Oberlin Beclowns Itself Again

We’re covered the disgrace that is Oberlin College repeatedly (here, here, here, and here, for starters), but there’s a fresh embarrassment to pass along. From the Oberlin Review student paper—one of those “you have to read it, not to believe it” stories:

Male Workers Allowed Into Baldwin, Unsettling Residents

Peter Fray-Witzer

On Oct. 7, residents of Baldwin Cottage received an email from Josh Matos, the area coordinator for Multicultural and Identity-Based Communities.

“I am reaching out to you to give you an update on the radiator project,” Matos wrote. “Starting tomorrow (Friday, 10/8) the contractors will be entering rooms between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. to install the radiators. This will mean that they will be in your room for a period of time to complete the work.”

I had not been contacted about any sort of radiator installation before this email, so right away the word “update” stood out to me as untrue. I grew concerned reading the second line, which informed me that I had less than 24 hours to prepare for the arrival of the installation crew, and I was further perturbed by the ambiguous “for a period of time.”

In general, I am very averse to people entering my personal space. This anxiety was compounded by the fact that the crew would be strangers, and they were more than likely to be cisgender men.

Baldwin Cottage is the home of the Women and Trans Collective. The College website describes the dorm as “a close-knit community that provides women and transgendered persons with a safe space for discussion, communal living, and personal development.” Cisgender men are not allowed to live on the second and third floors, and many residents choose not to invite cisgender men to that space. . .

I was angry, scared, and confused. Why didn’t the College complete the installation over the summer, when the building was empty? Why couldn’t they tell us precisely when the workers would be there? Why were they only notifying us the day before the installation was due to begin? . . .

The next day, I waited apprehensively. The workers began installing in common spaces, and I could see immediately that they were all men. It was clear that the College had not made a special request that male workers not be allowed onto the upper floors of Baldwin. Predicting when they would reach my room was pure guesswork. I was trying to anticipate whether I would be in class when they arrived, or if I’d have to welcome strangers into my room only to be ejected to allow them space to work. . .

Why didn’t the College make a schedule detailing when the workers would be likely to arrive at each dorm and in each room? They should have taken measures to keep students comfortable and safe — especially those who have elected to live in a specifically designated safe space.

Someday, maybe, Peter Fray-Witzer will be out in the real world, and imagine the trauma that will ensue if he has to call for a tow-truck or a plumber.

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