Oberlin President Refuses To Apologize For Defamation Of Grocery Leading To Record $25 Million Award

Formal_Seal_of_Oberlin_College,_Oberlin,_OH,_USA.svgIt appears that not even a record defamation award against Oberlin College will induce any sense of accountability by the school.  After the award was (as expected) reduced from $44 million to $25 million, Oberlin officials said that they could pay the damages without much problem, according to The Chronicle-TelegramPresident Carmen Twillie Ambar  then issued statements that infuriated many by dismissing any responsibility by her college staff or the college as a whole. Indeed, she refused to apologize because she said it might irritate some students.  As I previously discussed, Oberlin has shown how many academics have surrendered control of their institutions and no longer possess the courage to take responsibility for abuses occurring on our campuses.

I will not repeat the facts of the controversy, which were detailed in a prior column.  Suffice it to say that a jury and a court found that Oberlin defamed a small, family-owned grocery after an African American student named Jonathan Aladin was caught trying to steal a bottle of wine from Gibson’s Bakery, which was established in 1885.   Aladin and two other students, Cecilia Whettstone and Endia Lawrence, were arrested and later pleaded guilty to shoplifting and related crimes. Dean of students Meredith Raimondo reportedly joined the massive protests and fueled protests calling the grocery racist.  She led efforts to bar any business with the grocery and another contractor was told that it could not do business with the grocery and still maintain a contract with Oberlin.

With $25 million in damages as well as huge litigation costs, Oberlin still did not fire Raimondo or, more importantly, apologize to the grocery (and its donors for wasting millions).  To the contrary, President Carmen Twillie Ambar seemed to not only dismiss responsibility but deny reality.  According to news reports, Ambar said the entire incident was “very complicated” and “mischaracterized” but notably failed to explain why or how. Instead, she described the controversy in a way that directly contradicted the facts.  She claimed that this was a matter involving “shoplifting or a fake ID, there’s an issue about what happened there.” However, the record was clear that the Oberlin student shoplifted the wine and then engaged in assault.  She also dismissed complaints over the conduct of her Dean of Students who sent an email containing profanity about a professor who dared to observe that there was no evidence of racism by the grocery in the incident.  Ambar also dismissed her role in the protests, repeating the rejected claim that she was merely there as a “liaison.”

The most disturbing statement by Ambar was that the college would not apologize for its actions because it might inflame the same students who led the protests leading to huge damages against the college.  She simply said that this whole controversy “goes to the issue of race.” She observed that members of the college community have had “a variety of experiences with Gibson’s — ranging from “wonderful” to “not wonderful.”  Admitting that these accounts conflict, but said “The college didn’t issue an apology because it was hearing these different perspectives and didn’t think it should apologize for issues it didn’t create.”  What?  How about apologizing for the college’s conduct?  Moreover, the whole idea of following principle is that you do the right thing regardless of the consequences or how popular it would be.  Either an apology is warranted or it is not.  Instead, Ambar said that the college would not apologize because it would create “issues.”  That is precisely the logic that led to the abuse of this grocery and the massive damages by the jury.  The College simply yielded to students and then officials like Raimondo fueled the protests.

Notably, Chief of Staff Ferdinand Protzman said that effort to lift the boycott of the grocery were delayed because they officials did not want to trigger students and that they did not want to upset Raimondo.

Many of us were hoping for a more self-reflective response from Oberlin but Ambar has offered little more than a shrug.  The school will pay out millions that could have gone to scholarships and research.  It is just a cost of doing business as a student-run institution.

41 thoughts on “Oberlin President Refuses To Apologize For Defamation Of Grocery Leading To Record $25 Million Award”

  1. “Oberlin still did not fire Raimondo or, more importantly, apologize to the grocery (and its donors for wasting millions). To the contrary, President Carmen Twillie Ambar seemed to not only dismiss responsibility but deny reality.”

    Its a teachable moment…just what are they teaching?

    1. I’d say the lesson they’re teaching is that Oberlin College wants a privileged position for their students to steal from local merchants without suffering the consequences other community residents must.

