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Oberlin College’s identity crisis led to its Gibson’s Bakery train wreck

Oberlin College’s identity crisis led to its Gibson’s Bakery train wreck

A school losing its identity found student, faculty and administrative social justice warfare a seemingly easy way out. Until it met a Lorain County jury.

Sometimes it is the simplest explanations that explain best what some see as very complex.

As a journalist who has following the Gibson Bakery racial accusation case for more than two years now – and who was able to cover it from a courtroom seat for the last month or so for Legal Insurrection – I see things from a perspective that is both factually based and less emotional politically. What it is, not what I wish it were.

As you all know, last Friday the jury awarded $11.2 million in compensatory damages. The punitive daamages phase of the trial will be done Tuesday. Ohio law caps punitive civil case monetary awards at double what the compensatory damages were. That means the jury can award in this final phase be between zero and $22 million more to Gibson’s Bakery & Market and family, in addition to the $11 million they have already awarded.

There are two things about this case that are very important, of which some of the commenters and tweets I read are missing.

The first is that Oberlin College, in the minds of the jury, wasn’t guilty only of what they did, but also what they didn’t do. They had opportunities early on to see the bullshit flying in their faces — thrown by the social justice warrior students – and didn’t have the good sense to see a basic problem and recognize the simplest of solutions.

What happened here is that Oberlin College and many universities have lost the understanding of their identity and basic purpose, and when that happens with most of us, when we don’t know who we are, we tend to do stupid things. That’s what happened here.

A few years ago, they had students saying they wanted finals cancelled because they were protesting minority men being shot by police in nearby Cleveland; in Dec. of 2015, the school’s black student union published 14 pages of racial accusations against the school with 58 demands to fix them; and the school had students thinking that the sushi in their cafeteria was “cultural appropriation” and unfit for eating because of that.

Instead of the school telling their students, “You are all crazy, and get back to studying,” they took on the “these poor snowflakes need our support” attitude.

It was the tail wagging the dog in the end, and ended up how most things like that do.

The second point I’ll write about here is where it happened and why, and the timing of that. The town of Oberlin is a tiny spec on the map of Lorain County, Ohio, where this case was tried. Based on the jury questioning prior to the start of this trial, none of the eight selected were from Oberlin or graduates of the school. So, it is not like the university overlords were being sacked by the peasants, as some who do not live in Northeast Ohio have speculated.

This county has been a former union worker Democratic stronghold, but one that has seen in the last 40 years its manufacturing base ripped out and its housing value plummet, and still most home prices are still in the Rust Belt dumpster from the Great Recession. That was a big part of why this happened where it did.

It’s Not What You Do, It’s What You Don’t

From the beginning of this mess that Oberlin College found itself in, it was what they did not do which was the most egregious. Their students were looking for some venting possibilities in the days after the Nov. 2016 presidential election, and the shoplifting case at Gibson’s was grabbed by the students as their symbolic protest expression of how they hated the world because of who was now president.

Instead of realizing that college students often do emotional and stupid things – especially when politics are involved – the Oberlin College administration added fuel to the fire. This is what the school president, Marvin Krislov, and dean of students, Meredith Raimondo, sent to students while the protests were still going on.

“This has been a difficult few days for our community, not simply because of the events at Gibson’s Bakery, but because of the fears and concerns that many are feeling in response to the outcome of the presidential election. We write foremost to acknowledge the pain and sadness that many of you are experiencing. We want you to know that the administration, faculty, and staff are here to support you as we work through this moment together.”

If that letter was not dumb enough, as the jury expertly could see, the school didn’t listen to the smart ones among them. There were plenty of the Oberlin College and community elders who were telling them that how they were handling this student protest was “dumb” and making them “furious.”

This is perhaps the most important. A university, which is supposed to value intelligence and experience and those who pay attention to the bigger picture, did not listen to those folks at all. From my perspective — after hearing this stuff non-stop since April in court — this was the average-Joe, real common-sense rejection idiocy that the jury found Oberlin College was guilty of.

In depositions taken last year, but were not seen by the jury, several professors and community leaders expressed their outrage at what happened.

Deposition from Robert Piron, retired professor of economics 1961 – 2007.

“I reached a conclusion that if you say a college had a mind, it was certainly out of its mind by now. It was the dumbest thing I have seen in years.

The thing that saddens me is that there are groups at Oberlin College now who are counseling prospective students about this affair. And as far as I am concerned, they are scandalously hurting the Gibson’s continually. It’s astoundingly cruel and dumb of the college. And I don’t think I will ever forgive them … I am furious, absolutely furious.

