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Former Oberlin College President: “Pay the court’s judgment, don’t fight it; apologize to the Gibson family and to the community”

Former Oberlin College President: “Pay the court’s judgment, don’t fight it; apologize to the Gibson family and to the community”

“do whatever is necessary to reaffirm the institution’s identity as a college, not a cause”

Reviewing the intense public relations campaign launched by Oberlin College after the $11 million compensatory and $33 million punitive damage verdicts (later reduced to $25 million under Ohio tort reform caps), I felt an “intervention” by someone who “truly cares” about Oberlin College was needed:

Oberlin College should be ashamed of its conduct, but it’s not. It’s emboldened, if anything, as witnessed by the post-verdict crisis management public relations campaign to spin Oberlin College as having been held liable for student speech. It’s just not true.

Oberlin College needs an intervention. Someone who truly cares about the college needs to tell the administration and its defenders to stop.

An intervention has been attempted by S. Frederick Starr, Oberlin College’s president from 1983-1994, through an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, Oberlin College’s Legacy and the Need to Have Enemies.

The main point of Starr’s op-ed, as the title suggests, is commentary on Oberlin College’s culture as it has developed since its founding in 1833, manifested now in a dogmatic fanaticism:

In the middle of the Oberlin College campus stands a monument [image] to its namesake, the Alsatian pastor John Frederick Oberlin (1740-1826). It depicts a children’s game that consists of a piece of paper folded and decorated so that it looks like a bird from one side and a flower from the other. Oberlin used such a device for marriage counseling. He would sit Hans down on one side and Erika on the other and ask each what the folded paper depicted. When they came up with different answers, Oberlin would explain that spouses who see things differently can have happy and fulfilled lives by understanding and learning from each other.

The text on the monument—commissioned in the 1990s, when I was the college’s president—celebrates Oberlin’s “simple message—that people with diverse perspectives can live in friendship with one another,” which “lies at the heart of the aspirations of this college.”

Even when the monument was erected, it would have been hard to find evidence on campus that J.F. Oberlin’s values were thriving there. During my tenure as president (1983-94), I recall several incidents—usually involving phony hate crimes—that now seem precursors to the baseless attack on Gibson’s Food Mart and Bakery, which led to a $44 million jury award (which a judge reduced to $25 million) against the college. In my day there were administrators and faculty members who worked to get to the bottom of each case. Sometimes this even led to some reflection and learning.

The monument represents values sharply at odds with those the college exhibited in the recent fracas. Instead of engaging with, and learning from, the “other,” it condoned and abetted students who fixate on purported evils. The institution itself seems to have embraced the extremist doctrine that every “evil” thus identified must be destroyed so that society can enter an age of bliss….

Thus there exist two radically different Oberlins: the gloomy sectarian training ground inspired by [founder Charles Grandison] Finney and the one that affirms modern learning, thought, music and art.

The college community’s “crusade” against Gibson’s Bakery, Starr writes, was a manifestation of the intolerance of the current Oberlin College culture:

The crusade against Gibson’s bakery is incompatible with the college of Millikan, Sperry and Hall. But if only in some uncanny and unconscious way, the attacks on Gibson’s recall Finney’s squinty-eyed hounding of enemies. Few if any students, administrators or trustees know anything about Finney, and today’s zealots are militantly secular. Yet they concur with each other and with Finney on the need for enemies, even if the enemy du jour is a small family business that has happily thrived in Lorain County, Ohio, for 130 years. Could anything be more bluntly at odds with Johann Friedrich Oberlin, who devoted his life to serving humble parishioners?

A reclamation of Oberlin College’s culture is needed, Starr suggests, and owning up to what the college community did to Gibson’s Bakery is the place to start (emphasis added):

What can Oberlin do to reclaim its better self? That’s ultimately a question for the college’s trustees, faculty, alumni and students. But there is a common-sense answer that would probably seem obvious to most anyone in Lorain County or any of a thousand smaller communities around the country: Pay the court’s judgment, don’t fight it; apologize to the Gibson family and to the community and take steps to show you mean it; and then calmly think through all that has happened and do whatever is necessary to reaffirm the institution’s identity as a college, not a cause.

These are wise words, but likely to fall on deaf ears for two reasons.

First, Starr’s legacy already has been criticized as insufficiently progressive and “woke” (to use a current phrase). The Oberlin College official archive article (click on Administrative/Biographical History) about Starr notes “Starr’s efforts to mainstream the college’s social and academic environment further increased tensions as many perceived his actions as an attempt to strip Oberlin of its distinctive characteristics.”

Looking back on Starr’s tenure after he had left campus, the student-run Oberlin Review wrote, on May 1, 1998:

An internationally renowned scholar noted by those who met him for a stunning intellect, Starr’s primary emphasis as president was academic excellence. He was not interested in portraying Oberlin as a socially progressive institution, and embarked on a doomed mission to transform Oberlin into a prestigious eastern university. Students gradually became disenchanted with Starr’s maneuvers and frequently protested them….

