Social Justice / Activism


Almost all colleges and universities make a point to celebrate the widespread community service performed by their students and alumni (we do as well!). What separates Oberlin from its peer institutions, however, is its commitment to pursuing large-scale and long-term change.

Oberlin students do amazing work in our local communities, but we also take on a more unwieldy opponent - national and global injustice. Fighting inequalities has taken many different forms in our history; in fact, we've just finished celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Oberlin-Wellington Rescue, in which a bunch of Oberlin residents fought to free a captured slave and eventually transport him to Canada, risking their own freedom in the process.

In our classes, we study the effects of inequality on every part of our world. We have an entire department - Contemporary American Studies - devoted to understanding the intersections of inequality and issues of power and identity formation in the United States through the lenses of race, ethnicity, class, gender, and sexuality. We know that injustice is not a simple concept, and that understanding it as thoroughly as possible is the first step towards working against it.

Blog Entries Related To This Topic:

An Update as a Former Student-Athlete

posted by Zach Moo Young '17 | The part they don't tell you about... Retiring as a student-athlete.

Shock and Awe

posted by Teague Harvey '19 | Reflections on the 2016 Election results.

Post-Election Strife + Campus Protests in Response to Gibson's Anti-Black Violence

posted by Karalyn Grimes '16 | This blog is a condensed source of writings I have been doing over the past week to process local and national events. The blocked quotes originally appeared in my journal and/or on my personal Facebook. + a trigger warning: this blog post specifically discusses acts of anti-black violence, overt white-supremacists, and unjust actions by police. Please take care when reading if you think these topics may affect you

Farther from Home than Ever

posted by Lilah Drafts-Johnson '18 | I was studying the downfall of democracy in Chilean politics when I checked the polls for the first time on Election Night.

We Will Grieve But We Will Not Give Up

posted by Emma Davey '18 | Trump wants a nasty woman? I intend to be the nastiest woman I can be.

Do I speak English?

posted by El Wilson '18 | A blog post in which my linguistic anthropology class served as first class therapy.

Malaysian or Not

posted by Pang Fei Chiang '19 | Where I am from, where I am now, and how I have changed.

The CLPP Conference: An Adventure in Massachusetts

posted by Kira Findling '19 | I ventured outside of Oberlin this month and went to Hampshire College in Massachusetts for the Civil Liberties and Public Policy conference with other members of Students United for Reproductive Freedom.

My Faith in Oberlin College

posted by Kameron Dunbar '19 | Oberlin is not everything you may hear in the media.

What is Social Justice?

posted by Kameron Dunbar '19 | A reflection on what social justice means to me.

Destigmatizing Abortion through Art and Storytelling

posted by Kira Findling '19 | I'm so proud of the work SURF is doing here at Oberlin, though, of course, there's always more to do. Hopefully, as we move forward, we'll continue to take risks and bring more awareness to issues of reproductive rights and abortion access in Oberlin, Lorain County, and Ohio!

The Winternship

posted by Kameron Dunbar '19 | Forty hours of work a week isn't typical for a college student, but I quickly learned at Oberlin it can be. No, I'm not working 40 hours a week while juggling a heavy course load. Yep--you guessed it. Winter Term!

Oberlin and Social Justice ("Warriors")

posted by Brendan Nuse '17 and Frances Casey '17 | Oberlin has been in the news a lot recently. Oberlin students have been portrayed as "oversensitive." But are they?

College Hatred in the Age of Yik Yak

posted by Kameron Dunbar '19 | This topic has been on my mind for a while, so tonight I think it is an appropriate time to address it.

Speakers at Oberlin, Fall 2015

posted by Kira Findling '19 | One of my favorite parts of Oberlin so far has been the huge variety of speakers that visit campus. I'm a big fan of lectures, and there are endless opportunities to attend them here!

Black Lives Matter.

posted by Kameron Dunbar '19 | As Oberlin prides itself on its activist history, today we used our agency as activists on this campus.

Summer Bloggin' (Having a Blast!)

posted by Emma Davey '18 | With a "Grease" reference in the title and promises of details of my summer AND advice for incoming Obies, what more does one need in a blog?

It's MY honor

posted by Simbarashe Runyowa '15 | As I dig deeper into my honors research, I find myself wanting less to do with evidence and numbers and longing more for storytelling, emotion and authenticity in the way I write about my subject, the country of Rwanda.

How I Became the Electric Yeti and Why Snow is a Social Justice Issue

posted by El Wilson '18 | Wheels and snow just don't mix.

Dynamite of Change

posted by El Wilson '18 | Ferguson, white privilege, and one of the many ways I'm an ignorant idiot.

