Spring 2003 Contents OAM Home Oberlin Online Home
Feature Stories
Money Matters
Family Tree, Oberlin roots
Operation Internship
[cover story] Fury and the Sound
David Rees Gets His (Bleep) On
Around Tappan Square
Alumni Profiles
The Last Word
One More Thing
Inside Oberlin
Staff Box

Seeding the Next Crop

Oberlin alumni can be decidedly unsubtle in contriving ways to steer their own children toward Oberlin. "Over the years I have encountered many alums who hope their child will consider and choose Oberlin," says Midge Wood Brittingham '60, executive director of the Alumni Association. "Having a son or daughter come here is very gratifying to the Oberlin parent; it endorses the parent's life choice and creates a wonderful bond between the two--or in some cases--three generations."

David Dickinson '71, of Medford, Massachusetts, finagled a visit to the campus via a cross-country trip to Cleveland's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. "I literally dragged my teenage daughter Liza to the College in the fading twilight," he says. "We played Frisbee with a bunch of students on the lawn of Tank Co-op"--among his own outstanding Oberlin memories. "My daughter loved it. Afterward, we went to a new little restaurant, where the waiter was appropriately pierced and had wildly colored hair, so Liza thought everything was 'cool.'

"Such are the worthy criteria for college choice," he adds wryly. As a student in the late 1960s, Dickenson himself had been drawn to Oberlin's social conscience and the liberal arts. He boasts of a "favorite romantic photo" of himself in a cloud of tear gas, blocking the car of an ROTC recruiter during the Vietnam War years. His daughter is completing her first year at Oberlin, and Liza's younger sister has identified herself as a prospective environmental studies major, class of 2008.

Cynthia Brown '74, Oberlin's regional alumni coordinator in Columbus, says she instilled in her daughter, Oberlin senior Kate Lansky, "all things Oberlin. We hosted visiting professors and lecturers on all sorts of topics," Brown says. "At first Kate would play with the Obies' kids. Then she started coming downstairs to the events. When she was 12 or so, she said to me, 'Oberlin people are weird in such wonderful ways.'"

Lansky's short list of colleges was framed by qualities such as ethics and intellectual rigor. Oberlin had both, and when she visited the campus for an interview, it felt like extended family. "Being a legacy has been a good experience for me," she says. "I've found advice and friendship from professors I wouldn't have otherwise met, in departments I wouldn't have been a part of. It's given me glimpses of the College's inner workings and helped me to better understand campus issues."

Her legacy status, however, didn't come without its stresses. "I was worried at first that I would receive preferential treatment. Perhaps I would disappoint the people who had known my mom or dad. I feared that I would be viewed as 'Cindy's daughter,' not as 'Kate.' But I quickly learned otherwise. Being a legacy has not affected my ability to be 'me.' If anything, it has enriched my experience here--I've even learned a few juicy secrets about my mom's college days."

For Joel Goldberg '78, an associate chemistry professor at the University of Vermont, not even an employee perk of free UVM tuition is enough to quash his hope that his two children instead choose Oberlin. Eliza, 13, will need little encouragement. "She is dead set on going to Oberlin and likely cannot be swayed," Goldberg says. "She is a great match, as she is very bright, plays piano and clarinet, reads and writes voraciously, plans on majoring in astrophysics, and fits the Obie-as-outsider-nonconformist mold. She recently decided to make a point of wearing mismatched socks all the time. She would go barefoot before wearing two socks that are the same color!"


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