“Fred made some really weird comments,” Chris Baymiller, assistant director of the Student Union, said. “There was no question he was trying to redesign Oberlin. He didn’t want the college photographer to take any pictures of people playing banjos or wearing bib overalls.” ….

According to Secretary of the College Bob Haslun, Oberlin has unwittingly erected a monument to Starr. It stands outside Wilder, successfully masquerading as a tribute to John Frederick Oberlin. “It’s really a tribute to Starr,” Haslun said. “He always wanted to get people to see things from another side.” The monument was Starr’s final contribution to Oberlin.

Note the reference in the Oberlin Review article to the statue mentioned in Starr’s Op-Ed — Starr “always wanted to get people to see things from another side,” and that apparently was viewed as a negative in Starr’s governance of Oberlin College. Given Starr’s history at Oberlin College, it’s likely that his opinion will be discounted by current campus culture.

The second reason Starr’s intervention is unlikely to shake Oberlin College out of its current trajectory, is that Oberlin College does not appear ready to reconsider its culture of seeking enemies to destroy.

Starr’s framing of the problem in that way is perceptive. As I look back on many years of Legal Insurrection coverage of Oberlin College social justice warfare controversies, the need to find and defeat enemies is a common, unifying theme. Whether it’s fury over the cultural appropriation of Asian foods in the dining hall, the vilification of Israel, the “triggering” protests against Christina Hoff Sommers, the 14-page list of student demands including explicit racial hiring quotas, or the exploitation of a known racism hoax to further advance social justice indoctrination, someone or something always seems to be the enemy. The day after Donald Trump’s election, Gibson’s Bakery became the latest enemy to be vanquished.

Looked at in Starr’s framework, the attempt to crush Gibson’s Bakery with false accusations of racial profiling fit a pattern and a culture.

There is no indication the current Oberlin College administration is ready to change the culture. The post-verdict public relations campaign continues falsely to portray Oberlin College as having done nothing other than attempt to protect student free speech, and as having been held liable for student speech in a result that is a threat to higher education. The jury verdict is just the latest in a long line of Oberlin College enemies to be slain.

Payment of the judgment and an apology to Gibson’s Bakery and the community, as former president Starr suggests, would be a good first step in Oberlin College affirming that it is a college, not a cause. Based on the post-verdict statements coming out of Oberlin College so far, that seems unlikely to happen.

[Featured Image: Then President-Designate S. Frederick Starr at the City Club of Cleveland, April 1983, via YouTube)

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What he said.

    JusticeDelivered in reply to MajorWood. | July 6, 2019 at 9:47 pm

    This is funny, former Oberlin College president just spanked Carmen Twillie Ambar.

    JusticeDelivered in reply to MajorWood. | July 7, 2019 at 5:37 pm

    USA Today published an opinion letter by David Gibson.

    I think that Ambar could and should have taken a better path, and honorable path, instead in my opinion, she took the low road. She is the president, the outcome is her fault.

      Listen, S. Frederick Starr thinks people on the left want to make it through hard work and talent. He seems to be clueless as to what makes a leftist tick: getting something for nothing, and gaining positions of power with no talent for being there. (Witness obama, jackson lee, maxine waters, and the like).

      If he really wants to make a difference, he’s got to open his eyes a lot wider: and accept his role in the toilet oberlin has become: he was running the place as late as 1994.

        JusticeDelivered in reply to | July 7, 2019 at 11:05 pm

        I have known honorable liberals, it just happens that many them feel the same way about the extreme left that people here feel about Rinos. Neither party is monolithic, especially in the current political climate.

However…..these people are crazy. And the SJW don’t care about your damn college. They don’t. If they brought it down they get bragging rights with the other SJW crazies. And until colleges realize such people are not compatible with an educational institution, this shall go on and on.

    pst314 in reply to puhiawa. | July 6, 2019 at 9:30 pm

    However…..these people are crazy.

    As in the book about the Great Cultural Revolution “China: Roots of Madness”.

    jb4 in reply to puhiawa. | July 6, 2019 at 9:45 pm

    On the June 27 phonecast with alumni, a mention was made of changes needed in admissions. While that was ambiguous and not elaborated upon, at least it offers the possibility of different students. Time will tell. Given reasonable concerns about the value of an Oberlin diploma in the marketplace after the mountains of negative national publicity, the numbers of students of any kind that they can attract may be an issue as well.

      puhiawa in reply to jb4. | July 6, 2019 at 9:50 pm

      When the dean of Claremont McKenna said that some people are simply incompatible with such a college, she was fired. However that emboldened the SJW to the extent that some were expelled and a number were informed that their degrees were forfeit as they were seniors. Now, I believe, SJW resume enhancers are unacceptable, and they are looking at Eagle Scouts and volunteers at the Humane Society again, along with military service etc.

      artichoke in reply to jb4. | July 7, 2019 at 4:48 am

      Who mentioned a change in admissions — the college voluntarily, or a caller?

        jb4 in reply to artichoke. | July 7, 2019 at 9:08 am

        I recall that it was the college in response to a question. In fact, aside from the legal posturing, which I expected because the legal matter is not concluded, I rather liked some of their responses to questions and (subsequently) encouraged that the call be made available to a wider audience (not done). I believe that they want to put this case behind them and will not appeal.

          artichoke in reply to jb4. | July 7, 2019 at 1:43 pm

          I’ll wish them success in their pursuit of good intentions.

