Inaccessible counseling resources fail students

Hannah Eastman

Contributing Writer

 

I visited The College of Wooster in February 2020, which was pretty serendipitous considering how everything, at least in the American response to the coronavirus, would change in the following weeks. The mental health facilities of the school especially, which I made sure to ask about while visiting, were an aspect that seemed promising. Being on campus was something I was looking forward to, even with the heavy restrictions, as I finished high school in my room alone. And when I got here, I understood that a lot of other first years shared that sentiment. 

The first semester was enjoyable until everything came crashing down as people valued their social life over the lives of others. I left campus early, at the end of October, when the lockdown almost strictly confined students to their rooms. Because, well, my roommate hadn’t come. I viewed it as something I was lucky to have — to be paying for a double and living alone — but it also became taxing on my mental health to constantly push myself out for people to interact with. While most became comfortable or reliant on their roommates for moderate social interaction, I was alone in my room and felt dejected and isolated from the community that was shown to me as a cornerstone of the College. Ironically enough, it wasn’t unlike the previous spring, alone in my room finishing another semester, just with fewer places to turn to for help. 

Something I was keenly aware of during this period was a less than promising waitlist for counseling. I participated in the Let’s Talk program and was grateful for the opportunity, but I knew that the counselors on campus were working especially hard, and I had a feeling that my problems weren’t to a caliber that designated their time. So, before I came to campus this spring, I was ecstatic to find that I had a new roommate. However, a few days before move-in, she told me there had been a mistake in the housing programming and that she was not attending the College in person this semester. Some other close friends chose not to return to campus this semester in the aftermath of the outbreak in the fall.

I found myself attempting to fill a social void that only I seemed to notice. Along with that, insecurities festered with the fear that I would become overbearing or all-consuming to the people I wanted to spend time with. I spoke to an RA, who provided great feedback and whose time I valued because of the attention and compassion she gave me. She directed me to some resources, but when I called, the Wellness Center warned me of the long waitlist before offering a spot on it. With that, I hung up. 

My RA put in a care request, and again I attended Let’s Talk, but I realized that the failed attempts at mental health treatment falling on deaf ears made me feel more disconnected from this community than ever. Loneliness, COVID-19 and the winter season have each taken their toll on my mental health, and without the necessary resources, I realized how deeply these issues had embedded themselves in how I was acting out, or specifically, how I wasn’t. Counseling is overbooked and understaffed, and each route to receiving help for mental health is not without its own limitations to access, or to even providing help at all. 

It’s a perplexing situation because the strain comes from spending too much time alone, but it also shows itself when you’re constantly putting yourself out there to interact with others. Every person has a responsibility to be mindful of their own mental health, though I can’t help but feel short changed as the school year continues and I’ve yet to find some sense of balance in how to interact with others and build some sense of community for my own reassurance.

The perfect Valentine’s Day movie marathon

Samuel Casey

Editor in Chief

 

Valentine’s weekend has come and gone, but that doesn’t mean we’re ready to give up on the season of love so quickly. In that spirit, these are my top five movies to watch on Valentine’s Day or, in this case, anytime you want to share the love with friends, family or a S.O.

  1. “Four Weddings and a Funeral” (1994)

Four Weddings is a British rom-com that was huge when it came out in the mid ’90s but has become less recognizable to late Millennials/early Gen Zers. It follows a group of middle-aged friends who reflect on their single status as they attend several weddings together. Hugh Grant plays the lovably awkward protagonist who is against marriage, despite falling for Andie MacDowell’s character. Four Weddings has laugh-out-loud and tear-jerking moments, and it includes queer and disabled representation (played by actors who are actually gay and deaf, respectively), which is shocking for the time. 

  1. “The Big Sick” (2017)

Based on the real-life experience of the screenwriters, Kumail Nanjiani (who plays himself) and Emily V. Gordon (Zoe Kazan), it follows the obstacles of being in an interethnic relationship, which becomes even harder when Emily falls into a coma. Kumail, a Pakistani American, hides the relationship from his parents who are trying to arrange his marriage, leaving him to choose between family or love. This film ditches the rose-colored glasses to focus on the real conflicts that can arise in any relationship, but particularly one with cultural differences.

