• Oberlin College Disgraces Its Legacy — and Gets What It Deserves

    You’d never know its most recent history or late developments, but Ohio’s Oberlin College was once a courageous, honorable institution of higher learning. Nowadays? Heartbreakingly, it is devolving into a more and more ludicrous caricature of progressive campus daffiness.

    John Jiang at American Spectator writes:

    Unreasonable protests by college activists always seem to play out the same way: students overreact, conservative commentators condemn them, and then on to the next controversy, neither side having learned anything. Hence why the fiasco between Oberlin College and Gibson’s Bakery has received national attention. …

    In November 2016, three black Oberlin students attempted to shoplift from the local Gibson’s Bakery and assaulted its owner when confronted. The next day, a mob of their fellow students descended on the family store and began a boycott, falsely accusing its owners of racial profiling. The Oberlin administration supported this struggle session with food and flyers. Now the college has been ordered by a court to pay the bakery $44 million, consisting of $11 million in compensatory damages and $33 million in punitive damages.

    No denying, those numbers make one’s head spin. But when the details are laid out? This devastating sanction against the Ohio school is more than appropriate. It not only threatened the existence of an innocent business, it betrayed what is supposed to be the chief mission of institutes of higher learning.

    From Ancient Greece through the Middle Ages, the liberal arts meant the preparation of young men for public life with an education deeply rooted in logic instruction. The Hidden Ivies … asserts that the purpose of the liberal arts is to teach students how to “think rationally, to analyze information intelligently, to respond to people in a compassionate and fair way.” That’s zero out of three for Oberlin College.

    Oberlin has done more than abdicate responsibility, however. …: the jury found the college and its vice president and dean of students Meredith Raimondo guilty of libel. Jurors heard evidence that Raimondo distributed flyers meant to encourage the protest and that college officials used student funds to buy pizza and gloves for the protesters. Rather than induct its students into good citizenship, Oberlin opted to join them in their immature and contemptible crusade against an innocent business.

    The college not only forsook its duty to help its youthful charges mature into thoughtful, responsible men and women – it actively participated in the corruption of not a few of them.  Running cover for shoplifting, physical assault, mob behavior, phony accusations? Parents are spending money to send their children to this degraded operation?

    The biggest irony to emerge from this remarkable sequence of events is that Oberlin, in attempting to force a business into bankruptcy, will itself be financially imperiled. … Losing $33 million would blow an unbearable hole in its reserves. What’s more, the damage will be exacerbated because of how much Oberlin, as a private college, relies on donations from alumni. Such donations are sure to dry up, at least for a while, as potential patrons recoil upon learning how their money is being used. …

    But such a heavy toll will compound its existing problems and likely ensure long-term decline.

    The scandal waxes even more severe when one considers these turn of events in light of Oberlin’s once sparkling history. Founded in 1833 by two Presbyterian ministers with a “vision was for both a religious community and school”, Oberlin College

    is the oldest coeducational liberal arts college in the United States and the second oldest continuously operating coeducational institute of higher learning in the world. The Oberlin Conservatory of Music is the oldest continuously operating conservatory in the United States. In 1835 Oberlin became one of the first colleges in the United States to admit African Americans, and in 1837 the first to admit women. … From its early years, its faculty and students were active in the abolitionist movement. They participated together with people of the town in biracial efforts to help fugitive slaves on the Underground Railroad, as well as to resist the Fugitive Slave Act.


    Two years after the school’s founding, fiery preacher/revivalist social reformer and outspoken abolitionist Charles Finney came aboard Oberlin’s faculty as a professor. From 1851-1865 he served as its president. A lawyer by training and blazingly God-fearing man by conviction, Finney was an unsparingly logical thinker and Christian and would be aghast at the behavior of not only the school’s students, but some of its staff in this Gibson’s Bakery incident.  A cascade of irresponsible, even criminal behavior, supported by college officials? Including a phony charge of racism against a guiltless proprietor (bearing false witness against a neighbor — Exodus 20:16)? And this is an establishment meant to shape youth for a productive future?

    Finney and his Oberlin contemporaries would, certainly, be unable to recognize the once noble academy they helped raise up over one-hundred-eighty-five years ago.

    Image by octavio lopez galindo from Pixabay

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