Music and More #8 - Bailey Myers, Part 2

posted by Hannah Parkins '16 and Davis Erickson '16 | Part 2 of our conversation with the brilliant Bailey Myers!

A Resolution for Everyone's Resolution List

posted by Samantha Smylie '17 | Activism is the name of the game for 2015.

Music and More #7 - Bailey Myers, Part 1

posted by Hannah Parkins '16 and Davis Erickson '16 | This episode is really specially to us since it's with hornist Bailey Myers, our favorite person.

Blogging Thankfully: Old Photographs, Friends, and Destructive Consumerism

posted by Brendan Nuse '17 and Frances Casey '17 | In which we give thanks, both seriously and sarcastically.

Music and More #6 - Professor Pau, Part 2 of 2

posted by Hannah Parkins '16 and Davis Erickson '16 | Hi M&M's! Welcome to part 2 of our conversation with Professor of Music Theory Dr. Andrew Pau.

South Dakota, a $100 sleeping bag, and Mrs. Meanypoopyhead: My IYS Trip

posted by El Wilson '18 | How one week in the middle of nowhere helped me understand 6th grade social studies.

Interview: Responses to the Ferguson Decision on North and South Campus

posted by Christie Krancer '18 | When talking to my RA, Dominique Pearson, I learned that there were differences in responses to Ferguson depending on whether you lived on North or South campus. I decided to interview Dom and get their perspective on the divide between North and South campus.

The F Word

posted by Emma Davey '18 | No, not THAT f-word. The other one - feminism.

Music and More Episode #4 - Wyeth Aleksei

posted by Hannah Parkins '16 and Davis Erickson '16 | This week we got the chance to chat with our dear friend trumpet player Wyeth Aleksei.

Israel Gutierrez Part 2 of 2

posted by Hannah Parkins '16 and Davis Erickson '16 | Hello listeners! Welcome to part two of our talk with bass trombonist Israel Gutierrez.

Embracing Personal Change

posted by Christie Krancer '18 | I was excited to come to college for a plethora of reasons, but the thought of achieving my final form made me breathless with anticipation almost every day since I sent in my confirmation of acceptance.

Love, Mama

posted by Alexandria Cunningham '16 | "Disclaimers" sets the context for this open letter of sorts that captures elements of a relationship that stands the test of time among a variety of societal challenges, perceptions and misunderstandings.


posted by Alexandria Cunningham '16 | In light of the rising of Ferguson, MO to mass media attention and the ever increasing black and brown bodies being lost, I took some time to reflect on what I am called to do. First and foremost was to qualify what this blog is for and to set the tone for what is to come.

What Did I Learn from Oberlin Anyway? Despair and Defiance.

posted by Griff Radulski '14 | In the vast dark sea: a few bright fish.

A Happy End?

posted by Ida Hoequist '14 | This post is a quick wrap-up of my activist life in Oberlin.

The Oberlin History Project

posted by Andres Cuervo '17 | A beautiful and collective response to March 4, 2013.

Confessions of a Student Activist

posted by Ida Hoequist '14 | I'm a bit of a conflicted mess. So is the activist scene here. So is life, I guess.

Honest Recollections

posted by Chinwe Okona '13 | An account of my involvement in, as well as my thoughts on, the current student activism taking place at Oberlin College and Conservatory.


posted by Margaret Saunders '16 | Last week was a week full of words.

Don't Burst My Bubble!

posted by Dara Lehrer '16 | It is really quite easy to mistake this place for a little snow globe, complete with picturesque buildings, tiny flakes of falling snow, and of course the glass sphere encasing it all.

Moving Forward : On Identity, Privilege and Constructive Dialogue

posted by Simbarashe Runyowa '15 | Obies are continuing to have conversations about progress. But in order for these conversations to be productive we must all commit to open-mindedness. It will be difficult, but ultimately necessary.

A not-so-typical Monday in Oberlin

posted by Paris Achenbach '13 | Marching forth on the fourth of March, for a cause that goes beyond Oberlin

An Open Letter to My Fellow Oberliners

posted by Ida Hoequist '14 | This is my voice; it stands with you. I stand with you.

Sounds from the Keystone Pipeline Protest

posted by Ali Post '14 | Last week, I traveled to Washington, D.C. to join 45,000 activists to protest the Keystone Pipeline.

Oberlin Unchained: On the recent incidents of hate speech on campus

posted by Simbarashe Runyowa '15 | Oberlin was supposed to exemplify the post racial, post discriminatory society we hope to converge to. Instead, we are served with piercing words that are so unspeakably prejudiced.

The World, Magnified

posted by Ma'ayan Plaut '10 | This is a place with an aura of calm, a history of progress. But Oberlin is a part of the rest of the world, which means that the world's problems are ours, too.

