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09/24/22 03:09 PM #229    

 

Dick Hobby

 

A note about litigation.  It is not a bad thing.  Au contraire.  Litigation is great!  It allows each party to present to a jury its side of the story.  And it allows the little guy with no money to bring a suit against powerful entities as the trial attorney gets paid from the amount awarded.

Trial lawyers should be viewed as heroes.

Dick

 

 

 

 

 


09/25/22 12:39 PM #230    

 

Ralph Shapira

Disagree with Bob Baker on one small but financially significant point:  comprehensive general liability insurance policies generally do provide coverage for defamation.  They won't pay punitive damages, but will pay defense costs and awards of compensatory damages.  President Ambar's recent statement makes clear that Oberlin's insurers are contributing toward payment of the final judgment.


09/25/22 10:38 PM #231    

 

Robert Baker

Thanks for the correction, Ralph. Do we have any idea how much they will contribute?  Sadly, the punitive damages were the lion's share of the judgment, if I'm not mistaken. 


09/25/22 11:55 PM #232    

 

Edward McKelvey

Pat,

I can only answer part of your question.  The person who actually did the shoplifting eventually admitted his guilt, I believe in a court proceeding.  I'm pretty sure he did not spend any material time in jail; he definitely did not disappear or suffer expulsion as I had him in class after the event.  I do not know what consequences the other two (I believe at least one of them was female, but not sure) suffered, if any.  My understanding is that they joined the fray outside the store.

Hope that helps.  Perhaps others know more.

Ed


09/26/22 11:51 AM #233    

 

Ralph Shapira

Answering questions about Gibson's:  the three African-American students who attacked Allyn Gibson, a male (the shoplifter) and two female friends were all charged with assault; the male was also charged with robbery.  All three pled guilty to the charges.  Each agreed to a statement at sentencing attesting that the Gibsons' conduct was reasonable and not racist.  None of them was sentenced to jail time.

Yes, most of the award consisted of punitive damages.  The jury awarded Gibson's $11 million in compensatory damages, which the judge reduced to $5 million, and $33 million in punitive damages, which the judge reduced to $20 million.  There is no insurance coverage for the $20 million of the judgment attributable to punitives; the college will have to pay that, presumably out of its endowment.  There likely is insurance available to pay at least part of the $5 million in compensatories, the $6.5 million the court awarded in attorneys fees, and the $5 million due in interest.  Whether insurers will pay all of those amounts, or only part, depends on what the college's polic[ies] provide.  For example, there may be significant deductibles.  We don't have that information.


09/27/22 02:42 PM #234    

Lloyd Etheredge

Dear OC '68 classmates. It's good to hear so many familiar voices and thoughtful discussion. To develop useful lessons for the Board, here's a summary of Marvin Krislov's testimony in the Gibson case. [He was OC's President in Nov. 2016 when the shoplifting happened and resigned in June 2017 for another position.] He's a Yale Law School graduate (& editor of the Yale Law Journal). From his testimony, he probably trusted his own judgment and crafted Oberlin's legal analysis and its early strategy - i.e., that unexpectedly led to escalation and an outcome that caused too much (and unnecessary) damage to everyone.

     A Zoom discussion with interested OC ' 68 lawyers might help to clarify the issues that Ralph and others have raised - i.e., what are the good lessons? . . . Right now, I'm not sure that Oberlin's Trustees will take a different legal position in any future incident. 

     As I understand Krislov's legal analysis he framed this as a student free speech case. Oberlin as an institution did not cause the conflict or significantly influence students - and did not have the power to change student behavior without (more likely) being counter-productive. Oberlin's strategy was to achieve three objectives (although none of these was to compensate Gibsons for the damages caused by a misinformed student boycott).

     - My instinct is that here is at least one false note in the testimony. I'm not a lawyer but I think that the two Oberlin decisions to cancel contracts with Gibson's were unethical and probably illegal. Krislov was a smart enough lawyer to know that he was probably not telling the whole truth about Oberlin's escalation decision to harm Gibsons.