“They have taken wrong step after wrong step. And the level of sheer incompetence is beyond imagination now. And I know a lot of people who give money to this college are not going to do it [any more].

Deposition from Roy Usoku Ebihara, an optometrist in Oberlin since 1963, and given the “Distinguished Service Award for Community Service” by the school in 2017. He and his Japanese family were interred by the U.S. government during WWII.

“The college has no right to accuse people of being racist when the students are stealing things from our community merchants … We came to Oberlin because we saw a diversity in the community and wanted our kids to grow up in that type of environment.”

Having lived here for many years, we’ve had a good relationship with the administration … and we’ve been able to communicate, but I feel in recent years that’s been missing. They’re making decisions in our community in ways that are negative and I’m not happy with that.”

From Eric Gaines, longtime Oberlin resident, former air traffic controller and current Oberlin planning commission member.

“It was just like throwing gasoline on a fire … It’s out of the realm of rational thought.

So, the college thinks that the [shoplifting] kids should get a pass? … I can’t imagine a scenario in an institution of higher learning that would suggest we do that, because in a larger sense, that leads to anarchy, right?”

Roger Copeland, Oberlin College Professor of Theater and Dance for about 40 years, wrote a letter “Protest Suggests Misplaced Outrage” that was published in the school newspaper a week after the protests. He was mocked by the administration in their texts and emails for his views.

“I’ve known the Gibson family for many years and find it very difficult to believe that any of them would engage in the odious practice of racial profiling. I also know that their family-owned business has been hit hard by shoplifters in recent months, and based on newspaper accounts of the Oberlin Police Department’s investigation of this incident, I see no reason to suspect that Allyn Gibson is guilty of anything other than forcefully confronting a shoplifter. Furthermore, the timing of the protest (which began within 48 hours of Tuesday night’s disastrous election returns) suggests a classic case of misplaced outrage. As in: “The realization that Donald J. Trump will become our next President makes me so angry that I need to express my outrage immediately.”

A longtime Oberlin resident, Emily Crawford, who also worked in the school’s communications department, sent out an email to her bosses and then it was forwarded to senior members of the college’s administration. The email read:

“I have talked to 15 townie friends who are poc (persons of color) and they are disgusted and embarrassed by the protest. In their view, the kid was breaking the law, period (even if he wasn’t shoplifting, he was underage). To them this is not a race issue at all and they do not believe the Gibsons are racist. They believe the students have picked the wrong target … “I find this misdirected rage very disturbing, and it’s only going to widen the gap (between) town and gown.”

Tita Reed, special assistant to the president for community and government relations, wrote back: “Doesn’t change a damn thing for me.”

Many are throwing out the “Woke and Broke” designation on this case – and though some may see this as a larger issue of the conservatives winning over liberals — that wasn’t really what was going on here. The judge kept politics out of this case, and the jury was actually deciding not so much on what the college did do, but what it did not do.

One of things they did not do is listen to the people who have been in Oberlin awhile and understand things like this. So, it’s not “Woke and Broke,” so much as “Dumb and Dumber.”

So Why in Lorain County OH, in 2019

Oberlin College has never been much a part of the county in which it resides. I live less than an hour away, so I’m familiar with the area.

One has to understand the history of these little liberal arts colleges in Ohio to understand that.

Many smaller higher education schools were founded in the 1800s in Ohio like Oberlin. Kenyon College, the College of Wooster, Denison University, what is now Case Western Reserve University and many others were part of that western push of higher education. They started out as religious bastions, but over time, they became good second-choice fallback schools for the east coast elites who could not get junior into Harvard or Yale or MIT.

And part of that attraction was the selling point that Oberlin College was not a part of where it was. Their branding message was often, “Somewhere in the Middle of Nowhere.” Meaning the school had little to do with the local yokels their students would drive by on their way to Oberlin. People don’t think they were selling a product back then, but they really were.

In recent decades that product market has changed. Social media made it less isolated. The blue-collar suburbs of Cleveland had grown west to make them closer to Oberlin. The big public colleges had gotten much better, and they were competing with those economic elite students. And lastly, why should a student from Trenton, NJ – one who had an active interest in civil rights – go to Oberlin College these days?

In other words, the leftist activists from 1960s and 1970s would have found many reasons to spend four years in a place like Oberlin College. But now, not so much. That’s why their enrollment and applications were slightly down in recent years.

And that’s why the school was so adamant about coming to the support on this rather obsequious protest. Oberlin College didn’t know what it was anymore, and maybe thought it should become what it once was. But really screwed that up in how it did it.

Which leads us to how all this affected the jury. Lorain County was once a Democratic stronghold, and voted for former president Barack Obama with about 58% of the vote in 2008 and 2012. But in 2016, Hillary Clinton won by about 100 votes, with her and President Donald Trump basically tied with both having 47% of the vote.