      Why they should enjoy such privilege is baffling. The Gibson family of bakers who own that store didn’t create any social inequities that Mr. Aladin, the Oberlin College shoplifter, can point to which justifies his theft of wine from them. When he and two other Oberlin College students assaulted a family member clerking at the store for stopping the theft, they destroyed the rule of law which protected them. Oberlin College’s dean of students, contrary to Oberlin Presiident Ambar’s lies, took an active part in a subsequent civil disturbance at Gibson’s Bakery, spread lies about the Gibson family to local news media, and tried to prevent local news media from photographing the civil disturbance preventing customers from purchasing goods at Gibson’s Bakery.

      The lesson Oberlin College taught is that they are the biggest gang of thugs in Oberlin, Ohio, and that they have the right to steal from other people in that town, and to prevent people who try and prevent such theft from doing business.

      Oberlin College is teaching its students that organized crime pays.

  2. Aspiration (Oberlin College and Conservatory Mission Statement).

    “Mission Statement
    Oberlin educates students for lives of intellectual, musical, and artistic rigor and breadth; sustained inquiry, creativity and innovation; and leadership. Oberlin aims to prepare graduates with the knowledge, skills, and perspectives essential to confront complex issues and to create change and value in the world.

    Oberlin is committed to educational access and opportunity. It seeks to offer a diverse and inclusive residential learning environment encouraging a free and respectful exchange of ideas and shares an enduring commitment to a sustainable and just society.:

    Reality (article “Oberlin College president says Gibson

    “Oberlin College president says Gibson’s lawsuit result has ‘profound, chilling effect on free speech'”, Bruce Walton, the Elyria, Ohio Chronicle-Telegram OBERLIN — In a Monday morning news conference, Oberlin College President Carmen Twillie Ambar said the outcome of the Gibson’s Bakery lawsuit will have a lasting effect on the college and similar institutions concerning free speech.

    “The notion that (Oberlin College) can now be held vicariously liable for the students’ speech because of its efforts to de-escalate the protest would have a profound, chilling effect on free speech,” she said…

    …The news conference followed a letter Ambar released last week regarding the lawsuit.

    The June 17 letter from Ambar, sent to Oberlin alumni, faculty and staff, was an introduction to a set of frequently asked questions to “bring to the fore the facts” of the case. The FAQ letter stated the college stands by the students’ constitutional right to protest the bakery.

    The rift between the bakery and college started in November 2016, after a student attempted to buy alcohol with a fake ID and shoplift from the store. Bakery employee Allyn D. Gibson, son of the bakery’s owner, followed the student out of the store and the two got into a physical altercation.

    Police stated when they arrived that three students were hitting Allyn D. Gibson while he was on the ground. Allyn D. Gibson is white and the three students are black, which sparked claims during student protests that Gibson’s Bakery was racist.

    The students were arrested and pleaded guilty in August 2017 to misdemeanor charges, acknowledging in court that Allyn D. Gibson was within his right to detain the shoplifter and that his actions were not racially motivated.”

    Students protested outside Gibson’s Bakery for two days after the incident, passing out flyers urging people to boycott the bakery and alleging that the business engaged in racial profiling. Following student protests, a boycott of the business and a brief cease in business relations between the college and bakery, the family filed a civil suit against the college in November 2017.

    During the news conference, Ambar said — as she had in the letter — that due to college policy, Meredith Raimondo, the college’s vice president and dean of students, must be present at all protests to ensure student safety, but that was the extent of her involvement.

    During the trial, Jason Hawk, editor of the Oberlin News-Tribune, testified that students were shouting obscenities at him, calling him names and even spitting at him. Hawk also said Raimondo approached him while he was at the scene, which he was covering for the weekly publication.

    Hawk said Raimondo tried to block him from taking photos and gave him a copy of the flyer students were circulating that declared Gibson’s Bakery to be a racist establishment with a history of racial profiling.

    In addition, Ambar said the settlement should not immediately affect the college’s financial budget as more legal actions involving the case are continuing.

    The college had a projected deficit of about $5 million for fiscal year 2018, according to a letter from Ambar, Board of Trustees Chair Chris Canavan and Vice Chair Chesley Maddox-Dorsey last year.”

    Oberlin College aspires “It seeks to offer a diverse and inclusive residential learning environment encouraging a free and respectful exchange of ideas and shares an enduring commitment to a sustainable and just society.”

    Independent coverage of the acts by Oberlin College’s students and staff which provoked local court to award the Gibsons and their bakery $44 million (later reduced to $25 million) shows Oberlin College engages in gaslighting the general public about that they did to the Gibson family and their business.