     - Krislov's claim that the student body was planning to escalate and refuse to eat Gibson-associated baked goods probably was based primarily on hearsay...Krislov should have refused to cancel the contract and to escalate economic costs to Gibson's unless students could produce convincing evidence (persuasive enough to the Board) of Gibson's student-alleged history of racism and unacceptable injuries to Oberlin's Black students. I

     I.e., if Krislov and the Board wanted to keep a community reputation of good will, they should have been firm with students about not causing damage without evidence, kept the contract, and, if necessary, donate any uneaten baked goods to charity. Lloyd Etheredge '68

===============

Former Oberlin College president said he tried to solve Gibson's Bakery issue

 

Scott Mahoney
[from The Elyria Chronicle-Telegram, May 30, 2019]

 

ELYRIA — Former Oberlin College President Marvin Krislov “begged” David Gibson to work with the college to repair the relationship between students and Gibson’s Bakery, Krislov testified Wednesday.

Krislov was asked why Oberlin College wouldn’t issue a retraction or a statement stating that the Gibson family and the family’s bakery business were not racist or had a history of racial profiling, as Gibson requested. Those allegations were made in a flyer urging people to boycott the bakery, which was passed out by protesters in 2016, and a resolution passed by the college’s student senate after the first day of protests.

“Those were not authorized by me. Those were not authorized by the college. They did not represent our viewpoint,” Krislov said. “What we did do, and said very clearly, was that we wanted to work with him in repairing the relationship. That’s why we were working on a joint statement. That’s why I asked and begged — I begged him — to sit down with me and others.”

Krislov testified on the 12th day of the civil trial between Gibson’s Bakery and Oberlin College. Gibson’s sued the college and the college’s Vice President and Dean of Students Meredith Raimondo for libel, interference with business relationships, interference with contracts, intentional infliction of emotional distress and trespass in 2017. The bakery also is suing the college for negligent hiring, retention and supervision.

Krislov said that he and other administrators at Oberlin College reached out to David Gibson in an effort to repair the relationship with the students and resume business between the college and the bakery. Krislov said he understood the damage that had been done by the protests and allegations made by students against the bakery.

In June 2017, Krislov resigned from his position as president of the college. He is now the president of Pace University in New York City.

The rift between the bakery and the college began in 2016 when a student tried to buy alcohol with a fake ID and shoplift from Allyn D. Gibson, who is the son of the bakery’s owner, David Gibson. Allyn D. Gibson followed the student out of the store, and the two got into a physical altercation.

Two other students got involved, and police have said when they arrived the three students were hitting Allyn D. Gibson while he was on the ground.

Allyn D. Gibson is white and the students are black, and the incident escalated. All three students pleaded guilty in August 2017 to misdemeanor charges and read statements into the record acknowledging that Allyn D. Gibson was within his right to detain the shoplifter and that his actions were not racially motivated.

In the two days following the shoplifting incident, Oberlin College students protested in front of the bakery and passed out the flyers urging people to boycott the bakery because of the bakery’s history of racial profiling. Oberlin College stopped ordering from the bakery after the protests before resuming in January 2017.

The college once again ceased ordering from Gibson’s after the lawsuit was filed in November 2017.

Krislov said he was part of the decision to temporarily suspend the standing order that college’s dining services had with the bakery for baked goods until issues with the student body at the college could be resolved.

“… Discussions with students had determined that the students wouldn’t eat the food (from Gibson’s Bakery),” he said. “The question for us was why would you pay for food that people won’t eat?”

College administrators also didn’t take sides in the protests, Krislov said. Testimony from witnesses from the plaintiffs tried to say college administrators and faculty supported the students in the protests.

“Our goals were three. We wanted to de-escalate what was a dangerous and frightening situation in our small town. We wanted to make sure that the legal process could proceed cooperatively and fairly. We wanted to try to work with the students to try to repair the relationship with the Gibsons,” Krislov said. “We were not taking sides. Our goal was to try to work with these student leaders to help them have more understanding of what the Gibsons’ side was, in the hopes that our small town could repair this relationship.”

Last week, David Gibson testified that administrators from the college had asked him to meet with students, but he didn’t know how he could do that until the college had issued a statement stating the Gibson family and their business were not racist.

Krislov gave a different version of the request, though.

The college had asked Gibson to meet with two student leaders and to explain his side of the story, Krislov said. The hope was that the student leaders would go back to the student body and explain the Gibsons’ side to them and the process of mending the relationship between the two sides could begin.