          Zumkopf in reply to jb4. | July 7, 2019 at 4:08 pm

          Would that you were right, jb4. However, anytime a SJW is given a choice between backing down and doubling down, well, the question answers itself.

      rayc in reply to jb4. | July 7, 2019 at 8:43 am

      Changes in admissions might help at the edges, but what really needs to happen is the radical professors need to be purged if change is to really take hold. Most of these kids come to college as blank slates, and the spirit of radical ness is sown in them.

        artichoke in reply to rayc. | July 7, 2019 at 1:41 pm

        I don’t know about blank slates. Ambar said once that they find their students through word-of-mouth recruitment. They practice holistic admissions and recently have been admitting only about 1/3 of applicants.

        I wouldn’t assume a lack of political agenda in an un-monitored process like admissions.

        puhiawa in reply to rayc. | July 7, 2019 at 8:08 pm

        Good point

    JusticeDelivered in reply to puhiawa. | July 7, 2019 at 10:32 am

    In other words, some are or should be members of Hillary’s band of deplorables.

    JusticeDelivered in reply to puhiawa. | July 7, 2019 at 5:24 pm

    Like Ambar?

healthguyfsu | July 6, 2019 at 8:45 pm

Cool way to support Gibson’s!

Came across this on their website.

They can’t ship chocolate right now but have hats and shirts (and some other baked goods).

NavyMustang | July 6, 2019 at 8:56 pm

Seeing the upcoming generation, i weep for this country.

    Lewfarge in reply to NavyMustang. | July 6, 2019 at 9:54 pm

    Yep ! Worthless antifa “person” in DC trying to burn the flag, doesn’t even know how to use matches !

    Unless we do something to change that, we’d better weep for ourselves: we’ll likely be enslaved by them before we’re gone.

    Valerie in reply to NavyMustang. | July 7, 2019 at 8:37 pm

    Not me. I feel good about the future, although I expect to spend a few more nights wondering if I will have a country the next morning.

    It’s absolutely true that our schools have become indoctrination centers, and that some of our young people get suckered in. But for most of them, that is a temporary condition.

    I am a chemist by trade, and I remember one chemistry prof saying “I have come to the conclusion that substances that cause cancer are not very poisonous.” Naturally, that got our attention, because this was at the time that cyclamates were said to cause cancer.

    The professor was pointing out that any number of molecules classified as “generally recognized as safe” (table salt, for example) would kill a normal person outright if consumed in the doses used to show that cyclamate sweetness caused cancer.

    That one example became a cautionary tale for me, about the misuse of statistics, generally. Mark Twain was absolutely right about liars and statistics. Dear God, I think the whole country could use a course in statistics 101.

    My youngest had another prof with a similar viewpoint, this one a biochemist talking about evolution.

    The kid’s in good hands. He’s also the one that doesn’t take anything important at face value.

    The other two are just as smart, but they are taking longer because they are more tightly imbedded in their peer groups. But one spontaneously started tracking down kerfluffels last year, so I expect him to wind up on our side. The other, when he flips, will do a 180, after tunneling through the news flows like a tesseract.

This was planned with the current OC administration to give cover to Twillie and give OC a graceful exit.

Nobody was trying to make Oberlin an Ivy League college but the academic standards were very high, back in the day; and the courses were good.

I think it went the way of “if a little is good then more is better,” in consciousness raising. It became a competition for promotion.

    Silvertree in reply to rhhardin. | July 6, 2019 at 10:48 pm

    In 1989, Oberlin was among the top 5 small liberal arts colleges, and #1 in science. “S. Fred”, as we called him, was the president then.

    Today? #30 among small liberal arts colleges

    Other colleges that were highly ranked in 1989 are still right up at the top: Williams and Amherst come to mind. What happened to Oberlin?

    Charles Hillinger’s America : Oberlin: Little College That Could
    LA Times

      In my opinion, Oberlin needs to take Starr’s advice. Its Board of Trustees also needs to demand a thorough review of why its ranking has dropped so much and why its costs have skyrocketed; and take whatever corrective action is needed, starting with being certain they have the right leadership in place. I would also recommend a comparison with a place like Shenandoah University in Winchester, VA, a much cheaper private school which looks to be better positioned for the future, despite a far less distinguished past. This whole situation, that has been developing for quite a few years with a variety of unfortunate situations, is quite sad – both from a general historical perspective of what is happening to one of America’s leading colleges; and personally, to alumni, students, faculty, the local community, etc.