The town of Oberlin, by contrast, voted for Clinton by about 4600 to 450 in 2016. And to see how dominated Oberlin is by the college, the city has a population of 8,000, with 3,000 of those students and about 1,000 school employees. It is liberal Democratic bubble of sorts in a part of the country that is more Republican than it ever really used to be.

The county is also is not the “local yokel” types as some would think. The Lake Erie big money, boating crowd has a big presence here, and marinas and some very big mansions line the Great Lakes shores on this county’s northern end. The Cleveland suburbs, populated by many who wanted to get out of the inner-city problems, have inched their way west over the years into this county. The cities of Elyria and Lorain have bigger populations of minorities, but Oberlin College has never made much of an effort to hook up with them.

So you have a county that is getting older, turning more Republican, has never had much to do with Oberlin College in all these years anyway, and has poor minorities who have not been helped much by these higher education elites. With all those factors, it is easy to see why this jury that had little attachment to the defendants on trial.

One more point to show this difference. As part of that, the political affiliations of the private liberal arts colleges  faculty seem to have gotten extremely out of whack with the general public’s political affiliations. In April of 2018, Mitchell Langbert, an associate professor of business at Brooklyn College, published a study for the National Association of Scholars about the political voting registrations of the faculty at 51 of the top-ranked, liberal arts colleges. Oberlin College was included.

He found, not surprisingly, that most of the liberal arts college professors were far more Democratic than Republican. He examined 196 professors at Oberlin College, with 109 registered as Democrats and 7 as Republicans (45 were not registered to vote, and 35 were registered, but with no party designation).

When I talked to some Oberlin College alums last year about this topic, one was a former administration official who is no longer with the school. Off the record, he told me this was the problem at Oberlin College and many like it. He was very prescient on this about a year ago, and it ran in a story I wrote on the Gibson case for the Weekly Standard last October.

“Yes, the liberal bent at schools like Oberlin has them thinking a certain way, and not with the public generally, but it has sort of always been that way,” he said. “The difference now is that they don’t encourage discussion and disagreement, they want everyone to be on the same side and that is disheartening. It is about marketing because their enrollment is down.“

“What has happened in the Gibson case is that the school doesn’t know what to do with its minority students,” the former administrator continued. “A freshman from an east coast big city might come to Oberlin and find there is little for a social justice warrior to do in a small town like this, so they get frustrated. And make issues like this shoplifting thing bigger than it should be, and the school follows along.”

“All schools like Oberlin are going through this, because there are too many schools and not enough enrollment for them, and high tuition prices to deal with. Learning becomes secondary at times to keeping the students happy. This is the dangerous line they are straddling now, and the political climate is adding to it way too much. “

Daniel McGraw is a freelance writer and author in Lakewood, Ohio. Follow him on Twitter @danmcgraw1


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I teach mathematics and basic engineering classes at a community college. Based upon my worm’s eye view I doubt that fear of students played a large part in Oberlin’s decision to support the demands of the race-baiting loudmouths. A disturbing of number of professors and administrators see the communities where colleges are found as cesspools of bigotry and ignorance. The Deplorables who are outside the college do not deserve to be listened to, let alone be taken seriously.

    So true! The townies are not the intellectual equals of the college folks, nor do they occupy the lofty plane of enlightened moral superiority of those who hold a monopoly on virtue. Even with the jury verdict holding against them, they will not re-examine their motives. When the student union cannot be refurbished, or when the roof leak cannot be immediately fixed, they will blame the greedy townies who have profited unfairly and deprived the snowflakes of their …….their rights, dammit!

    – Krumhorn

The Packetman | June 9, 2019 at 8:10 pm

“In depositions taken last year, but were not seen by the jury …”

Please tell me this changes on Tuesday …

Appreciate the in depth trial coverage.

Verdict could not have happened to a nicer bunch of leftist fools.

Universities have increasingly become their own little ‘Neverlands’ in which one can refuse to become emotionally mature, choosing instead to spend one’s life insulated from ‘threatening’ views.

This case sheds light on the fact that it’s not just the so-called educators who have become (for the most part) incapable of reasoning or of pondering any views other than those based on their own entrenched biases. It’s the administrators, too.

    That is what I am looking for from the comments here from lawyers. I’ve complained before about how legally speaking, we always seem to adopt a “can’t win” attitude and then drop out of the fight.

    “What happened here is that Oberlin College and many universities have lost the understanding of their identity and basic purpose, and when that happens with most of us, when we don’t know who we are, we tend to do stupid things. That’s what happened here.”