Krislov said that as a parent he understood that his telling the students what to do wouldn’t work, but instead the students would listen to their peers and then change could take place.

Another allegation in the lawsuit is that due to a hostile environment created or sustained by the college, vehicles of Gibson’s Bakery employees were keyed and tires were slashed, damage was done to David Gibson’s home and Allyn W. Gibson was injured after anonymous people knocked on the windows of his apartment late at night and he fell after opening the door.

Krislov was asked to address those allegations.

“I’m really sorry that happened. I had no knowledge and nothing to do with it,” he said. “No one at the college, that I know, had any responsibility for it that I’m aware of. I certainly would have told people that was absolutely wrong. I’m sorry that that happened.”


09/28/22 09:23 AM #235    

 

Jean Poppei (Eisenberg)

Classmates: trying to understand events of 2016 is like peeling an onion, made even more challenging a as we view with different lenses. I'm thinking of the Black students involved having to say no racism was involved when likely all their lived experiences tell them otherwise about white people in general. I have white privilege but I don't necessarily have gender privilege. Thus I may see instances of sexism that my male peers would not. Hard to type with just left hand so I'll stop. But let's keep those Black students and their families in our heart.

09/28/22 03:17 PM #236    

 

Robert Baker

Yes, Jean. The issues are not whether there was racism, or even how the student body responded. The only real issue is how the College dealt with it all. 


09/29/22 09:00 AM #237    

Peter Griswold

Thanks, Lloyd, for posting the article.  It's evident from his testimony that Presdient Kislov saw his role as a mediator rather than as the leader of the college, and continued to maintain that the college had no substantial role in the protest.  He seems to be presenting himself as reacting to students, being powerless to effect a reconciliation, and relying on the student leaders to defuse the situation.  


09/29/22 05:39 PM #238    

 

Mary Lowry (Coleman)

I have enjoyed very much reading all these comments which come into my inbox almost daily!.   The events must have touched a very sensitive nerve in all of us.   To Peter Griswold's assessment of President Kisloff's actions, I believe that we needed a leader not a mediator at that particular time.  


09/29/22 07:55 PM #239    

 

Thomas Ilgen

I have been following discussion of the Gibson case by our classmates and while I have been enlightened by different aspects of the case, I reminded of the parable of the blind men and the elephant.  As most of you probably recall, this is a story of a group of blind men who, for the first time, encounter an elephant.  Each of the men touch different parts of the elephant—leathery side, tusk, trunk, tail—and then each proceeds to describe the animal based on personal but very limited experience.  In some versions of the story, each man holds tightly to his own knowledge and comes to distrust and feel threatened by the knowledge of others.  Acting alone, they have little chance of accurately describing or characterizing the elephant.  And while I have seen little of this fear or distrust among my fellow classmates, I do have the feeling that we are trying to explain and account for a troubling outcome with very limited first-hand knowledge and even less understanding about how our various contributions might fit together. 

 

            Having now diminished the value of my own limited contribution, I would suggest that it might be useful to look at this case through the lens of the values and practices of a small liberal arts college, and particularly a college like Oberlin.  We often forget that small liberal arts colleges are a relative rarity in the landscape of American higher education and almost unknown among colleges and universities around the world.  The primary distinction and appeal of these colleges is the close relationships that they nurture among a relatively small cohort of students and the college’s faculty, staff, and community members.  Lifelong friendships and associations are regular products of this time together.  In the best of these colleges—places like Oberlin--employees participate actively in the extraordinary maturation of college undergraduates over four years, watching over their intellectual development but also providing support and guidance as they craft strategies to change and improve the world around them.  Much of this work is about building confidence in young people—applauding their successes, supporting them when they fail, and speaking frankly to their lapses in judgment or their misbehavior.    I spent about thirty-five years as a teacher (a professor of Political Studies) and a few years as an administrator (Dean of Faculty) at Pitzer College, a member of the Claremont Colleges in Claremont California.  For those unfamiliar with the Claremont Colleges, they are a group of five highly selective small liberal arts colleges (Pomona, Scripps, Claremont McKenna, Harvey Mudd, and Pitzer) that are literally adjacent to one another but are separate entities with their own administrators, boards of trustees, faculties, student bodies, alumni organizations, etc.  They share some programs and facilities—athletics, theater, music, languages—but have separate cultures and identities.  Pitzer was founded in the 1960s and in many ways took on the spirit of the decade.  Before it was fashionable, Pitzer emphasized intercultural understanding, social justice, interdisciplinary learning, and environmental sustainability.  When I arrived in the mid-1980s, it felt like Oberlin in the 1960s.  Students were engaged inside and outside of the classroom.  Faculty were encouraged to imagine innovative curricular options.  Fully half of the students studied abroad in non-traditional sites—Nepal, Botswana, Ecuador, Turkey, Wales, China—and completed immersive programs of language and culture.  When surveyed, graduating students routinely spoke of close and nurturing relationships with faculty and staff as the most meaningful part of their college experience.  Faculty and staff were socialized into a culture that aimed to foster intellectual growth but also to encourage their students to apply what they were learning in the classroom.   Some student responses were creative and constructive; others were unsettling and downright dangerous.  Some showed maturity beyond their years; others reflected mistaken assumptions and poor judgment.  While not condoning some of the more troubling actions, faculty and administrators understood that young people needed to act on newfound convictions. 