      JusticeDelivered in reply to Silvertree. | July 7, 2019 at 12:17 pm

      Sometime back, maybe a month ago, I notice that Oberlin had a 5 star rating with only 5 votes. I posted that with a link and suggested people give the school appropriate recognition.

      When I checked a few weeks later they were down to a 3 star rating, since that time fans of Oberlin have posted a few more 5 star rating, raising the to a four star, with the school dropping from a fairly high rank to 30th. And, a reporter wrote an article citing that they had fallen to 30th.

      For the good of the community, I prefer that Oberlin College not fail, but they also need to be repeatedly bruised until they see the light 🙂

      What I have heard from Carmen Twillie Ambar, and looking at other key players, the more I think that this was a bald faced exercise of black racism.

      This has the same fingerprints as all the other high profile black racism cases.

      I don’t think blacks should be subjected to racism, I also no not thing they should get away with perpetuating racism on others. They need to be held accountable in the same manner as the KKK and white supremists were held accountable.

      Please go to both college rating sites and Gibson’s rating sites and rate them. Especially the link above.

I wish Oberlin would listen to this wisdom.
However, I think the current president et al are too dug in to dig themselves back out.
Shame on ’em.

    JusticeDelivered in reply to lc. | July 6, 2019 at 9:56 pm

    The onld solution to Oberlin College’s problems is a clean sweep of upper management.

Another Voice | July 6, 2019 at 9:07 pm

“But there is a common-sense answer that would probably seem obvious to most anyone”
ANYONE except those who embrace a SJW mentality!

It appears that if a person is the least bit reasonable, Oberlin College has no use for them. I’d like to see the miserable college and its administrators put out of their misery, but for the bad effect it would have on the town’s economy.

An adult in the room speaks common sense and concilliation to petulant, wayward children in desperate need of discipline.

Hold on tight, America. You’ve just entered the 21st century twilight zone.

Perhaps it’s my glasses, but I’m afraid the 1983-era S. Frederick Starr looks too much like Dean Wormer (a.k.a. the late great John Vernon).

Sorry, I just call ’em the way I see ’em.

Rather than listening to Starr’s excellent advice, the current Oberlin students (with the tacit approval of the administration) are more likely to demolish the monument to John Frederick Oberlin. They will find something that Oberlin once said that doesn’t fit with their PC Newspeak, much like the recent vendetta against Thomas Jefferson.

If that doesn’t work, they will demolish the monument in a “spontaneous” demonstration against that (racist, sexist, transphobe, homophobe, speciesist, choose several) S. Frederick Starr. After all, his entire tenure as president was directed toward making Oberlin one of the strongest liberal arts colleges in the nation, and he largely succeeded. Strengthening the college has to be racist and sexist and homophobic, since you can’t strengthen it by hammering everyone with “social justice” rhetoric.

    TheOldZombie in reply to OldProf2. | July 7, 2019 at 12:47 am

    That’s the exact thought I had. The students once they get word of what this former president said will go after that statue. I’m surprised it’s still there.

Here’s a little about the 1990 incident that was likely the catalyst towards the ending of Starr’s reign at Oberlin. Students went to the president’s house at around 11 pm and staged a protest on his lawn. Estimates range anywhere from 300 to 500 students protesting. However, what many of us (non-protesting) students found hilarious about the whole thing was: “S. Fred” was not even in Oberlin at the time….

“The confrontation on April 13, involving hundreds of students and Oberlin residents, campus security officers and members of the Oberlin Police Department, began as a demonstration against bigotry. It resulted in the arrest of six demonstrators. At an arraignment on Friday, the demonstrators all pleaded not guilty to a variety of charges including assault on a police officer, attempted theft, resisting arrest, failure to disperse, obstructing official business and inciting to violence.”

Campus Life: Oberlin; Students Boycott Classes to Protest Police Actions – The New York Times

    Silvertree in reply to Silvertree. | July 7, 2019 at 8:10 am

    More about this episode from
    This Week in Oberlin History

    On April 13 and 14, 1990, Oberlin College and the surrounding community were shaken by a student protest against perceived institutional bigotry. It ended in charges against six students and allegations of police brutality. The event was considered so drastic at the time that the [Oberlin] Review dedicated a special nine-page section to investigating all facets of the protest-turned-conflict.

    quoted from the Oberlin Review, April 21 1990

    “A student protest against bigotry became a violent confrontation with police on President S. Frederick Starr’s lawn Friday night. Outraged students alleged police brutality; police brought charges against six students.

    The March Against Bigotry began at about 11:20 p.m. at Wilder Hall, and headed toward Starr’s house at 154 Forest Street.

    Upon arrival there, at about 11:30 p.m., almost 200 slogan-chanting students — including some from other colleges and Oberlin High School — encountered Director of Residential Life and Services Ellis Delphin, Assistant Dean of Residential Life Rebecca Woodrick, and Oberlin Security Chief Richard McDaniel and some of his officers. Two city police officers were also present.