    Can’t we incorporate that observation into a legal principle? Can’t anyone persuasively argue in court that our institutions have lost their way?

    How do cases ever get to SCOTUS without first challenging “settled law” and then reframing the issues to introduce a more appropriate legal argument to address the problem?

    I believe Oberlin represents just such an example where a new legal principle could be established for fighting these SJWs on a grand scale. We could take on universities, media and everywhere else where the “freedom of speech” has been co-opted from where it was established by the constitution.

    The law isn’t so much what you put in writing than what is “heard” during the hearings. The “truth” is found in the juxtaposition of words spoken by believers. Confronted by the legal maneuvering of lawyers, it’s more art than science. But rather than always treating these things like a debate club exercise, why not rewrite the game?

    We can take this Oberlin victory far if we take the fight forward newly armed with a new argument. This is bigger than Oberlin…. if we make it so.

PostLiberal | June 9, 2019 at 8:28 pm

Colleges and Universities are finding out their high tuition charges are reducing demand. An easy way to reduce costs- and thus increase demand for their schools- is to cut costs. An easy way to cut costs is to get rid of administrators, who have increased much more than faculty in recent decades. Bye, bye, Meredith Raimondo and friends.

While some of the administration’s attitude is predicated on keeping the “woke” students happy, a contributing factor is that much of the administration is as “woke” or even more “woke” than the students. Bye, bye, “woke” administrators as Alma Mater starts to cut costs.

    CorkyAgain in reply to PostLiberal. | June 10, 2019 at 9:04 pm

    Of course, the Democrats’ solution to cutting costs is more government subsidies.

    College administrators prefer this solution too, since it won’t require them to cut any of their own positions. When so many of the current Presidential candidates are touting “free tuition” they’re appealing to this part of their base, along with the students most people consider the main beneficiary of the program.

I’m laughing thinking the Overblown College kids probably demanded Donica’s hiring because – diversity and minority feelz or some such sjw demand.
I hope the jury doesn’t use any lube while shoving it up where Overblown College’s sun don’t shine.

Professor Copeland wrote “Furthermore, the timing of the protest (which began within 48 hours of Tuesday night’s disastrous election returns) …..”

What a biased little twit he is.

    PostLiberal in reply to walls. | June 9, 2019 at 9:02 pm

    What a biased little twit he is.

    But he supported the Gibsons.
    Prof Copeland:

    “I’ve known the Gibson family for many years and find it very difficult to believe that any of them would engage in the odious practice of racial profiling. I also know that their family-owned business has been hit hard by shoplifters in recent months, and based on newspaper accounts of the Oberlin Police Department’s investigation of this incident, I see no reason to suspect that Allyn Gibson is guilty of anything other than forcefully confronting a shoplifter.

    I’d take a biased twit like that any day.

    artichoke in reply to walls. | June 9, 2019 at 11:26 pm

    Part of the extreme anger he’s feeling may be cognitive dissonance. The side he thought was good, is turning out to be bad. And vice versa.

    But credit to him for keeping his objectivity through it.

    slither in reply to walls. | June 10, 2019 at 8:30 am

    Actually, I think that that is an example of great writing. Remember, he was writing this to Oberlin’s students and faculty, so he was aware that their most likely initial response would be to dismiss him by declaring “You are a white male and clearly an evil Trump supporter!” By starting off his letter this way, he cut off that line of attack right from the start and made it much more likely that they’d actually think about what he was saying.

    (Of course, the likelihood of Oberlin’s administration thinking seems to be extremely low. But at least he maximized the chances.)

Hey Dan – thanks for your coverage. Please proofread a little more – I generally see a handful of typos/grammatical errors in most articles. It would just take a few more minutes. Thanks.

    Daniel McGraw in reply to Sally MJ. | June 9, 2019 at 9:55 pm

    Thanks, Sally. Yeah, it has been tough, writing more than 50,000 words on this case on deadline daily without a real editor to edit and catch things like a few typos here and there. That’s about a 200-page book in 30 days. But such is life. One more thing. You had a typo in your 32 word post. My name is Daniel, not Dan. Thanks again.

      amwick in reply to Daniel McGraw. | June 10, 2019 at 6:48 am

      Overall I thought this whole article was great. You explained it very clearly,, and highlighted a point that really hit home.

      They had opportunities early on to see the bullshit flying in their faces — thrown by the social justice warrior students – and didn’t have the good sense to see a basic problem and recognize the simplest of solutions.

