This morning, a figure wearing a robe resembling a Klu Klux Klan cloak was spotted walking around the South Quad of Oberlin College, prompting the school to cancel classes and all non-essential activities for a “day of solidarity.”
This morning’s event was just the latest in a string of hate speech incidents at the liberal-arts college over the past few weeks.
The Oberlin Review has a full list of the incidents, and the blog Oberlin Microagressions has been tracking them, complete with photos. They include Black History Month posters where the word “black” had been replaced with the N-word, and damage to “Year of the Queer” posters.
Keep in mind that although Oberlin was not the first college in America to accept black students, it was the first to have a race-blind admissions policy. It was also the first college to graduate a black female student.
In a statement released earlier today, students and faculty were asked to participate in various events to discuss “the challenging issues that have faced our community in recent weeks.”
We hope today will allow the entire community—students, faculty, and staff—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 strength of Oberlin comes from our belief that diversity and openness enriches us all, and enhances the educational mission at its core.
Oberlin isn’t the only Ohio college that’s had to deal with hate speech.
Last year, two incidents of hate-speech related vandalism were discovered at Ohio State University, and in the summer student created Twitter and Tumblr accounts brought attention to online hate speech at the university.
UPDATE 3/5/13 1:02 p.m.
It seems the Oberlin police are now saying the sighting of an individual wearing a KKK robe may have been a mistake.
From the Guardian:
Lt Mike McCloskey of Oberlin police told the Guardian on Monday that officers were still following up the KKK sighting, but suggested that the only witness may have been mistaken.
“Officers checked the area and were unable to locate anybody. College security later saw a student wrapped in a blanket.”
McCloskey suggested that the apparent missighting may have been an innocent mistake. He also indicated that those responsible for the racist vandalism had now been caught and were being dealt with.