    The Starrs were not at home.

    McDaniel told some students not to go on the lawn, but they did so anyway, McDaniel said. A security officer then warned students that the police meant business, whereupon a few students left. The rest linked arms and sat in a tight circle on the lawn.

    Speakers from the crowd addressed the students for about 15 minutes amidst intermittent warnings from authorities, which were unintelligible to most, and chanting…

    Three city police officers moved into the crowd, and as they tried to apprehend [a student] — with excessive force, said some students; with resistance from students, say others — violence broke out.

    During the five to ten minute clash, students chanted ‘No violence!’ Three students were forcibly detained in police cars; two others, unsolicited by the police, also entered the vehicles.

    A stalemate ensued which lasted at least an hour during which [several College administrators] and Chief of Police Robert Jones arrived on the scene.

    At about 1:20 a.m., [Provost Sam] Carrier and [Dean of Student Life and Services Patrick] Penn negotiated an agreement with Jones. Students detained by police were released; police cars were allowed to leave.”

      JusticeDelivered in reply to Silvertree. | July 7, 2019 at 4:37 pm

      “At about 1:20 a.m., [Provost Sam] Carrier and [Dean of Student Life and Services Patrick] Penn negotiated an agreement with Jones. Students detained by police were released; police cars were allowed to leave.”

      This was a huge error of judgement.

      Were the students violent, and lying about no violence?

      The truth is that college students brains are not fully developed, they are operating with less than a full deck.

      Publius_2020 in reply to Silvertree. | July 7, 2019 at 5:53 pm

      For some, the “rule of law” always means “the rule of the laws that I like.”

        JusticeDelivered in reply to Publius_2020. | July 7, 2019 at 7:24 pm

        We have some who think they are entitled to a free pass, that all laws do not apply to them. They have a crime rate more than seven times normal, and they have on a per capita basis the highest rate of incarceration.

Starr sounds like he made a very solid effort at fixing Oberlin. The fact that it didn’t stick is a bad sign.

What’s the point now in trying to fix a place that obviously doesn’t want to be fixed? Just collect the judgment (this will be adversarial but so it goes) and don’t expect any change. Because they don’t want to change.

Is the conservatory this radical? If not, maybe they could try to divorce the college part and become a standalone conservatory.

DouglasJBender | July 7, 2019 at 7:41 am

I can imagine the little Oberlin SJW Nazis raising their fists and proclaiming, “Ich bin ein Oberliner!!”

Terence G. Gain | July 7, 2019 at 7:43 am

Great article WAJ. Thank you. This descent into madness hasn’t occurred overnight.

Was very pleased to see this.

I think Starr has summed up the degradation of most institutes of higher education these days. And the response to his efforts perfectly sum up the close minded people who run them.

How horrible to see things from a different side. It might actually change your mind and break you out of your bubble world. It might make you question your world view and expand your horizons as college was supposed to do.

I fear for the world that my granddaughter will grow up in. If there is a world left for her to do so. This generation seems hell-bent on hate for anything but their Stepford Wives type of acceptance of whatever the National Socialists tell them, regardless of thought, regardless of the harm is does to their perceptions.

I’m not sure we will have a country in 20 years. At least not as the US was founded and thrived. We are more likely to have a Socialist fascist type ruling class than a democratic Republic. At least they will think there is “equality” yet all will be more miserable than their basket weaving degrees had left them.

We are at a crossroad in this history of mankind. The type of thinking espoused by colleges these days is remaking generations of grounded thoughts and leading to the destruction of our society.

Europe will be Islamic Rule, the US will be, at best just another of the countries in the Americas, as will Canada, but at least illegal immigration will be slowed, as it won’t be any better than anywhere else.

Sciences will slow in advancement, as the left has pushed one acceptable mindset and thinking about society and that has leaked into science as well.

    jb4 in reply to oldgoat36. | July 7, 2019 at 10:05 am

    oldgoat36, the new “segregation”, where any means, including violence, is acceptable against the “others”?? In my opinion, for Oberlin to survive, it has to become a leader in fighting back against this and/or sticking to a rigorous education. Otherwise, in 20-30 years, I doubt that many will be willing to pay $70,000 in today’s dollars to graduate sometimes violent SJW (or to employ them). Incidentally, Board Chair Canavan on the alumni call mentioned that they do think decades ahead, as they should.

    JusticeDelivered in reply to oldgoat36. | July 7, 2019 at 7:27 pm

    “Sciences will slow in advancement”

    As a result of a greatly degraded gene pool, and not just the sciences.

SJWs never apologize when they get it wrong.
They just keep shouting and marching and protesting until the other side gives up and walks away.

“These are wise words, but likely to fall on deaf ears for two reasons.

Only if you assume Starr would pen an op-ed in the WSJ intending only Oberlin College to read it. Had this trial not been covered so extensively and expertly by LI, it is very unlikely WSJ would have printed this.

