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Oberlin declines to comment on motivations of students behind writings

Oberlin declines to comment on motivations of students behind writings

There have been numerous reported instances at Oberlin College of writings scrawled on campus using racist, anti-Semitic and anti-gay language.  That backdrop led to a shut-down of classes and mass gatherings of students when there was a reported sighting of someone in a Klan outfit, which turned out just to be a woman wrapped in blanket.

There’s no doubt that the writings on their face were racist, anti-Semitic and anti-gay, and Oberlin was quick to denounce them as being “hate speech.”  But something curious has occurred in the past day.

There are reports attributed to the Oberlin town police, that two students were identified, and that there is some doubt as to the students’ motivation:

The Associated Press reported that Oberlin police Chief Thomas Miller said the two are under investigation and are facing college disciplinary action, but that no criminal charges have been filed.

It wasn’t clear, he told AP, whether the incidents were meant as pranks or were driven by bigotry.

I spoke this afternoon with Scott Wargo, the media spokesman for Oberlin, in an attempt to get clarification.

I asked Wargo to confirm reports that two students had been identified.  Wargo stated that it was “still an ongoing investigation” and that he “cannot confirm statements by law enforcement officials”

I asked Wargo if the Oberlin administration had any reason to believe that these were a hoax.  He said that he “can’t speak to the motive behind the writings.”  I tried that question several different ways and the response was similar.

Wargo refused to confirm that these were acts motivated by racism not a hoax:

Q.  “Does the administration believe these were acts of racism?”

A.  “Again, it’s an ongoing investigation and I can’t add anything beyond that.”

Wargo also would not comment on the race of the students behind the writings.

I also tried to reach a spokeperson for the Oberlin police, but other than putting me through to a voicemail, there was no one available to handle media inquiries.

Like I said, this may be what it seems on its face.  And if that is the case, one would have hoped the Oberlin administration would be more forthcoming considering the attention this has gathered.


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Oberlin should hire a professor to teach on the subject of Thought Crimes, and how they might be effectively prosecuted.

Oh, wait, due process for thought crime? Is that a thought crime?

Too funny. This whole thing is turning into an old Gilda Radner/Emily Litella skit on SNL:

“Oh! Never mind.”

this is SOP when they discover oppsie it wasn’t what we thought it was ….sorry …..its just going to go into the memory hole

> a woman wrapped in blanket.

Yes, but I understand it was an assault blanket.

byondpolitics | March 6, 2013 at 6:17 pm

They really should comment quickly. Right now it sounds like it’s yet another case of faking-it. If it isn’t that, they need to clarify that immediately. Whether the students meant their words on their face or ascribed things to an anonymous “other” for the reaction that would ensue, their act was motivated by hate. It needs to clearly and publicly crushed.

Badger Pundit | March 6, 2013 at 6:27 pm

Unfortunately, race hoaxes at universities occur from time to time. As background, here are the top four Google results for “race hoax” (skipping the Wikipedia entry):

Do the perpetrators of race hoaxes ever receive much punishment? Arguably hoaxers deserve even harsher punishment than actual racists, as hoaxes simultaneously malign whites as a class, and cause everyone to doubt future legitimate complaints about anonymous racist speech or conduct.

When isn’t “hate speech” hate speech ?

    Neo in reply to Neo. | March 6, 2013 at 6:36 pm

    Frankly, I’ve never believed that colleges and universities shouldn’t treat their “customers” like grade school students. Most of their customers are over 18, probably registered to vote … you know, they’re adults.
    If thye go to a supermarket and scrawl racist, anti-Semitic and anti-gay language on the walls, they don’t set up a disciplinary action headed by employees of the supermarket. They call the police and press charges. It’s the normal thing for adults.

      great unknown in reply to Neo. | March 6, 2013 at 6:57 pm

      I always thought that colleges and universities should treat their “customers” like customers.

      While K-12 is mandatory under most circumstances, college is not. For far too long, the marketing concept of higher education was that, without a college education, one could not get a decent job. Today, as Professor Reynolds [who also writes a lovely little blog, Instapundit] points out, the higher-education bubble is collapsing. There is no longer any major marginal benefit to higher education for many people, and there is precious little higher education in higher education. It may be that the second factor is the cause of the first.

      As people realize this, and act like educated free consumers who understand their choices and their cost/benefit profiles, colleges will finally have to compete with value and service. Which means that if places like Oberlin continue living in their liberal fog, they might end up with a miniscule student body comprised primarily of Diversity Studies and White Male Guilt majors.

      Or at least, for the sake of this country, I would hope so.

casualobserver | March 6, 2013 at 6:59 pm

My ‘gut’ tells me if this were perpetrated by skinheads, KKK, or had any clear racist intent behind it, we would know all the details already.

As soon as I read about this series of “racist incidents,” I was thinking there was a 99% chance it was a hoax. doubtless a tactic by White lefties or black race hustlers, seeking notoriety and more jobs for race apparatchiki.

“one would have hoped the Oberlin administration would be more forthcoming considering the attention this has gathered.”

Professor, your sense of humor is quite underrated – this is positively droll!

Ann Althouse reported (but didn’t provide the link — it may be a private email):

According to a person with access to the faculty mailing list, faculty members had been told—”unofficially,” (i.e., not through official channels)—that “the investigation into this incident was dropped when it was discovered that the person responsible was someone within the MRC [the Multicultural Resource Center], who would be disciplined internally”….

This sounds fishy because it is similar to events at Denison University in 2007 which some student sources said were contrived to create an staged “event”:

Mister Natural | March 7, 2013 at 4:45 pm

gee, i didn’t know that snuggies came in white!

Remember the Columbia U. noose hoax? Turned out that the “target” of the noose hung it on her door herself, most likely to deter the university from taking action against her for plagiarism.

[…] detailed yesterday, the Oberlin administration is not willing to talk about it, to the point of being unwilling to confirm or deny that it was a hoax or whether racism was the […]