A student at Ohio’s $80,000-a-year Oberlin College says he was left feeling “angry” and “scared” after the school allowed “cisgender” male workers to install radiators in a dormitory dedicated to women and transgender students.
Peter Fray-Witzer penned an op-ed in the liberal arts college’s Oberlin Review newspaper Friday, slamming school administrators for only giving students one day’s notice on Oct. 7 about the radiator upgrades in his Baldwin Cottage dormitory.
“I was angry, scared, and confused. Why didn’t the College complete the installation over the summer, when the building was empty? Why couldn’t they tell us precisely when the workers would be there? Why were they only notifying us the day before the installation was due to begin?” Fray-Witzer said.
“In general, I am very averse to people entering my personal space. This anxiety was compounded by the fact that the crew would be strangers, and they were more than likely to be cisgender men.”
When the work crew showed up on Oct. 8 to install the new radiators, Fray-Witzer said he asked if he could be exempt from having one installed in his room – but was denied the request.
Fray-Witzer said he was “mildly violated” and angry when the workers returned the following day to check the radiators were actually working.
The student said only women and trans students are permitted to live on the second and third floors of the Baldwin Cottage dormitory.
Fray-Witzer said it was “clear” the college hadn’t made a special request that “male workers not be allowed onto the upper floors of Baldwin” to carry out the contract work.
He also claimed other students “weren’t entirely comfortable” with the contractors coming in.
“I understand, of course, that installations like this are routine; the College needs to improve its facilities occasionally, and who am I to stand in the way of that? After all, I get a brand-spanking-new radiator, right in time for the cold weather,” Fray-Witzer said.
“But why not finish the project during the four months of the summer semester, when the building was unoccupied? Why not alert us earlier to the intrusion? Why didn’t the College make a schedule detailing when the workers would be likely to arrive at each dorm and in each room?
“They should have taken measures to keep students comfortable and safe — especially those who have elected to live in a specifically designated safe space.”