This is a clarion call by a major Oberlin figure stepping up to call on others who care to join him in doing something to save Oberlin. Without LI’s dogged reporting on this, there nothing but deaf ears for Starr to speak to. The WSJ would not likely have printed this op-ed immediately expanding that audience. There would have been little or nothing Michelle Malkin could do by herself as the only alumni stepping up to join the cause.

This was an important signal event. The SJWs who currently run Oberlin College may choose to believe otherwise and focus instead on Starr’s spotty “progressive” history, but I think they just ran into a wall they didn’t see coming. SoCal isn’t the place fearing a bigger earth quake soon.

That 1990 incident when Starr was Oberlin President reminds me of Boston University in the early 1970s when students radicalized by Howard Zinn were running amok with endless campus protests. Then the Boston Globe printed a front page picture of student protestors swinging the BU president (I believe it was Arland F. Christ-Janer) around by his tie in front of the chapel.

Unlike Oberlin, BU had a no endowment money and was also experiencing deep fiscal problems so the Board of Trustees was desperate. They hired John Silber from UT Austin who came in and saved BU by imposing a formal centralized budget process and going after the faculty, especially the tenured radicals. This further enflamed them for a while but eventually put a chill in their spines.

You could say Oberlin was just swung around by their figurative tie by LI in front of the entire nation. Things like that have an impact far beyond anything legal process can muster. Alumni everywhere must be appalled by now. Reporting matters!

Sadly this not consistent with the zeitgeist.

At the end of the day, the Board is the ultimate governing authority of the college and is responsible for everything that happens at Oberlin. Where is the Board? Why haven’t they stepped-in to protect the college? Why haven’t they fired the president and the dean? Well, meet the Oberlin board. Probably not a coincidence that the board chair works for George Soros.

Here’s the board chair:
Chris Canavan is Director of Global Policy Development at Soros Fund Management, LLC. He joined Soros in July 2010 and works on a variety of policy-related projects for the principals of the fund.

    jb4 in reply to mnh. | July 7, 2019 at 2:10 pm

    Good point about the Board and the Chairman’s affiliation. Canavan was asked on the alumni call whether the Board had discussed the matter, perhaps with your thinking in mind. He said no, which I took just to mean the recent decision (as major lawsuits and their status should be brought to a Board’s attention). I keep cutting them some slack, as I do not think they should risk prejudicing their legal position by changing their “story”, apologizing or firing people until after the case is done.

      Publius_2020 in reply to jb4. | July 7, 2019 at 6:08 pm

      College boards are notoriously filtered by the President over time for their support of the administration; they redefine the meaning of “spineless.” But Oberlin’s recent comment that the Board had not “met” to consider the Gibson’s issues was a pure dodge of Clintonian proportions.

        walls in reply to Publius_2020. | July 7, 2019 at 7:00 pm

        Perhaps the Board hasn’t met assembled together in person, but I can guarantee you the entire Board has met several times in a Skype-type meeting. There has been much discussion in private, and we will never know the details.

    JusticeDelivered in reply to mnh. | July 7, 2019 at 7:36 pm

    perhaps Soros will come to the rescue, and then Gibsons can sue again and relieve those funds 🙂

Intervention is the correct term here. But most interventions are more like the one on “The Sopranos” than the idealized versions that everyone wants to happen. The key to any intervention working, though, is to have the bags packed and the airplane ticket purchased ahead of time. Bye Twillie!

I thought about it the other night, and came to the conclusion that Oberlin is past the point of where they can have “any” activism. It has to be a “cold turkey” change. Actually, it doesn’t have to be anything, but, if they wish to survive as an institution, then the “social conscience” part has to be completely abolished. If they don’t, they are in a 5-10 year long death spiral. And a whole bunch of other similar colleges will be following the same fate. The Gibsons case brought attention to Oberlin, mostly, but those reading the news stories are likely also wondering where their alma mater is on this timeline. Are they too seeing the similarities in the shift from education to indoctrination.

So my suggestion for Oberlin is to look back 50 years to what was working before activism for activism’s sake took over. Reduce the number of departments to that necessary for a well rounded curriculum, and I am thinking perhaps 12-15 max. Anything with “studies” in it has to go. Fiscally, this means that at least 30 otherwise useless administrators and paper pushers can be let go, and with half as many voices in meetings, things will run more efficiently, so costs can come down.

At the moment parents are facing a perplexing choice, as most schools are indistinguishable training camps. But have one college come forth and stand out as an actual educational institution, and the number of people attracted to it will soar overnight. Oberlin was a top science school when I was there. It could regain that reputation were that to become a priority again. However, I doubt neither the Board nor the administration will have a moment of clarity to see the course that they are on at the moment.

The alumni could effect a change, but I am concerned that too many of them view Oberlin like they view a family member who is going through a rough time. There is an emotional bond which obscures reality and overpowers logic, and as a result, they will be supportive in an enabling way which will both hasten and solidify the decline. Tough love is called for, but it will be deflected time and time again with half-measures of “we promise to do better” (see, alumni conference call.) Since I was no doubt dismissed long ago as a “deplorable,” don’t look for much effort on my part here, except as the occasional commenter and popcorn consumer.