 

            Two examples might help to make this point.   While I served as Dean of Faculty, students occupied a brand-new administration building on the Pomona College campus.  They chained the doors shut and prevented the College’s president from getting to his office.  I was soon informed that many of the students were from Pitzer (not a surprise), and they were protesting Pomona’s failure to commit to hiring faculty of color.  The president was beside himself and Pomona alums were calling for the police to drag the students from the building and to hold them to account.  We established a mechanism to bring students and administrators to the table and we negotiated through the night to bring the crisis to a peaceful resolution.  Both sides made concessions, and all learned from the experience. 

 

            After the disturbances following the Rodney King verdict in Los Angeles in 1992, our students marched through the town and down a heavily travelled thoroughfare, singing and chanting about the injustice of the verdict.  We had Pitzer students from south central Los Angeles whose neighborhoods were in flames and whose families were in harm’s way.  As the students approached a lineup of police with batons at the ready, the College’s president and I pleaded with the officers not to make a bad situation worse.  The students agreed to move to the sidewalk and the police stood down.  I recount these examples because it is important to remember that one of the great strengths of good small liberal arts colleges, like Oberlin and Pitzer, is that they seek to foster in their students a sense of civic responsibility and a commitment to social justice.  They recognize that students will act imprudently and irresponsibly at times, but they will learn from their mistakes and hopefully become better citizens as they grow older.  The situations I encountered as an administrator were not unlike those confronted by administrators at Oberlin in our time.  Responsible and sensitive college personnel often must balance competing concerns—supporting and building confidence in their students, protecting the college they serve, and being ever mindful of the well-being of the larger community in which the college is embedded.  It takes committed and able administrators and faculty to get the balance right.  In small towns like Oberlin and Claremont, this is no small task. 

 

Do these comments shed any light on the Gibson case? I am not sure they do.  I don’t know enough to make that judgement.  What I do believe is that the College does have an obligation to support its students while at the same time being mindful of the importance of maintaining good relations with the Oberlin community.  Administrators that neglect either of these obligations do a serious disservice to the College and to those who love and support it.  My guess (and it is only a guess) is that the administrators in this case, and it starts with the President at the time, got the balance between these two obligations very wrong and the consequences for the College and the larger Oberlin community were very high indeed. 

 

 

I would offer one final point that may speak to Lloyd and Peter’s perceptive observations about the Oberlin president.  Small colleges are complex interpersonal communities.  Faculty are not isolated in large departments but frequently serve with those from other departments as well as with administrative staff on college-wide committees.  They live together in a small town and encounter one another in the grocery or at their children’s soccer games.  Good and successful senior administrators see their jobs as serving faculty and students, a hierarchy not found in most organizations.  To do their job well and to be effective leaders, they need to know who they are serving, their perspectives, and their aspirations.  In many of these colleges, students too serve on college committees voicing their concerns, developing relationships with college employees, and together making college processes run smoothly.   Managing this mélange of relationships effectively is no small task.  And it starts with the president.  In my experience, the best presidents of small colleges are those who have had small college experiences—as students, or better yet as faculty, or senior administrators.  But all to often, small colleges choose lawyers, business executives, or administrators from large public or private universities.  Their resumes may look impressive but the skills and experiences they bring are often unsuitable. Unless they are willing and able to learn about and embrace the small college culture, they never really “get it” and their tenures are brief and unremarkable.  Living in a town with five small colleges, I have been witness to many unremarkable presidencies. 


