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Oberlin student op-ed: Too many white people are attending campus concerts

Campus vows to add “vibe monitors” to police events

In an op-ed at The Oberlin Review, a student columnist has urged fewer white people to attend concerts on campus.

“When there are so few resources for non-white students on campus, it can be upsetting when concerts headlined by artists of color are dominated by white students,” writes Kayla Kim.

Kim relays the story of Haley Sablay, who over the summer attended an event known as Solarity that features bands on campus.

“A white male was just falling all over the people around us,” she said. “And there was this one person next to me who kept telling him, ‘Stop touching me, stop falling over me.’”

“Sablay also noted that while the front mostly had students of color, they were slowly being pushed away toward the back as the concert continued,” Kim writes. “She and her friends eventually left.”

In order to attend the Solarity event, students are required to watch a 30-minute “bystander training video” and complete a form with “basic questions about drug use and consent.”

“The problem is that these measures don’t necessarily prevent inappropriate behavior from happening,” Kim writes, noting the school is now adding “vibe watchers” to “make sure students are safe and comfortable at the concert.”

According to the school’s website, this year’s Solarity event was scheduled to be paired with a drag queen ball.

Kim did talk to one black student who, upon attending a poetry performance on campus known as OSLAM, was distraught when white students were being asked to leave to make room for students of color.

“People who came to just listen to poetry and not knowing the context of OSLAM overall were put in a situation that I feel they didn’t deserve to be in where they were subjected to this feeling of being treated differently because of their skin color,” said Asquith Clarke II.

Clarke said when white students were asked to leave, he felt uncomfortable and left.

Later, OSLAM organizers issued a statement on Instagram explaining the policy of asking white people to leave.

“It was solely our decision to ask white people to offer up their seats in an effort to free up seating for more Black people,” the organizers wrote. “It was our impression that after summers of activism and advocacy for the cause of ‘Black liberation,’ that this request would be met with empathy and the understanding that our goal wasn’t to remove white people from the space. It was to make space for Black people. This was meant to be an encouragement, rather than a demand, for those in attendance whose views were similar to ours and who wanted to make space for Black people.”

Kim offers several tips for campus concert-going, advising that if you are a white student attending a concert on campus, “acknowledge that you are a guest walking into that space.”

Read more here.

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