The Oberlin Review
<< Front page Commentary April 21, 2006

Crisis in Pyle Co-op Kitchen, other letters

To Members of OSCA and the Oberlin College Community:

On Tuesday, April 11, representatives of Oberlin College informed OSCA that the Pyle Inn kitchen was to be closed by order of the Oberlin Fire Marshal. Thanks to the efforts of Michele Gross, Director of Business Services for ResEd, the closedown order has been lifted and instead Pyle may now prepare food as long as they accept certain restrictions. These are that no food may be prepared on the stove that uses butter, oil or grease including meat products. Basically, Pyle is currently limited to steaming and boiling ingredients. The Fire Marshal’s original decision was made because he considered the ventilation hood over Pyle Inn’s stove to be a fire hazard. It is currently unclear whether his second decision to let Pyle Inn remain open for the next few weeks will extend to next year if the problem is not corrected.

In response to the situation at Pyle, OSCA has negotiated the following temporary deal with Oberlin College. The first part of this deal is that the College will furnish Pyle Inn with the necessary equipment to operate as closely to normal as possible. A grill has been ordered to allow cooks at Pyle to prepare food outside where no ventilation is required. Additionally, members of the College and members of Pyle are selecting certain kitchenware items for purchasing that do not require grease to cook with. The second part of this deal is that current members of Pyle Inn will receive an extra free meal in a campus dining hall each week until school ends. The OSCA staff believes that these measures constitute a fair response to the situation and appreciates the efforts made by ResEd, both to help Pyle function and to compensate its members for the breakdown of their dining equipment.

The Future of Pyle Inn, however, remains uncertain. On Tuesday, April 18, OSCA received word from the College that no repairs will be made to the Pyle Kitchen unless the cost is around or under $20,000. It seems unlikely that the cost will be so small due to the extent of the structural repairs that are needed. We will not know what the exact cost will be until an appraisal is made of the ventilation system.

OSCA has urged the College to conduct this appraisal as soon as possible so that plans can be made for the membership of Pyle co-op in the event that repairs cannot be made. If the appraisal results show that it will cost more money than the College Administration is willing to spend to repair the kitchen, then OSCA will make every attempt to convince them to fund the project. If no such agreement can be reached, then OSCA will enter into further negotiations with the College to find a way to provide for, and compensate, the 115 members of Pyle Inn who will be without a co-op during the 2006-2007 academic year.

We hope that the College will include students in this decision and that this issue is not plagued by the same lack of student-administration dialog that the campus experienced with the Biggs closing, the London Program and the off-campus housing decision. In the spirit of open dialog, an All-OSCA meeting will be held this Sunday at 4 p.m. (West Lecture Hall). Current and future OSCA members are encouraged to attend. It will be an opportunity for everyone to ask questions of the OSCA staff and for the OSCA membership to shape the direction of our future negotiations with the College on this issue.

–Caleb Baker
College senior
OSCA President

To the Editors:

An event I organized was covered by the Review last week and written up in an article titled “Presentation Considers the Potential for Peace.” There were factual errors in the article.

Seeds of Peace and Apple Hill are overnight camps in Maine, not in Italy and New Hampshire, as the article stated — but the reporter mixed up the sponsors and attributed the event to Oberlin Hillel instead of Oberlin Zionists.

Quotes were pulled out of context and therefore twisted the words of the speakers and the intent of the presentation. The two students, one Palestinian and one Israeli, started by saying that they would examine how they viewed the “other” before and after coexistence programs. That message was completely lost in this article.

For example, Dajani was quoted as saying, “An Israeli Soldier once yelled at me not to run to a bookstore because I might be shot.” From that sentence, it seems that the soldier was trying to protect him from harm, while in his speech, that story was Dajani’s anecdote of realizing that he was the face of the enemy, despite not having done anything wrong.

Similarly, quotes from Friedberg focused on moments that Israelis were the enemies for Palestinians instead of portraying how his view of Palestinians changed and how for Israelis, there is fear of Palestinians as well.

