{ We are Oberlin: [Insert Adjective Here] }

The pamphlet that first caught my eye and informed me that Oberlin existed (and was a pretty much perfect place for me) did not mention fearlessness. It read: "Think one person can change the world? So do we." The catch line "We are Oberlin: fearless" emerged when I applied for transfer (again, I'll talk more about this in another post) and it didn't strike me quite the same as the original line. To me, Oberlin can't be summed up in one adjective. In fact, trying to sum up such a complicated and many-faceted place in one word leads our over-intellectualized selves to debating the many connotations of that term. Better, in my mind, to give more adjectives to fill out the meanings of Oberlin. So, here for your exploring pleasure, are the adjectives that best describe Oberlin for me, the nouns they describe, and links/further explanations to give you some context.


We are Oberlin: albino. [squirrels]

We are Oberlin: intense. [Yolanda Cruz]
- Professor Cruz was the first person I met who was associated with Oberlin. She was taking questions in a session during an interview day in Washington, D.C., and she was all at once arresting, funny, and terrifying. She was sharp and direct in her answers. She didn't hold back and it was clear that she would not fudge the truth, so her choice to work at, represent, and spend her time at Oberlin College was not lost on me.

We are Oberlin: idolized. [David Walker]
- David Walker (or, as his students have been sneakily calling him for generations, DW) taught my first English class at Oberlin, Shakespeare and the Limits of Genre. He's an alum, a recipient of the Watson fellowship, a brilliant professor, co-editor of the Oberlin Press, chair of the popular Oberlin-In-London program, and a modest rockstar. His students have been adoring him and his for decades. I am not one of the quieter admirers, as this post illustrates.

We are Oberlin: under renovation. [Apollo, AMAM]
- Oberlin's beloved Apollo theater should be re-opened in October after some renovations. In the meantime, driving a distance to full-price movies at multiplexes will make us miss walking to $3 movies at our charismatic historic single-screen theater.
- Much to my selfish sorrow, the Allen Memorial Art Museum will be closing in January for some much-needed renovations to its climate control systems and storage facilities. This will put a cramp on the tours I hoped to give my family during commencement weekend, but I'll take them to see our Frank Lloyd Wright Usonian house instead.

We are Oberlin: used. [Recycled Products Co-op, Free Store, and Big Swap]
- These are initiatives on campus to reuse and recycle - cheap recycled school supplies, an incredible place to switch your trash for another's treasure, and the end of the year mass exchanging of unwanted items, respectfully.

We are Oberlin: delightfully noisy. [Con lounge]
- The place where the conservatory students rest and socialize. They talk, hum, and sing there, and, in the event of the occasional post-recital reception there, they also eat and celebrate in the room overlooking the beautiful conservatory pond.

We are Oberlin: stuffed with facts and fiction. [Mudd Library]
- Over a million books, lithographs, and other fascinating stuffs, from the periodicals in Azariah's Cafe to the 4th floor's special collections and archives.

We are Oberlin: whimsical. [Aries Indenbaum, OCircus, ExCo]
- Aries is my blogboss, but more importantly, she's a recent grad who is a staple on campus as a result of her humor, energy, storytelling...well, you can read for yourself.
- OCircus is a circus (minus non-human animals) featuring skills such as tumbling, object manipulation, stilting, hula-hooping, drumming, dancing, acrobatics, and jump roping. There is a small performance in the fall and then a large, family-aimed performance in the spring.
- Experimental College classes are one of the coolest things ever. Students, faculty, staff, and community members can teach and take classes from one another on almost any topic imaginable. The Swing dance ExCo I took changed my life.

We are Oberlin: surprising. [Allen Memorial Art Museum, super computer]
- AMAM in this town. With about 8,000 permanent residents and 12,000 items in the permanent collection, that puts the year round art to people ratio at 3:2.
- What does one do with a 64-bit supercomputer? I'm not entirely sure on an everyday basis, but apparently, one can discover a pulsar.

We are Oberlin: sexy. [Center for Leadership in Health Promotion & Sexual Information Center]
- These organizations on campus frankly address sexual health while breaking down taboos through their wit and humor.

We are Oberlin: green. [Tappan Square, George Jones farm, AJLC]
- in color and initiatives.

We are Oberlin: serving. [Bonner CSL, OPIRG, dining services employees]

We are Oberlin: conscious. [Multicultural Resource Center, SEED house, Reading-period all-nighters]
- During the days before finals, Mudd library is open 24 hours, and students camp out there. There are often festivities of various kinds, but studying and writing papers is, of course, the focus.

We are Oberlin: creepily over-informed. [Brandi Ferrebee]


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{ Responses To This Entry }

Love it. Did you know that there is a picture of DW next to the word "cool" in the dictionary?

Also, I am tempted to include a typo in this comment to see how quickly he will swoop in and fix it.

Posted by: Ben on August 26, 2009 12:48 PM


Nice post! While I think fearless is a great descriptor for Oberlin students, it's certainly not the only one. I'd love to hear what words others might choose!

Posted by: Ann P on August 26, 2009 8:49 PM


we are oberlin. clunk clunk moo

Posted by: Colin on September 30, 2009 3:29 PM



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