    Silvertree in reply to MajorWood. | July 7, 2019 at 2:02 pm

    You and others here may be interested in this fascinating article about Bard College. It discusses how Bard, under the leadership of its president, Leon Botstein, has found a very different path forward.

    The Reopening of the Liberal Mind – WSJ
    Bard College President Leon Botstein explains how his school remains free of the student outbursts that afflict similar institutions.

    Here are two quotes:

    Mr. Botstein: “I think that we live in a time when people are extremely intolerant of listening to things they don’t agree with,” he says. “There is the argument that allowing things you don’t believe in to be said is somehow legitimating it. I don’t believe that to be right, because in an academic community there’s no such thing as free speech without response. I can’t give a lecture at an academic institution and walk away and take no questions. I can’t present a scientific paper and not have someone get up and say, ‘Well how do you know that? And maybe you’re wrong. And what about this evidence?’ ”


    ……one of Mr. Botstein’s suggestions for why Bard has escaped student outbursts over inauthentic banh mi sandwiches, hurtful Halloween costumes and terrifying viewpoints: “There is a lot of very committed and liberal thinking and speaking in very well-endowed institutions,” he says. “These very wealthy institutions are not doing anything, but they’re espousing points of view. Bard is poor and runs eight inner-city high-school early colleges, has the largest prison-education program in the country, is educating refugees in Jordan, and has a college and a graduate program on the West Bank. So the institution has made a commitment to the connection between education and social justice on the ground.”

      JusticeDelivered in reply to Silvertree. | July 7, 2019 at 10:05 pm

      I ran an issue driven lobbying group for over two decades, and our members where of all political stripes. In order to keep peace between them it was mandatory that I deflect all attempts at partisanship.

      Frankly, in both our membership and our interactions with politicians, I knew good and dubious people of all political stripes, and I worked with all of them to accomplish our mission.

      The time I spent in the Beltway left me jaded and disgusted.

      My impression is that much of time scum rises to the top. Both parties suffer from many of the same problems.

    jb4 in reply to MajorWood. | July 7, 2019 at 2:47 pm

    MajorWood, I think your prescription is the correct one for the patient, especially on curriculum; and Silvertree your Bard College info was quite interesting. Unfortunately, I think Oberlin’s near billion endowment plus $100’s of millions in art work gives it decades, not 5-10 years. This mishap will cost them $30+M with legal fees added. The value of their invested assets may change by that amount in some months. Canavan went out of his way on the alumni call to say that this judgment is NOT a survival issue and I agree with him, in so far as the judgment itself is concerned. They also have some flexibility to become less selective to fill the seats, even if applications drop. Having so much money is possibly even an impediment to change … “do we really have to.” Therefore, rather than this judgment, a material decline (if any) in applications at the end of this year for September 2020, may have to happen in order to force decisive action.

      Silvertree in reply to jb4. | July 7, 2019 at 6:04 pm

      You are probably exactly right about having too much money. I believe their enrollment will certainly drop and that will be a wake-up call.

      Interestingly, Bard’s president has purposely kept spending the huge fund-raising amounts he hauls in, rather accumulating a giant endowment. He seems to feel that it would be a barrier to the college’s success, to have a huge endowment. He has done amazing things, like the service projects mentioned in the above quote, and also, it sounds like, giving much more financial aid to students than most places do. He has kept the college buildings and other infrastructure in top condition and bought a giant adjoining tract of conservation land as well, where students can gain valuable scientific experience and also enjoy the beauty.

      I have been considering something as a viable solution for Oberlin. I notice that Williams and Amherst, which have remained strong all these years, are more or less culturally a part of the area where they’re located. Perhaps that has given them extra strength. Oberlin, on the other hand, is radically different from its surrounding area. A stronger emphasis on service in the surrounding communities could really help save them morally and spiritually.

      There is so much need, for example in the desperately impoverished and broken schools of Lorain, a city not far from them. Cleveland of course is also a place where large sections of the populace live in abject poverty. Then there are other small cities that like Cleveland and Lorain have also lost a large percentage of their manufacturing jobs, and the small farming communities that have been devastated by extreme rain and drought in recent years as well as by large-scale corporate agriculture. The opioid crisis, as well as other substance abuse, is devastating communities.

      What solutions can Oberlin students offer, with their creativity and brilliant minds, and what concrete help can they give? Can they repair a home? Can they make a community garden in a trashed empty lot, and teach people how to grow food? Can they teach children? Can they man substance-abuse and suicide hotlines? What do they have to offer?

      I know Oberlin has some service projects, but perhaps they could make it a central part of the Oberlin experience. If they are attracting students who want to change the world, then why not incorporate that right into the curriculum, with solid efforts to provide support for their entire region? That would be a way to redeem themselves among the local populace, and rebrand themselves nationwide.