      TY Dan… straight forward, no nonsense…

      thetaqjr in reply to Daniel McGraw. | June 10, 2019 at 11:01 am

      Roy Usoku Ebihara “… and his Japanese family were interred by the U.S. government during WWII.” Horrors, Daniel. Getting Mr. Ebihara to speak certainly ought to get you consideration for a Pewitzer Prize!

    tom_swift in reply to Sally MJ. | June 10, 2019 at 12:39 am

    Think positive. It’s a stamp of authenticity, so you know you’re getting Genuine LI™.

    Anonamom in reply to Sally MJ. | June 10, 2019 at 9:21 am

    I was really hoping that at least one of the new hires would be an editor. I’m with you on this: The content of this piece is fabulous; the execution is not.

“Tita Reed, special assistant to the president for community and government relations, wrote back: “Doesn’t change a damn thing for me.” ”

I can just smell how much hatred for Gibson’s (just for standing up for themselves and calling the cops on a shoplifter) pervades the administration there. They have an agenda, and running over people like the Gibson family is a central part of it.

Not students. Administration.

    The Friendly Grizzly in reply to artichoke. | June 10, 2019 at 7:15 am

    Let me bring up another elephant in the room. Would Oberlin’s staph staff done all this if the shoplifters had not been their little pets? That is, the poor oppressed minorities™ they claim so much to love?

      Or, try this thought experiment: suppose those two bottles of wine had been lifted, not from Gibson’s, but from the back seat of Dean Raimondo’s car. And the perps (same perps) spotted doing so. What then?

      Seriously, I’m interested. What do you think would have happened?

“Doesn’t change a damn thing for me.”
Tita and Donica need to keep shooting their mouths off and discovery for “round two” will begin in about a year! :->

Fluffy Foo Foo | June 9, 2019 at 11:52 pm

I couldn’t agree more with the end comment about private liberal arts colleges bending over backwards to make their students happy.

I studied abroad in Germany, and of course the German school corralled all the American kids into a program together (mixed in were students from Korea, Taiwan, Japan, HK, and Canada). Most of the American students came from northern liberal arts colleges. Myself and a few others came from state universities, mostly from the South (SEC schools) and a couple from the midwestern Big Ten or Big Twelve/Eight. Hands down the most mature and well adjusted students were us state school kids. At a big state university you have to get by on your own for the most part. You’re a number or one of many, and appropriately treated as such. At state school the school ain’t really looking after you.

On the other hand, the liberal arts college kids, with some exceptions, struggled mightily to do things on their own without the help of their US school administrators who babied them and led them around by their hand. Just matriculating into a decent size German university was a daunting task for them. They traveled and moved as a group, scared of leaving their pack.

This was the school year just before 9/11. Big life lesson… liberal arts college are a waste of money, although the signalling from the degree does hold some value, but that value is probably way overvalued.

Happy for the Gibsons. Maybe this will start some healing between town and gown.

At some point, I believe when we were speculating about damages, I suggested that someone at Oberlin might have sat down and done an upside/downside of things, and concluded that being edgy and attracting 24 more students at $60K/yr, for 4 yrs, would be worth a possible payout of a couple hundred thousand dollars. Destroying Gibsons would cost no more than some ads in a major magazine. And that $1.44M x 4yrs or $5.8M in tuition revenues might be an arguable penalty for Oberlin’s actions.

Oberlin in 2016 had been living high off the Obummer years. Krislov was Yuge fanboy, to the point where I sent a sarcastic email that they should just call it the Obama Alumni Magazine (which they published as a letter; I was SHOCKED!) So while the election of our personal savior DJT came as a shock to them, it still didn’t rank as anything more than an explanation for bizarre behavior. But they had been conditioned for 8 years by the Oberlin administration that anything SJW goes, so it was not a shock to see things go down as they did. Still really wrong, but not shocking that it happened. I have no idea what happened at similar schools, who may have been similarly primed but lacked a trigger. So the suggestion that Oberlin saw this as a golden marketing opportunity is legit. I know that my contemporaries in the mid-late 70’s were disappointed that the spirit of Nam was no longer present.

Speaking of assessing damages, where has Milhouse been? I was looking at older threads where “no it isn’t” came up a lot in arguments and then noticed a complete absence about a week into the trial.

    artichoke in reply to MajorWood. | June 10, 2019 at 12:56 am

    Oberlin is very selective. They have no trouble filling their class. Quality may suffer further, but they reject more people than they admit. So I don’t get the argument about selling more seats.

    I just think the admin are far left crazies. There’s really no understanding people like this: she just hates us. It’s ideological with her, not practical.

