by Phoebe Roe
After years of being held hostage at Oberlin College, an Integrated Program in Humane Studies (IPHS) plaque displaying the names of the recipients of “The Richard F. Hettlinger Award” in IPHS has been returned to Kenyon’s campus.
“This past summer the campus safety director at Oberlin called our Campus Safety director to say that after the students had moved out, they found [the plaque] in a dumpster,” Fred Linger, Kenyon’s manager of business services, said.
As to how the plaque disappeared in the first place, Linger speculates that it was “just a prank. The building was unlocked and they must have just walked out with it. They probably thought it was funny.”
Oberlin Senior Class President Julia Sheppard offered another theory in an email to the Collegian: “Perhaps my fellow Yeopeople (Yeomen implies the patriarchy) sought to send a message to the Lords/Ladies (what is this gender binary?) about the neoliberal, heteronormative teachings of that particular department,” she wrote. “Or maybe it’s a challenge to the oppressive signage systems which segregate learning into departments.”
When the plaque first disappeared, insurance money provided for a new one to be displayed in the IPHS office. So, for the time being, the original plaque will remain safe and sound, locked away in Linger’s office in Peirce Tower.
No matter what happens to the sign itself, Sheppard believes its legacy will be lasting. “I predict this is the dawn of a new age of academic dumpster diving,” she said. “Though Oberlin is [currently] unaware of this act of vandalism, I’m sure the freegans will discover the sign soon and place it ironically in front of their co-op.”