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Oberlin ex-Pres. "Oberlin needs an intervention. STOP. Pay up, apologize to the Gibsons, reflect.."

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Replies to: Oberlin ex-Pres. "Oberlin needs an intervention. STOP. Pay up, apologize to the Gibsons, reflect.."

  • thibaultthibault 124 replies4 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Another insider's view, from Oberlin's former head of Jewish Studies, retired professor Abraham Socher.

    Read it all. It's beautifully written and contains yet more damning details and cutting observations - example:

    "How, after such public debacles [including the anti-Semitic 9/11 conspiracy-mongering tenure-track Prof whom Pres. Marvin Krislov refused to censure] costing millions of dollars in lost students, donors, and prestige, could Oberlin yet again condescend to its students, betray its finest traditions, and make itself a national laughingstock? Or as another Oberlin professor put it to me in a pithy email after the Gibson’s v. Oberlin verdict, “how idiotic can the college be always?”

    Link:
    https://www.commentarymagazine.com/articles/o-oberlin-my-oberlin/
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  • dropbox77177dropbox77177 266 replies0 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    edited August 29
    The above-linked Commentary article contains the first description outside of the Legal Insurrection blog that I've seen of the actual initiating incident and that is consistent with the evidence:
    All because on November 9, 2016... Allyn Gibson, who is white, had caught an underage African-American student named Jonathan Aladin first trying to buy and then trying to steal wine from the store with two college friends. When Gibson tried first to call the police and then to take a picture of Aladin with two bottles of wine under his shirt, Aladin slapped the phone out of his hands and ran out of the store. Gibson chased him across the street, tried to stop him, and was beaten up by Aladin and his friends [two named black female Oberlin students]. “I’m going to kill you,” Gibson reported Aladin saying.
    The students were initially charged with a felony, which seems right. Oberlin went to bat for them, even to the extent that a trustee covered the cost of expensive legal counsel for Aladin.

    Oberlin is definitely off our list.
    edited August 29
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  • thibaultthibault 124 replies4 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Good catch. The three Oberlin students who beat up Allyn Gibson are violent felons. Their plea bargain was not the result of "pressure" by those evil Gibsons (as per the bogus narrative peddled by the Oberlin activists and staff). The plea bargain that allowed these little thugs to get off the hook was one of many gracious CONCESSIONS offered by the Gibsons in hopes of putting the matter to rest.

    Oberlin's conduct throughout this whole affair is worse than comical. It is despicable.
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  • thibaultthibault 124 replies4 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Here we go again. The local newspaper, the Chronicle, reports that "Oberlin College has asked a judge for a new trial."
    The filing and the attached motion included over - get this - 540 pages of legal arguments and exhibits. Here's one choice snippet - see how many blatant lies you can spot in this statement:
    "[Oberlin claims that their faculty-led student protests] were in response to the eyewitness reports of extrajudicial use of physical force by a Gibson's Bakery employee, the police department's response at the scene and customer reports of a pattern of discriminatory treatment of black people by Gibson's Bakery employees."

    This recalls former Prof. Abraham Socher's devastating observation of the ironic gap between the behavior we've seen and the supposedly superior education - a liberal education, with its cultivation of judgment, moral values and respect for facts and evidence - of the three most egregious actors here:
    1. the thieving, thuggish kid whose idiocy, lies and cowardice prompted this whole mad affair (Philips Andover grad);
    2. the bizarre, lying, mad woman who vowed to "unleash" the students on the innocent Gibson family (Brown undergrad, Emory for grad school);
    3. and the spineless, foolish president who failed to rein in this behavior (Rhodes Scholar).

    Simply unbelievable. Words cannot describe how appalling this is.
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  • thibaultthibault 124 replies4 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone 23025 replies17 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I don't think the length of the motion for a new trial is excessive. The trial lasted something like 4 weeks. This motion would contain a lot of the trial transcripts, legal arguments about the jury instructions, case law, statutes... really not unusual if the client just will not settle.
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  • JBStillFlyingJBStillFlying 6804 replies24 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited September 1
    "The college also argued in its filings that the protests "were in response to the eyewitness reports of extrajudicial use of physical force by a Gibson's Bakery employee, the police department's response at the scene and customer reports of a pattern of discriminatory treatment of black people by Gibson's Bakery employees." "

    So they are making the argument - among others - that the protests were somehow understandable at the time based on reports that were subsequently suppressed at trial? Good luck with that one. The trial was based on factual findings, not uncorroborated hearsay. Interpreting this one very generously - and ignoring facts at the scene and the evidence presented at trial - Oberlin acted upon completely unsubstantiated rumors. And they are STILL doing so. Unbelievable.
    edited September 1
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  • thibaultthibault 124 replies4 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    The latest filing, in essence, is that Oberlin is now arguing for a mistrial based on their own (Oberlin's lawyers') incompetence.