  1. “Love & Basketball” (2000)

The problem with romantic movies is that the main characters are almost exclusively white, as if people of color are unable to find love and live happily ever after. Love & Basketball is one of the early exceptions to that narrative. Directed and written by Gina Prince-Bythewood and produced by Spike Lee, this film transitions through the different stages of life for Monica (Sanaa Lathan) and Quincy (Omar Epps) as they balance their love for each other with their love of basketball, as well as their family relationships. Unrequited love and gender/racial disparities are at the forefront of this genre-defying film with a wonderful ending.

  1. “Someone Great” (2019)

This film features the trials and tribulations of recently single Jenny, played by Gina Rodriguez, and her two best friends. (Note: Full disclosure, Rodriguez is also known for singing the n-word and offering a non-apology, so there is a reason to not support this film; however, I want to recognize the other actors of color in the film for their great work.) Trying to get over Nate (LaKeith Stanfield), Jenny seeks to find a pop-up concert with her friends, who are dealing with relationship issues of their own. This easily rewatchable film reinforces the idea that love is not always romantic and that a strong, loving bond between friends is just as important.

  1. “If Beale Street Could Talk” (2018)

The award for best movie goes to “If Beale Street Could Talk!” This non-linear romantic drama based on James Baldwin’s novel of the same name covers couple Tish (KiKi Layne) and Fonny (Stephan James) who are forced to deal with the racism of 1970s New York, which ultimately results in a false rape allegation against Fonny, a harrowing experience for him and Tish. The stirring performances given by all the actors (including Regina King, who wins a well-deserved Oscar for her portrayal of Tish’s mother) as they bring Baldwin’s words to life are a powerful reminder of the effects racism has on Black relationships. 

 

NASA’s new rover ushers in new era of science

Megan Fisher

Contributing Writer

 

On Feb. 18, the next Mars Rover, Perseverance, will have landed near the Jezero Crater on Mars after a more than six-month journey to the red planet. Preceding Perseverance are the Rovers Spirit and Opportunity (almost known as Rock and Roll), which launched in 2003. Another rover, Curiosity, launched in 2012, and then a stationary lander, Insight, launched in 2018. All rovers take up the mission of exploring the viability of life on Mars, specifically the history of water near the surface, other life sustaining elements like oxygen and the seismic activity of the planet. The rovers get their name from NASA’s “Name the Rover” contest where students in kindergarten through 12th grade can submit essays behind the name they propose for the next rover. The name Perseverance was submitted by Alexander Mather with an essay stating that perseverance is the most important quality of the human race, and that “not as a nation but as humans, will not give up. The human race will always persevere into the future.”

Perseverance will use a landing approach affectionately called the “seven minutes of terror.”  The descent and landing of the rover will take seven minutes, but information in the form of radio waves will take 14 minutes to transmit from Mars to Earth. Therefore, the process must be completely automated and mission control will not know the outcome until the whole process has already taken place. At the top of the Martian atmosphere, Perseverance will deploy a parachute to begin to slow it down, and a heat shield to protect the vehicle from getting scorched during landing. The Perseverance computer and artificial intelligence system will examine the terrain when it gets within meters of the surface to determine the optimal landing spot. The parachute will be released, and the rest of the landing will be powered by rocket boosters to (hopefully) safely land at the surface.

The Perseverance rover hopes to make many scientific advances toward the goal of humans habituating Mars. It features a drill that will collect core samples of rocks and soils to look for evidence of microbial life in Mars’ history. Perseverance will also be hosting an experiment to see if oxygen can be produced from the Martian atmosphere. The Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment (M.O.X.I.E.) is looking to turn the Martian atmosphere, made of 96 percent carbon dioxide, into oxygen in order to both sustain human life and use liquid oxygen as fuel. The mechanism works very similarly to plants on Earth; the machine breathes in carbon dioxide and breathes out oxygen.

 Perseverance is also home to a new kind of smaller rover never before used to explore Mars. Ingenuity, the new, smaller rover, is a helicopter that will demonstrate test flights on Mars. While not directly related to the Perseverance science objectives, Ingenuity’s flight demonstration could be pivotal for future transportation after landing on Mars for both robots and humans. Flying on Mars is more difficult than expected because of the very thin atmosphere. The movie “The Martian” contends that dust storms on Mars would have much force, but in reality, there are so few air particles present on Mars that even when moving fast, they muster very little force as a whole. This has to be taken into account when designing Ingenuity. Engineers had to design a base both lightweight but sturdy, and wings that could generate enough lift to carry this base through the Martian air. This resulted in two propellers with a rotational diameter of four feet rotating 2,400 times-per-minute to be able to create enough lift to carry the only four-pound base.

