Author Archives | tlopus18

Diversity at C.O.W. requires reciprocal effort

Every day when I work in admissions interviewing prospective domestic and international students, I tell them about how our campus is very diverse in comparison to other liberal arts colleges and how inclusive we are. Even though I explain that to people on a daily basis, I have to ask myself, if Wooster is actually as inclusive as it could be?

The answer to that is no. Even though the College’s administration is trying, we are far from what we could be so that we can truly and proudly say that our campus is inclusive especially to international students.

When international students arrive on campus for the first time, we all go through an international student orientation during which we learn about U.S. culture, how college here works and what to say and how to behave in order to fit in.

We are generally encouraged to not just spend our time with other international students but to make domestic friends as well. Some of us come from cultures that are very different from the U.S. and in addition to having to get used to a new environment, college academics in a different language and making friends in general — all while being thousands of miles away from everything we know — we are also working hard on trying to fit in and becoming more “American.”

We as international students are told to do whatever it takes to fit in, to keep trying to be friends with domestic students and be nice and patient with them if they make comments about our culture that are completely inappropriate. We are told to be the patient ones, the forgiving ones, the accepting ones and the ones who are supposed to bridge the gap between internationals and domestic students.

The College is striving to be a very diverse and inclusive place and wants to have high numbers of international students, but then chooses to only tell international students how to assimilate to U.S. culture while the domestic students get no training at all in how to be inclusive.

Doesn’t that seem a little bit odd? How is it purely the responsibility of international students to reach out and make friends with people from the U.S. when we don’t run into the same problems with other international students regardless of whether they’re from the same country as us? Why are we focusing so much on how international students learn to accept that domestic students aren’t aware that they may be saying something offensive to us? Should we not instead also train those very domestic students to not say things that are hurtful or discouraging to us?

Sure, if you bring the argument that domestic students are not aware of what they are doing because they have not been in contact with many international students at their high schools, then why don’t we as the College community ensure that they learn how to interact with, and be welcoming of international students? That way we may be able to prevent public statements that are hurtful to a large international student population. That way, we can prevent individuals from saying that “this is an American college” when we as international students try to get an apology for what wronged us.

Therefore, I propose that the ball should not be just in our court. For a sucessful integration and inclusion of international students into The College of Wooster community, we need effort from both sides. As long as that effort remains absent, we will not have the kind of “fitting in” of internationals that the College, supposedly desires.

Katharina Bochtler a Contributing Writer for the Voice, can be reached for comment at KBochtler18@wooster.

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Respect artists’ work: purchase, don’t pirate

As someone who has been making music for about a decade now, I never thought I’d be getting paid to do it. No matter how small the gig is or how few streams on Spotify, I get money for my music. In today’s era — streaming is king. Gone are the days of regularly purchasing $12 albums from Wal-Mart when we can have more music than we could ever ask for $5 a month. This model has led to us being able to listen to anything we want on demand.

However, it has also lead to pirating. Pirating has always been a thing (R.I.P. Napster and Limewire) but, there are many people who will download leaked albums or listen to a slightly faster version of the song on YouTube just to save a dollar. Now you may be thinking, “Well music artists make a lot of money anyway and me not paying for this won’t hurt their pockets at all!” but honestly, it does. Believe it or not, streaming services only pay on average $0.0113 per stream. For a small artist like myself, that means I would have to get played 100 times to make a dollar. Now music isn’t my career choice, but it does hurt my wallet’s feelings knowing that I have to get 1000 streams to make my money back on what it costs to place a song up on digital distribution.

So, you can imagine what it’s like to be an aspiring artist and making so little while trying to break through the underground or the mainstream. I have a group of friends I used to make music with, two of the four work for Atlantic Records as engineers and three of the four have toured within the past two years. That may seem like success on the surface, but they also must work multiple jobs to support their living expenses. It’s easy to get music for free, but you would be doing your favorite artists a great service by actually purchasing their music directly instead of streaming. They see more of the money per person and deservingly so. Another way you could support them is going to their shows and buying their merchandise. Chance the Rapper revolutionized the music industry by making his music free, but he makes up those costs with his live events, merchandise and endorsements.

If you would really like one of your favorite low-key artists to make it to the spotlight, help them out by purchasing what they have on iTunes instead of streaming on Apple Music. Go buy their hats, T-shirts, vinyls, etc. It’s a lot of hard work making music marketing yourself and being consistent, and as powerful as music is, artists deserve to see the fruits of their labor. Think of it as tipping your waiters and waitresses for a wonderful night out. Oh and while you’re at it, you can support me! In the most shameless of plugs, just Google MoonManFlo and the rest is up to you. Support your local artists!

Derrick Florence, a Contributing Writer for the Voice, can be reached for comment at DFlorence18@wooster.edu.