Interfaith Service: Success!

posted by Tess Yanisch '13 | Pretty much the whole student body cares about community service, and we got good stuff done. We still need a deeper discussion about "interfaith," but that's next on the list . . . Many Oberlin students have a tendency to be dismissive of religion or openly religious classmates. I think they're responding more to the political end of religion (as we know it) than to any actual beliefs.

Stop Hunger Now

posted by Tess Yanisch '13 | The Interfaith Day of Service is this Friday, 3:30 - 5:30. "Interfaith," in this case, means both among people of different religions and between people who are religious and those who aren't--an important factor to consider when dealing with Oberlin students.

Election 2012

posted by Tess Yanisch '13 | I think I was happier this time than when Obama won in 2008; this year, I was more involved, I knew more, I canvassed, I voted--I was able to be a part of it. This win was my win, in a tiny, tiny way, and I had seen more of the other people whose win it was too.

Be Mesmerized

posted by Marsha Lynn Bragg | She conducts extensive interviews with people across the country and uses their words verbatim to develop and tell their stories that address the larger commentary such as the race relations, discrimination, poverty, injustice.

Learning and Labor: My Classes

posted by Tess Yanisch '13 | My semesters usually end up organizing themselves around a few different themes or shared ideas. This semester, the themes seem to be bodies/physicality, communities, and, to a somewhat lesser degree, stories.

Summer in Cape Town, South Africa (Part 2)

posted by Simbarashe Runyowa '15 | Thoughts on my human rights internship at People Against Suffering, Oppression and Poverty (PASSOP) in Cape Town, South Africa.

Summer in Cape Town, South Africa (Part 1)

posted by Simbarashe Runyowa '15 | I absolutely love this city. Everywhere you go here, there is a mountain in the backdrop. It is an unbelievably scenic place.

Obie Talk Shuts Down

posted by Ruby Turok-Squire '16 | Freedom is nothing else but a chance to be better. Albert Camus, Defence of Freedom, 1960. This morning, I learned...

Spring Break with President Clinton. But first, Hunger Games

posted by Simbarashe Runyowa '15 | The Clinton Global Initiative brought together over 1000 students, social entrepreneurs, and changemakers from around the world to Washington, DC, this weekend. But first, thoughts on the Hunger Games.

Ethics and E-readers

posted by Tess Yanisch '13 | The dilemma I am attempting to resolve is whether or not I should buy an e-reader, and, if I get one, what kind I should get. This might seem like an oddly personal and peripheral topic, but it is not. I tell you now, without any exaggeration whatsoever, that my dithering represents the struggles of our society's collective conscience.

A Few Thoughts on Safe Spaces

posted by Ruby Saha '14 | What's a safe space, you ask? Good question. I'm not sure either.

Are You In?

posted by Marsha Lynn Bragg | SJI sessions stimulate, inspire, and cause students to examine why they are involved in the issues and causes they are involved in.

It's Good to Have a Posse

posted by Marsha Lynn Bragg | I felt privileged that they were willing to share their stories with me and allow me to observe and participate in their quest of discovery and definition.

Gloria Steinem, Activism, and Oberlin

posted by Tess Yanisch '13 | Oberlin's second convocation of the semester took place last Wednesday. The speaker was Gloria Steinem. It wasn't the first time the famous feminist has been at Oberlin--she was here in 1972--and, listening to her talk, I wondered how the political and activist atmosphere here has changed since then.

Whimsy, an Oberlin Morning Tour, and Book Reviews

posted by Tess Yanisch '13 | There's an advantage to working in the Science Center: while working in a library surrounds me with the supportive aura of thousands of books, it also distracts me with the subtle temptations of thousands of books.

Miss Yanisch Goes to Washington

posted by Tess Yanisch '13 | At long last, the thrilling conclusion to my Fall Break adventure: the Rally to Restore Sanity! Warning: contains a ludicrous number of pictures of protest/polite-dissension signs.

Reflecting, learning, laboring

posted by Sam Jewler '10 | The end of the year is always a time for reflecting on what you've accomplished. Having alumni salute you for it makes those feelings all the more meaningful.

Key Moments (a senior getting sentimental)

posted by Alice Ollstein '10 | Times in recent memory where my brain has screamed I CAN'T BELIEVE HOW LUCKY I AM TO GO HERE

Who says nothing happens on Earth Day?

posted by Sam Jewler '10 | I always thought Earth Day was a bunch of baloney. But this year, with the inspiration of my fellow student environmentalists, we're planning to make Oberlin's Earth Week one to remember.

Going Bananas

posted by Alice Ollstein '10 | Raising awareness on campus about a problematic, popular fruit.

Snow Falling on Peters

posted by Alice Ollstein '10 | Long, cold winters, unethical fruits, and other Oberlin oddities.

