportive all around. How has being on a varsity sports team shaped your experience at Oberlin? I think it was really good because I got to get used to being on campus and just living in a college environment. I feel like I can feel free to go out and try new things, but always know that I have a built-in support system to fall back on. The women’s varsity basketball team has a new coach. How has this transition been? She’s awesome. She’s intense, but we’re learning so much so quickly. It’s a transition because it’s all new for everyone this year, so we’re going through a learning period where everyone’s just trying to figure each other out. But it’s been good so far. We started [working] in the summer — she sent us all books and a list of things on how to be a good teammate. We also do little breakdown team activities where you’re trying to work on community support and all that sort of stuff. We also hang out a lot together, so that forms chemistry. There’s only two [first-years], [including me]. So there’s not a lot of turnover, which is good. Outside of athletics, what are you interested in? I hope to be a geology major, so I’m

Football Sees Six All-NCAC Honorees

A Thursday morning announcement revealed that six Oberlin varsity football players earned All-NCAC Honors for their exceptional independent performances this past season. Among them, fourth-year linebacker Von Wooding and secondyear tight end Brandon Davies were named All-NCAC second team. Fourthyear defensive players Devin White, Jabree Hason, and Justin Godfrey and third-year offensive lineman Chandler Laird earned All-NCAC honorable mentions. Next year, the team will lose the combined efforts of Wooding, White,


Hason, and Godfrey, but Davies and Laird will return to the field. Davies viewed the All-NCAC Honors as a good omen when looking ahead at next year’s season, especially considering the team won only a single game this year. “It was really encouraging since our season didn’t go as planned,” said Davies. “I feel like it can only get better from here on out and hopefully we can improve as a team [and I can improve] my own performance. Text by Jane Agler, Sports Editor Photo Courtesy of OC Athletics

Grace Burns

working towards that right now. I’ve always liked it as a kid growing up. I’m excited for next semester because I’ll have my first lab. I’m taking GEOL120. I also hang out with my [Peer Advising Leader cohort] a lot. Tuesdays and Thursdays before we have class together, we eat breakfast together in [Stevenson Dining Hall]. It’s another little community that I can find myself in. It also gives me friends who are outside of athletics and opened up the door to the rest of Oberlin. I also work on campus in South kitchen. I make grab-and-go [items] and work in Decafé. I’ve got the morning shift, 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. I make dry sandwiches — without condiments, by the way. So all of the sandwiches tomorrow are just dry.

Photo by Jane Agler, Sports Editor

What are you doing for your first Winter Term? I’m working with Professor [of Geology] Karla Hubbard in her geology lab. I’m taking pictures of shells that have been set in resin with an electron microscope and I’m looking at different fungus and bacteria that they bore into the shells. You then count how many little holes there are and tell the rate of decay. I’m just taking the pictures, though. As of now, I don’t think I’ll be [doing the] counting. I have to ask, how do you feel about the Boston Celtics this season? Pretty good. We started off really well. I’m glad not to have Kyrie [Irving]. He wasn’t supporting the younger players in any way to help them grow.

The Review’s Sports Editors Went Pole Dancing, and It Was Difficult Jane Agler, Sports Editor Khalid McCalla, Contributing Sports Editor This week, the Review’s sports editors decided to attempt an athletic endeavor known for its test of strength and agility, as well as its controversial recent popularization as a fitness practice: pole dancing. The Cleveland area has a number of locations that offer pole dancing classes as a form of exercise, and after extensive research, we settled on Expressions Fitness’ Beginner Level 1 & 2 class in Berea, OH. As sports editors and recreational athletes, we felt confident going into the class. But even Khalid McCalla, our contributing sports editor and a former Division-III varsity football player, was breaking a sweat just ten minutes into the class. We were very naive. Pole dancing is physically demanding and nothing like we had ever done before. Not only were we tasked with lifting the whole of our body weight onto a sleek pole by the strength of our shoulders, wrists, and occasionally legs, but we were also told to do so as beautifully and gracefully as possible. The most basic movements and forms resulted in sweat, muscle strain, and body contortion that we had never experienced before. It was no surprise that our class instructor, Melissa Greenwood, told us that she connected with pole dancing through her previous experience as a competitive gymnast, and found that pole dancing was a great way to access the physicality of gymnastics. “I was a gymnast for the longest time,” Greenwood said. “Once a gymnast, always a gymnast. I wanted to find something that challenged me physically that wasn’t just running on a treadmill or lifting weights.” Pole dancing is an acrobatic art often associated with sex work, and only more recently with fitness and athleticism. Its origins date back 800 years to India, where acrobats used a pole to show off their athletic prowess in a more rigid, straightforward manner. By the early 20th century, however, pole dancing was sexualized by the Western world with the introduction of exoticized sideshow acts, where it was exhibited with burlesque and belly dancing. It has since been adopted by sex workers, who are known to showcase pole dancing in strip clubs. Prior to taking the class, we re-