C.O.W. swimming & diving dominate the Tigers

Minh Phan

Contributing Writer

 

The College of Wooster swimming and diving team came out on top against Wittenberg University with an overall result of 161-40 men and 148-43 women this past Saturday, Feb. 13. The Scots dominated all but four events: men’s 200 yard free, women’s 1 meter diving (unopposed), men’s 200 yard butterfly and women’s 3 meter diving (unopposed).

The women started off strong with a 400-yard medley relay in 4:16.09. The line-up included Hannah Langer ’22, Anne Bowers ’22, Molly Likins ’23 and Lexi Riley-Dipaolo ’22. 

In the 50 free, Likins (26.43), Bowers (26.71) and Langer (26.91) finished in first, second and third, respectively. Langer once again won in the 200 backstroke (2:18.14).

Event five for the women’s 200 yard free was concluded by Emma Connors ’24, Madison Whitman ’21 and Mia Chen ’23, who came in first, second and fourth, respectively. Connors won first place by a close second, as well as in the 500 free (5:28.32 to 5:31.87).

Kay Wetmore ’23 won the 1000 yard free event with 11:21.61 and the 200 fly in 2:23.23. Connors won  the 200 and 500 free, which were both close races. This, in addition to first-year Maddie Becker’s 400 IM win (5:00.10) and two additional wins in the 100 free and 200 breast, contributed to the sequential success of the first-year swimmers.

Riley-DiPaolo, Likins, Wetmore and Chen closed with 4:00.20, an unopposed victory for the 400 free relay.

We also witnessed a strong performance by the men’s division; the 400 medley relay with line-up A including Josh Gluck ’21, Craig Klumpp ’21, Garrett Morris ’24 and Josh Pearson ’24 won with 3:52.42. Another four consisting of Lyonel Fritsch ’24, Noah Golovan ’23, Eli Harvey ’24 and Noah Fox ’23 captured the final win in the 400 free relay.

Klumpp also brought Scots top honors in the 1000 free and the 200 breast. Gluck won the 200 back in 2:02.74, while Pearson won the 400 IM in 4:21.74 and the 500 free in 4:56.41.

In addition to the 100 free (53.79), Fox won the 50 free, outperforming Wittenberg’s second place by .08 seconds.

In diving, Eric Jacques ’22 won unopposed in both the 1-meter and 3-meter.

As athletes of the incoming class who experienced a tremendous shift in activity format, Harvey and Becker fully enjoyed the event and credited much effort to both college athletic departments. “I am very thankful to the coaching staff and to the Wittenberg swimmers for allowing such an event in [this] time,” Harvey said. “Everyone has been putting in the work since we have been back on campus and we are now starting to see the results in the pool!” Becker remarked positively.

On the other hand, Wetmore recalled the authenticity of a pre-COVID-19 meet. “It’s always a more exciting experience when there are people there cheering you on in person!” she said. “When we are just swimming against each other during virtual meets it can sometimes feel just like a normal practice.  Being able to have this meet with another team there allowed for all of us to become more excited about competing to really show up and swim fast.”

Both teams now have two wins in two meets on the season. They travel to Ohio Wesleyan University on Saturday, Feb. 20.. The event will be streamed on Ohio Wesleyan’s website.

New geoscience courses emphasize career readiness and diversity

Jonathan Logan

Science & Environment Editor

Melita Wiles

Science & Environment Editor

 

This year has brought a number of disruptions for all of us, but some changes have been innovative and welcoming to students. The Earth Science department has added a new course this semester specifically for major students called “Geoscience Careers,” and another new course, not yet named for first- and second-year students to explore science, technology, engineering and mathematics (S.T.E.M.) fields. Megan Pollock, associate professor of earth sciences, and her colleagues have created these smaller classes to develop a cohort — a community of students — within the field of geoscience. The goal is to make students in this cohort feel supported academically and professionally and allow them to speak their minds and ask questions freely.  

Pollock said the inspiration for the class, directed towards juniors and seniors within the major, stemmed from the realization that students were struggling with connecting their academics to their plans outside of Wooster; either to their time between school years or their time after graduation. In these courses, they will learn what their options are, whether it is an internship, graduate school or a job in industry.  