09/29/22 09:30 PM #240    

Edna Chun

Thank you, Lloyd, for posting the article and the very salient points, as well as Peter and Mary's comments on leadership.I appreciate also Thomas Ilgen's comments on unremarkable presidential leadership.  Perhaps the most telling statement in the article is Marvin Krislov's statement  “The question for us was why would you pay for food that people won’t eat?” This certainly captures the misreading of the situation. There were a number of examples in this situation that indicate a serious mishandling of the situation by college administration.


09/30/22 12:47 PM #241    

 

Paul Safyan

Thanks everyone, for sharing your broad and deep perspectives on this situaton.  When we are ready, I hope we can move on to look closely at the healthcare issue currenlty arising with the management of student health issues.  But as long as people want ot reflect on the Gibson's saga, it's good.  That saga and its apparent inflexion point recently has struck many of us as an example of how Oberlin has changed or how it has fialed to change since our time there.


10/01/22 11:49 AM #242    

 

Ted Morgan

As the Quakers would say, it seems we've reached a "sense of the meeting" that the College administration, or at least some of its members, behaved badly during the crisis and in the legal aftermath --at great cost to Oberlin College.  The Board of Trustees, too.

I appreciate Tom Ilgen's reflections on the dynamics and strains within small liberal arts colleges like Pitzer and Oberlin.  It brought to my mind our days as students at Oberlin.

I was struck by one item in the news article Lloyd attached to his comments, one I didn't know about.  Namely Gibson's requirement that Oberlin acknowledge publicly that the Gibsons were not racist, something Oberlin was unwilling to do, as a prelude to a repairing of relations.  I'm just guessing, but I  suspect one of the issues here is that "racism" to the Gibsons may have meant holding deeply prejudiced views of all people of color ("I'm not a racist"), whereas for the College, and especially the black students (and for many of us), it includes treating black customers as if they were suspicious or perhaps prone to shoplift.  The latter is, of course, a form of racism as Peter Griswold's  earlier mention of differential treatment of white and black individuals demonstrated (see also the old ABC Prime Time report "True Colors" that demonstrates this again and again).  I don't know if perceiving this possibility might have led Krislov to approach Gibson differently or not, but that stalemate proved very costly!


10/01/22 03:39 PM #243    

Peter Griswold

I hesitated wrting this post because we have already had such an extensive discussion about Gibson's and OC, but each new message from a classmate has added to my understanding, and I wanted to express my appreciation to Tom for writing at length about his perspective and reminding me, at least, about the importance of keeping a balance among differnt currents in human affair, in particular - leadership vs. collaboration, and civfic responsibility vs social justice.  I asked myself if civic repsonsibility and social justice are necessarily separate values, but it does seem to me that civic resonsibility includes an awareness if not concern for the needs and perspectives of others.  


10/07/22 05:00 AM #244    

 

Liz Ryan (Cole)

I think Paul would have us use the Class Chat for discussion and I would be happy to, but they don't seem to draw much comment and I hope everyone sees this - Oberlin Trustees are voting this weekend to change Oberlin's tradition of faculty governance to one where the Trustees call the shots.  I just sent this letter to the Board and if you find this as appalling as I do, I encourage you to do the same:  here is the address secretary.office@oberlin.edu

and here is what I sent

I am appalled to learn today that the Board of the College is so out of touch with what draws exceptional students and outstanding teachers to Oberlin that you are voting on abandoning Oberlin's long established principals of faculty governance in favor of what trustee Birnbaum describes as the the Board asking faculty to offer their opinions!   

“Board still expects faculty to offer their opinions"  https://oberlinreview.org/27794/news/board-committee-proposes-revisions-to-college-bylaws-faculty-concerned/
 
Do you not understand the damage the board is doing to Oberlin? 
 