    “Tita Reed, special assistant to the president for community and government relations, wrote back: “Doesn’t change a damn thing for me.” ”

      elliesmom in reply to artichoke. | June 10, 2019 at 6:37 am

      Actually, enrollment is down. The issue isn’t the number of people who apply. It’s how many of the kids they accept show up to register in the fall. Every college or university accepts more students than they expect to make their school their final choice. It’s a balancing act between needing to find seats (and housing) for more kids than you really have room for and having too many kids choose to attend a different school that also accepts them. “Back in the day” kids used to apply to three or four schools, but today in the internet application age, kids are routinely applying to 10 or more schools. Predicting which school the kids will ultimately choose is harder, and if a school has an overblown idea of how desirable a choice it will be, they might end up with a smaller freshmen class than expected. Kids are also more willing to transfer midway through either because the school wasn’t a good fit for them or to get a different, more exciting experience. In 2017-2018 Oberlin had a $5 million dollar drop in revenue due to a drop in enrollment.

      Terence G. Gain in reply to artichoke. | June 10, 2019 at 8:47 am

      I agree completely. Leftists emote more than they think. I’ve had several arguments with Leftists on various threads. The result is almost always the same. When the discussion is over, they delete the conversation.

    Milhouse in reply to MajorWood. | June 16, 2019 at 6:46 pm

    Work and life demand some occasional time devoted to them. What would you like explained?

I just don’t see it.

The school was not afraid of the students. The only time that ever came up in any context was when the former President was trying to justify no longer carrying Gibson bakery products in the cafeteria. Nor do I think that Oberlin was trying catering to the students to attract more of them.

In the last decade, or two, all that Oberlin has going for it is that it is still thought of as being a cutting edge civil rights institution. It IS in the middle of nowhere. It is not a traditional Black university. It is not a tech school, a business school, or a prestigious law school. No one is spending thousands of dollars, let alone millions, to get their kid accepted to Oberlin. It is a Progressive social justice Mecca. It attracted SJW faculty and administration. The President was just passing through and was not going to rock the boat [he was sort of like Col. Henry Blake in MASH]. So, what happened was no big surprise.

Trump won the Presidency. The peasants were revolting and had to be put down. The administration sallied forth with the young SJWs and aided and abetted their foray against the tribe of barbarians known as the residents of the Town of Oberlin. Apparently none of them had ever heard the song, One Tin Soldier Rode Away. They were sure that their god smiled on their efforts and the sun would shine on their achievement. But, that was not what happened. The tribe of townies did not fall to the “righteous” anger of the “brave” SJWs. They fought back. And, it appears that they won and Oberlin College lost.

This nation is becoming increasingly a nation of tribes. And this is what happens when tribes collide.

    Tom Servo in reply to Mac45. | June 10, 2019 at 8:07 am

    “one tin soldier”???

    I guess someone should have sung “Varner, don’t be a hero, don’t be a fool with your career….”

From economics prof. Robert Piron

“It’s astoundingly cruel and dumb of the college. And I don’t think I will ever forgive them … I am furious, absolutely furious.
“They have taken wrong step after wrong step. And the level of sheer incompetence is beyond imagination now. And I know a lot of people who give money to this college are not going to do it [any more].”


In this competitive market for students, I am confused why a few more schools don’t take the “Fox News “ market strategy. Almost all colleges suffer from these problems. Why not can all of the diversity staff, hire only Republican professors, adopt a University of Chicago speech policy, change admissions policies to ignore race, and teach about the value of Western civilization.

This would make your school stand out in the marketplace. Surely there is more demand for this type of school than supply. I guess that Hillsdale is trying this strategy, but it seems to me that there must be more students interested in non-SJW education than there is supply of seats.

    Terence G. Gain in reply to leon0112. | June 10, 2019 at 8:52 am

    Fox News is about 2/3 conservative and 1/3 liberal. Some liberals like Chris Wallace pretend to be conservative.

My wife used to be on the faculty of a small Ohio liberal arts school, not Oberlin. Her last year working, she broke her foot, and I (already retired) spent a semester driving her back and forth to work and helping out with her wheel chair.

Since is was a long commute, 40 miles, I spent each day on campus wandering around. I became aware that in her building every faculty office door and bulletin board sported the exact same hard left political posters. Every single one. Apparently, individual faculty could arrange the posters as they saw fit, they were under enormous social pressure to put them up.

During my tenure at a large state school in an engineering college, posters were not uncommon, but they were seldom political, often humorous, and frequently merely arty. There was no social pressure then to conform poster-wise. That was 12 years ago. Things might have changed.

EdisonCarter | June 10, 2019 at 8:54 am

Where is John Silber when you need him?

Years ago I taught Toxicology at an extension campus, but I finally quite because the university made it clear that keeping the students in seats was far more important than educating them. I was not allowed to fail students no matter how badly they performed.