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Voter participation is important in all elections

On Nov. 9, 2016, there was a dark pall over our campus. Many students felt defeated, shocked and betrayed. We were ripped from our comfortable bubble into an ugly new reality that we knew would shape the nation’s identity for years to come.

As predicted, Trump has spent every day since attacking the bedrock of our democracy and working to set our country back by years. He trusts foreign adversaries and brutal dictators over the United States’ own intelligence community, undermines climate change action and seeks to relieve his own tax burden at our expense. His election has also paved the way for the possibility of a known pedophile to be elected to the U.S. Senate, both due to Trump’s work to destroy the media’s credibility and because Donald Trump is, himself, a known sexual predator.

After the recent elections on Nov. 7, 2017, things are looking up; Virginia and New Jersey demonstrated that Trumpism isn’t welcome there. Record numbers of women, minorities and youth were elected all around the country, and Democrats now control the entire West Coast at the state level.

Here in Wooster, Democrats won seats in two out of three city council races, and Democrat Dan Stavnezer, the husband of Professor Stavnezer, won a seat on Wooster’s Board of Education.

Even with these victories, we can do better in 2018. This year, I worked as an election official for a precinct that includes campus north of Wayne Avenue. Over the course of my 15-hour shift, I could see that youth turnout is lagging. I only counted five Wooster students. That being said, there was a line of adults with full-time jobs waiting outside to vote at 6:30 a.m. There were 95-year-olds with walkers and wheelchairs. There was a blind man, who needed to use a special voting machine. If these citizens can vote, I know young, intelligent and spry college students can too.

Young people at this college know how to organize and advocate. Currently, students are taking collective action to lobby for the reinstatement of Mom’s worker Dameca Neal, garnering over 1,650 signatures on a Change.org petition. After the 2016 election, a significant contingent of students lined Beall in silent protest, a powerful gesture that took more time, effort and bravery than casting a ballot.

As young adults, we owe it to ourselves and our future children to vote in next year’s midterms. We must vote for the future we want to spend the rest of our lives in. Voting is an integral part of what it means to resist, be an engaged citizen and care for others. If you don’t vote, what’s the point of sharing your political opinion on social media? Why participate in the Women’s March? Why argue with a Trump supporter if they vote and you don’t? Why would the government reflect your values if you don’t hold your representatives accountable at the voting booth?

In 2018, the stakes will be much higher than 2017. We will elect new federal and state Representatives and Senators, a Governor, Ohio Supreme Court Justices and many other crucial offices. Our primary is on May 8, with the general election taking place on Nov 6. With high youth turnout, we can replace Trump and his enablers with a progressive future, simply by casting a ballot.

Nick Shiach, a Contributing Writer for the Voice, can be reached for comment at NShiach20@wooster.edu.

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Value cultural understanding

Being a part of the Wooster community there are so many efforts to conceive intercultural interaction within the classroom setting and in social spaces, I should think that one would be somewhat conscious, if not explicitly aware, and informed of the difficulties and challenges international students face day in and day out. International Education Week (IEW) was last week, and with it came a profusion of events that opened up the discussion on the challenges faced by international students.

During IEW, I was part of a panel that had invited staff and students of our international community to discuss this predicament and perhaps solutions to address the problem. The panel discussed the issue of language barriers and the struggle that they create in an academic and social setting, and members expressed the fear as if they faced these issues alone.

It was apparent that students are challenged when confronted with this collaborative class setting that encourages participation, a contrast to the somewhat hands-off approach and a social hierarchy that is intrinsic in many class cultures outside the U.S., with cultural insensitivities adding to the problem. Paying for an American education is not only expensive but is a sacrifice in itself. With the growing population of international students on campus, there is a concern that programmic adjustments and better administrative support has not been met. Suitable mentorship is needed to account for a more efficient utilization of campus resources (that may not be readily available for international students), and help is not as present especially in relation to off-campus internships. The transitional struggles are ever present and personal measures need to be taken towards psychological and sociocultural adjustment; in instances where international students are criticized for not taking responsibility over their own academic advancements, you may be your own advocate.

Being the safe space at it was, many people at the panel expressed very personal views of their experiences that I can say were extremely relatable and significant. Many of the staff were eager to offer advice on how they try to address these problems, and students commented on the need to incorporate measures that will add to the cultural sensitivities of students and staff alike. During the panel there was a question of whether the cultural gap between international students and domestic students will always be present.

But like always, there is an underlying additive on the topic. I feel that being international students, we will always desire community, one that is comprised of others who experience the same issues, to be able to have considerable support and motivation is therapy in itself. So far, extra-curricular initiatives have been our best bet toward bridging the cross-cultural gap, and I would like to commend the Center for Diversity and Inclusion for its efforts to offer incentives for students to collectively challenge stereotypes and to culturally adapt.