Instructor Melissa Greenwood shows the Review sports section staff what years of pole dancing practice looks like. Photo by Jane Agler, Sports Editor The Oberlin Review November 22, 2019

Sports editor and College fourth-year Jane Agler attempts to contort her body despite an extreme lack of flexibility. Photo by Khalid McCalla, Contributing Sports Editor

Contributing Sports Editor and College second-year Zoë Martin del Campo attempts a move that involved elevating both legs. Photo by Jane Agler, Sports Editor

searched proper pole dancing etiquette. We discovered that wearing as little clothing as possible was not only a common practice but also necessary in order to stay on the pole — the direct contact between the smooth surface of the pole and skin creates the friction needed to stay in control of our bodies and elevated off the ground. In class, we found out that extremely high heels — no less than five inches tall — make even the slightest of movements more dramatic and provide support for proper footing both on and off the pole. The heels also had the added benefit of allowing us to channel confidence. It was fun to express ourselves in ways that we hadn’t done before, and access a sensuality that is rarely shared in a public setting. Leaving the class, we understood why pole dancing is often seen as a means to empower its participants. “When I first started pole [dancing], I said — [because] I’m a gymnast — ‘I’m never going to own a pair of heels, and I’m never going to take a sexy class,” Greenwood said. “‘It ain’t gonna happen, ever.’ Once I took a few general dance classes — and they were a little bit more on the sensual side — it was freeing to allow myself to see a different side of who I am, in a world of confidence. In the world of pole [dancing], there’s a lot of women that come here looking for confidence, and once you’re allowed to feel your-

self physically and emotionally, it can be freeing. And once you bring a bit of your sensual side to it too, it enhances the experience.” Many of the class’s participants were regulars and knew each other closely. The inviting atmosphere of pole dancing clearly fostered a strong community for a variety of people. The owner of Expressions Fitness, Tiffany Curtin, explained that the community is her favorite aspect of the pole dancing experience. “I meet the coolest, most amazing humans,” she said. “I meet a lot of doctors that do pole dancing, and a lot of people of all genders. ... I think at the end of the day, because of the way pole [dancing] is perceived in the United States, you only get the most evolved, smart people that are strong enough on the inside to do what’s right for them and realize that this thing that we have going on is really amazing.” The rising popularity of pole dancing as a form of fitness, however, has not arrived without controversy. Pole dancing is often deemed indecent, degrading, and hypersexual due to its ties to sex work. While pole dancing as a form of fitness has also been subject to this type of criticism, it was recently provisionally recognized as a sport through its “observer status” by the Global Association of International Sports Federations. The fitness side of pole dancing is experiencing a separation from pole dancing for a

The Review sports section staff.

Photo by Melissa Greenwood

living, though, as shown by the “#notastripper” social media campaign in 2015 and 2016, which involved many people taking to various social media platforms to show that pole dancing can be a hobby or fitness regimen not confined to sex work. Though the campaign aimed to destigmatize pole dancing, it was considered offensive to sex workers. In an interview with Vice, University of Southern California Labor, Sex Work, and Public Policy lecturer Heather Berg explained the harm in the widening gap between pole dancing as fitness and sex work. “This has serious implications for sex workers in general, since it reinforces the idea that sex work means violence and degradation, thereby naturalizing violence when it does happen,” Berg said. Greenwood is also well aware of the growing division between the two fields of pole dancing. She expressed that pole dancing should be a resource for all, regardless of whether it be for fitness or a living income, and that all those who partake should be respectful. “For me, I believe that if you are comfortable with [stripping for a living] and that style of work, then do it,” Greenwood said. “Some women here [at Expressions Fitness] strip for a living, so they take classes for personal reasons, therapy, and dancing, but they also take it for exercise towards work. It’s your preference, it’s your world. If someone enjoys it, and that’s what they want to do, then I can’t see a problem with it.”