The class takes a four-pronged approach to achieving its goal of connecting students’ Wooster experiences to life after graduation. First, a close partnership with A.P.E.X. was seen as necessary to help geoscience students “think about their professional brand,” said Pollock. This is something that all students need to consider before they graduate. Working closely with A.P.E.X. ensures that students seamlessly connect what they do in the classroom to their resumes, interview skills and overall professional development.   

In addition to building a professional brand, students also have the unique opportunity to work alongside scientists and staff of Environmental Design Group (EDG), an Akron-based company, through what Pollock called the Community Partner Project. Students work with EDG in the community of Wooster on a stormwater runoff project. In addition to gaining professional experience, students get to sharpen their technical skills and nurture interpersonal skills, while making a tangible difference in the broader Wooster community. Stormwater management is becoming more relevant to small cities as climate change causes more severe rain events. A good stormwater management program not only maintains the overall health of infrastructure, but also lessens the impact of crises caused by severe storms.  

In addition to working with EDG, students work with the Ohio State University’s Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) as another way to tailor their work to Wooster on a more local level. Beyond the work with EDG and OARDC, students can also obtain a stormwater certification online through StormwaterONE, which has credentialed more than 15,000 professionals in the fields of geoscience, engineering and construction.  

Lastly, the class encourages reflection. Students across all disciplines can attest to the confusion that learning at the college level induces. To ameliorate the confusion that sometimes accompanies learning, this course builds students’ confidence by engaging students in a reflective component of the class. Pollock insightfully mentioned that students often overlook how far they have come, and said she wants all S.T.E.M. students to recognize the impact they can have based solely on the value they have created in themselves.   

The other class that is being offered this coming fall semester is primarily for first- and second-year students. It is directed at students who do not know a lot about geosciences but want to explore their options.  

This summer, there is also a geoscience program through the Applied Methods and Research Experience (AMRE) with priority given to first year students, specifically BIPOC and other underrepresented groups. The aim is to get more students from diverse backgrounds interested in S.T.E.M. Through the AMRE program, students can gain hands-on experience, learn about potential paths in geoscience and create a strong S.T.E.M. community. The AMRE project, which is similar to the project in the Geoscience Careers class, will help students develop hard geoscience skills and make connections between S.T.E.M. and the community. This summer program is especially important to Pollock, as she believes there are many different problems to solve in geoscience, making it necessary to have a diverse group of people studying these problems in order to make progress as a science.   

When asked about how she plans to create a welcoming, supportive community, Pollock said that she plans on having third- and fourth-year students as peer mentors, who have completed the Geoscience Careers course, to guide first- and second-year students. This will not only add to the supportive cohort Pollock mentioned, but also build confidence in the younger students looking to continue in the geoscience major.  

As stated before, Pollock’s goals include focusing on professionalism while teaching and helping students improve their hard and soft geoscience skills throughout the class. This is to ensure they are well-versed in the discipline of their choosing before graduating. Pollock’s response to a question about what motivated her was a call to action: there is a lack of diversity in geoscience. Although there have been a lot of resources and funding directed towards improving this problem, there has been no explicit movement in the geosciences to fill this gap; she believes it to be her responsibility to do something about this.   

While Wooster has such a multi-faceted population, there is still room for more diversity in the geosciences and S.T.E.M. in general. Pollock is pushing for the development of a culture where everyone knows how diverse the S.T.E.M. community needs to be. This push is just the start and needs to grow quickly. The problems in our world are urgent; they include climate change, myriad natural hazards and many others. Solutions to these problems will benefit from the thinking of a diverse group of minds.  

The geosciences continue to be one of the least diverse science disciplines. A recent study from Nature Geoscience found that 90 percent of doctoral degrees were awarded to white people, and faculty of color hold only about four percent of tenured or tenure track positions in the top 100 geoscience programs across the United States. These alarming statistics should be a wake-up call to geoscientists and have been to Pollock. Greater diversity leads to better science, innovation, decision making and a better representation of community needs. Science affects everyone, so representation must be broad with people from a multitude of backgrounds in these fields. It can be difficult to choose a discipline to which one does not have a personal connection. Therefore, by involving more diverse groups in S.T.E.M., others can be inspired to become a part of the S.T.E.M. community.  

