Clarity On Review Interview #1
10.27.08

I was going to leave this article alone in the hopes that it would just fade away, but a lot of people have asked me about it (including some folks who are very invested in this topic), so I really need to correct the record.

My quotes in the article are taken entirely out of context. I'm quoted as having said "I'm almost glad that ['fearless'] didn't get out too much, because we're changing the idea now." This was in reference to the idea to feature personal narratives on the homepage that would define fearless through the eyes of students and alums. It's true that we've moved away from that idea towards a more general telling of Oberlin's stories, in response to community backlash to the original idea.

But in the context in which my quote is used, it makes it sound like I'm talking about the whole Fearless campaign. I'm not. The future of Fearless is an incredibly touchy subject, and at this juncture, it's too early to know how all of the pieces will ultimately fit together.

The biggest problem with the article, other than my quotes being used out of context, is that it totally misses the point, beginning with the headline "Admissions Website Renovation Will Drop 'Fearless.'" Admissions is not dropping Fearless. Most of what the reporter talks about is true, but in reference to the new Oberlin.edu homepage - not admissions marketing materials. This is because the homepage is designed for a much larger audience - alums, current students, faculty, etc. - many of whom are uncomfortable with Fearless, so we went in a more neutral direction. Admissions will retain Fearless in its marketing, however, at least for now.

To be correct, the article would read more like this:

New Oberlin.edu Homepage Will Not Use 'Fearless'
Oberlin's website is about to undergo a massive renovation to make it more appealing to all audiences, from prospective students to alumni. While the new website is intended to attract prospective students to Oberlin, the Communications office recognized that its primary audience would also include current students and alumni, so it will not incorporate the oft-controversial 'fearless' slogan. "We did go from, 'Okay, let's build 'fearless' into the [new homepage] and go all out with that message!' to kind of backpedaling a little bit and saying, 'Well, [the Oberlin community] isn't really reacting to 'fearless' well. Let's dial it down a notch,'" said Foster.
VP of Communications Ben Jones elaborated on the decision. "We're going to separate [the new homepage] from 'fearless' and just have it be about Oberlin's stories, period, with no tagline and no modifier... I'm almost glad that [the idea to use fearless in soliciting narratives from the community] didn't get out too much, because we're changing the idea now."
Instead the new homepage will revolve around interactive narratives where prospective students can read stories written by current students, faculty and alumni describing what it means to be an Obie.