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For the record: our listening habits in the age of digital music

Justin Konyn
Contributing Writer

I often find that most of my music-listening is done through playlists. In a time of nearly instant gratification, playlists offer instant access to favorite songs, fitting whatever mood the day has created and best of all, anyone can create them. As far as playlists go, I totally get it: turns out everyone else does too.

The research firm LOOP recently revealed that playlist listening accounted for 31 percent of all digital music consumption, compared to 22 percent of listening done through albums and 46 percent through single tracks (that last 1 percent being unreported surveys).

This is mostly unsurprising; playlists and singles afford us a reprieve from the commitment to album listening that is often so hard to find time for. Yet, perhaps there’s something to be said for taking a listen to a record in its entirety.

Kanye West’s somewhat controversial album, The Life of Pablo, is in many ways a testament to the complete record experience.

While many of the songs work on their own as outright hits (who can leave out “Fade” in a dance playlist?), the real strength of The Life of Pablo lies in its duality; it expounds excess and extravagance, reconciling it with sobering ideas of family and religious faith, warping all of these concepts together, then repeating the process rinse and repeat until the very end.

This track-by-track odyssey is exhausting and rewarding at the same time, creating an exclusive experience unique to the record as a whole. Of course, not every album is so cohesive.

This past Friday, we were fortunate to receive a second album from Future, following one released just the week before. HNDRXX is loaded with great singles, consistent in its excellent production and forward-looking it its sound (something Future didn’t seem to aim for in the first release two weeks ago), is good in its own right.

However, it’s not really a cohesive listen; you could mix up the songs in any order without a real difference and many of the songs bleed together in their overall sound. In this way, Future has presented more of a greatest hits playlist rather than an album, providing a myriad of hits to choose from but no real concept to anchor one’s self to.

On the other hand, last Friday also saw the release of Drunk, the best record to date from bassist and jazz savant Thundercat. The record places the listener in the day-to-day of the artist himself as intimate, funny or downright weird as that experience may reveal itself to be.

Like The Life of Pablo and any other good album, the record has singles you could pull from it, but it works so much better as a cohesive listen. Somehow, the album’s themes of choosing Mortal Kombat over the pursuit of love, social media shaming and masturbation jokes all come together in an experience that unfolds before the listener in a more direct way then one could imagine.

A good record like The Life of Pablo or Drunk is a format by which an artist can directly transport the listener into a space dedicated to their aesthetic vision, whatever it may be. When done right, the musician’s piece can be so much more than background music or the soundtrack to your gym regimen, so why render it to pieces?

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College responds to recent federal actions

Reaffirms commitment to affected College students

Caren Holmes
Staff Writer

The College made a statement on Feb. 22 in a campus-wide email in response to recent federal actions including federal guidance to remove protections for transgender students under Title IX and detailed guidance for Department of Homeland Security (DHS) regarding heightened immigration enforcement.

In his campus-wide email, Dean of Students Scott Brown expressed concern for students whose livelihood may be threatened under current federal administrative uncertainty. He highlighted campus resources and personnel available to support students during this time of political unease.

Melissa Chesanko, director of sexuality and gender inclusion in the Center for Diversity and Inclusion (CDI) explains that the federal changes surrounding transgender student rights are not founded in new legislative measures but in changes to guidance regarding interpretations of Title IX policy.

While federal guidance surrounding trans inclusion in Title IX non-discrimination policy remains uncertain, Chesanko highlights internal policies at The College of Wooster, which include gender, gender identity and gender expression within non-discrimination standards. She encourages Wooster students to continue self-education surrounding discriminatory legislation as well as to advocate “to local and state government to begin including sexual orientation and gender identity in non-discrimination policies, as these are not a part of Ohio law.”

In other terms, while federal mandates may not outline anti-discrimination protections on the basis of gender identity and expression, allies are encouraged to advocate for these policies on a more local level.

Both Chesanko and Brown highlighted the efforts of the school to increase awareness about issues affecting trans and non-binary persons and to provide support for gender diverse students.

CDI is offering a trans and non-binary support group for students who wish to participate in dialogue about these issues within the trans and non-binary community. In addition, Chesanko, as a part of CDI, is facilitating Safe Zone programming which is open to students, staff and faculty and is designed to increase understanding of gender and sexual diversity.

