<< Front page Commentary March 19, 2004

Sweet innocence of Ed Beard

In Oberlin there are many races, nationalities, religions, sexual orientations, etc. Yet, here in Oberlin where everyone is welcome and accepted, one of your own is being discriminated against, slandered and plain lied about while all of you sit by and watch.

When I met Ed Beard eight months ago, I found a beautiful, sweet, intelligent, kind, giving man. He was proud, he had a good job, making good money. He enjoyed the people he worked with and spoke of them often. He was getting his business off the ground. He had a wonderful sense of humor and the most beautiful smile. Sure, he had his differences with a few guys at work, but who doesn’t?

Two months later he was completely stressed out. He was getting written up for some very insignificant things. Like not wearing his work shirt one day (my dog’s fault, by the way). Once he had his
walkman around his neck although it was not turned on. He got written up for that.

Then, one day Thersea “ordered” him to flush an iced tea machine. He explained that it was not his task, he had been helping do tasks for an employee who had called off while they waited for a replacement who had since arrived. She still expected him to do it instead of catching up his own tasks. He even had his so-called union steward, Sandra Austin, witness a conversation with managers to remedy the situation, which he thought he had. Until while on leave due to stress on the job he got terminated for these three things!

Some say he has a problem with authority. When one abuses their authority most people will have problems; only a few will stand up for themselves and their co-workers as Ed has. There is a union at Oberlin College, people! If you do not know what a union is then you should ask someone who does. How would you like to be followed around by some huge white man spying and eavesdropping on you, yelling and pointing in your face, calling you a “piece of shit,” or timing your restroom stops.

Yes, Ed has witnesses, documentations, and petitions signed by co-workers on his behalf. I spoke personally to students in November; one stated that she does not like how badly managers treat their employees. This was before security literally chased me off campus for distributing a letter from Ed. He also has statements from co-workers and union officials that say he was harassed and discriminated against. There was a petition signed by co-workers on Sandra Austin’s behalf too, to unseat her as union steward!

Former union chairperson, Sarge, tried to press charges against Ed for threatening to kill him. His own witnesses said he was lying! The charges were dropped but Sarge was not reprimanded. A manager had to ask Sarge to leave the building because he came in just to harass Ed. He refused to file grievances for harassment against John Clancar. Pat Bullock accused Ed of threatening to blow up the building. He said, and has witness statements for this too, “If she (Pat) writes me up one more time this place is going to blow up.” It’s a figure of speech, people! She and Sandra Austin accused him of threatening to “get the managers” with a bow and arrow. He has witness statements to prove that this was just a conversation with two other men about sporting good ads. Someone liked machine guns, Ed likes pontoon boats and bow and arrows. So what! What did they think he was going to do, paddle his boat through the halls and pretend he was Robin Hood or something? Come on, he doesn’t have any archery skills!

How does Ed lose his job after six years for three ridiculous write -ups and two disproven accusations while people who fist fight, steal, refuse job duties, call professors “niggers,” have over 100 write-ups and four suspensions, or have relationships with students still have their jobs? If this isn’t discrimination then what is it?

Ed remains to be a sweet, kind, giving man. He has lost some of his humor, a lot of his dignity, his business, his vehicle and the support of some so-called friends. EDDIE IS NOT VIOLENT!

I have lived with him for five months now. He babysits my three- year-old, who adores him. He has not raised his hand or his voice to any of us even one time. He is quiet and gentle by nature. His eyes are sad. I can see his heart break a little more with each incident, like that uncalled for article from Sarah Jones. I can’t take it anymore. Oberlin College is supposed to be an extraordinary place to go to school. Partly because of its diversity and tolerance. I never knew that it tolerated racisism.

Have any of you ever experienced discrimination, whether it be because of your race nationality, sexual preference, or even the way you dress? If so, then you have an idea of what Ed’s been going through for the past two and a half years. The harassment began as soon as Bon Appetit took over. This is documented, too.

He is not asking for anyone to take his word for anything. He is asking for his witness statements, petitions and other documentation to be the proof, a chance he hasn’t gotten yet. Don’t you think it’s time that someone steps forward for this “nice” man?

–Billie Jo Farr
Local resident


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