  3. My family owns a mid-size business in Ohio. We view candidate with a degree from Oberlin in the same light as a physcian with a medical degree from Granada. We can’t take the risk that even a Magna Cum Laude Oberlin graduate knows how to add two numbers.

  4. Unqualified AA projects are running rampant in society today. It’s a situation that’s been brewing for years and we’re now paying the penalties for it. Worse, they’re now shaping today’s minds and turning out a brand of confidant idiot that will be tomorrow’s leaders. We are doomed.

    1. The author of this mess was (1) the dean of students, who is an asinine woman but not an AA project and (2) the previous college president, who certainly wasn’t an AA project. Betwixt and Between they hired the current college president and a new GC as well. These women likely are AA projects. All three women are notable for being stupid and stubborn. The dean of students is just malicious. The GC cannot do her job properly. And the college president has responded to this disaster by making her self look ridiculous with her recriminations. All three women must be fired, but the Trustees do nothing.

  5. If they could pay the damages without much problem, then there was not a punitive add on to their settlement.

    Clearly, Oberlin has not learned its lesson. The law needs to apply equally to everyone. Civil and criminal punishment is supposed to act as a deterrent. The next time they do this, sue them again, until they learn the law.

    1. If Oberlin College can “pay the damages without much problem”, they may be
      a – depending on the proceeds of an insurance policy against liability for damages such as this court, on donors to bear that expense, or on proceeds from the sale of Oberlin College properties or securities,
      b – deluded about their finances and the likelihood that further legal actions will reduce or abolish their liability for damages, or
      c – gaslighting anyone stupid enough to believe them.

      1. Loupg.
        They have an endownent fund of about $900 million, so if they’re allowed to pay the damages out of that fund, they can easily do so. If they repeat the stupidity and have to pay similar size damages another 35 times or so, they can deplete that fund.
        I’m not sure what impact this might have on alumni donations, but I’d guess that some donors would reconsider making donations if a good chunck of it might be pissed away like that.

        1. Tom,
          Oberlin College’s Board of Trustees have explained their position before on paying for anything but student assistance out of their endowment fund – they’re actually preferring to cut retirement and other employee compensation before they do that. While the trustees haven’t explicitly said paying damages out of the college’s endowment fund poses a problem, they haven’t joined Oberlin College’s president in her assessment that it can “pay the damages without much problem”.

          Obviously, unless the Federal Reserve obliges them in ways that keep their investment portfolio paying at its present state or even (highly unlikely) boosts that income, they’ll have to dip into their endowment capital to pay the damages assessed.

          This is where Oberlin’s high-sounding mission statement fails – their “… diverse and inclusive residential learning environment encouraging a free and respectful exchange of ideas and shares an enduring commitment to a sustainable and just society” fails utterly unless capitalism can continue propping it up.

          Oberlin College’s president and dean of students have already defaulted on the “…free and respectful exchange of ideas and shares an enduring commitment to a sustainable and just society” by creating and abetting a civil disturbance at the site of a local merchant after one of their students stole from that merchant and two other Oberlin students then physically assaulted a member of the family which owns it.

          This was nothing remotely like “…free and respectful exchange of ideas and shares an enduring commitment to a sustainable and just society” – more like a failure of Oberlin College and its students to check their privilege at the university gates. Very far from rebuilding their relationship to the surrounding community, Oberlin College’s administration has just openly declared they’ll persist in trampling the rights of the community surrounding Oberlin College, and demanding their donors pay for that.

  6. “Ambar said that the college would not apologize because it would create “issues.””

    Ambar should not be in charge of young impressionable minds and lacks the ability to deal with people. Maybe she should get a job as a long haul truck driver.

    1. This issue is she’s a sociopath.

      Being a trucker has operational measures of competence. She wouldn’t like that.

      1. I didn’t think about what she would like. I was thinking what would be best for society. As a long distance truck driver she could still spend most of her time on her butt without having to interact with people.

        1. she’s irresponsible and would probably fail to hitch the trailer with proper procedures and lose control on the highway and crush an innocent family. best to keep her locked up in academia where possibly her victims may one day recover from the intellectual abuse they now call “education”

          1. “where possibly her victims may one day recover from the intellectual abuse they now call “education””

            With her as an educator students with PhD’s will be driving Trucks to make a living.

