Posted May 30, 2021 at 08:27. Revised Jun 8, 2021 at 16:24.
The last gasp of winter arrived, leaving frost on the now green trees in the woods. It was a great time to sign up for the activities and programs of Oberlin’s virtual reunion weekend.
More recently, Memorial Day weekend at ChaosFarm has been kicked off by a windstorm with gusts up to 45 knots. A great time to dig into the latest successes and follies of the BOT’s anointed administrators.
It turns out that efforts to sign up for the virtual reunion weekend resulted in a thorough exercise of all the expletives known to JD when he tried to visit Oberlin College’s secretly outsourced website, https://oberlin.edu.
Things went well until…
It is too early to say for sure what went on with Oberlin College’s efforts to pull off a virtual alumni reunion. Sounds easy enough, but Oberlin is no ordinary place, as we all know. The episode involved a refreshing display of competence intertwined with some concealed generic bungling.
JD bit on the virtual reunion bait and clicked the link to the signup page on Oberlin.edu. Seemed like a harmless enough act to JD. The link was dead. Other signup page links went to the same dead link.
JD initially thought that part of the oberlin.edu domain was down for maintenance and would be back soon. Very naive on his part. He searched out the College’s Alumni Office telephone number, which was an effort in and of itself. He called them and asked what was going on with the oberlin.edu virtual reunion subdomain. The answer was, “Oh, nothing is wrong. Everything is fine.” JD responded, “Oh no, no, no, no, no, everything is not fine.”
They tried sending him to different places on Oberlin.edu to sign up, all of which had links going to the same inaccessible Oberlin.edu subdomain. After thinking about it, it looked like the subdomain had access privileges that allowed anyone from within the Oberlin.edu network to access it but privileges that block access from outside the campus LAN.
The lady JD spoke to was surprisingly knowledgeable, but it took JD a little while to get across the idea that incorrect access privileges were a likely cause. She understood the problem and checked around the campus to determine why JD couldn’t reach the signup page in the advance.oberlin.edu subdomain.
The problem was not with JD’s Lenovo laptop, as he tried accessing the Oberlin.edu signup page using both wired and wireless connections as well as with a second Linux-based laptop. At all points in the process, he was able to ping Oberlin.edu, but under no conditions was he able to ping advance.oberlin.edu, the subdomain where the signup page was. (Ping is a network test that checks if a web page is working).
JD suspected that somebody in the oberlin.edu data center would discover that they screwed up and solve the problem with the time-honored innocent puppy dog solution. In the puppy dog solution, the guilty party jumps in your lap and licks your face while its rapidly wagging whisk-broom-like tail sneakily sweeps the problem out of sight.
Access to the signup page began to work once the puppy dog did his magic and made the trouble partially disappear. A surprising revelation came from the tail wagging — much or all of oberlin.edu is not hosted in Oberlin by the College. It is hosted by Amazon Web Services and probably other web hosting services as well. This fragmented web hosting is a great way to disperse the blame for any trouble by guaranteeing that problems will quickly turn into a morass of finger-pointing and blamelessness.
The College’s use of Amazon Web Services is probably a smart move, even though Oberlin College is further enhancing the wealth of Jeff Bezos. JD has found AWS to be very difficult to use and paranoid about security — setting much more complex security rules for access than some situations require.
Kassy Wyman, Assistant Vice President, Director of Development Operations, picked up digging into this issue and did all she could to get to the bottom of things. She did not completely resolve the problem, but that was in no way her fault.
The College’s current web operations do not adequately handle access via a VPN. Correctly managing VPNs matters because many computers, smartphones, and touchpad users use VPN connections for security purposes. These security-conscious people will be erratically and inexplicably blocked from some parts of oberlin.edu.
The following Official Uncensored Oberlin Alumni FaceBook Group excerpts are made available here since the FaceBook Group is closed and the comments merit being made available to a more general audience. The remarks in the thread are not always sequential.
I just love how the College will repeat a lie, hoping if they say it enough, it will be the truth. I received a letter of Congratulations on your retirement. Ummm, I was fired… I did not retire… Something is seriously wrong with that place.
SA, to top it off, the letter said they would follow up to let us know the cost. I contacted HR since I have not received another letter. I was told no letter would be sent until we filled out the papers. Nowhere did our letter say this. How can you agree to buy insurance if you don’t know the coverage or the premium… That letter of congratulations to me was a slap in the face after what they did to us. I only pray that Karma looks out for these people that did this. I’m so mad and upset I could just sit down and cry.
This is terrible.
What’s something you feel like students and alums can do to support you right now? I’m sure plenty of others are still involved and doing something about this, but I feel so far removed from the situation since leaving the town. I wish I knew right away without having to ask, but it all seems so complicated. This is awful, and I’m so sorry you’re being treated like this.
