Oberlin College Student Radiator Column by Peter Fray-Witzer Goes Viral

oberlin college student radiator

Creative Process/Facebook Peter Fray-Witzer (l) wrote the Oberlin College radiator column.

An Oberlin College student was triggered when “cisgender men” were contracted to fix a radiator in a dormitory on campus. It all started when student Peter Fray-Witzer penned an op-ed for the college newspaper, the Oberlin Review. The headline read, “Male Workers Allowed Into Baldwin, Unsettling Residents.”

The op-ed has now been mocked online, including on Reddit.

In the opinion piece, Fray-Witzer complained about receiving an email from Josh Matos, the area coordinator for Multicultural and Identity-Based Communities. The email from Matos informed residents that contractors would be entering rooms to install a radiator on October 8. “This will mean that they will be in your room for a period of time to complete the work,” wrote Matos.

“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,” Fray-Witzer wrote, noting that Baldwin is “the home of the Women and Trans Collective.”

Oberlin College is a private liberal arts college in Oberlin, Ohio.

Here’s what you need to know:


Peter Fray-Witzer Was ‘Angry’ & ‘Scared’

Wrote Fray-Witzer, “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?”

Continued Fray-Witzer, “The next day, I waited apprehensively. The workers began installing in common spaces, and I could see immediately that they were all men. It was clear that the College had not made a special request that male workers not be allowed onto the upper floors of Baldwin.”

Fray-Witzer requested an exemption to the radiator installation, but it was denied. “A significant portion of students choose to live in Baldwin because they are victims of sexual assault or abuse, have suffered past invasions of privacy, or have some other reason to fear cisgender men,” wrote Fray-Witzer. “…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.”

Fray-Witzer has written several other columns for the Oberlin Review. Fray-Witzer was once described as a social justice and environmental podcaster.


People Mocked Peter Fray-Witzer’s Column on Twitter

People reacted on Twitter, with many people mocking Fray-Witzer. “While I fully support persons’ identities and the rights of all individuals, Peter Fray-Witzer’s (@pfraywit) reaction to dork maintenance and the story about it is, IMHO, an immense overreaction and does a significant disservice to non-cisgendered people,” one person wrote. Fray-Witzer’s Twitter account is temporarily restricted, and there is nothing visible on Fray-Witzer’s Facebook account.

“How dare Peter Fray-Witzer assume the workers gender identity!” wrote another Twitter user.

Some people created memes.

Joked another Twitter user, “@oberlincollege a cisgender man will be cutting the lawn this week near campus. Classes will be cancelled so students can find shelter during that difficult time.”

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