These errors could be prevented by a simple level of reporter etiquette that includes notifying an organizer that they are going to be present and talking to the organizer and/or speakers to make sure that facts are correct. An error as simple as recording the wrong sponsor should not be one that reporters from the Review are making. This article could have been a great chance for Oberlin’s campus to see a Palestinian and an Israeli student sitting side by side, discussing non-violent approaches towards peace, but the failure of the Review to write an accurate article voided all opportunity for that.

–Hannah Levinson
Double Degree sophomore
Chair of Oberlin Zionists

To the Editor:

The Colors of Rhythm Committee is very pleased with the results of the tenth annual Colors of Rhythm performance on Thursday, April 13. We were delighted with the level of energy and support provided by the audience. The performers were also appreciative of the support received given all the hard work that was put in throughout the semester. The amazing turnout allowed us to raise over $1,200 in support of Ilham, a Kenyan organization that works with others to inspire and assist in the advancement of the economy of women in the Lamu district by improving education and health of women and children in the area.

The production of CoR could not have been possible without the support of the following offices, departments and organizations: the President’s Office, the Multicultural Resource Center, Office of the Ombudsperson, Student Finance Committee, WestLake Chinese Cultural Association, African American Studies department, Anthropology department, African Students Association, Filipino American Students Association, Muslim Students Association, the Chinese Students Association, Students of Caribbean Ancestry, African Heritage House, Third World House, the Oberlin Inn, Campus Video and Apollo Theater.

Since its inception in 1997, CoR has provided a forum for and given voice to disenfranchised artists and performers of color. This event began as a form of constructive protest against what the curriculum and academic departments at Oberlin do not cover. By addressing issues such as lack of resources for and the recognition, valuing, visibility of certain cultural dance forms by the mainstream culture on campus, Colors of Rhythm is a form of cultural activism and protest. 

Colors of Rhythm is an important moment for students of color to honor and celebrate their culture as well as for the dominant campus culture to share and demonstrate support. Moreover, this event aims to initiate constructive protest against issues of cultural appropriation and uncritical cultural assimilation by and within dominant cultures. Events like Colors of Rhythm are intended to empower marginalized groups to develop and articulate their voices and encourage majority groups to reflect on their relative privilege.

Therefore, it is our expectation that all participants and audience members know and respect the mission of this event. We encourage all those involved to recognize how societal structures of privilege and oppression work to perpetuate racial and cultural inequality and invisibility, and to acknowledge the agency being exercised by marginalized communities and cultures in challenging them.

Although this is an event where historically marginalized communities express their agency, majority students have never been explicitly excluded. There have been performers who have chosen to challenge the mission and performed; there are allies who have been critical to specific performances who have also performed; and there are allies who have withdrawn from the show respecting the mission upon further understanding the mission and purpose. In each instance the decisions were totally left up to the choreographers and performers.

Although its participants come from varied communities on campus and this event seeks to address important larger issues and concerns, the CoR committee speaks only to the mission statement of this particular performance. Again, the CoR committee hopes that this letter clarifies our position and we thank the campus and the community at large for their support. Hope to see you all next year.

Colors of Rhythm Committee.
–Assiatou Diallo
College sophomore
–Sherece Donalds
College junior
–Vernicia Elie
College senior
–Umra Omar
College senior
–Michi Osato
College sophomore
–Amanda VanAllen
College first-year
–Deysi Villarreal
College sophomore

To the Editor: 

In the article titled “Race Issues Surface in Dance,” in the April 14 issue, Jamie Hansen writes: “Oberlin’s dance department, for instance, currently has only one professor hired for the purpose of teaching a form of dance that represents a minority: Adenike Sharpley is an adjunct professor in Afrikan dance.”  I’d like to correct an error here; Adenike Sharpley holds an appointment as Artist in Residence; this is a full-time position. We are fortunate to have her teach five courses each year, all centered on African dance and dance of the African Diaspora. Her position represents one quarter of the full-time continuing positions in dance. 

