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Monday, March 4, 2013

Photos of Oberlin College Students Rallying Against Hate Incidents

As my colleague Richard Pérez-Peña reports, Oberlin College in Ohio canceled classes Monday for a “day of solidarity” after a person wearing what appeared to be a Ku Klux Klan-style white hood and robe was spotted on campus early Monday near the college’s Afrikan Heritage House.

It was the latest in a series racist and antigay incidents, documented in the student newspaper, The Oberlin Revew, that began on Feb. 9 when Black History Month posters and “Year of the Queer” posters were vandalized in the Science Center.

Swastikas and graffiti were scrawled on the posters. Since then, “Whites Only” was written above a water fountain. On Feb. 17, the paper reported, a student “was approached by an individual who made a derogatory remark about his perceived ethnicity and then physically knocked him to the ground.”

A highly regarded liberal arts college about 30 miles southwest of Cleveland, Oberlin is known for its openness and commitment to diversity. As word spread on Twitter and Facebook about gatherings on campus, nearly a thousand students showed up for an afternoon rally, carrying signs and chanting: “Tell me what community looks like. THIS i! s what community looks like.”

After the sighting of the person in the white robe around 1:30 a.m., the administration sent out a message early Monday, saying that the police were investigating and that classes would be suspendd Monday for a “series of discussions of the challenging issues that have faced our community in recent weeks.”

Early this morning, there was a report of a person wearing a hood and robe resembling a KKK outfit between South and the Edmonia Lewis Center and in the vicinity of Afrikan Heritage House. This report is being investigated by both Safety and Security and the Oberlin Police Department. This event, in addition to the series of other hate-related incidents on campus, has precipitated our decision to suspend formal classes and all non-essential activities for today, Monday, March 4, 2013, and gather for a series of discussions of the challenging issues that have faced our community in recent weeks.

We hope today will allow the entire community â€" students, faculty, and staff â€" 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 stren! gth of Ob! erlin comes from our belief that diversity and openness enriches us all, and enhances the educational mission at its core.

We ask that all students, faculty and staff participate in the events planned for today:

12PM | Lord Lounge, Afrikan Heritage House
Teach-in led by Africana Studies Department

2PM | Wilder Bowl
Demonstration of solidarity

3:30PM | Finney Chapel
Community convocation: “We Stand Together” (previously scheduled for Wednesday 3/6 at 12PM)

When faced with difficult situations, Oberlin has consistently met the challenges and affirmed its commitment to the highest quality of education and the noblest aspirations of its community members. We believe that today’s events â€" and our ongoing work and discussions â€" will strengthen Oberlin and will strengthen us all.