April 23, 2014

Elyria
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Oberlin College revises trespass policy

OBERLIN — Oberlin College has revised its controversial trespass policy after months of meeting with community members.

The policy, which is available on Oberlin College’s Office of Safety and Security’s website, has significant changes, including the formation of a Community Advisory Board. The board was proposed by One Town, a group of activists formed to change the college’s policy that had led to hundreds of people being banned from Oberlin College property.

One Town has argued that changes were needed because of those people who had been banned from the college said they didn’t realize they were on the “list.” One Town also said it was inappropriate that residents had to appeal their ban through the Office of Safety and Security which issued the notice.

The Community Advisory Board, comprised of community members nominated by local organizations, will review the college’s policy and hear concerns under the new policy, according to Oberlin College Dean of Students Eric Estes.

Estes said an appeals group also was formed to review a request for modification or rescission of an issued trespass order. The appeals committee consists of the dean of students, special assistant for community and government relations, a member of the faculty and an Oberlin College student or their designees, according to the new policy.

“I think it’s a lot more transparent and straightforward,” Estes said.

The revised policy is also available at the Office of Community and Government Relations website and printed copies can be obtained at the Oberlin Public Library.

Oberlin College will implement the Community Advisory Board as soon as possible. The policy will immediately go into effect.

Reshard el-Shair, a One Town member, said he was pleased that Oberlin College adopted many of the changes his group proposed.

“We just wanted a separation of all the powers,” he said. “Previously, it was the judge, juror and executioner all rolled into one in the Office of Safety and Security,” he said.

El-Shair said he was also happy with the decision to separate juveniles when looking at the trespass policy, calling the decision a more “progressive” approach.

Still, el-Shair called the success bittersweet.

“When you look at it, obviously the optimal outcome would be no policy at all, where people who not be criminalized for walking on campus,” he said.

Estes said the revisions are a step forward, however, and they were made after several meetings with the public.

“I think those discussions have been very helpful and highlighted the issues that we’ve had,” he said. “Our hope is that the revised policy represents an important step forward and that we will continue to be involved with the community.”

Contact Chelsea Miller at 329-7123 or cmiller@chroniclet.com.