    Longer, more technical description: Oberlin insisted that the court split the compensatory and punitive phases of the trial, and Oberlin failed to challenge the location of the jury. Oberlin is now arguing that the location of the jury was wrong, and that the jury should not have been allowed to assess "actual malice" in one phase of the trial (the punitive phase) but not the other (the compensatory phase).

    We have a new definition of chutzpah.

    Simply unbelievable, for not just nastiness but also sheer stupidity.

    How did Oberlin find these lawyers?
    How did they find Carmen Ambar, Marvin Krislov, and Meredith Raimondo?
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  • dropbox77177dropbox77177 266 replies0 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    edited September 1
    Don't forget about Oberlin's general counsel, Donica Thomas Vartan, who was hired in March 2018. She would have been the point person for formulating Oberlin's Gibson litigation strategy with outside counsel. Ms. Vartan's only private practice experience was 20 years ago at a specialist law firm most well-known for being hired as diversity co-counsel, and where she was only a junior associate fresh out of law school.

    Oberlin has been hiring true believers. It's going to be very difficult to change the culture there, and very expensive to relieve Ambar, Vartan and Raimondo of their respective duties, but I would submit dangerous to allow them to continue. Best to steer clear of the school entirely.
    edited September 1
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  • 57special57special 595 replies15 threadsRegistered User Member
    This whole story seems to be a viscous satire. Oberlin comes off as completely out of touch, childish, and destructive.
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  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone 23025 replies17 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Again, not unusual in a motion for a new trial to argue ineffective assistance of counsel or that evidence was included or excluded that shouldn't have been. This isn't a criminal case, but in criminal cases those might be the ONLY arguments that work. To get a new trial you have to prove that there was something wrong with the original trial and that includes bad lawyering, bad evidence, bad jury.

    Oberlin is trying everything it can to get things overturned at trial, and that includes bashing its own attorneys. Common.
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  • dropbox77177dropbox77177 266 replies0 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    edited September 1
    In common with many LACs, one of the biggest problems Oberlin faces is finding good quality full pay applicants.

    Its CDS shows that 53% of the freshman class is on financial aid (average award >$45K) and fully 34% receive merit awards (averaging $19K). In other words, only 13% of the families are full pay. Perhaps coincidentally, 12% of the class is international.

    You can back into the numbers, and see that yield in the RD round has to be around 20%, low in my opinion. Combined with an overall acceptance rate of 40% in the college (the conservatory is 27%), it's pretty clear that such a low yield leaves Oberlin with only limited ability to pick its class, and it has to use very generous need-based and merit aid to attract quality candidates.

    I just can't see why full pay families would choose to pay $75K per year to subsidize that circus of Ambar, Raimondo and Varner at the top. Oberlin has a large endowment, but I think its long term prospects are not great, and these Gibson antics make them worse.
    edited September 1
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  • thibaultthibault 124 replies4 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Oberlin is in trouble.

    Yield: significantly lower than other LACs, and declining.

    Funds available for operations: scarce, and about to decline significantly.

    Reputation: laughingstock.

    Oberlin's best days are long gone. It would be foolish for any high-achieving young person to apply tk an institution that is in such a precarious position.

    Why roll the dice with your $300,000 investment?
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  • peculiarpracticepeculiarpractice 5 replies0 threadsRegistered User New Member
    What a lot of piling on here. Students have the right to speech. Calling someone racist is not defamatory, it is opinion. The popular perception of this lawsuit has been hopelessly colored by right-wing media, and what is widely being viewed as incontrovertible truth (that wild-eyed radicals bullied a poor local bakery) is anything but. Just as charges of sexual harassment in the workplace often can't be backed up by police reports, racial profiling of shoppers is rarely reported but widely experienced. Yet students who dare to say so are vilified. You don't have to be able to prove someone is a racist in order to call them one. That's not how it works. As so often happens, the specific triggering incident may not have been cut and dried, but it tapped into a simmering anger that goes much deeper.

