Enough Tupperware
by Leslie Lawrence '72


Tappan Square



Activism 101
by Michael Barthel '01
AT ITS 25TH REUNION IN 1990, members of the Class of 1965 staged a protest march to the home of then-president Fred Starr to demonstrate their support for issues that students had protested a few weeks earlier. Though angry about College policies of the day, the alumni were nevertheless delighted that students were still concerned and motivated to promote change, said professor of politics Marc Blecher.

It was this heritage that prompted the Class of 1965 to co-sponsor a three-day conference entitled "Activism in the Oberlin Tradition" in October. The event mimicked a similar conference in 1994 and suggested to students ways to incorporate activism into their post-college careers.

"The lights are shining more brightly than they have in years," said Alan Dawley '65 at the opening session, expressing hope for the current renewal of activism. A professor and historian at the College of New Jersey, Dawley co-organized the event with classmate and The American Prospect editor Robert Kuttner '65.

Lorenzo Parra '85 told students that an Oberlin education was invaluable training for a career as an activist. "Oberlin was a place that inspired me to embrace critical thinking," he said. "It inspired me to confront the philosophies that result in injustice. Who would have thought that a former long-haired radical from Oberlin who took over Cox every other year would be serving under a Republican governor of Massachusetts?" he asked, to laughter from the crowd.

Kristine Raab '89, a research analyst for the Communications Workers of America, spoke of an unexpected, yet fruitful, path to activism. "It's led me to jail and it's led me to business school, and on the whole, I greatly prefer jail. Fortunately, the movement does not call on many of us to make that particular sacrifice."
The conference continued with small sessions targeting specific themes such as labor, with participants including Kathy Olynyk Smith-Hundley '65, a member of the Hard-Hatted Women group trying to encourage women into nontraditional jobs; sexuality, featuring Joani Blank '59, founder of Good Vibrations; gender, which included Phoebe Jones Schellenberg '76, co-coordinator of the International Wages for Housework campaign; and law, represented by Eric Seitz '65, a trial attorney who has defended the Black Panthers and the Chicago Seven.

A discussion on activism in the city of Oberlin had participants wrestling with the problem of students living off-campus in the depressed areas around Groveland Street, which bolsters the incomes of landlords and takes away low-income housing from town residents who need it. At an earlier session, alumni and students pondered whether Obies believe in electoral politics in light of the Nader movement, and how violence affects social change.

Sunday morning's plenary session concluded the conference on an informal note, with Blecher moderating a discussion with Dawley, Kuttner, and student Katharine Cristiani '01. "It can be really frustrating to try to figure out what you are going to do with your life after Oberlin when the traditional options of grad school or working for a dot-com aren't what you're into," said Christiani. "This conference (brought) Oberlin alums here who share my passions and interests." In the end, no barricades were erected, but the sessions proved that when the revolution does come, it will be organized.