Brave Sir Robbin | June 10, 2019 at 9:13 am

Sorry to disagree with Daniel, but the school is a reflection of its leadership, to include the faculty, administrators and students the leadership recruits, admits, hires, promotes, and maintains. The school is not afraid of its students; they have shaped and molded the student body into what they wanted it to be. They had such control, according to Raimondo, as to be able to either hold the student body restrained on a leash, or send it into a froth and set it upon a target of its choosing. This is why Oberlin is to pay over $11 in compensatory damages, and, likely, much more in punitive damages. As per the verdict, Oberlin leadership and therefore Oberlin is directly responsible for the behavior and action of their students whom they organized, inflamed and directed to destroy a small local business.

JusticeDelivered | June 10, 2019 at 9:46 am

CNN managed to gloss over the scope of Oberlin College’s wrongdoing.

The good old 60’s

Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be

    SHV in reply to Neo. | June 10, 2019 at 11:25 am

    “The good old 60’s”
    I was in college and grad school in the 60s in D.C. War protests, civil rights protests, tear gas, etc. I was thinking a few days ago, even the most radical “hippy”, SDS, etc. students were well educated and intelligent. Today, the far left snowflakes seem to have no original thought and can barely communicate their memorized talking points. A few days ago, I was sitting close to two college age women and one was talking about her dog; every second or third word was “like” followed by “you know”. I have no idea what she was trying to say about her dog but I do know that educational system destroyed her brain.

Terence G. Gain | June 10, 2019 at 10:37 am

Daniel McGraw – Or Anyone Else Who Knows

How much did Gibson’s lawyers suggest to the jury should be awarded for compensatory damages?

My impression is that the jury awarded close to the maximum amount. I am anticipating the same result in punitive damages.

“He and his Japanese family were interred by the U.S. government during WWII.”

He and his family were buried?? /disingenuousness

I don’t buy the “fear of the students” argument either. Same thing at Princeton, which had a cringeworthy episode when the SJWs took over the President’s office and Mau-Mau’ed him, with his meek acquiescence and supplication. THERE IS NOTHING THOSE STUDENTS FEAR MORE THAN BEING EXPELLED. They know full well they won the lottery when they got admitted, and any credible threat to show them the door would quickly elicit highly modified behavior. The Oberlin imbroglio unfolded the way it did because Oberlin’s administration wanted it to and so encouraged it.

    MajorWood in reply to Zumkopf. | June 10, 2019 at 11:45 am

    Oberlin will need to keep playing the racism and anti-trump cards because the facts are simply not on their side. The GC was letter was correct in one sense, as the college did present clear evidence, as in transparent, which the jury saw right through.

Because, in today’s liberal-dominated market, selling Social Justice brings in a lot more money than selling knowledge and wisdom.

WashPo carried a story on the Gibson’s case today, “Protests at Oberlin labeled a bakery racist. Now, the college has been ordered to pay $11 million for libel.”

Gotta love the lede of the article by Mr. Smarmy, Issac Stanley-Becker:

On Nov. 9, 2016, the day after Donald Trump clinched the presidency, a student at Oberlin College went to a local bakery and convenience store, hoping to leave with a few bottles of wine.”

Hey Issac, how about trying to report the truth by replacing ” … hoping to leave with … ” with hoping to shoplift (or more accurately steal).

Totally irresponsible from Staley-Becker and his editors.


    Milhouse in reply to tiger66. | June 16, 2019 at 7:07 pm

    Nope. His original plan was to buy the wine. Stealing it was Plan B, when Allyn Gibson carded him.

Finally! Breitbart covers the Oberlin trail!

Good referal to LI too. Has anyone heard Levin, Rush or Hannity cover this yet?

Good work Professor!

By the way, has anyone else wondered how easily the lefties incorporate the f-word into their public speech and professional communications? The emails among faculty and staff were revealing at many levels.

– Krumhorn

The president, Marvin Krislov, was rewarded for his supporting of the protests with a presidency at Pace university. These Trump hating liberals stick together. This cannot be said of the conservatives.

I tend to trust Hanlon’s Razor in this sort of situation: “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.” – that the college and its administrators really are just too dumb and self-absorbed to realize what is happening to them their fault. But internet comments are free, so I’m going to throw out another possibility to consider: If the college HAD stood up to their students, or even accepted responsibility for it after the fact rather than insult Gibsons and double down the way they did, they might face a situation just as bad as their current one.