The Earth Science department at The College of Wooster is helping diversify their field and other S.T.E.M. fields by fostering a safe and inclusive environment for people to excel at science during their time at Wooster and beyond. Pollock wants to show every student that there is a place for everyone in S.T.E.M., even though the science can be daunting and difficult given the environmental and industrial problems associated with the field. There is a stigma within the geosciences that it is the “easy” science. But is fixing the problem of climate change or preventing a natural disaster that simple? It has become clear to the world that the former is not that simple to solve. Pollock wants to bring students who are diverse, smart, and hardworking into the major. As she said, “We are not rocks for jocks. We are not all old white men in flannels.”  

While Pollock would love for all students to come out of their first-year classes as declared geoscientists, she believes that she will have succeeded if the students pick any discipline in S.T.E.M. By incorporating these classes into the geoscience curriculum. Pollock hopes that juniors and seniors will feel more prepared for life after Wooster — in terms of professionalism and their science skills — and that younger students will learn more about the field of geoscience. Her advice to any student potentially interested in any aspect of science is to reach out and communicate with her. She is happy to talk about science with all students. Pollock can be contacted at mpollock@wooster.edu

Where’s our apolitical military?

Jonathon Logan

Science & Environment Editor

 

“These things we do, that others may live.” U.S. Air Force Pararescuemen (PJs — short for ParaJumpers) are perhaps the best search and rescue medics in the world. In fact, they are  — when the Navy SEALs call 911, PJs pick up at the other end. However, the majority of PJs often find themselves performing search and rescue operations in humanitarian crises and pulling hurricane or earthquake victims from rooftops or rubble all over the world. In 2005, a squadron of PJs based in Georgia rescued over 3,000 people from the throes of Hurricane Katrina, not to mention the scores of PJs who flew to Port-au-Prince, Haiti in 2010 to rescue Haitians trapped in the rubble caused by a magnitude 7.0 earthquake.

I feel that the U.S. military has strayed too far from the example set by its very own PJs. A Navy SEAL from my very own hometown participated in the capitol riots on Jan. 6. I had a real existential crisis over this. How is it that a Navy SEAL, the personification of American service and sacrifice, found themselves storming the sanctum sanctorum of U.S. democracy? It was truly hilarious to the point of being sickening to see full-grown men dressed in tactical gear doing what? Playing Army? Let me grab the Nerf guns real quick.

These people are ripe for recruiting by far-right extremist groups. Somewhere along the way, they began to wrongly identify their ideology with militarism; they began to politicize their very existence and purpose in life! Putting on military fatigues with the American flag and storming the capitol makes an absolute mockery of the good men and women who gave their last full measure ensuring you and I could even read this!

Current and former members of the military took part in the riots, according to multiple news sources. A survey conducted by The Military Times found that a third of former and active-duty personnel experienced extremism or racism first-hand in the military. Instead of the outrage news outlets like to induce, I’ve really tried to grapple with extremism and its nonsensical identification with the military — and how it could break the military’s recruitment efforts, our foreign relations and the image we present to the world. Just last week, Lloyd Austin, the first Black secretary of defense, ordered every branch of the military to “pause and discuss the threat posed by extremism.” The Joint Chiefs unanimously supported this pause and agreed that there is a real problem. A step in the right direction! The Pentagon’s press secretary, John Kirby, added that the military may have to take a deep dive into cultural issues to confront extremism. The U.S. military is not to be paraded down the streets; it is not political and it must remain that way.

The U.S. military is not a rootin’, tootin’, shootin’, gung-ho force. Our officers in uniform must understand, and our leaders must understand, that the armed forces are a diplomatic, deterrent force. We the people, no matter how much misinformation shapes our worldview or how mad you get at the government, must understand that the military is not the place for political extremism. There are clear lines between patriotism and nationalism; clear lines between good friends who put their 18-year old life on hold and a full-grown man storming D.C. wearing the same fatigues my grandpas wore in Korea.

I will make my peace with this final account of the humanity I saw in a former Navy officer named Christopher David. Shortly after the BLM protests in Portland this summer, a video emerged that should make you question whatever bias you have as a result of this viewpoint. Christopher David was shown standing before a wall of riot police in this video — looking like he could eat one of them for breakfast — when one of the police began beating him. He stood there. He took it. They beat his hands to a pulp. All David had to say afterwards was that he wanted to shift the focus away from him and onto the intention of the protests.

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