Oberlin cancels classes after person in KKK outfit spotted on campus

Dylan Stableford

Oberlin College canceled classes on Monday after a person wearing what appeared to be a KKK outfit was spotted on campus, sparking a police investigation at the Ohio school.

"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 African Heritage House," Oberlin President Marvin Krislov wrote in an email to the school's 2,800 students, faculty and staff. "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."

According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, nearly 500 students, staff and community members gathered at the center of campus Monday afternoon for a planned unity rally. Other events, including a "solidarity dinner" at the African Heritage House, were scheduled throughout the day.

The Oberlin Student Senate issued its own email, which read in part:

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. At this time, advocacy, support and solidarity are necessary emotionally, physically and spiritually.

According to the Oberlin Review, the latest string of hate-related incidents began in February:

Feb. 9: Vandalism in the Science Center included the replacement of “Black” with “Nigger” on Black History Month posters, drawings of swastikas, damage to the “Year of the Queer” posters and reported destruction of the Chinese calendar.

Feb. 12: LGBTQ Community Coordinator Lorena Espinoza found a note in the Multicultural Resource Center that read “Nigger + Faggot Center.”

Feb. 16: Students found a number of offensive notes written around Burton Hall. “Whites Only” was written above a water fountain, “Nigger Oven” was written inside the elevator and “No Niggers” was written on a bathroom door.

Feb. 17: The Office of Safety and Security released a Special Alert of a strong-arm robbery of a student near West College Street and Cedar Street. The student reported that he was approached by an individual who made a derogatory remark about his perceived ethnicity and then physically knocked him to the ground.

Feb. 26: Posters were defaced in King including those advertising “Year of the Queer” and the Affirmative Action panel, at least one of which had a swastika drawn on it.

Feb. 27: A swastika drawn onto the outside window of West Lecture Hall in the Science Center was seen being removed by custodial staff.

The liberal arts college, founded in 1833, was the first in America to educate women alongside men, according to its Website. The New York Times notes it was "one of the first to admit black students," and that "before the Civil War, it was an abolitionist hotbed and an important stop on the underground railroad."