Radically liberal, coastal elite students – the ones who actually pay tuition and later donate to the school – choose Oberlin BECAUSE of its activist history. Martin Luther King and Michelle Obama are two of many notable speakers to give commencement addresses that specifically applauded the school for creating the exact sort of activists who protested outside Gibsons. And when the Civil Rights movement was at full throttle, that attitude was probably necessary to push us forward. Now, not so much. But jeopardizing that reputation by reigning in their students would leave Oberlin with what exactly? It would become a mediocre liberal arts school without anything notable about it to justify its price tag. Students could pay $45,000 less at Ohio State for a better degree in most fields, so why would they choose Oberlin if the one thing that sets it apart is no longer a defining principle? The left is extremely quick to turn on their own, and I’m sure the Oberlin administration worst nightmare is to be torn down by the zealous and ruthless victim ideology that they created.

Contrast that outcome with their current situation. Yes, they might have up to a $30,000,000 liability to cover. But if this story becomes national news, that bill may very well be picked up by an “Anonymous Donor” (Soros maybe?) who has vested interests in encouraging racial tension. The far-left billionaires already dropped more than that funding the Furgeson riots, Black Lives Matter, Antifa, Pueblos Sin Fronteras, and the immigration crisis in Europe – they might have a serious interest in stepping in to protect the illogical, race-baiting Oberlin students to encourage more acts like this in the future. Otherwise they risk that their movement might fall apart because their activists may begin to fear the consequences of the libelous, slanderous tactics that defines their movement.

Had the college taken responsibility and promised to change, they STILL would have been stuck with a seven figure bill – and simultaneously alienated themselves from both the radical left billionaires who might come to their rescue and the future potential students of progressive coastal elites.

Christopher B | June 10, 2019 at 3:35 pm

Many are throwing out the “Woke and Broke” designation on this case – and though some may see this as a larger issue of the conservatives winning over liberals — that wasn’t really what was going on here. The judge kept politics out of this case, and the jury was actually deciding not so much on what the college did do, but what it did not do.

I disagree with your assessment of what “Get Woke, Go Broke” means, and this case is actually an excellent illustration of the phrase for all the reasons that you outline. “Get Woke” is not merely about the adoption of generally liberal political positions but adding the element of ignoring both common sense and the fundamental purpose of your organization to double-down on SJW activities, to the exclusion of achieving any other goals.

Private44074 | June 10, 2019 at 5:17 pm

Thanks for the coverage. Not all (most?) of the students and faculty do not support how the college handled this. Give them a fair chance here in the comments.

Dan – do you have any sense as to when the punitive damages will come in? Is that usually faster or slower than the compensatory damages? Was the first part of the case decided faster than people expected? Or maybe as fast as it was, because the case was so obvious to the jury?

Since we are discussing some of the extra legal dynamics of this case and are looking at issues of class and tribes here is an ancient little story that tells us a bit about students at Oberlin. In the early ‘70’s when protests were held in Washington about the Vietnam War, a large number of students were arrested and detained in outdoor makeshift fenced in areas by the D. C. Police who were overwhelmed by the numbers and did not have the resources to feed them. University students in town for the protests heard about this and banded together to make sandwiches for those arrested. Students from many different schools met at a central location bringing the various sandwich components and formed an assembly line. We students from the University of Maryland brought peanut butter and jelly thinking it was a practical choice given the lack of refrigeration in this emergency situation. This choice did not go over well with the Oberlin students who openly and rudely berated us for such Plebeian tastes and loudly pointed out that only choices like chicken or ham salad, roast beef or maybe even cream cheese pimento were appropriate.

I think Varner released the e-mail blast on purpose, hoping for the mis-trial. The defense had it ready to roll. Thank goodness the judge saw through them, and did not admit it in evidence for the jury to see, because it would have ticked off at least some, and naturally, affect their judgement, causing the case to be thrown out due to “prejudicial response” from jurors. Here’s hoping that the next round for punitive damages goes off without a hitch. Due to Raimondo’s ( and others) malicious intent, and proof thereof, I don’t see that Oberlin has a prayer. The judge should insist upon a subpoena for the “taken down” FB rants from the african studies professor, and the music assistant prof. as well, basically inciting students to riot. Don’t think FB would be overly cooperative, though- they haven’t been in the past, except in extreme cases. He does have transcripts of the texts exchanged between the admin.and faculty members demonstrating premeditation, etc., yes ? Also, does anyone know if there is any truth to the rumor that Oberlin had been trying to buy land adjacent to Gibson’s that partially overlapped their property, and they didn’t care to sell ? That could give Oberlin a pretty serious incentive to want their business gone- I guess I’m looking for a valid ( if criminal) reason that Oberlin admin. chose to use the students for their own insidious agenda (other than complete insanity). If they wanted the land, it would kind of make sense- evil intent, but still make sense.