Contributing Sports Editor and College third-year Khalid McCalla found his expertise in the spinning pole, and shows off his abilities through various theatrics. Photo by Jane Agler, Sports Editor


SPORTS November 22, 2019

Established 1874

Volume 148, Number 10

Athlete PRSM Trainers Open Conversations Khalid McCalla Contributing Sports Editor

Marija Crook and Lilly Crook

Photo courtesy of OC Athletics

Marija and Lilly Crook: Sisters and Cross Country Teammates Alexis Dill College first-year Lilly Crook walked into Perlick Commons on Tuesday morning wearing a long, flowing yellow dress with a floral pattern on it. She laughed and said, “Marija will probably be late.” A couple minutes later, she laughed again. College fourth-year Marija, her older sister and cross country teammate, entered the room wearing a long and flowy red dress with a floral pattern on it. “We don’t usually do this,” Lilly said. “Everyone always says we look so alike, but we usually don’t dress the same too.” The sisters don’t have other siblings, so they were particularly close growing up. According to them, they’re so close that one time they got in a fight over whether they were friends or sisters. Lilly said she assumed they were friends, but Marija insisted they were sisters. The Crook family lived overseas in Armenia for four-and-a-half years, so when they returned to the States, Marija and Lilly’s parents forced them to engage in a number of recreational activities to make friends and get involved in the community — one of which was running. Their parents were casual joggers who ran with the Hash House Harriers, an international group of running social clubs. They went on hash runs, which involve getting tipsy before going out for a group jog. Hashers refer to their community as “a drinking club with a running problem.” Their dad dragged the kids to a community running group that met on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and the sisters have been running together ever since. “I don’t think I was as fast as a freshman in high school [as I am now as a first-year in college], so Marija and I were on more separated parts of the team back then,” she said. “I don’t necessarily go to Marija with all that much, but having her here is really nice.” Despite their close relationship, Lilly insists that Marija isn’t the reason she chose Oberlin — in fact, being at the same school as her older sister is why she almost didn’t come here. “For years I said the only school I wouldn’t go to was Oberlin,” she said. “I was going to find the school that was the most like Oberlin, but wasn’t Oberlin. After a while I realized that there wasn’t a school like that in existence.” Marija said she always thought her sister would end up at Oberlin. In fact, their high school — Chapel Hill High School in Chapel Hill, NC — has been represented on the Oberlin cross country and track and field team for several years. The most recent Chapel Hill HS alums to roll through Oberlin are


Rosie Kerwin, OC ’19, the Crook sisters, and current teammate and College third-year Maeve Gualtieri-Reed. Marija said she suspects the two schools are connected because Chapel Hill has a social environment comparable to Oberlin’s. While Marija was abroad in Senegal last spring, she advised Director of Cross Country and Track and Field Ray Appenheimer to bring Lilly to campus so that she could get a feel of the school without any biases. “I wanted her to come, and I thought she would really like it,” Marija said. “I thought last spring would be the perfect time for Lilly to visit, because [my being here] was the biggest hurdle for her in regards to whether she would decide to come here. She didn’t want to invade my space.” The sisters don’t spend much time together outside of athletics. They live on different ends of campus and have different interests. Marija is a Politics and Environmental Studies major, Preventing and Responding to Sexual Misconduct trainer, and eats in Harkness; Lilly, on the other hand, is into printmaking and doesn’t have an intended area of study yet. However, once they step up to the starting line at a race, the sisters are the best of competitors. Marija placed sixth in the NCAA Great Lakes Regional Championships last Saturday with a career-best time of 21:29.48. The next Oberlin runner to finish was her little sister, who came in 17th with a time of 22:01.54 — slightly faster than what Marija ran at regionals as a third-year (22:48.9). Lilly was named the 2019 North Coast Athletic Conference Women’s Newcomer of the Year after posting the top individual finish by a student-athlete in their first year of collegiate competition. She became the seventh women’s runner in Oberlin history to earn the award and the first since Marija won in 2016. The sisters’ teammate, College fourth-year Shannon Wargo, highlighted their strong bond and positive presence on the team. “I think what you see with Lilly and Marija is what you want to see with every teammate,” Wargo said. “Both bring so much joy and excitement to the team, you’re always a little happier when you’re around them. Their work ethic is [impressive] — there’s been a handful of races this year where they finish just a second or two apart. [And] there’s no malice [between them]. Each clearly wants the other to be their best self.” Although Marija’s cross country career will come to a close this weekend, the sisters look forward to racing together one last time at nationals tomorrow in Louisville, KY. It will be Oberlin’s eighth nationals team appearance in the last 11 years.

