Racial Episodes Shake Ohio’s Oberlin College

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“I guess for them, Oberlin doesn’t seem like such a safe haven perhaps,” said Fuhrman, who is white.

The Oberlin Review campus newspaper has tracked the incidents since Feb. 9 and said they include defacing Black History Month posters with the n-word, a “whites only” sign written above a water fountain, a swastika drawn on a science center window and a student knocked to the ground by a person making a derogatory comment on ethnicity.

Joshua Blue, 18, a first-year student from Naperville, Ill., who is black, said the incidents have cast the historically tolerant Oberlin community in a different light.

“We believed that there was what people call the ‘Oberlin bubble,’ which is the idea that we’re in this area where hate and anger and stuff like that doesn’t exist,” he said after phoning his mother to assure her about his safety.

“It’s a wonderful idea to feel safe and accepted,” Blue said. “But the recent event was a reality that we’re still part of the world and the issues of the world are also our issues and you can’t avoid that.”

Blue, who is studying vocal performance, said he has begun riding home from evening rehearsals with classmates for safety.

Francis Bishop, 83, who lives near the campus, said he couldn’t remember similar race-related incidents on the campus and speculated it was done by someone trying to cause a stir.

“It’s so much of an isolated thing, in the long run I don’t think it’s going to make a hill of beans,” Bishop said while walking his dog near the picturesque town square lined with college buildings and shops.

No fraternity or sorority houses are at Oberlin, and athletics isn’t a big part of campus life. Instead, students come to study music, art and creative writing.

Notable recent alumni include Jerry Greenfield of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and Lena Dunham, creator of the HBO series “Girls” — a show featuring several characters who met at Oberlin.

Dunham wrote on her Twitter account Monday that she was saddened by the hate-filled incidents.

“Hey Obies, remember the beautiful, inclusive and downright revolutionary history of the place you call home. Protect each other,” she wrote.

(Photo: AP)

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