Oberlin College, one of the most liberal universities in America, has been hit by a hate wave, including racist and homophobic graffiti and the defacing of African-American and LGBT displays.
Campus residents began noticing the campaign of hate in early February. In one instance, a note was left in the Multicultural Resource Center that read “Nigger + Faggot Center.”
Most recently the Ohio school—the first to integrate men and women (and one of the first historically white schools to admit black students)—cancelled class on Monday after someone in a Ku Klux Klan outfit was seen near the Afrikan Heritage House.
The school declared March 4 a Day of Solidarity and president Marvin Krislov said in a statement:
“We hope today will allow the entire community — students, faculty, and staff — to make a strong statement about the values that we cherish here at Oberlin: inclusion, respect for others, and a strong and abiding faith in the worth of every individual. Indeed, the strength of Oberlin comes from our belief that diversity and openness enriches us all, and enhances the educational mission at its core.”
The Oberlin Review compiled a timeline of registered incidents:
Week of Feb. 9: Notes containing hate speech, at least one of which contained a swastika, were found in faculty mailboxes in Rice Hall.
Feb. 9: Vandalism in the Science Center included the replacement of “Black” with “Nigger” on Black History Month posters, drawings of swastikas, damage to the “Year of the Queer” posters and reported destruction of the Chinese calendar.
Feb. 11: Two signs containing hate speech were found near North dormitory. One was stuck in a doorjamb and contained the message “Black History Month? Nigger Please!” and a swastika. The other, found in a nearby bush, contained a racial slur.
Feb. 12: LGBTQ Community Coordinator Lorena Espinoza found a note in the Multicultural Resource Center that read “Nigger + Faggot Center.”
Feb. 16: Students found a number of offensive notes written around Burton Hall. “Whites Only” was written above a water fountain, “Nigger Oven” was written inside the elevator and “No Niggers” was written on a bathroom door.
Feb. 17: The Office of Safety and Security released a Special Alert of a strong-arm robbery of a student near West College Street and Cedar Street. The student reported that he was approached by an individual who made a derogatory remark about his perceived ethnicity and then physically knocked him to the ground.
Feb. 26: Posters were defaced in King, including those advertising “Year of the Queer” and the Affirmative Action panel, at least one of which had a swastika drawn on it.
Feb. 27: A swastika drawn onto the outside window of West Lecture Hall in the Science Center was seen being removed by custodial staff.
Mar. 4: Several students reported being chased and harassed with obscenities by unidentified individuals in vehicles between 9:30 and 10:30 p.m. In one instance, two occupants got out of their vehicle and began approaching the student.
Opened in 1833, 2,900-student Oberlin is considered one of the most inclusive academic institutions in America. Campus Pride gave it a perfect 5-out-of-5 for gay-friendliness.
Photo: Will Passannante