I want to remind my fellow international students that our perspectives are important and valid both in and out of the classroom. As part of a global community, showing understanding and support is no trivial matter. Learn about our struggles, build a better understanding of the different cultures that reside on campus and be a contributor to cultural understanding.

Toshiko Tanaka, a Contributing Writer for the Voice, can be reached for comment at TTanaka19@wooster.edu

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Student leaders hold open meeting

Discussion centered on the College’s pros and cons

Zoe Covey
Contributing Writer

On Monday night, the Strategic Planning & Priorities Advisory Committee (SPPAC) held an open meeting with the intention of facilitating a dialogue with Wooster students about ways that the College is succeeding as a place of learning and living, as well as the ways that it is failing.

The moderators of this discussion, Maggie Sestito ’18 and Jordan Griffith ’19, focused the meeting around the acronym SWOT, which stands for “Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.”

Student attendees first discussed the colleges that they considered Wooster’s peers and competitors, naming primarily the four other members of the Ohio Five — Denison University, Kenyon College, Oberlin College and Ohio Wesleyan University. They also mentioned large state schools like Ohio University and Ohio State University as major competitors for students in the Midwest.

Strengths of the College that were named were the impending addition of the new life sciences building, Ruth W. Williams Hall of Life Science, the resources open to students through APEX, the excellent professors Wooster has to offer and the array of different activities and programs students can participate in.

This last point is aided by the fact that Wooster is a Division III institution, opening participation in athletics to more students. Independent Study (I.S.) is another major defining factor of the College and generally considered a strength by the students. The City of Wooster was listed as both a strength and weakness in attracting students to the College — a strength because of its charm and accessibility and a weakness because of its inconvenient location and the less than optimal relationship between the residents of Wooster and the College.

Another topic brought up as both a strength and a weakness is Greek life on campus. Students considered the fact Wooster does not have chapters of national Greek organizations to be a major strength, but they highlighted that there were tensions on campus associated with Greek groups -— including over hazing and incidents of sexual assault, like the now-suspended fraternity Phi Omega Sigma.

An additional weakness mentioned by Stephen Lumetta ’18 was the small size of Wooster’s endowment in comparison to other liberal arts institutions in Ohio such as Kenyon and Denison. This impacts what the College is able to do for its students because it has less money to work with than other schools.

Another major weakness of the College discussed by students was the subpar state of physical accessibility for students and other members of the campus community with disabilities.

Students also complained that The College of Wooster is not doing enough to promote environmental sustainability on campus. The “Opportunities” portion of

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Ghost Writing

Drake’s 2015 mixtape “If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late,” is arguably one of the most important projects when discussing the trajectory of hip hop during the 2010s. While the music on the project is considered to reflect some of the best works associated with Drake’s name, it was the controversy which surrounded the album which makes the mixtape a critical talking point in the hip hop community.

In July of 2015, months after the mixtape’s release, rapper Meek Mill accused Drake of paying ghostwriters — lyricists who would write raps for Drake and remain unnamed. While at first Meek Mill’s attacks towards Drake were considered fallacies and attempts to gain exposure and notoriety, a ghostwriter of Drake’s named Quentin Miller stepped out confirming the statements made by Meek Mill.

While many lost respect for Drake due to his apparent lack of honesty and integrity, his reputation did not falter significantly, as he is nonetheless still one of the most successful rappers in the world today. However, this scenario begs the question of whether or not Drake was justified in hiring ghostwriters and if he is only one example of a larger issue among rappers.

There are a few obvious yet principle criteria that can be used to evaluate rappers and their music, and lyricism is definitely at the forefront. A rapper’s ability to use creative wordplay, complex rhythm and vocals are critical to augment the content of their lyrics, and each of those factors are in jeopardy when somebody else writes for them.

An important distinction to make when discussing ghostwriting is its difference from using co-writers, who are credited for their work and given royalties dependent on the song or project’s success, versus using ghostwriters who generally receive an upfront payment for their work. One would think that artists would be quick to reject ghostwriters, and even co-writers, in order to preserve the integrity of the art form and also be cognizant of the fact that if rumors did spread that they did not write their own raps, their reputation would potentially be at risk.

Kendrick Lamar, who prides himself on writing all of his own lyrics, expressed a similar sentiment when speaking about his personal conflict with ghostwriting. In an interview with Rolling Stone, he stated, “I cannot call myself the best rapper if I have a ghostwriter. If you’re saying you’re a different type of artist and you don’t really care about the art form of being the rapper then so be it … But the title, it won’t be there.”

With the new wave of young rappers today, such as Lil Pump, Lil Yachty and the likes, it seems like there is a wave deviating away from poetic lyricism, and instead towards a higher value on hard hitting, catchy instrumentals. So, it will be interesting to see in the future if this shift will result in listeners being less concerned about where the lyrics come from as well.

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