Responds by saying will not respond to unilateral demands and defends faculty and staff.
On December 15, 2015, Legal Insurrection broke the story of the 14-page demand list prepared on behalf of the Black Student Union at Oberlin College.
The list was a pity party of racial and class gripes, some of which were comical, some of which were quite nasty (like the demand to boycott Israel).
The 14-page demand list was separate and apart from the much-mocked dining hall petition complaining about the lack of fried chicken on Friday nights and cultural appropriation of dishes such as General Tso’s chicken.
But the nastiest part was that the students demanded the firing of various professors and staff, and the promotion to tenure or tenure track of others. Seriously.
Oberlin’s President Marvin Krislov has just posted his response to the Demands, which now are on the Oberlin website . I think it would be fair to characterized the response as a complete rejection of the notion of unilateral Demands and attempts to interfere in the employment of faculty and staff.
Here is an excerpt, the full response is posted on the Oberlin website (emphasis added):
Before winter break, my office received a document written by students containing 14 pages of demands for institutional action. This document was addressed to me, Oberlin’s trustees, and our senior leadership. It was written against a backdrop of events at colleges and universities across the country, including Oberlin, that prompted passionate discussions and demonstrations related to structural and systemic racism in American higher education….
Some of the challenges outlined in the document resonate with me and many members of our community, including our trustees. However, some of the solutions it proposes are deeply troubling. I will not respond directly to any document that explicitly rejects the notion of collaborative engagement. Many of its demands contravene principles of shared governance. And it contains personal attacks on a number of faculty and staff members who are dedicated and valued members of this community.
Our calling as an institution and as a community is to advance Oberlin’s academic mission. That mission is to provide our students with a broad-based, in-depth education which prepares them to flourish in their chosen fields of endeavor, to be engaged citizens, and to meet the challenges of living in our increasingly diverse, complex, and interconnected world.
Our outstanding faculty and staff provide an education second to none. Their teaching, scholarship, research, musicianship, artistry, advising, and mentoring benefit our students during their undergraduate careers and throughout their lives….
The reaction? There already are many comments on the page at which the response was posted.
Here is a sample so far:
This document is as racist as the allegations it raises.
— Paola Muggia
Unbelieveable and depressing stuff! I would remind those who “demand” of J.F.Kennedy’s message: “do not ask what your country will do for you, but what you can do for your country”.
— Judith Liber class of 1961
The tone taken in the “demands” is unnecessarily accusative of the very people who are trying to help the situation.
— Enid Cleary
In my eyes, to truly disarm white supremacy, those in power must relinquish some of that power. This means if one is part of a group that is privileged, it’s difficult to know what it feels like to lack privilege — to be kept out, to be “other”, to be marginalized. Intention to do the right thing is not enough. Real change comes in using one’s position of power to do what the “other” says is needed (or what Black students are demanding in this case). If it feels awkward and scary, it should, since that’s what giving up power would feel like. What does Oberlin have to lose by giving in to these demands? I’d say the continuation of white supremacy.
— Sarah Caplan
So, in Summary: Good luck with these demands; we’re all in this together #notgonnahappen #myblackfriends #thebuttonundermydesksummonscampussecurity
— Z. Cooper
You told us to be fearless. You told us to believe one person could change the world. Now you’re telling us to watch our tone. So much for that proud history of activism.
— Becky Strauss (’11)
So basically, the students are demanding that individuals be judged by the color of their skin and not by the content of their character. Somehow “irony” doesn’t seem powerful enough as a descriptor for these events.
— Robert M Slugg Ph.D. ’79
Good to see Mr. Krislov has some balls! Those demands were asinine, delusional and embarrassing for so-called intellectuals. Although tbh it would have been funny if he’d have agreed to all of the demands, just for the irony of having the black community enforce “black only spaces” (i.e, segregation).
— Michael Calb
I appreciate President Krislov engaging with the students’ demands on both levels – their admirable, incredibly important message, and their incoherent, proudly unproductive methods.
— Tommy La Voy ’13
Oh for heaven’s sake. I am speechless. I had read in the papers about these student demands but had no idea they were so–well–vitriolic. I am embarrassed to be an alumna. Life is difficult and the older and more mature you get the more demands upon your strength and maturity there are. You can start in college when things do not perhaps go the way you like and you will have to learn to surmount these things, just as others do. I hate to say it, but ALL people have hard things in their lives. The students have no idea, at their young ages, just how much hard stuff life can throw at you. Whatever. At this point I think I really don’t want to have much more to do with Oberlin. sorry.
— Hilary Hopkins
[Featured Image: Oberlin College President Marvin Krislov, via YouTube)