Oberlin Alumni Magazine

Summer 2012 Vol. 107 No. 3 OAM Home | Oberlin Online


Keeping the Change

When I saw the cover story ("Oberlin Civil Rights Stories") of the summer issue, I had to read it right away. It was a well-written and researched article of some great days, ones I still cherish, as I did my internship as a campus minister at Oberlin while earning my master's degree at the Graduate School of Theology (glad to see you included that school's involvement). When I get discouraged at the sometimes lack of social justice advocacy among the college students I now teach, I am reminded of students at Oberlin in the '60s — the many who felt that life was about more than getting a job. There were many stories of hope and change that will never be told but whose impact continues today. I cherish Oberlin College as a place that actually believed young people could change the world.

John Morgan MA '66
Reading, Pa.

Old School Communications

I appreciate Jackie Bradley Hughes' remarks about communication changes at Oberlin ("Inside the Alumni Association"). I was reminded of a related experience at my recent 25th reunion, where I was startled to discover the absence of both pay phones in town as well as phones in dorm rooms. As someone who left her heart back in the '80s, I was challenged when I needed to make a call. A big thank you to the artisan at Tansu who allowed me to use his cell phone. His kindness and warmth exemplified Oberlin's true community spirit.

Eva Schlesinger '87
Berkeley, Calif.

High Five, er, Six to Sobol

I was sad to read of the death of [children's author] Donald J. Sobol '48 in the New York Times in July. We were both in Professor "Bunny" Singleton's creative writing seminar. The course was a delight, and after all these years, I still remember it as my favorite class of my entire college career. One reason it stuck in my mind was a short story Don Sobol had written as an assignment. The hero of this story was a singularly talented baseball pitcher. No one could connect to the balls he threw. He achieved world fame, and no one guessed that the secret of his success lay in the fact that he had six fingers on his throwing hand. At the end of the story Don pictured his hero standing in a restaurant with a group of friends. Fingers spread out, and resolutely holding up his hand, he told the maitre d': "Six please!" After all these years I am still enchanted by the clever innovation and have often thought about that class, Bunny Singleton, and Don Sobol. Probably there isn't another person in the world who remembers the story. As I worked my way through the rest of the New York Times that day I could hardly believe my eyes when in the Books on Science section I spotted an X-ray picture of a six-fingered hand! Was this a bizarre coincidence, or is Don Sobol still working somewhere beyond our world?!

Nicole Emmerich Teweles '47
Milwaukee, Wis.

No Nuclear Option

Though I was initially eager to see nuclear power addressed ("Speaking Truth to Nuclear Power"), I was disappointed by some key omissions. How can safe designs exist for highly toxic, radioactive waste with a half-life of 4.5 billion years? The best available storage methods contain waste for ~100 years, and what then? The next 10,000 generations inherit a toxic legacy vulnerable to terrorist attacks, earthquakes, flooding, etc., as a result of our short-term energy production. I am thoroughly convinced that nuclear energy is not a viable option for the preservation of life on earth. Reduction in energy consumption is.

Sara Ennis '00
Portland, Ore.

Same As It Ever Was

In his letter (fall 2011), David Marwil worries that Oberlin's striving for diversity "has become an ethic to which education is subservient." I can tell him to relax. Oberlin is all but unknown in North Central Texas, so when I signed on as an alumni recruiting network representative, I knew I would need more than enthusiasm to recruit high school seniors. I spent three days at Oberlin auditing classes and interviewing students (I'm a journalist). I found the levels of instruction and student engagement to be as high or higher than in the golden days of 1960 to 1964. The 18 students I talked with had sharp appetites for learning and at least serviceable skills in rational discourse. They were also full of what Texans call "piss and vinegar." Three of them were so blazingly brilliant that they were a little scary. As for Oberlin's striving for diversity, by which I think Marwil means working to attract qualified applicants of every kind, color, quirk, and economic condition — well, Oberlin is preparing for its future. Population projections for 2050 describe a country in which WASPs like me will be a declining minority. And if Oberlin intends to sustain and extend its intimate connections with the wider world, it must attract more students from many more countries than it now does — not to mention from places as distant and strange as Texas. My reporter's curiosity satisfied, nowadays when I go to college fairs, I stand up on my cafeteria table, waving the "Year in the Life of Oberlin College" poster and crying, "Hey, kids! Who wants a real and lasting education? Who wants to live with people who are as smart as you are — and some a lot smarter? Who wants to make the world a better place to live in? Who wants to be an Obie?" I don't just immediately mention spending four years in a 19th-century Ohio village with cold, wet winters.

Samuel Hudson II '64
Fort Worth, Texas

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