This morning InsideHigher Ed leads with this story "Oberlin’s Board Seeks to Limit Faculty Power”. Professors say the changes violate a foundational college rule and stand to change Oberlin forever—not for the better. https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2022/10/07/oberlins-board-seeks-limit-faculty-power
 
And less than a month ago multiple media outlets, including InsideHigher Ed, broadcast far and wide the train wreck that the Gibson’s case became under the Boards’ management https://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2022/09/09/oberlin-pays-out-366m-long-running-legal-case
 
Is more Board management and less faculty control really a good thing? For whom? 
 
Liz Ryan Cole ’68
Professor Emerita Vermont Law School
Daughter of Mary Beth Hartson ’43
Granddaughter of Oberlin Professor Louis Hartson 

10/07/22 04:36 PM #245    

 

John Barrer

Could someone explain what the faculty are worried about?  It seems to me that if the Board has the power to ammend the by-laws without the concurrence of the faculty, then the faculty didn't have much power to begin with and the board always had the power to limit the activities of the faculty.  The proposed by-law change:

"The divisional faculty bodies, subject to the guidance and approval of the Board of Trustees and consistent with the bylaws, are responsible for the internal affairs of the college in matters pertaining to educational policy, curriculum, methods of instruction, degree requirements, those aspects of student life that relate to students’ academic experience, and the evaluation of the faculty for appointment, tenure and promotion."

The original wording just gave the faculty control over "the internal affairs" of the college, whatever "internal affairs" meant in 1834.  https://www.oberlin.edu/sites/default/files/content/office/general-counsel/documents/oberlin_college_charter_bylaws_dec_2017_bot_approval.pdf

Kelly Grotke wrote this, but I don't see how it follows from the proposed change to the by-laws:

The re-writing of Article XV, section 2 severely limits the role of the faculty in initiating, debating, or approving strategic and operational directions of the College. This marks a sharp break from the Bylaws as they have stood since significant modifications in 1946 and 1949, and explicitly places the responsibility for any non-curricular changes in the hands of the President and Board. This is nothing less than a denial of the central principle of Oberlin’s system of shared governance: that the faculty are regularly and necessarily engaged in changes to the operations and strategic directions of the college.

 

thanks.


10/07/22 05:04 PM #246    

Amy Rothstein

Thanks so much, Liz, for posting this! I was already furious with the  mess that was made of the Gibsons case, but the power play the board plans to take with this vote is likely to dramatically change the institution we loved and respected to one that has very little similarity to the superb school it was in our day and for years to follow.If this vote is successful, I can't imagine how Oberlin will be the same school that has attracted top notch faculty and students. I definitely am sending an email to protest this board action. 


10/07/22 05:17 PM #247    

 

Mary Johnson (Gartner)

A new, and potentially most significant issue:  The Board of Trustees is proposing changes in the bylaws that would limit the power of the faculty.  An example:  Faculty concurrence would no longer be required in the hiring of deans.  See the following article in the Chronicle of Higher Education.  You can set up a free account for limited access.  https://www.chronicle.com/article/at-oberlin-a-bylaw-feud-feels-like-a-last-stand-for-faculty-power?cid=gen_sign_in


10/08/22 01:55 PM #248    

 

Jean Poppei (Eisenberg)

Thanks, Liz. I wrote as soon as I got a message from Bonnie Wishne ('69) as I experienced a version of it at the college where I taught (and advocated for faculty rights) for 37 years. Btw, we tried to unionize but got hit by the NYS Yeshiva ruling. Jean


10/08/22 07:29 PM #249    

 

Robert Baker

 

Here is the email I sent to the Board of Trustees on October 5th:

Dear Board of Trustees,

    As an Alumnus with many friends who have a family tradition of attending Oberlin, I am greatly disturbed by any suggestion of taking away the faculty voice from the governance of the institution. Such a move is completely anti-Democratic in that this nation was founded on the basic principle of governance by the governed. The goal at Oberlin should be to teach democratic values; and this approach smacks of authoritarianism. 
    While much of our early history as a country contained mistakes, this concept was not one of them. The lofty ideals that make us so proud as a nation are embodied in the fabric of Oberlin. We must not create fertile ground for authoritarianism to take root at Oberlin. Although faculty rule can be cumbersome, its process is the process of democracy, and should be what we teach our students. Expedience or financial gain should not be motivating factors, the firm financial footing that Oberlin currently enjoys is endangered more by a departure from core values than it is by a shifting climate to corporate thinking. It’s no coincidence that corporations are the least democratic constructs in our society. Liberal arts colleges should be the most democratic. 