In his letter to the editor, Ethan Baldwin states: “Hip hop has no place in a T and D performance.” His hip hop group performed in Fell and I hope they will take advantage of the venue offered them in Sprung; both of these are student-run performances, supported by Theatre and Dance facilities and staff.

Much has changed in our dance program over the last ten years. Of the four annual fully produced dance concerts held in Warner Main, two are reserved for the work of students of color (but not, thank goodness, to the exclusion of Caucasian students), under the direction of Adenike Sharpley. Of the five dance history courses which are currently offered, three cover world dance forms and the other two include dance forms other than American or European concert forms. The theatre program just introduced a course on Asian Theater/Dance performance; due to the nature of these forms, this course covers a wide range of non-Western dance. We also routinely bring in Winter Term artist/teachers and guest artists during the semester, who contribute to the cultural diversity of our curriculum. 

Did you know this? All you need do is check into it.  Or ask me. 

–Nusha Martynuk
Professor and Director of Dance
Theatre and Dance Program

To the Editor:

On April 25 and 26, from noon to 7 p.m., LifeShare will be located in Wilder to accept blood donations. Their slogan is “It’s About Life” and I realize how true this is as this past November it was about my life.

I spent five days in ICU fighting to survive from an auto immune disease called Idiopathic Thrombocytopenia Purpura. What this means is my antibodies engage believing my platelets are foreign and kill them.

Last November I had zero platelets, but a very generous person had donated some of his to LifeShare. That donation ended up being a vital part of the treatment that helped save my life.

As I can never donate blood with my illness, I have chosen to give back by becoming a volunteer and advocate for LifeShare. It is so very important to me to reach out to all of you who can donate and ask you to please help.

LifeShare has contacted me to say that they are at emergency low levels, meaning our drive next week is vital in helping to save lives.

The students at Oberlin College are amazing in so many ways. When the American Red Cross was here in February, I was personally exposed to yet another aspect of how wonderful and generous they are.

Students waited up to two hours and the American Red Cross left with over 100 donations. I do not want to exclude the faculty and staff that did donate, and I want to put out a challenge to them today as well as the student body. In order to minimize the time spent donating, LifeShare has set up on-line donation scheduling.

My challenge to everyone able to donate blood in the Oberlin College Community is to go to and click on Schedule Online Donation to schedule your donation time now. I believe this community can fill every time slot before LifeShare arrives on campus.

As an incentive, LifeShare sponsors a scholarship program for area schools. Colleges sponsoring LifeShare blood drives receive $500 for every 35 donations collected during a regular academic year.

The money generated from these drives will help students at Oberlin College on Financial Aid. If that isn’t enough to catch your attention, LifeShare will be passing out T-shirts and I will be sponsoring a raffle on behalf of area merchants. Sherry Matson, who works in Mudd Library, helped me generate over 30 donations from merchants all over town and anyone participating in the drive is eligible to win prizes.

I will be taking vacation time so that I can be a volunteer and register people. I chose the Oberlin College drive to be my first official volunteer experience with LifeShare. Please come and join me as I celebrate life.

If you are interested in my story and how I was able to actually meet the gentleman that helped save my life, go to click on Donors and Volunteers and scroll to Featured Heroes.

To all of you who cannot donate for medical or other reasons, I commend you for all you do otherwise to help people every day. To all of you who can donate I’ll see you next week!

