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Oberlin College’s Legal Defeat Is America’s Triumph

Newsmax – Reckoning with the neo-Marxist “march through the institutions,” some conservative commentators are in despair.

In their pessimistic view, the woke monster is an unmovable Leviathan, sure to dominate every aspect of our lives under permanent one-party rule.

Recent events in Ohio, however, suggest that such pessimism may well be misplaced and that resistance is far from futile.

On April 1, the owners of Gibson’s Bakery, a fifth-generation small business operating since 1885 in Oberlin, Ohio, won a massive legal victory over neighboring Oberlin College, one of the country’s most progressive institutions of higher education.

At stake was Gibson’s business with Oberlin and general reputation.

In November 2016, Jonathan Aladin, a Black student at the progressive college, attempted to shoplift two bottles of wine from Gibson’s while trying to purchase additional alcohol with a fake ID.

The clerk on duty, the son of the bakery’s owner, confronted him about the attempted theft and threatened to call the police. Aladin slapped his phone away, struck him in the face, and also struck the clerk’s father, the bakery’s legal owner, before fleeing the scene.

The clerk chased Aladin when he fled and tried to hold him, only to be attacked by two other Black Oberlin students who joined Aladin in beating him until the police arrived and arrested the trio of assailants.

All three Oberlin students pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of attempted theft and aggravated trespass.

None was sentenced to jail or fined. All three were released upon a promise of restitution and future good behavior.

They also issued a statement declaring that Gibson’s was right to act as it did, and that its personnel’s actions were not racially motivated.

Local police records indicate no history of racial profiling at Gibson’s and document that only six of 40 suspects arrested for shoplifting over a five-year period were Black.

None of this mattered at Oberlin. The next day hundreds of students and some Oberlin faculty members protested, as, allegedly, did Oberlin’s Vice President and Dean of Students Meredith Raimondo.

Oberlin’s student senate declared that Gibson’s “has a history of racial profiling and discriminatory treatment of students and residents alike,” and called upon the college to sever all business ties and publicly condemn the bakery.

Oberlin’s administration temporarily suspended its business contracts with Gibson’s and indulged in victim blaming, declaring that “Gibson bakery’s archaic chase-and-detain policy regarding suspected shoplifters was the catalyst for the protests.”

In a meeting with Gibson’s owners, Oberlin said it would resume the business relationship if Gibson’s agreed not to press charges against first-time shoplifters and report their behavior to university officials instead of the police.

Behind closed doors, Oberlin’s administrators were even more arrogant. Raimondo reacted to an Oberlin professor’s call on her to apologize to Gibson’s by writing in a university e-mail “F*** him. I’d say unleash the students if I wasn’t convinced this needs to be put behind us.”

In another internal e-mail, Oberlin’s communications director Ben Jones attempted to rationalize the incident, writing “all these idiots complaining about the college hurting a ‘small local business’ are conveniently leaving out their massive (relative to the town) conglomerate and price gouging on rents and parking and the predatory behavior toward most other local business. F*** ’em.”

In November 2017, Gibson’s owners sued Oberlin and Raimondo, ultimately convincing a county court jury that Oberlin had groundlessly violated its contractual relationship with Gibson’s, engaged in tortious interference with its other business dealings, inflicted distress, and slandered and libeled it within the meaning of Ohio statute.

In June 2019, the jury awarded the plaintiffs $44.3 million in compensatory and punitive damages, a greater sum than Ohio law allows.

The trial judge reduced the sum to $25 million, the maximum allowable by law, but the jury subsequently added another $6.5 million in legal fees.

Oberlin appealed the judgment, with its president Carmen Twillie Ambar announcing to the college community that “none of this will sway us from our core values.”

One might wonder whether Oberlin’s “core values” are worth its $78,000 annual cost of attendance, but on April 1 a three-judge Ohio state appeals court panel unanimously upheld the county court’s ruling.

Oberlin could appeal to Ohio’s state supreme court, but, with broad discretion in deciding which cases to accept, it is extremely unlikely that it will agree to hear the case.

After a slight reduction to the legal fees awarded, the family that owns Gibson’s stands to collect $31.3 million, making it rich enough never to have to deal with Oberlin again, or ply the baked goods trade at all if it wishes not to.

Having lost tens of millions of dollars due to its fanatical commitment to wokeism, and with a relatively anemic endowment of just over $1 billion, Oberlin may feel properly chastised even if it might have donors, alumni, trustees and aspirational parents stupid and self-serving enough to replenish its depleted coffers.

Raimondo went on sabbatical in April 2021. Six months later, she announced that she would not return to Oberlin and would instead move to a similar position at Oglethorpe University, a much less prestigious institution in Georgia.

It is unclear whether Oglethorpe is aware of Raimondo’s troubled legal history, but its endowment of only $33 million is less than the amount awarded to the Gibsons.

Granted, giving this black eye to wokeism did not come easily. Litigation took five and a half years and cost millions in legal fees with the outcome far from certain.

Two members of the family that owns Gibson’s died without ever seeing justice done.

But in the end, justice was done. All it took was courage and the majesty of the law.


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