Sincerely, 

Robert S. Baker, Class of 1968


10/09/22 03:33 PM #250    

 

Paula Gordon

Pitch-perfect, Bob.  Thanks for the inspiration to follow you "grounded" and poetic lead.


10/09/22 10:07 PM #251    

 

Mary Johnson (Gartner)

Great letter Bob!  But it appears that the die already is cast.  We need to pay special attention to the next Board of Trustees election.  Perhaps select some candidates recommended for Cluster support?


10/10/22 01:06 PM #252    

Ted Gest

I've just returned from a meeting of the Alumni Leadership Council on campus. Superficially, all is fine, with great fall colors. And we almost won a football game v. Kenyon. On the issues raised in this forum, however, there is continued strife in some quarters. Here is a brief and inconclusive report on three of them:

* Gibson's case: College officials (including trustees) will not discuss it in more detail right now, apparently because the college stilll is working with insurers about how much of the total verdict is being paid by insurance. There also is a fear (which I don't understand) of more liability, hence a continued ban on discussing the case on the college's official alumni Facebook page. I will keep everyone posted when this is resolved, but we all know the general result. It is not clear to me what budgetary cutbacks are necessary to pay what the college itself owes.

 * Reproductive health: The college insists that it was blindsided by the sudden change in the health care provider's abortion policy. It also says that students are being provided abortion-service referrals. On the question of why Oberlin didn't summarily cut off relations with the main provider when the policy was changed, the college says it needs to maintain a relationship with the operators of the hospital, which is the only health care facility in town. We will also hear more about this.

* Faculty and Finney Compact: The trustees approved the by-law changes this past weekend, so that issue is resolved for now. We talked directly to President Ambar about this. She says it is a matter of resolving a discrepancy between the college by-laws.and written faculty practices, which were in conflict over the selection of and authority of the deans. I spoke to only one faculty member about this. He believes that insurance companies were not going to insure the college as long as this discrepancy remained. My interpretation, to use the Gibson's case as an exmple, was that insurers are insisting on knowing that deans are part of the college administration and what they do reflects official college policy

This may sound obvious, but if the faculty is selectng deans and/or setting their policies and practices, it is then unclear who is in charge. I stress that I am not personally an expert on this, but both the president and the faculty member with whom I spoke did not believe that Oberlin's academic quality would be diminished by the resolution of this dispute.

We will have to see how it plays out. 

There are many unanswered questions in all three of these issues. 

Some 883 new students enrolled this fall, which I believe is far more than when we were students. I don't know how the college cramming them all into existing housing. 

I am not privy to the college's budget, but I am guessing that one motivation for enrolling more students is to obtain more tuition money.

I'm glad to try answering other questions or to get answers, if available, from the college administration.

-- Ted


10/10/22 01:30 PM #253    

Chuck Cole

In an article in today's Washington Post about the growing control of hospial beds by Catholic

hospitals, some examples are given about places where Catholic religious doctrine has reduced

patients' access to reproductive health care.  This sentence appears early in the article:

 

And this semester, Oberlin College had to find a new provider to prescribe contraceptives after

 

outsourcing student health services to a Catholic system that would not provide them.

Perhaps the plan by the BoT is to attract a different type of student--one not committed to

equality and social justics and ready to help address the problems of our modern world.

 Here is a link to the article.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2022/10/10/abortion-catholic-hospitals-birth-control/?utm_campaign=wp_post_most&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&wpisrc=nl_most&carta-url=https%3A%2F%2Fs2.washingtonpost.com%2Fcar-ln-tr%2F38227f4%2F634447b4f3d9003c580bc70c%2F596af1b2ae7e8a44e7ced1f1%2F8%2F68%2F634447b4f3d9003c580bc70c&wp_cu=d9cc97ad2bc912caca5be24f71569d1a%7C4B279992964553A0E0530100007F5728

 

 


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