–Cindi Manning
Chemistry Resources Coordinator;
First Vice President, OCOPE;
LifeShare Volunteer

To the Editor:

I am almost done with my time at Oberlin as OhioPIRG’s campus organizer. I am grateful to have had the chance to work at this fantastic school and proud of the many students who worked with OhioPIRG this year. Because of the passion for the issues and dedication to the goals that these students showed, OhioPIRG had a very successful year. This year, OhioPIRG:

-sent six students to Washington D.C. to take part in the Save the Arctic Rally;

-collected almost 1,000 petitions, postcards and letters on issues from government reform to affordable housing;

-joined with coalition partners to host the Local Foods Fest last fall and the local foods conference that will take place during the first week of May;

-raised money to support the Second Harvest Food Bank;

-updated the Oberlin Rentbook;

-and directly lobbied the Department of Education on student debt through comments, a taskforce report and by meeting with commissioners in Indianapolis.

Next semester, you can look forward to more hard-hitting campaigns from OhioPIRG based around the idea that special interests should not be allowed to pollute the environment, endanger public health and taint democracy.

OhioPIRG is your grassroots activism organization, so I hope you will get involved next semester.

Thanks for a great year!

–Rebeca Bell
College senior
OhioPIRG Campus Organizer

To the Editor:

I don’t usually read The Oberlin Review, but a recent article was brought to my attention on numerous occasions by my fellow classmates in the Conservatory. This would be the ridiculous take on the last Oberlin Orchestra Concert by Kayla Shifrin.

Having played principal bassoon on the first half of the concert I am perhaps biased, because I know from the inside what it was like to attend rehearsals under Per Brevig and I consider my musical background somewhat limited in comparison to my peers here at Oberlin, still I can’t help but wonder which concert this article reviews and whether or not it was the same one I heard.

First of all, by comparison to the first concert of the semester, under the direction of Bridget Reischl, this performance was lacking in many ways. It is almost with a sense of pride that I say that in three years I have not heard this group sound as good as under the direction of Reischl, but in the last concert we were back to our old ways, out of tune, uninspired and generally not together and cohesive as a group. This is largely due to Brevig’s spotty rehearsal tactics and poor time management.

I will give him credit for the musical advice he had, and I have heard he is an amazing trombonist and a great teacher, but that does not necessarily qualify somebody as a good conductor (and especially not at the college level, where teaching and rehearsing is necessary, not just conducting). I am not alone in holding these views, as most members of the orchestra will agree.

I would also like to suggest to anyone writing a review of concerts at Oberlin fully understand the music before they start to criticize it. Wagner sounds exactly as we expect a scene to be depicted in music because he was the model for most late romantic composers and many film score composers later, including John Williams. At the time (mid- to late-19th Century) what he was doing was new and hailed as such and is in fact still considered great because he was such a creative composer at the time.

Once again as for Brevig’s “measured conducting” — he was one of the hardest conductors to follow I have ever had to play under and especially in the Bartok, the orchestra, he and J were often going at three different tempos and consistently not lining up.

As for the Bartok, I found J’s playing to be so intriguing because he has the appearance and confidence of a professional, but lacks the overbearing ego that comes out and can ruin performances. This is the negative that came to mind in the concept of “too-professional,” and instead of trying to find some aspect to criticize it would be very interesting to hear exactly why our reviewer thought the concert was so good. I realize that many creative writers and journalists aspire to be witty and wonderfully descriptive with their words, but music is one of the hardest things to accurately portray in words and the worst thing anybody can do is try to sound lofty with overbearing adjectives and strong opinions that are not backed up by fact.

A word or two about the Petrushka — this is one of my favorite pieces, one I have never heard live and all I can say is the orchestra played with energy, but lacked the real feel of what the music is about (perhaps they could have listened to a recording and read the synopsis, or even watched the ballet). As they had only rehearsed the second half two or three times, so their energy went into personal attempts and making it sound good, but not into making it sound like a complete work.

I realize I have gone on for quite some time and harshly criticized our poor reviewer, but it is with the Review itself that I have a problem, as far as journalism professes to be an accurate (or at least based on reality) view of the world. I can only hope that the next concert gets the credit it deserves, because it is bound to blow the minds of anybody who thought that this last one was the best the orchestra can do.

I know this is a really long letter, but if you cut part of it or don’t publish it I hope you realize that these are not just my opinions, but in general would be supported by many people in the Conservatory and anybody who went to this concert.

