March 5th, 2013
11:48 AM ET

Oberlin College cancels classes to address racial incidents

By Laura Ly, CNN

(CNN) - Oberlin College in Ohio suspended classes Monday after a student reported seeing a person resembling a Ku Klux Klan member near the college's Afrikan Heritage House.

The sighting of the person wearing a white hood and robe was reported early Monday morning and follows a string of recent hate incidents on Oberlin's campus that have ignited shock and confusion among the student body.

"Since the beginning, there's been anger, frustration, sadness and fear, but we've been working toward a concentrated effort toward change," said Eliza Diop, 20, a politics and Africana Studies major who serves on the college student senate and is a resident of the Afrikan Heritage House, which offers programs focused on the African diaspora, according to the college's website.

Oberlin College is a small liberal arts college in Oberlin, Ohio, with almost 3,000 students. An emergency meeting among the college's officials was immediately called after the report.

In lieu of classes, college administrators asked students, faculty and staff to "gather for a series of discussions of the challenging issues that have faced our community in recent weeks," a statement on Oberlin's website said.

"We hope today will allow the entire community — students, faculty, and staff —to make a strong statement about the values that we cherish here at Oberlin: inclusion, respect for others, and a strong and abiding faith in the worth of every individual," the statement said.

The programming included a campuswide teach-in led by Meredith Gadsby, an associate professor and chairwoman of the Africana Studies Department; a collective demonstration of solidarity, including musical performances by campus groups and speeches by campus leaders; and a community convocation entitled "We Stand Together."

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