PB a big virtual hug ❤️. I don’t understand how a company can treat employees the way they do after 20 years… it just got to me today. Sorry for the rant. After June 29th, I no longer have to worry. All ties are cut.
Would love to be there the day Carmen meets Karma.
AR 🤣 I’ll have to remember this one !! Thanks for the giggle I got reading this.
I am a bit confused. Can you provide some context for this post?
BC she is a displaced Oberlin College employee forced out by Oberlin’s refusing to live up to its own professes standards of learning and labor. Her career was Oberlin. Now this BS.
Never had much to give, but it’s not going to Oberlin.
Now, it turns out our endowment is okay, and we still forced these people out over a few million a year. It’s not like they were overpaid or anything.
BC I didn’t retire from the College I along with 108 were terminated. We’re sitting here waiting for a letter from the College to tell us what are premiums would be. HR informed me that no letter would be sent. If we do not respond by June 4, we lose all rights to insurance. How many people will be waiting for this “letter “that they said would come, will never come?
BC the college outsourced their jobs and brought a company in to replace them.😞
BC paying the new employees $9-$12/hour!!!!!!
So this is part of the union-busting scandal?
LP which, to me, is effectively the college opposing an increase to the federal minimum wage.
SH It would appear that way.
LP I guess OC is not supporting the movement of a national minimum wage of $15/hr.
DC Unfortunately, this is happening at other colleges and universities in Cleveland and across the US. It’s sad. https://www.cnbc.com/2020/07/02/218-colleges-have-laid-off-or-furloughed-employees-due-to-covid-19.html
BC This is a union-busting move on the college’s part, not related to Covid19.
The workers have been replaced by non-union workers at lower wages in the middle of the Fight for $15.
Oberlin’s motto is literally “Learning and Labor.”
The rationale is cost savings because of the losses to the endowment.
The cost savings are in the millions annually (for real necessary services, mind you), whereas the endowment has already recovered.
Also, what is the endowment for if it is to be protected at all costs, instead of being used to weather a storm, do the right thing, or most importantly, live up to our self-professed values?
I would rather see a smaller, more honorable Oberlin than a larger, less committed one.
DC honorable was thrown out the window when the current trustees came to power. Getting rid of us was what they wanted. We all had to sign a paper saying we agreed that the College bargained in good faith to get our severance. [It sounds like this is probably an egregious violation of federal labor laws. ed.] In one of Skillings’ propaganda speeches, she even mentioned that the displaced workers were happy. We had no choice but to sign. Now I read in the Oberlin Review a Professor saying their pay was, I think, 17 out of 21 peer schools. No raises for two years, 2% raise the third year, and 16% increase in their health benefits. No matching 401k. Honestly, who would want to work there with the measly benefits they give. But I bet Ambar has a few perks. I’m sure they used us as a reason for not taking care of the Professors. The only excuse is they are greedy, and only the upper class deserves good pay. Let’s not get into the mismanagement of facilities.
This fits in with my thoughts. The seeds were sown during my time there in the early to mid-seventies. I have turned my back on them. They don’t even know where I am anymore, and this is good.
That is horrid. It’s even worse than when a certain Ivy League college followed up our “Congratulations. You are fully vested in your retirement” letter with an announcement that they were taking the money back. So glad I had that first letter to present as evidence they might want to rethink that idea before I hired a lawyer.
I at least got my $ and a sincere apology. [Maybe Ambar actually did learn something when she was in law school. ed.]
You got shafted and continual reminders that they don’t care enough to get it straight.
CB wow that is unbelievable… what makes corporations act like this ??
I’m so grateful that I could retire (much earlier than I had planned) from OC. The way they treat hourly employees is wrong in so many ways.
AR We greatly appreciated everything you did for us in the EAS department!!! I’m sorry I wasn’t still a student to be there to wish you a happy retirement properly. I hope you & your loved ones have been well!
Thank you so much for that, A! It made my heart smile! I always wanted my office to feel like a home away from home for my “kids.” It makes me sad that there is no longer anyone in the EAS office to greet students and others. You now have to go to the second floor of Peters to talk to anyone.
How can we alumni help you? I want to.
GF send us lots of virtual hugs… donate to your local food bank or homeless shelter, and have them send a thank you note to OC and thank them for being such A-holes as you sent a donation to them instead of OC. As the college has proven with the CO-OPS, they just want money. Bragging rights of a billion $ endowment show how really strapped they are. [The purported increase in the endowment is a brazen lie when it is adjusted for inflation. JD briefly worked in the College Investment Office and believes Skillings’ managerial track record is not that of a financial genius. Her total endowment management costs as a percentage of the endowment principal are much higher than in earlier years. ed.]
The outsourcerer’s apprentice
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