Oberlin Cancels Classes Over Racist Vandalism, Two Students Held

Oberlin College, which usually makes the news for its outspoken progressive values, cancelled classes on Monday due to a rash of racist vandalism including swastikas and "whites only" written in sensitive locations.

Oberlin College UPDATE: Two students are being held in connection with the vandalism. Some have suggested that their actions were not racially motivated but an exercise in free speech. As for the KKK hooded figure, it is now believed that this was nothing more than a person wrapped in a blanket (Oberlin gets really cold), and that this person was simply trying to stay warm.
Oberlin College cancelled classes on Monday after a figure in dressed in KKK robes was spotted on the south side of campus where Afrikan Heritage House, Third World House and Spanish House are all located. The incident is the latest in a string of racial, anti-semitic and homophobic vitriol at Oberlin, which is known for its progressive history and values. In February, a swastika was painted over a poster related to black history month and "whites only" was written above a water fountain.
Oberlin President Martin Krislov spoke to students at a packed Finney Chapel, one of the campus' major venues. He apologized to any students who felt threatened by the actions and said he cancelled classes for "a different type of educational exercise."
Mr. Krislov explained that “from what we have seen we believe these actions are the work of a very small number of cowardly people.” He declined to give further details because the campus security department and the Oberlin city police are investigating.Oberlin is my alma mater, and I can confirm the general sentiment that it's a haven for progressive thought. It's also a place where, if you wanted to get a reaction from people for offensive gestures, you couldn't really pick a better spot. I was there when the U.S. began bombing Iraq in 2003, and the next day, classes were effectively optional as many faculty participated in a campus-wide teach-in. Whoever is behind the KKK garb, the "whites only" and swastika graffiti, and everything else, he/she/they are doing it with the purpose of provoking a reaction. They will probably get caught, and their lives will never be the same.
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