Additionally, Brown detailed in a separate correspondence, that the College is working to provide additional all-gender bathrooms for students in existing facilities, “as we are able.” However, he did not specify where or when the expansion of all gender bathrooms would take place.

Brown expressed that administrators and members of CDI are monitoring federal legislative changes closely. He explained that in the wake of political uncertainty the College “will not waiver in our dedication to supporting trans students,. We will keep moving in a positive direction and add in a greater level of communication as it is more important than ever for students to see transparency in our actions.”

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Geology department awarded grant

Sally Kershner
Features Editor

The College of Wooster geology department has been awarded a grant from the Keck Geology Consortium that will fund a five-week long research trip this summer. Nine students will be selected to take part in this research trip that will travel to Alaska and Utah.

Along with the nine students, associate professor of geology Meagen Pollock and geology professor Greg Wiles will be present on the trip as mentors. Pollock was the grant’s principal investigator.

“Our project is funded through the Consortium as a Gateway Program […] [which] is specifically designed for beginning students, especially those from underrepresented groups,” said Pollock. The research trip is specifically offered to first and second year students at the College, due to the project’s focus on students starting out in the geology field.

“The program engages students in authentic research as an introduction to the geosciences, allowing students to explore the discipline, develop their scientific identity and deepen their understanding of the intersections between the geosciences and societally relevant issues,” said Pollock.

The selected nine students will be divided into two research teams, with one team spending one week in Utah, and the other team spending one week in Alaska. In Utah, one research team will work at the Black Rock Desert volcanic field collecting samples of the low and high-silica lava flows. The research team will prepare the samples for geochemical analysis and will measure the elemental and isotopic compositions to determine the age of the lava flows.

In Alaska, the other research team will visit multiple sites in the mountains surrounding Juneau. At these sites, the students will sample yellow-cedar trees that are in a state of decline. With their samples, students will identify tree-ring data and various elevations, comparing them to previous meteorological studies. The students will complete all this work alongside professional climatologists, ecologists and foresters.

While learning and utilizing modern analytical techniques to date trees and lava flows, according to Pollock, these students will gain “insights on issues like climate change, hazards and renewable energy sources” while working with professionals.

The research teams will be able to continue their analysis when they come back to campus thanks to the College’s state of the art tree ring and X-ray labs. Pollock also adds that this grant was only possible due to the College’s advanced equipment.

The Keck Geology Consortium uses the educational philosophies of its member colleges as a foundation for its own program. The values they emphasize, quite similar to those promoted at The Colleg of Wooster, include the following: “dedication to excellence in undergraduate education, offering students comprehensive and rigorous educational opportunities that promote intellectual growth, integrity, responsibility and a sense of both individuality and membership in community” (from keckgeology.org).

For more information about this summer research trip, email GWiles@wooster.edu and MPollock@wooster.edu.

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Lawrence Wills to give lecture

Anna Hartig
Contributing Writer

It’s that time again: election time, that time when politicians try to persuade you to vote for them with soaring visions of the future or dystopian visions of the future. No matter what some of the candidates for various offices say, an important set of issues this election is environmental issues. The politicians we elect to lead our republic for the next few years will affect anthropogenic climate change, water use, smog, mercury and contaminated water (think Flint, Mich.). If you care about these issues even slightly, be sure to vote. Investigate all the candidates for all offices on your ballot, because local and state elections can have a big impact on environmental policy.

We all know that elections can breed a lot of cynicism. But if you want to try to change the system, vote this Tuesday! If you’re voting locally, the polls are open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Happy voting!

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Find love, uncertainty in spring play Almost, Maine

Waverly Hart
Contributing Writer

This weekend, curtains will go up on Almost, Maine, as 21 Wooster students perform the whimsical rom-com play at Freedlander Theatre.

The play, written by award-winning actor John Cariani, centers around the residents of the fictional town of Almost. Divided up into nine interlocking love stories, Almost, Maine uses quaint techniques and witty dialogue between characters to show the uncertainty and fragility of love.

Each of the nine vignettes is a different scene with different characters, but all focus on the same concept: love. The audience watches as the various characters experience different situations, some of which include telling a significant other those dreaded-yet-anticipated “I love you” words for the first time, mending broken hearts and dealing with the loss of a former husband.