    2. Long-haul truck drivers are held responsible for laws they or people acting for them break. That doesn’t sound like work Oberlin President Ambar could relate well to.

  7. A “woke”, SJW fighting for a righteous cause cannot repent.

    I just wish the upper middle classes had to endure the same social conditions (i.e. busing, schools, hospitals and social services overrun by illegal aliens) they have managed to create for working class Americans.

    antonio

    1. antonio, you know how it works. they screen out the more bright and competent ones and place them in universities and so forth where they can train them to act as representatives. then the second tier mows the lawns at places like that. the third and lowest tier are the chain migrants who suck up all the free health care and end up in jail and stuff.

      native born americans compete at all three levels for the same stuff.

      this is what everybody who competes knows before long and it’s also why a lot of black people will go into the booths one day and pull the lever…. For Donald. Without telling any of their friends perhaps but oh be sure they will. And various other ethnics who will vote to “roll up the welcome mat” if they have any brains at all!

      1. I sometimes wonder if the white people who have been overly miseducated and bullied by the white liberals will have the common sense and spine to go vote for Donald. That was a problem in the midterm. But, maybe they need another 10 million immigrants here before they will wise up!

        If there was ever a CERTAIN PROOF against the “supremacy” of the white race, it’s the utterly IDIOTIC AND SELF DEFEATING NATURE OF THE WHITE LIBERAL.

        I used to think maybe I was a racist but then i realized how much these people disgusted me, and then i realized i Just can’t make it as a white racist. I mean i tried but the treasonous sabotage of white liberals in this country disgusts me so much I mostly just want to avoid them anymore and sit back and watch as they reap the whirlwind.

    2. The Deep State (Trump and Pelosi and SCOTUS are simply administrators for the Deep State) push all the financial pain of monetary policy onto those below the top 1 or 2%. The result is that there is no ratio high enough, of illegal 3rd world illiterates, to satisfy the Deep State’s financial needs to dilute their theft of middle and lower class wealth.

      As I believe our dear Dr. Turley has noted, Trump’s admin has fined 12 employers for hiring illegals, and Trump has still not forced employers to use the proven 99+% accurate method to insure they hire only persons legally authorized to work in the US (sorry forgot the name of the computer based system).

      Organized criminals like Trump and Pelosi are firmly in charge, and know exactly what they are doing.

      1. I explained this before “princess.” contractors don’t have to verify status of contract workers. “outsourcing” is a big economic trend that hinges on this fact to bury various forms of noncompliance with legal regimes for various social objectives, not just right to work verification.

        its questionable the level of changes necessary to discourage employment of illegals could be drafted into law in either party.

        the simpler thing is just police the border and now they don’t want to do even that much.

  8. So the Oberlin people say no biggie. We use this as advertising to get new stupids and they can get the tuition money from the tax payers so only question ishow many new stupids equals 35 million?

    the math department figured out the number of years and it was too many so they thought about it and decided two options

    First. Double the tuition even triple the tuition but that still wasn’t enough soon enough so………

    They decided to get government student loans for all students who didn’t have a government student loan and even go back a number of years.

    After all said Oberlin it’s Patriotic thing to do in a democratic way

    The next Judge didn’t see it quite that way. and introduced Oberlin to market capitalism by ordering the sale of the property plus court costs.

    Which amount was the largest?

  9. President Carmen Twillie Ambar described the controversy in a way that directly contradicted the facts;
    dismissed complaints over the conduct of her Dean of Students who sent an email containing profanity about a professor who dared to observe that there was no evidence of racism by the grocery in the incident;
    apologize for the college’s conduct; not apologize because it would create “issues”;
    Which is precisely the logic that led to the abuse of this grocery and the massive damages by the jury.
    Can anyone not admit that many teachers & most administrators are the antichrist when it comes to teaching anarchy to students? I hope that Oberlin goes out of business!

  10. “The seeds of this violence have been planted and are encouraged by leftist professors in the classroom. Over the last few years, there has been a growing trend of extremist professors advocating for violence and intimidation to force leftist ideology onto society.
    Examples can be found from coast-to-coast: Mark Bray, a visiting scholar at Dartmouth College, is a staunch defendant of Antifa’s use of violence and even wrote “Anti-Fa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook,” in which he claims that ‘violence is a “legitimate response” to groups with incendiary views.’

