Posted Dec 1, 2019 at 16:00. Revised Jun 10, 2021 at 09:26.
It is almost inconceivable that the Oberlin Board of Trustees could have allowed the College to get into such a mess with the Gibsons had they been listening to capable and unbiased lawyers. Trusted people within the college administration now have an apparent conflict of interest between representing the College’s interests and looking out for their self-interest.
The insiders’ interests seem to lie in promoting a hidden agenda at the expense of the College, in whitewashing their resumés to cover up their marathon screwups, or both. Oberlinchaos cannot see how the College’s in-house legal counsel, or any in the Administration who went to law school, could make sound, arms-length decisions about Oberlin College’s interests.
The apparent legal advice given to the BOT is so far off the wall that there must be a hidden agenda or colossal lies behind this bad advice. How else does one explain the unrelenting compounding of this chaos? When the intelligent and competent people on the BOT exhibit such stupidity so consistently, it is not due to ignorance or an accident. They have been gullible and probably did not check out the glib stories they received.
The highly credentialed Oberlin College Board Chair does not have the law degree that usually goes with the position of Board Chair. Having no law degree could explain why he appears to have a mediocre high school civics student’s legal smarts.
For instance, it is painfully clear that the Gibsons wanted to avoid a legal confrontation with Oberlin College. The College did not recognize that an unfavorable settlement is almost always better than a favorable court decision. Was this principle applied in this case? It appears that the College’s motto at every step along the way has been “Damn the torpedoes. Full speed ahead.” Meanwhile, the symbolic feral black cat of financial disaster stalking the Cox Administration Building has gone unnoticed.
It is clear from the evidence introduced at trial that some college officials were itching for a fight, naively believing that they were fighting racism. True, the jury could have had a bias against Oberlin College. Still, the evidence was so damning to the College that any unbiased jury probably would have reached a similar verdict.
Where was the in-house counsel when all this was developing? Not defending the interests of the College, it appears. Did she give dishonest, self-serving advice designed to exonerate her resumé from her lousy judgment?
The jury’s verdict.
Once the jury verdict was in, it became clear that the College had blindly believed itself to be on the right side of history in this matter and that God and the tooth fairy were solidly behind the College.
In the face of the overwhelmingly damning evidence presented against the College, they have decided to turn a libel and slander case into a free speech issue. The strategy appears to be four-fold:
- Distract attention from their colossal bad judgment and mismanagement in dealing with the Gibsons.
- Make a Hail Mary attempt to turn this state-level libel and slander matter into a federal first amendment free speech issue. Federalizing would allow them to further divert attention by possibly taking the case as far as the U.S. Supreme Court in an expensive pursuit of this bogus free speech issue.
- Remove some dirt from the resumés of the in-house lawyers currently working in the college administration via a successful appeal, paid for with college money.
- Get financial support for the fight from liability insurance and shadow benefactors such as George Soros.
In the BOT and the Administration’s eyes, the mass of ill will and the fractured community created by managerial incompetence seems to be a small price to pay for accomplishing whatever the hidden agenda(s) might be. Murder will out.
The court did NOT punish Oberlin College for its students’ actions.
President Ambar’s assertions notwithstanding, the court did not punish the College for the students’ speech. Managerial negligence is what got the College into legal trouble. The College had not clearly defined when individuals were speaking for the College vs. speaking for themselves.
Evidence submitted at the trial made it clear that College officers aided the demonstrators’ cause, thereby making the College a party to the demonstrations. It is quite a twist of lawyering to claim that the students were acting independently, with the College being only a bystander.
Oberlin, stop putting up smokescreens to cover your incompetence and start listening to ethical lawyers who will see their client as Oberlin College! The personal interests of the lawyers themselves are not the interests of Oberlin College!
Moreover, hire lawyers that are appropriate for the issues before the court. Hiring top $ constitutional, free-speech lawyers to appeal a libel and slander case is incomprehensible. It is as absurd as hiring a good traffic ticket lawyer to argue a complicated and tricky patent case. See A Call to Arms at Oberlin College, which discusses the absurdities in the College’s current appeal of the Gibson trial results.
It is to everyone’s advantage to work out a settlement in this matter so that the College and town will no longer be fractured. Once this is done, both the city and college will no longer need to live in mutual contempt.
/s/ JD Nobody (ho, hum), OC ’61.
The purpose of this blog is to tell the other side of the Gibson’s Bakery, OSCA, the Kosher-Halal Co-op, and UAW stories to Oberlin Alumni lest they believe the College’s heavily redacted and whitewashed version of events. Please tell your fellow Obies how the Trustee-Politburo has damaged the College’s reputation, the worth of our degrees, the Gibsons, the college’s union workers, K-H, and the OSCA Co-op tradition. No pandemic, sleazy PR, or conflating of libel and slander with free speech can divert attention from the BOT’s negligence in these matters. Speak up and insist that the BOT arrest its compulsive, neo-Puritan righteousness, which has already eradicated either THOUSANDS of $36,000 scholarships or 225 Steinway concert grand pianos — just to wreck a tiny bakery, a cooperating union, K-H, and the OSCA Student Co-op!