      It would also help these idealistic young people (especially the more sheltered well-off ones) get a grip: they would be forced to learn more about the real world and how hard real change is. Give them some real responsibility and they will grow up in a hurry. Let them provide real help for black and Latino students in impoverished schools! Let them experience and provide assistance to actual deplorables whose manufacturing jobs have nearly disappeared, or whose family farms are being crushed by big agriculture! Let them see the suffering, let them experience how good these people are, their fellow Americans who they judge and condemn.

        jb4 in reply to Silvertree. | July 7, 2019 at 6:22 pm

        I think your suggestion is outstanding – getting back to “public service” as it is really supposed to mean – sort of like Habitat for Humanity on steroids.

“What can Oberlin do to reclaim its better self? That’s ultimately a question for the college’s trustees, faculty, alumni and students.”

Why do the students get any say in how the school is run and what its policies are? They are there to learn so, sit down and shut up.

    Silvertree in reply to TioDon. | July 7, 2019 at 5:15 pm

    That was one thing that impressed me about Bard’s president. He clearly takes the responsibility seriously, of guiding young people. He sees that they are not yet fully-formed adults (at least most are not, in this day and age in our country), and need to be taught, not bowed to. It’s a huge thing to provide that kind of guidance and it takes a special person, particularly in this age of instant gratification and poor parenting. Perhaps few people are strong enough, especially in the face of the overall cultural decline we seem to be experiencing. The most fundamental values of our culture are under attack.

I’ve been shopping online and in brick and mortar stores that sell parts to make my cars and trucks faster or stronger.

I turned my ’88 Mustang convertible into a rocket using nothing more than Ford Motorsport parts. Vizard the Wizard.

And not going beyond what the speed density fuel injection system could adapt to, as opposed to the mass flow system Ford went to in ’89/90.

Ladies, is this what you want? Give me an Arleigh Burke and I will show a rooster tail to anything on blue water. But I’d rather blow any adversary away than try to run away.

I can launch and lift the tires of police surplus crown vic (it’s not that hard). It doesn’t sound as good as when you do it with a Pontiac Super Duty 421 Catalina.

“The Wild Bunch (10/10) Movie CLIP – Ain’t Like It Used to Be (1969) HD”

But it will do.

I have never once encountered an Oberlin college grad. As far as I know. Because they apparently don’t inhabit the same speed shops or transmission shops (I would say tranny but that has acquired an entirely new reputation from when it meant Chrysler torqueflite or Ford C4) of my youth.

I’m sorry. Every day Oberlin college or now someone formerly associated with Oberlin college reminds me of the first ten thousand things not to do if you hope survive.

I really want Oberlin to stop. Because it’s hurting me and everyone around me.

Unfortuately, this guy sounds like the American education dinosaur he is.

Does he realize the extent of the mentall illness of the pyschos he’s addressing? Does he really think they’re on the same page?

If he really wanted to solve the problem, he’d call them out as the insideous crazies and leftist brainwashers they are.

Comanche Voter | July 7, 2019 at 6:19 pm

The current college President of Oberlin (along with the college’s in house general counsel and that great white whale Meredith Raimondo) are living proof that ignorance can possibly be cured, but stupid is forever. You take a bad situation and make it worse.

i think I did mor doog as an instructor on the team of the Navy’s Pacific coast carrier battle group by shocking the intel staff with quesions about first aid.

Like you’re not a f***ing Sailor? Here’s a pistol. Here’s a shotgun. Someone is boarding your ship. Show me you can use this tool to stop him.

Oh, you can’t? Then what the h3ll good are you?

Everyday my mortal self wears away I ask, what good am I to a fellow human being. Usually it takes a couple of cups of coffee to think k of a reason. When Sears has a sale on tool craftsmen tool boxes so I I can fill up one of them with first aid supplies I’ll know I’m good.

I bet you think this just empty talk.

    Arminius in reply to Arminius. | July 7, 2019 at 7:16 pm

    My dog cuddled wirh me, jumpged off my lap, got tangled wiht the power cord, and took everything down with him. So I’m f***ws computer wise. At least until I figure oiut my tablet.

    artichoke in reply to Arminius. | July 10, 2019 at 7:07 pm

    I admire your self-motivation. I need to get to that thing I’ve been putting off for weeks …

“Children should be seen, and not heard.”

As true today as it was in the 15th century:

To my amazement, I just got a brown cap in the mail, courtesy of a lifelong liberal friend who knows how much I care, mailed from Gibson’s, with Gibson’s Since 1885 embroidered in white on it. It came with a small handwritten note saying, “Thank you for your support” signed L Gibson. In all respects, this made my day!

Re the Starr man: IMHO he was a superbly gifted BS artist and was allegedly invited to leave by the Trustees. If so, it shows that the Trustees are capable of dealing decisively with a problem.

Now you can honestly say Nobody told you

/s/ JD Nobody, OC ’61.