Why Go to Washington? Mr. President Comes to Lorain!

posted by Ma'ayan Plaut '10 | On Friday, January 22nd, I saw Barack Obama, much like Mr. Hedgehog of Striking Viking Story Pirates fame. Words to describe this experience: cold, line-y, hilarious, inspiring, cameratastic, fan-tastic, fun-tastic.

Mr. Hedgehog Saw Barack Obama!

posted by Ma'ayan Plaut '10 | What did Obama do? He brought people together, not just the diverse group at the Stocker Center this afternoon, but two very alike people who had never talked before as well.

Action and Talking

posted by Sam Jewler '10 | What's the right way to protest when the stakes are highest? From Vietnam to climate change, Obies are constantly testing the boundaries of this question.

The Little Proposal That Could

posted by Eli Goldberg '12 | To do: make policy for a multi-million dollar corporation, create awesome trans activism, have the dorkiest party in the world...

When nature calls, students organize. Part 2.

posted by Sam Jewler '10 | Then a woman in the front row stood up. She was sobbing. The Lieutenant Governor couldn't ignore her emotional plea.

When nature calls, students organize. Part 1.

posted by Sam Jewler '10 | Students from all over Ohio descended on Oberlin last weekend to learn about and organize for our generation's greatest battle: turning back climate change.

SJI, part two (and my commentary thereon)

posted by Tess Yanisch '13 | A nutshell of the rest of my Social Justice Institute experience, complete with gender-neutral pronouns and a definition of counternarratives.

Fall Break: Social Justice Institute

posted by Tess Yanisch '13 | I first heard about the SJI in the admissions packet I got at the beginning of the summer. It wasn't terribly clear about what exactly the SJI was going to be, but I filled out the application anyway and sent it in, figuring it would be interesting if I got in. I did, and I attended the first session of it today. I still wasn't very clear about what it was until it started. . .

Oberlin students at the G20 protests: Reacting to a turbulent two days

posted by Sam Jewler '10 | Why were we there? How did the world see us?

Master of the (Student) Senate

posted by Aries Indenbaum '09 | "If we had duct tape, we'd help Klebanoff know what's good for him." - Prof. Paul Dawson speaking about Ben Klebanoff (Student Senator and wunderkind).

Desert Dynamics

posted by Alice Ollstein '10 | A few things I learned on yesterday's patrol with the Samaritans, a group that sends a group out to the desert every day looking for migrants in need of water, food, medicine or simply a friendly face.

Selling Yourself: The Oberlin Dating Game

posted by Ma'ayan Plaut '10 | It was by far one of the more entertaining things one could have done on Valentine's Day, and it was for a good cause. There are only so many ways to make free chocolate taste better, and that's having it come out of your nose from laughing too hard.

Saints and Sinners: Two Days in Altar

posted by Alice Ollstein '10 | To learn the routes of migration, we did in a couple of easy hours what takes most migrants four excruciating days.


posted by Alice Ollstein '10 | Today my program spent the afternoon in court. It's not what it sounds like.

Notes on an Election

posted by John West '10 | So, yes, I'm eschewing that obligatory hello my name is John. I'm a blogger. I'm really cool. Here's some stuff about me post, at least for the time being. Bios are dreadfully difficult to write, and, though my fellow bloggers have been covering Oberlin's reaction to this latest election pretty darn well, I figured I might as well add my two cents.

"Obama-rama" Strikes Oberlin

posted by Daniel Tam-Claiborne '09 | It is hard for me to describe the atmosphere I witnessed that night, but it was certainly nothing like I had ever experienced before. Surrounded by friends and strangers, new faces and old, it hardly mattered whether you knew the person standing next to you or not--but you were inevitably going to give them a hug.

November 4th in Oberlin

posted by Ma'ayan Plaut '10 | When I tell my kids where I was when this part of history was made, I will say this: I was in Oberlin. The best place in the world.

Go get a sticker!

posted by Elizabeth Houston '06, Admissions | Just so you can be as cool as the rest of the voting community.

Obama-rama in Ohio

posted by Alice Ollstein '10 | The election results may come down to our little state, and the town and college of Oberlin is rising to the challenge.

The Middle East in the Middle of Ohio

posted by Max Strasser '09 | Debate on the Israel-Palestine issue is vibrant and varied on Oberlin's campus. It is dominated by left-leaning voices (as are most things). But maybe that's not so bad.

NYT asks:

posted by Max Strasser '09 | In case you didn't catch it, Oberlin College was on the front page of the New York Times yesterday. It's a good story, but in my opinion, it's lacking.

Oberlin College & Conservatory | Oberlin, Ohio 44074 | 440-775-8121 | College Admissions | Conservatory Admissions