Historical Documents – 1969 Senate Letter on Admissions

Mar. 11, 1969, Oberlin Review

[JPG of original article – 426K]

The following letter was sent Saturday to all parents, trustees, and presidents of regional clubs. – Ed.

Dear Parents, Alumni and Trustees:

In November, two students were admitted for the first time as members of the Committee on Admissions and Relationship to Secondary Schools, David Hauck and Amy Gladstein. In an effort to find out how the interviewing procedure functioned, on Friday, February 14, these two students began to read the interview reports in folders of applicants for the class of 1973. The interview sheets contained statements of political philosophies, comments on physical characteristics, and comments concerning the masculinity of applicants. The following comments were found on interview sheets:

1. ‘Here’s our classic case. A National Liberation Front Member. Every cliché at his grasp. Very difficult to pin down. Never a straight-forward answer. Outspoken. Very factual in approach. Active in all movements. Instead of answering a question in his own accord, he refers to a quote or a study or actual history. He doesn’t show me much. It’s an R (reject) all the way.’ [His SAT scores were verbal, 643, math, 530. American history achievement, 800.]

2. ‘Well, this kid certainly won’t help the male image on campus – it’s too late even for hormones!…Nothing against him, but I’m not sure I want to take responsibility for sending our girls another one of these.’

3. ‘I am sure his good sense and Quaker-like attitude will help toward control of campus impulsiveness so common these days.’

4. ‘He seems pretty level-headed, and although he sympathizes with some of the SDS [Students for a Democratic Society] causes, he also disagrees with some of their methods.’

5. ‘…a little Southern conservatism might be healthy.’

6. ‘He and his father both remind me of the typical Jews’ cliché, pusher, aggressive, talker, high goals.’

On Monday, February 17, after a series of meetings, the chairman agreed to defer the mailing of any decisions by the Admissions Office until the committee could meeting on the following Monday, after they had read the objectionable comments on the interview sheets.

The committee met on Monday, February 24. We felt that three actions had to be discussed: complete restructuring of the Admissions procedure for thee next year; immediate investigation of the procedure this year; and the reviewing by the committee of all applicant decisions made in the Office. At this meeting, the committee agreed to restructure the procedure for next year and to review only the men’s applications.

We met with the chairman again that night to try to convince him of the seriousness of the concern we felt about the whole process which made a review of all the women’s folders necessary. We felt that the committee should request the College Faculty Nominations Committee to appoint more members so that the work could be conducted before the decisions deadline, April 1, but the chairman felt that they situation was not serious enough to warrant this action.

Feeling that the actions of the committee were insufficient, the two students released to the student newspaper, the Review, an explanation of the decisions made by the committee. They felt that [sic] had a responsibility to inform the community of the serious nature of the situation. In response to this action, the chairman informed the two students that admissions files were no longer open to them. At a meeting on March 3, the committee discussed the questions of their continued membership. The committee, after questioning the two students for an hour and a half, decided to suspend them for what they considered a violation of committee ethics.

Such an act, in violation of the faculty bill providing for student representation on faculty committees, excludes students not only from the current applicant review process, but also from the projected investigation of the operations of the Admissions Office. Students also will not be allowed to take part in the restructuring of the admissions procedure.

On March 4, the Admissions Committee, now acting without its student members, voted against reviewing women’s decisions and decided not to make their findings regarding the office’s operations public. The Student Senate met with Mr. Craig, the chairman of the Committee, the following night to once again press the three student demands: a reinstatement of the two student committee members; a review of women’s applications; and a thorough investigation and restructuring of the Admissions Office.

Senate felt that the students had been illegally expelled and that students must be allowed to take part in the activities of a committee which they had pushed to take action. Furthermore, since the committee had agreed to review men’s applications, and since the same people who had made decisions regarding the men had also acted on women’s applications, the Senate felt that the Committee should take the same actions with reference to the women’s applications. This is especially true regarding women because a larger number of women’s applications are received by Oberlin.

Mr. Craig stated that he felt that further consideration of these issues would delay the committee from acting on the men’s applications. He also rejected the Senate’s offer to name students as aides to committee members while requesting additional faculty participjation [sic] so as to be able to review all applicants in the time remaining.

Senate then voted to distribute letters explaining the entire history of this problem to the parents of students, the trustees, and the presidents of regional alumni clubs. It is hoped that the response from these members of the Oberlin community will move the faculty committee to accept the Senate recommendations. The statements is being distributed to you because the Senate feels that you had a the right to know such information which is available to the rest of the community. We urge you to communicate your opinions to the Admissions Office and to Chairman Craig of the Admissions Committee at the earliest possible moment. A strong, immediate response is necessary to assure that these matters will be dealt with justly.

Robert B. Shapiro, President
Oberlin College Student Senate