Oberlin prof dissects clear case of campus craziness

Retired Oberlin College Professor Abraham Socher offers Commentary readers a detailed description of a disturbing incident involving the famed liberal school.

The jury found that Oberlin College and its dean of students had maliciously libeled the Gibson family as racists and deliberately damaged their business by suspending and later cancelling its century-long business relationship with the bakery—all while unofficially encouraging a student boycott. And the jury found that the college had intentionally inflicted emotional distress on the Gibsons themselves. …

… Raimondo was the official adviser to the Student Senate. In that role, she might have advised the senators that it is impossible to discern facts that quickly or with that much certitude—as the study of, say, history, philosophy, politics, literature, and law make plain. She might also have noted that, after all, incidents of student shoplifting at Gibson’s were well-known all over town, so it would hardly be implausible that Aladin and his friends had tried to steal some wine and were now denying it. Indeed, as dean of students, Raimondo must have known that two (white) students had been arrested for shoplifting at Gibson’s earlier that week. …

… Emails, texts, and other evidence that came out in the trial don’t paint a picture of a billion-dollar institution full of intellectually accomplished people committing “every resource to determining the full and true narrative.” Ben Jones, the head of Oberlin PR who drafted that letter for Krislov, called the police report “bullshit” based on vague rumor and speculation. Ferdinand Protzman, Krislov’s chief of staff, was forced to answer that although neither he nor his colleagues believed the Gibsons to be racists, they also never considered publicly declaring that the Gibsons were not.

As for Raimondo and Tita Reed, who were named as the point persons in finding that “full and true narrative,” David Gibson testified that Raimondo warned him that she had sent people door-to-door to ask if the Gibsons were racists.

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...

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