Oberlin College: A Study in Academic Tromp l’Oeil

Those awful racists that  breed like rabbits on liberal arts campuses are at it again:

Classes at Oberlin College were canceled on Monday after a series of “hate-related incidents” on campus, the school announced on its website.

Officials say the latest problem occurred Monday morning near the African Heritage House, where a person wearing a hood and robe resembling the KKK was spotted.

“As I was driving in my car, I saw, what seemed to be someone in KKK paraphernalia walking around,” said Sunceray Tavler [sic], a student who reported the incident.

That event, in addition to other challenging issues that have faced the community in recent weeks, forced school administrators to suspend formal classes and all non-essential activities on Monday.

What are the chances, you ask, that “someone in KKK paraphernalia walking around” “seemed” to be taking his stroll around the African Heritage House, only to be spotted by one–that’s 1–student?  Especially on a campus that proudly begins its mission statement with

Oberlin College, an independent coeducational institution, holds a distinguished place among American colleges and universities. Oberlin was the first college to grant undergraduate degrees to women and, historically, was a leader in the education of African Americans. The Oberlin community is known for its academic and musical excellence and its commitment to social engagement and diversity.

Especially on a campus that pours resources into programs that honor “its commitment to social engagement and diversity”:

Oberlin’s faculty, staff, and student body reflect the college’s early dedication to diversity and social justice. Though not perfect, they actively contribute to it through a variety of academic programs, resources and support systems, as well as cocurricular activities….To further demonstrate this commitment to diversity and social justice, we offer dialogues on topical political and societal issues; events that honor culture and language; concerts and recitals that showcase classical artists and new age musicians; symposiums that focus on such issues as poverty, sustainability, and gender identity and expression; culturally themed residential housing; and classes on such subjects as peace and conflict, gender, feminist, and sexuality studies, colonialism, and much more….Learn more about Oberlin through our diversity and social justice programs and initiatives: Multicultural Resource Center, Multicultural Programming, Ombuds and Dialogue Center, Workshops and Mediation, Equity Concerns, Multicultural Visit Program, Edmonia Lewis Center, Shansi.

That’s eight–count ’em, 8–Oberlin offices dedicated to promoting racial harmony and diversity. So it’s probably fair to say that the typical Oberlin student such as Sunceray Tabler, aimlessly driving around the Oberlin campus, would be on the lookout for somebody different from she–to reach out and embrace, of course. 

Alas, this was not to be, for Ms. Tabler instead espied “what seemed to be someone in KKK paraphernalia.” 

Might we pause for a moment to consider her words?  It seems that neither anyone on the Oberlin campus, or the local press, parsed her sentence, so let’s you and I give it a whirl.

We begin with what Ms. Tabler did not say: “I saw a person in a KKK outfit.”  Instead of a definitive observation such as this, Ms. Tabler instead hedges her bets by qualifying her description quite a bit.

Is it possible in the hotbed of racial unrest that is the Oberlin campus Ms. Tabler could have seen not a Klansman but perhaps a maintenance person, like this:white-hazmat-suit_150

Or perhaps an international student, like this:128087668.a8sKlqbx.Ladyinwhiteburqa

Or maybe someone from the Chaplain’s office just happened to be dropping by:


An entire campus shut down on the basis of one person’s account of someone she thought she might have seen.  To be fair to Oberlin, we must point out that in the month preceding the appearance of the man or woman in white, things had come a sorry pass.  The college’s proud 170-year history of standing up to racism had come to a screeching halt.  All those diversity-driven offices had failed miserably at their tasks, for there was a bigot in the woodpile.  A person or persons unknown had been scrawling ugly racial slurs and nasty symbols during Black History Month (which, at Oberlin begins on February 1 and ends on March 10), prompting students, faculty, and staff to have long, thoughtful discussions about how awful white people are and how persecuted everybody else is.

Trouble is, having squandered a day of instruction, research and service–amidst a month and ten days of countless opportunities for said discussions–Oberlin is already backing away from Ms. Tabler’s klaim:

Oberlin spokesman Scott Wargo said authorities today still had not confirmed a report about someone wearing KKK-like garb on the campus at 1:30 a.m. Monday. The report prompted the college to cancel classes and instead hold unity meetings.

In my long career in higher education, I learned one thing well: students speak the truth.  And so it is with Sunceray Tabler:

 “As a student I’ve never even just encountering that kind of racism in my life that is something that has never happened,” she said.

She’s right.  It never happened.  And there will be no follow-up stories when the campus police make their determination.

7 thoughts on “Oberlin College: A Study in Academic Tromp l’Oeil

  1. I believe I saw a report somewhere that campus security had found somebody walking around in a bathrobe. It also stated that the last time this nonsense happened at Oberlin (I believe it was by an Alum) it was completely fake, anyway.

  2. That’s true NEO. Oberlin has been the center of dubious hate crime claims, dating back to the late 1980s and 1990s. In 1988, giant signs reading “White Supremacy Rules (Kill All N*ggers)” and “White Supremacy Rules, (F*uck (slashed out and replaced with ‘Kill’) All Minorities)” were hung at the Student Union building – and nothing came of it because it is widely held that minority students themselves were responsible. Likewise, in 1993, a memorial arch on campus dedicated to Oberlin missionaries who died in the Boxer Rebellion was defaced with angry anti-Asian graffiti. Turned out the hate crime was concocted by an Asian-American Oberlin student, who, since there was not any REAL racism to complain about, made it up. And on and on, at college and universities across the country. A recent murder of one young woman, and the injuring of two others by a minority graduate of a Southen university said he want on the shooting rampage because he learned in college that white people oppressed him, so he was defending himself against defenseless women whom he did not know. He’s in jail – but that is the end point of all that progressive instruction. Tim Wise and his brothers in “battle” have blood on their hands.

  3. I’m pretty sure I saw a guy in the Walmart parking lot in Prescott,Az this afternoon walking around in a jacket that looked exactly like the jacket that some other guy wore (allegedly) while he was doing something really oppressive to some other person. I was so upset I almost forgot to go into the Dollar Tree Store. This is all George Bush’s fault.

  4. Pingback: Fake Hate: The Crime that Makes Statists Cover Their Ears, Eyes, and Mouths | freedomisfabulous – from freefabulousgirl

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