–Stephanie Patterson
Double-degree senior

To the Editors:

I am writing to the Oberlin community to announce my candidacy for the 2006 Class Trustee, the elected student position that will serve on the Board of Trustees for the next three years. The Board of Trustees is the highest governing body of this institution and includes the power to implement and guide Oberlin’s policies on everything from student life and budgeting to academic affairs and development.

Given Oberlin College’s recent acceptance of the Strategic Plan, the Oberlin community will soon engage in a serious discussion about its traditions and future in lieu of the financial reality this institution is facing. The Board of Trustees will be on the front lines of this engagement and will be crafting policies for the institution to follow in response to this. Therefore, the current Class Trustee election is of most significance; Oberlin will soon start negotiating its traditions and identity as the recently passed Strategic Plan finally becomes implemented and the Class Trustee will be a full voting member of this process. I believe my commitment to the traditions of this college, and my leadership and life experience make me qualified for the Class Trustee position and deserving of your vote.

The Strategic Plan, which was recently passed by the Board of Trustees, was designed to make Oberlin more competitive as a liberal arts institution and to ensure the financial stability of the college. The Strategic Plan states one of its main goals as implementing a policy of “more net revenue per student” and enforcing cutbacks in faculty positions, two clauses which I believe are the most pressing concerns for the Oberlin community.

In regards to the former, “more net revenue per student” implies reforming our financial aid policies and attracting applicants from more privileged and wealthy backgrounds. I am extremely concerned about the future of racial, ethnic and class diversity at Oberlin in relation to this agenda. As a McNair Scholar, I represent a demographic at Oberlin that is directly threatened by this policy. Sometimes I wonder what the outcome of my application for admission would have been if I applied to Oberlin with this new agenda in place. The thought of being denied my Oberlin experience — one that has transformed me intellectually and personally in the deepest sense — because of being a person from a low income background troubles me greatly.

The next Class Trustee must be committed to the future of people of color and low income students on campus and ensure that Oberlin’s traditions of diversity and social inclusion are not negotiated away and become nothing more than convenient anecdotes of a past once known. I am not ignorant of the financial situation this college faces. I have worked for the Oberlin Fund for three years and have personally accumulated over $15,000 for this school. I am committed to the financial stability of this college and I believe that if I am part of the decision making process I would contribute in a constructive way to the dialogue on these matters.

The Strategic Plan also threatens the quality of student life, as everyone has recently realized through the recent off-campus policies. The college has decided to keep more students on campus as way to increase revenue; however, student interests have been largely neglected. I believe this issue conveys the structural problems in college-student relations and as Class Trustee I hope to fill that gap and keep student interests at the forefront of the decision making process.

Other pressing matters concerning the future of our institution surround the curricular offerings and potential faculty cuts. I believe for Oberlin to be competitive and maintain its commitment to internationalism and informed social and political engagement we must develop a serious Middle Eastern and North African Studies department. Furthermore, when making necessary faculty cuts we do so in a way that does not completely undermine critical components of a department’s program, as is currently being experienced by the geology department in regards to the petrology position and Comparative American Studies over Asian American History.

This is not any other student election; the next Class Trustee will be participating in what will prove to be one of Oberlin’s most important restructuring efforts. I have served in positions of co-chair, treasurer and secretary in multiple student organizations and I am familiar with the demands of leadership and the procedural etiquette of the College. I believe this experience will allow me to effectively participate as a Trustee. The Strategic Plan has ushered in the time where those committed to Oberlin’s traditions are fully committed to overseeing their protection. I know that if elected as the Class Trustee I will consistently and actively pursue this goal in a constructive and productive manner.

Vote with confidence: Ali Najmi for Class Trustee. Primary Ballots out April 24th, check your OCMR!

–Ali Najmi
College senior

P.S. All members of the classes of 2005, 2006, and 2007 are eligible to vote.


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