A Welcome Move
In recent weeks, discussion has raged across this campus, in these pages, and even within the editorial board of the Review about the Cleveland Indians' usage of a mascot that many consider to be a racist depiction of Native Americans. While opposition to Chief Wahoo is not new, of late, many members of the Oberlin community have expressed their specific concern that the team's owner, Larry Dolan, is a member of the College's Board of Trustees.
Apparently, this discussion has been loud enough for Dolan to hear it. In an unusually refreshing move, he has agreed to make himself available to a panel of concerned students to educate himself about this issue. Coupled with recent concern that students do not have ample opportunity to make their views heard when it comes to campus policy, the usual distance at which Trustees seem to hold themselves should make students appreciate Dolan's visit.
On the surface, the visit may appear to be a hollow gesture. Make the students happy by saying you'll talk to them, but then schedule the talk during finals when they'll all be busy. However, the specifics of the upcoming forum show that this is not the case. It's rare for Trustees to hold forums with students outside of the open forums that precede their quarter-annual meetings. Consequently, the fact that this discussion is coming just over a week after last weekend's Trustee meeting is stunning.
To make the commitment on such short notice is a sign that Dolan is sincere about his willingness to hear what students have to say. This is especially important considering that this is the time of year that baseball owners meet to discuss the business side of the sport, and all teams, the Indians especially, are trying frantically to sign and resign free agents to improve themselves. We may consider politics to be more important than business, but the fact remains that this is an extremely busy time for Dolan and it is a significant gesture for him to agree to take time away from his schedule and speak to students.
The format of the discussion will ensure that a dialogue is able to occur and that student concerns will be raised. Therefore, just as Dolan should be willing to make the commitment to listen to students, if they consider this issue important then they must understand that a little inconvenience must be accepted. Those who have serious concerns will understand this and make sure to give the questions they want raised to the students who will be holding the forum with Dolan.
One of the demands made by the student body and other members of the Oberlin Community was that Dolan address their problems with Chief Wahoo immediately. We should be grateful that this is exactly what he is doing, and consider it a victory that we have convinced him that we consider this issue pressing and are deeply committed to it.
Has the time of going to your finals carrying your suitcases, ready to jump into the first passing car the moment after you sign the honor code and bribe the driver with sexual favors in order to get to your flight 20 minutes later passed its heyday?
It's likely that the answer to this perplexingly-worded question is yes. Most of us are dissatisfied with the exam period. Is reading period serving its purpose if students are not spending the time studying for final exams but working on end of the semester papers? One could argue that since these papers are usually assigned well in advance of reading period, they shouldn't command too much of our time. Still, it seems that reading period is too short, especially if we are not spending the time studying for upcoming finals.
It is clear the structure of exams needs to change. If it doesn't, students will continue to prioritize their classes according to where they want to focus their efforts in a way that is detrimental to their receiving the full educational value from them. While it is natural that this would occur to some extent even if students scheduled their own exams, they would not be forced into the situation of having two exams on the same day only to ignore one exam in order to study for another.
Of course, the concept of self-scheduled exams is a logistical disaster if not approached carefully. It is not fair to ask professors to be available at any time a student feels would be convenient. However there is room for change. A beginning would be to allow students to get exemptions more easily to take their exams earlier. Another idea would be to publicize the exam schedule much more heavily than they do now, so students know as soon as they get to school when they will be done with classes and thus, for those who need to be, be able to arrange travel plans early and possibly by cheaper tickets if they are still available.
If changes such as these were to occur gradually, we would be able to overcome each logistical hurdle as we approached it. Hopefully, this can be done in order to allow students to fully commit themselves to all of their classes without the stress that occurs today and get the fullest value from their experiences in the classroom
Copyright © 2000, The Oberlin Review.
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