  11. Again, one feature of this (like the Duke imbroglio in 2006 and 2007) is the utter negligence of the trustees. Ambar, Varner, and Raimondo are horrible people who do not belong in positions where they supervise others. They hold those positions because the trustees refuse to remove them. Publish the names and all the contact information of the trustees.

    It”s time for the Ohio authorities to use every tool available in Ohio law to depose that board.

    1. <Publish the names…

      If you have time on your hands consider it or distributing the list far and wide. Doxing seems quite popular with Left so…

      Executive Committee
      Chris Canavan, Chair
      Chesley Maddox-Dorsey, Vice Chair, Chair, Dev & Alumni Affairs
      Carmen Twillie Ambar, President
      Amy Chen, Co-Chair, Investment
      Steve Dolcemaschio, Chair, Audit
      Lillie Edwards, Chair, Acad. Affairs
      Cynthia Hogan, Chair, Student Affairs
      Michael Kamarck, Chair, Cap. Planning
      David Krischer, Chair, Budget & Finance
      Leanne Wagner, Chair, Compensation
      https://www.oberlin.edu/general-counsel-and-secretary/trustees/committees-and-charters

      1. to properly dox you also get the home addresses and telephone numbers which is perfectly legal btw

      2. A quick perusal through last December’s meeting minutes shows the trustees are cut from the same cloth as the administration. You’ll be waiting a long time if you expect any of them to shake up the status quo.

        An excerpt:
        “Finally, trustees took part in Barefoot Dialogues. The experience left many of us
        persuaded that this exercise in sustained dialogue is good education, good for the
        mind and the spirit, and a good way to build community – all qualities of a great
        residential liberal arts education.

        Oberlin students, like many of their generation, are often criticized for their fragility
        – for being coddled kids easily triggered by micro-aggressions. We didn’t see
        fragility sitting around those circles. We saw vulnerability. The two may look the
        same, which makes it easy for the critics to criticize. But they couldn’t be more
        different, at least in one important sense. A fragile person perhaps must be shielded
        from the harsh “real” world. A vulnerable person, on the other hand, is capable of
        empathy, and empathy is the beginning of understanding, wisdom, and strength.
        The harsh “real” world needs a lot more of that.”

        The full minutes, which don’t read much like any executive committee minutes I’ve seen in the past, are here:

        https://www.oberlin.edu/sites/default/files/content/office/general-counsel/board-documents/note_to_oberlin_post_dec-2018.pdf

  12. What do you expect? This woman knows where her bread is buttered and it isn’t by justice or truth.

    She is pandering to her base and the morality that normal people live by goes by the wayside.

    Remember that she is more a politician than an educator.

      1. I doubt that Mitch McConnell advocates:
        President Carmen Twillie Ambar described the controversy in a way that directly contradicted the facts;
        dismissed complaints over the conduct of her Dean of Students who sent an email containing profanity about a professor who dared to observe that there was no evidence of racism by the grocery in the incident;
        apologize for the college’s conduct; not apologize because it would create “issues”;
        Which is precisely the logic that led to the abuse of this grocery and the massive damages by the jury.
        Can anyone not admit that many teachers & most administrators are the antichrist when it comes to teaching anarchy to students?

        Nice try.

        1. Bob, do you think that the reason Mitch McConnell is despised so much is because he is getting so many judges approved for the bench?
          Well, I do!

      2. Disclaimer: I suspect most of The Intercept’s articles are trash, but I bet this one has more truth in it than fiction. The headline and sub title stated that McConnel manipulated the Senate to prevent it from passing a law forbidding Orange Man from starting an unauthorized war in Iran.

        The US has apparently had only 16 years not at war, in its 2.5 C history.

        1. Intercept has a lot of good articles and some trash

          I enjoyed some of the memes they archived from the very fine Border Patrol Native Protection agents. Hilarious!

          https://theintercept.com/2019/07/05/border-patrol-facebook-group/

          Some good lads working in the border patrol, and as they were whining about on NPR yesterday, “a lot of them are Chicanos!” Yes that’s right. Roll up the welcome mat and stop the invasion! Let’s join together to protect the homeland regardless of our ancestry! America, F Yeah!

      3. So you are saying the ladiy is a RINO like McConnell. That just means right wing of the left.

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