Following the emergence of the #MeToo movement in 2017, many prominent athletes, such as Olympic gold-medalists Simone Biles and Aly Raisman, came forward as survivors of sexual misconduct. Others stepped down or retreated from the public eye in light of accusations brought against them. For many, this shift was a long time coming, as accusations of sexual misconduct in athletics had occurred for years without the accused experiencing any lasting repercussions. On Oberlin’s campus, students are educated about sexual misconduct, consent, and healthy sex practices throughout their college career by Preventing and Responding to Sexual Misconduct, a student organization housed within the Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. Currently, 14 students are employed as PRSM trainers. Of those 14, six are current varsity athletes. Why are Oberlin athletes actively facilitating conversations surrounding consent and sexual misconduct when this is a topic the athletic community as a whole has appeared to struggle with? College third-year Bethany Gen, a PRSM trainer and member of the women’s soccer team, sees athletics as a natural gateway to PRSM. “There is a large athlete presence on the PRSM team,” said Gen. “[I think] that this is because of the way PRSM works. We are a team that works together to facilitate and organize mandatory workshops as well as programming. Being a team player and a contributor to a positive team dynamic is essential to the success of PRSM.” College second-year Louise Metz, a PRSM trainer who plays on the women’s soccer team, highlighted how athletes are often excused for actions that PRSM seeks to combat. “Many of us regularly encounter language and behavior that aren’t usually acceptable, but are given a free pass because it’s expected for ‘jocks’ to behave like that based on media and past experiences,” said Metz. “Therefore, we have a lot of experiences with different issues that PRSM often addresses, and we have a desire to reduce harm, not only in athletic spaces, but on this campus as a whole.” However, Metz added that some athletes also face negative preconceived notions by the non-athlete student body that can be harmful. “I think athletes are often seen as outside of the normal Obie culture because there’s a misconception that they’re here due to their athletic abilities rather than because of any other substantial qualities they may have,” she said. “In other words, athletes are assumed to be here just to play a sport rather than because they appreciate the environment of the school.” This division between non-athletes and, specifically, male athletes on Oberlin’s campus is noticeable. Even in a group like PRSM, which attempts to bridge the gap between athletes and non-athletes, male athletes are noticeably absent. Of the six current PRSM trainers who play a varsity sport, none identify as male. “My speculation is that talking about consent, communication, and vulnerability — inside and outside of a sexual context — is not something that people who are socialized as male are supported or encouraged to do,” said College fourth-year and PRSM trainer Joy Castro-Wehr. “Vulnerability in public is something that being a PRSM trainer forces you to practice on a regular basis.” Being a PRSM trainer requires knowledge of topics surrounding gender, sexuality, bystander intervention, and sexual misconduct. Perhaps more importantly, though, trainers are tasked with being comfortable leading discussions of these topics in front of their peers and pushing back when problematic statements or behavior arise. Metz thinks that the latter aspect of the job is one that many male athletes are still developing. “Athlete culture can be extremely toxic,” Metz said. “The pressure to fit in and act like the rest of the team is immense. Society also conditions men and non-men to think about sex [differently]. Men aren’t expected to hold themselves and each other accountable for their behavior, while non-men are taught that they have to protect themselves and watch out for each other, which is why they’re more willing to facilitate conversations around these kinds of issues.” Gen agrees, believing that all men, not just athletes, struggle in conversations surrounding the topic of consent because of the way society has socialized them to think about sex. “This trend is not isolated to just athlete PRSM trainers,” said Gen. “There are very few PRSM trainers who identify as men. I think that usually non-men dominate this field of consent education and sexual misconduct prevention because they are the people directly oppressed by the rape culture we teach about. On the other hand, as a man, it can be difficult to acknowledge how you directly benefit from rape culture and then spend time working to change that.”

Profile for The Oberlin Review

November 22, 2019  

November 22, 2019