Oberlin College canceled classes Monday to hold a "Day of Solidarity" following a month of hateful vandalism and the latest report of a person spotted on campus wearing a Ku Klux Klan-style outfit.
Throughout February, multiple acts of vandalism on the Ohio campus have targeted the black, Jewish and LGBT communities with hate speech, the Oberlin Review reports.
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Black History Month posters were defaced with the N-word, a note found at the LGBTQ Community Coordinator called it the "Nigger + Faggot Center," and someone wrote “Nigger Oven” in an elevator, among other incidents according to the Review. On several occasions, swastikas were drawn, the Cleveland Jewish News reports.
On Monday morning, the school's administration sent out an announcement essentially calling the reported KKK outfit the last straw:
Early this morning, there was a report of a person wearing a hood and robe resembling a KKK outfit between South and the Edmonia Lewis Center and in the vicinity of Afrikan Heritage House. This report is being investigated by both Safety and Security and the Oberlin Police Department. This event, in addition to the series of other hate-related incidents on campus, has precipitated our decision to suspend formal classes and all non-essential activities for today, Monday, March 4, 2013, and gather for a series of discussions of the challenging issues that have faced our community in recent weeks.
Oberlin had previously scheduled a convocation for Wednesday in response to the "racist, homophobic, and anti-Semitic messages spread anonymously around campus," according to the school's Office of Communications, but moved it up to Monday afternoon. Prior to the convocation, there will be a "Rally Against Hate." A Feb. 13 march in response to the initial vandalism drew around 460 students, according to one student's count.
"This has been another event in a string of several reflecting a terrible pattern of racism, prejudice, queerphobia, anti-semitism and other bias attacks that are happening on Oberlin's campus," Eliza Diop, liaison to the Student Senate, wrote in an email to her fellow students. "At this time, advocacy, support and solidarity are necessary emotionally, physically and spiritually."
According to the website Student Activism, the sighting of a person dressed like a KKK member is the seventh hate incident at Oberlin in the past month.
A blog titled Oberlin Microaggressions posted photos on Tumblr of some of the hateful items found on campus recently, including advertising for a website selling white supremacist paraphernalia.
In 2011, Oberlin, which has a reputation as one of the most liberal colleges in the country, faced a similar string of racist graffiti and swastikas scribbled on campus, according to the Chronicle-Telegram of Lorain County, Ohio. The administration did not cancel classes for a day that year.
Students have started making signs for the Monday rally (photo via Facebook).