Oberlin student tells police that months-long campaign of racist signs, graffiti ‘was a joke’
A male student at Oberlin College admitted to police that he is responsible for a series of racist, antisemitic, and anti-LGBT incidents at the traditionally progressive institution. The student’s campaign began on February 5, 2013, when an unnamed female student complained to the Oberlin College Safety and Security Office that someone had posted on her door a flyer with a link to “OBIETALK.COM,” which led to a site containing offensive comments about the unnamed female. At the time of the incident, she stated that she believed two students — including the one who later confessed his complicity to police — responsible for posting the flyer on her door. One week later, the same female student found another flyer on her door that read “CELEBRATE N****R HISTORY MUNF! RAPE A WHITE WOMAN!”
On February 9 alone, students found swastikas on glass doors, posters declaring “The Third Reich Lives On,” and flyers that read “For N****r jokes and racist Humor visit N****rmania.com and N****rmania.net.” The next day, posters for the sociology departments “Year of the Queer” had been defaced, with the word “Queer” struck-through and “F****t” in its place.
For the next week, the campus grounds were regularly defaced. The Multicultural Resource Center was rechristened “N****R + F****t Center,” and English professors found their doors plastered with flyers that read “THE OVENS ARE TOO GOOD FOR YOU N****R + N****R LOVING K***S!” and “FORGET YOUR SNIVEL RIGHTS N****R! JUST BE GLAD YOUR [sic] NOT ALL IN CAGES!” Signs declared certain water fountains to be “WHITES ONLY.”
In each case, the students making the complaint believed that the same two white males were responsible, and in many of them materials related to either “Obietalk.com” or “Oberchan.com” were also found. Both sites were anonymous forums in which students could speak freely about their experience at Oberlin. As with many such sites, anonymity fostered a consequence-free environment in which vicious postings about students and faculty regularly appeared. The racist, antisemitic, and anti-LGBT flyers and graffiti corresponded with attempts by student groups and administrators to shut down these forums.
According to the police report, the student who took credit for these acts claims they were a “joke” intended to create an “overreaction” on the part of the campus community. Several conservative sites, which claim to have discovered the identity of the student and linked to now-defunct Twitter accounts, lend credence to the suspect’s claim. Police, however, have refused to identify the student(s) involved and the students identified by those publications have denied involvement, making it impossible to determinate the sincerity of the confessed student’s stated motives.
The confessed perpetrator refused to take credit for the most inflammatory incident, when a man was observed wearing a Klu Klux Klan outfit was spotted on campus. He also denied he was responsible for all of the incidents, or that he posted on or was affiliated with either “Obietalk.com” or “Oberchan.com.”
[“Ku Klux Klan” by Arete13 via Flickr, Creative Commons licensed]