OPINION: Black Lives Matter extremism is not the right answer

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Jonathan Glover, Editor-In-Chief

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It’s happening again. We’re all losing our collective minds.

I don’t know why, but the last time I wrote about our love affair with extremist viewpoints, I thought it would be my last.

Boy was I wrong.

Last December, a group of unnamed college students wrote a letter with a list of demands (demands, not requests) to Oberlin College’s administration. The letter was directed towards Oberlin’s Board of Trustees and President Marvin Krislov.

The letter–while containing some remnants of sense–focused on things like increases in black student enrollment and black administrators, free housing for black international students during breaks when they cannot return home, and renaming departments to notable black alumni.

All of this sounds good and well (even before you break it down and really think about it), but then the letter takes a sinister turn. It demands the firing of certain faculty (including President Krislov). It demands tenure for a list of professors, and that some get put onto a tenure track.

“We DEMAND these professors be granted tenure IMMEDIATELY,” the letter reads.

But perhaps the most disturbing demand is segregation, just put into different words.

“We DEMAND that spaces throughout the Oberlin College campus be designated as a safe space for Africana identifying students. Afrikan Heritage House should not be the only space allotted for the promotion and acknowledgment of our community specific needs.”

Now, I’m not an idiot. I understand the need for safe spaces. As a white male, I’m aware that the world is my safe space and that anywhere I go, I’m going to see people that are just like me. I fit in just about anywhere, and that’s my privilege.

But what these students are demanding is more than that. They’re picking areas on campus that only Africana identifying students can go. What about Latinos? Filipinos?

I could go on and on about the list of demands. (One is a demand of a 4 percent increase in enrollment from the Americas, the Caribbean and the continent of Africa starting in 2016, with a 40 percent increase by 2022. They don’t mention how to do this, or the likelihood that people from these countries – and an entire continent – might not want to go to school at Oberlin).

To cap it all off, they throw in the surefire, “These are demands and not suggestions. If these demands are not taken seriously, immediate action from the Africana community will follow.”

Earlier in the letter, there’s a slightly varied threat of, “many of these demands have been issued before and subsequently ignored by administration, faculty and students. This was never acceptable, and will no longer be tolerated.

“As you will see, these are not polite requests, but concrete and unmalleable demands. Failure to meet them will result in full and forceful response from the community you fail to support.”

To nobody’s surprise, President Krislov said no to the demands. On Oberlin’s website, Krislov is quoted writing, “Some of the solutions it proposes are deeply troubling. I will not respond directly to any document that explicitly rejects the notion of collaborative engagement.

“Many of its demands contravene principles of shared governance. And it contains personal attacks on a number of faculty and staff members who are dedicated and valued members of this community.”

Weird. When people make extremist threats, other people don’t react positively. This reminds me of the Black Lives Matter protest that shut down all lanes of the Bay Bridge for about an hour and a half on Jan. 18. I guarantee everyone on the bridge that day just lost respect for BLM.

What if there had been an ambulance on the bridge that needed to make it to the hospital? What if a soon-to-be mother was in labor? What if someone was on their way to an important job interview? This bridge shut down happened just before 4 p.m., so all of these are likely.

We can’t all shout at the top of our lungs, screaming the most nonsensical stuff we can think of. It takes tact and respect, which neither of these two incidents showed. We need to meet in the middle, or at least, we should.

If we don’t, we might as well all buy toupees and get fake tans.

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1 Comment

One Response to “OPINION: Black Lives Matter extremism is not the right answer”

  1. Jonathan Olsen-Koziol on January 31st, 2016 9:39 pm

    Good shit man

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OPINION: Black Lives Matter extremism is not the right answer