However, the show goes deeper than that of a stereotypical romantic comedy. While still keeping a playful feel, the scenes come together to show how love can never be a safe bet in life.

According to Cassidy Ktsanes ’19, the play shows how “exciting, scary and truly heartbreaking love can be.” Ktsanes plays the character Sandrine, a girl who unexpectedly runs into her ex-boyfriend while having fun with her friends at a local bar.

“It really delves into the uncertainty of love and how fragile and unexpected it can be,” Ktsanes continued. She went on to describe how the nine stories use magical realism to connect the seemingly independent characters in the play.

The playwright, Cariani, used an F. Scott Fitzgerald quote to describe Almost, Maine: “The sentimental person thinks things will last — the romantic person has a desperate confidence that they won’t.” Cariani then writes, “Almost, Maine is for romantics — not sentimentalists.”

The play does not sugarcoat the pains and heartbreaks involved with love, but instead shows how realistic it can be through the numerous entertaining stories and amusing plot lines employed in each scene.

However, the Wooster production of Almost, Maine will have a twist not present in the original productions. While there are originally only nine scenes, director Jimmy Noriega added a tenth. This never-before-seen addition gives the second act a surprising, unique twist that can only be accessed at Wooster.

In today’s world, with all the political and social hate that surrounds the population, Noriega’s unique interpretation of the play focuses on inclusivity and accepting others. “He wants to show how diverse love can be, and the different forms it can take,” Ktsanes said.

Noriega wants to show how beautiful the world can be if less attention was given to identities, and more was given to loving each other without discrimination.

Noriega’s twist combines with these whimsical stories to create a clever, nostalgic, and charming play.

Almost, Maine opened yesterday, March 2, and runs until Saturday, March 4. All performances are at 7:30 p.m and will be performed at Freedlander Theatre. Students can go to the box office this week to obtain tickets, which are free to all Wooster students.

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The Goliard presents: Womyn in Arts and All Things Feminine

Desi LaPoole
Contributing Writer

It’s March! Finally, springtime is right around the corner — as is my birthday (yes, please send me presents). March is also National Women’s Month, a month-long celebration of women’s accomplishments and contributions throughout history. This month is about discussing subjects such as the glass ceiling and women’s rights violations all under the big umbrella of feminism.

However, before diving into deep philosophical discussions on women’s issues, The Goliard, the College’s student run literary magazine, wants to start off on a lighter note. Tonight, at Common Grounds, The Goliard is kicking off National Women’s Month with their art show, Womyn in Art: A Place to Showcase All Things Feminine.

While femininity is viewed in both a positive and negative light, it is often subjected to ridicule and scrutiny in society. There are multiple perspectives and personal narratives regarding the very concept of femininity, and The Goliard wants to present them to the College community. Participants in the Womyn in Art show will present every form of art: poetry, prose, original music, physical art and anything else that highlights the ups, downs and awe-inspiring wonder characteristic of femininity. The Goliard’s head of public relations, Sharah Hutson ’20 said “The Womyn in Art show is meant to be a platform for femmes to showcase their art,” in an inclusive and inviting environment.

According to Hutson, while other events hosted by The Goliard, such as Covers, are a great way for people to show their talents, they usually aren’t very inclusive of all art and people, as they tend to attract more cis white men and women than anyone else. “I believe that a lot of the scenes here are dominated by white, cis[-gender] boys,” Hutson said. “So it’s really nice to have a place for people who might not feel welcomed in those spaces.”

Womyn of Art is not only a show for femininity, it also strives at creating an inclusive and inviting space for everyone to show their work, and contribute to creating a more diverse art scene at the college. It’s no secret that art is a form of expression; the artist conveys their truths through canvas, words or song. Art is also meant to be shared, and for those on campus who might not know of the avenues or may feel as if the spaces available simply aren’t for them, The Goliard hopes to open the door to them tonight with their show.

Hutson is most excited to see new faces at the show tonight. They said, “I hope that a lot of femme people who don’t come to Covers or might not feel comfortable at Covers find this as a very inclusive space to share their artwork.”

I advise everyone to start off Women’s Month on the right foot and head to Common Grounds tonight. We all hope to see lots of new faces at the show, as well as great works of art not yet seen by the College community. This is a great opprtunity for anyone to learn more about the impact femininity has played in modern art.

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