    The travesty here is not Oberlin's behavior, but a judgment that will have a chilling effect on campus speech. Socher is a nice guy, but has no firsthand knowledge of the situation; he, like everyone else, is relying on overheated media reports and his own misguided sense of nostalgia. Maybe Oberlin will will their appeal; maybe not. If nothing else, it's hard not to give at least some credence to the argument that conducting a trial about a town-gown conflict on town turf gave the town side a big home-court advantage. Oberlin's appeal on the change of venue issue, if nothing else, is totally understandable. As an Oberlin parent, I appreciate the college's support for student speech, and while some of the college's communications may have been ill-considered, they don't rise anywhere near the level of deserving this wildly inappropriate judgment. I hope there are still a lot of kids and parents out there who can see past the spin with which this affair has been reported.
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  • peculiarpracticepeculiarpractice 5 replies0 threadsRegistered User New Member
    "Calling someone racist is defamatory when it causes harm." If that were true, then the protection of free speech would be meaningless, because only speech that caused no harm would be protected. There is no connection between the level of potential harm in a statement and whether it is an opinion, and opinions aren't actionable. What's more, the judge in the case reportedly prevented witnesses from testifying that they felt uncomfortable shopping at Gibsons due to racial profiling, but allowed testimony to the opposite effect, claiming that Gibsons was not racist -- not to mention testimony regarding totally unrelated incidents, like how the elder Gibson injured himself six months after the events in question. This story is far from over.
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  • dropbox77177dropbox77177 266 replies0 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    edited September 10
    The jury found as a factual matter that Oberlin acted with malice in libeling a non-public figure and business. Moreover, some statements constitute defamation per se, meaning damages can be presumed, and arguably false charges of "racism" fall into that class. (Traditionally, untrue allegations that a business was engaged in illegal activity, such as discrimination by race, fell within one of the four categories of defamation per se.) In any event, the jury accepted the expert testimony offered by the Gibsons as to actual and potential economic loss.

    Putting aside whether the jury was right or wrong, a potential family considering Oberlin should consider the tactical mistakes the Oberlin general counsel and president made in directing the defense of this suit. Any competent executive with more than 6 months' experience in either the commercial world or an actual law firm would have understood the wisdom of compromising. The future of the college would not appear to be in good hands.
    edited September 10
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  • shuttlebusshuttlebus 479 replies1 threadsRegistered User Member
    What's more, the judge in the case reportedly prevented witnesses from testifying that they felt uncomfortable shopping at Gibsons due to racial profiling, but allowed testimony to the opposite effect, claiming that Gibsons was not racist -- not to mention testimony regarding totally unrelated incidents, like how the elder Gibson injured himself six months after the events in question. This story is far from over.
    Wow, your statements run counter to everything I have read about this case. Can you provide your source that stated the judge prohibited witnesses that had experienced racial profiling in the bakery from testify at the trial?
    I also read that the elder Gibson was injured when Oberlin students went to his house and banged on his windows in the early morning hours, and Gibson fell when he got up to investigate. His injury seems like a related event to me.
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  • CorinthianCorinthian 1788 replies62 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I think that it's a bit condescending to assume that the public (including the jurors) can't differentiate between "right wing media spin" and evidence. To me, what is damning are the vindictive texts and emails by the administrators. They are what supported the actual malice finding and they went way beyond just poor judgment.

    Also, I don't buy the "chilling free speech" argument here. As I understand that argument it goes like this: college administrators will feel compelled to stop student protests out of fear of legal liability for defamation. I can see that it would be chilling free speech if the Ohio legislature passed a law to punish colleges that fail to stop protests. But it's carrying the "chilling" argument way too far to say that a jury verdict should be overturned because it would chill speech. That would be effectively wiping out the remedy of a defamation lawsuit. Oberlin LOST at trial. You can try to explain it away and say it wasn't fair, or the jurors were biased or the judge committed errors, and that's what appellate courts are for. At the same time, the job of college administrators is guiding their institutions between conflicting demands or conflicting perils. Nobody said the job was easy and there can be repercussions or consequences of making the wrong choices and stubbornly adhering to them.

    Also, I'm no expert on defamation law but my guess is that "chilling free speech" is not a winning legal argument on appeal. Oberlin will have to actually show that the trial court committed some legal errors.
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