Oberlin College faces two serious lawsuits arising out of social justice activism on campus.

One suit, by a local bakery boycotted by Oberlin students and administration based on apparently false claims the bakery racially profiled students, has been permitted to move forward. We reported on that decision in Court: Gibson’s Bakery lawsuit against Oberlin College can continue in full::

The short version is that three Oberlin students were arrested for shoplifting at Gibson’s bakery. Oberlin students claimed racial profiling, and mounted protests and a boycott supported by college student groups, administrators and faculty. The boycott continued even after police released data showing there was no racial profiling in shoplifting arrests at the bakery, and the three students pled guilty…. Gibson’s sued the college and its Dean of Students, Meredith Raimondo, for defamation and multiple other claims.

The Gibson’s lawsuit has caused a town-gown split that pits the privileged college and students against ordinary community members.


In another lawsuit, an expelled Oberlin College male student sued claiming the hearing process was biased and stacked against men, Lawsuit: Oberlin College sexual assault hearing process rigged, 100% conviction rate:

A male student who was expelled from campus in October 2016 for alleged sexual assault has filed a federal lawsuit against Oberlin. Though the lawsuit was filed in June 2017, it has not received any publicity. Yet the lawsuit contains allegations which, if proven, reflect that Oberlin’s system for adjudicating sexual assault accusations was fundamentally biased against males, at least during the 2015-2016 academic year.

As in the Gibson’s lawsuit, the alleged conduct of Dean of Students Raimondo was at issue.

Earlier this month, we reported that the student sought to file an Amended Complaint, after discovering a YouTube video in which Raimondo allegedly made statement evidencing bias against males (something her counsel denied reflected bias), Update: New allegations in lawsuit by expelled male student over Oberlin College 100% conviction rate.

The Court just issued an Order (pdf.) (full embed at bottom of post) permitting the expelled student to add the new allegations to the case through the Amended Complaint. The Court held, in pertinent part:

Plaintiff indicates that his Amended Complaint contains new allegations, which he became aware of on January 10, 2018, and that his proposed Amended Complaint removes two of the legal claims advanced in the original Complaint. The new allegations that Plaintiff seeks to add include statements made by Meredith Raimondo, whom Plaintiff alleges to be responsible for Defendant’s Title IX implementation at the time that Plaintiff was a student at Defendant. The statements were allegedly made by Ms. Raimondo on June 13, 2015, in a YouTube video, and are alleged to pertain to Defendant’s approach to claims of sexual misconduct.

We discussed and linked to video for that YouTube video in the prior post.

The Court continued:

In its Opposition, Defendant argues that Plaintiff should not be permitted to amend his Complaint because the amendment is futile and was filed with undue delay. Specifically, Defendant indicates that the proposed Amended Complaint fails to state a claim and that the YouTube video was available on June 23, 2015….

Exercising its discretion, the court concludes that justice requires granting Plaintiff leave to file his Amended Complaint. Plaintiff has provided the court with the substance of the proposed amendments, as well as a detailed explanation of the reasons for these proposed amendments….

Furthermore, while the court does not mean to suggest one way or the other as to whether Plaintiff’s Amended Complaint will withstand a motion to dismiss, the court does not have sufficient information at this time to deny its filing on the grounds of futility….

We can expect a new motion to dismiss, this time directed to the Amended Complaint. While the Court certainly did not rule that the Amended Complaint would survive a motion to dismiss, the fact that the court found the amendment would not be futile is a sign that the Court considers the allegations substantial.

These legal problems come against the backdrop of Oberlin undergoing financial difficulties. I documented the long history of Oberlin public relations debacles related to social justice activist in September 2017, Radical fallout: Oberlin College enrollment drops, causing financial problems:

While a general higher ed bubble, particularly for small liberal arts colleges, may be contributing to the decline, it’s hard to believe that Oberlin’s recent history of turmoil isn’t a contributing factor.

When given the choice of similar colleges, it would be logical for prospective students to stay away from the ones that are constantly generating negative headlines and appear to be bastions of radicalism.

Are the social justice chickens finally coming home to roost at Oberlin?

Those financial problems appear to have deepened, according to a recent report in the student newspaper, The Oberlin Review:

President Carmen Ambar and other senior administrators have launched an 11-day presentation campaign in which all College and Conservatory faculty, administrative and professional staff, Student Senate, student media, and other constituencies will see the largest overview of Oberlin’s financial situation to date, along with Ambar’s proposed plan to rectify Oberlin’s ever-worsening deficit.

The College managed to reduce its deficit from $5 million to $3 million this year, largely due to a last-minute admissions push that secured an additional 27 students at the beginning of the academic year. Unexpectedly high investment returns after a market uptick also contributed to the decrease.

Despite the unexpected financial pickup, the College’s current structural model still yields a bleak future, as the deficit is projected to rise to about $9 million next year — and that’s if the market stays consistent.

Falling enrollment at Oberlin is a key driver of the financial problems. While other colleges are facing demographic and other issues, Oberlin should not be in such a position. It has national name recognition, and was/is considered a top tier school.

At some point Oberlin will have to confront whether the over-the-top social activism on campus, which dominates national media coverage of Oberlin, has reached the tipping point.

[Featured Image: Instagram]


John Doe v. Oberlin College – Order Permitting Amended Complaint by Legal Insurrection on Scribd