Oberlin College Cancels Classes Amid Hate Speech Incidents, KKK Activity
Classes at Oberlin College were cancelled today after several vandalism incidents involving hate speech occurred on the school’s campus throughout the month of February, culminating in a possible assault and a reported sighting of a man dressed in a KKK uniform at the college this morning.
Since the beginning of February, which is Black History Month in the United States, the college endured various acts of vandalism that have targeted the Asian, LGBT, black and Jewish communities at Oberlin. The vandalism has included numerous swastikas found throughout campus, the defacement of Black History Month posters by replacing the word “Black” with “Nigger,” a sign with “Whites Only” placed over a water fountain, the words “Nigger Oven” written inside an elevator, and “No Niggers” was written on the outside of a bathroom door. Additionally, the LGBTQ Community Coordinator was defaced with the words “Nigger + Faggot Center,” and various signs advertising the series of LGBTQ-centered courses and discussions called “Year of the Queer” were also vandalized, as well as a Chinese calendar posted in celebration of Chinese New Year.
The vandalism has also been linked to an allegedly racially-motivated attack on a student on February 17th, when the college’s Office of Safety and Security issued a special alert regarding the assault and robbery of a student who was subjected to racial epithets before being pushed to the ground.
This morning, the college administration announced the appearance of a man dressed in a KKK outfit, and that classes would be suspended as a result:
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.
Before today’s events, the school had planned a community convocation dubbed “We Stand Together” for Wednesday afternoon, which was to preceeded by a “Rally Against Hate,” but today’s events prompted campus officials to move the events up to this afternoon. Students had previously responded to the acts of hate speech and vandalism with a march on February 13th, which reportedly attracted approximately 460 students.
“This has been another event in a string of several reflecting a terrible pattern of racism, prejudice, queerphobia, anti-semitism and other bias attacks that are happening on Oberlin’s campus,” said Student Senate Liason Eliza Diop. “At this time, advocacy, support and solidarity are necessary emotionally, physically and spiritually.”
Despite the Ohio college as having a reputation as one of the most liberal higher education institutions in the country, Oberlin has experienced similar acts of racist vandalism in 2011, when a number of swastikas were also found across the campus.