COVID-19 updates following student meeting with administration

Claire Montgomery
Senior News Writer

A meeting was held at 3:30 p.m. on March 12 to update students about the College’s decision to close campus until at least April 5 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. President Sarah Bolton hosted the meeting, with several other administration in attendance.Bolton spent the first part of the meeting giving an update on the situation, saying that theCollege is getting new information hourly and that they are hosting this event and future conversations because they want students to be aware of what is going on. She reiterated that the College is following guidance from organizations leading the response against COVID-19 such as the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), and public health experts at the county, state and national level. Bolton stated that the Ohio Health Department confirmed that there are five cases of COVID-19 in Ohio, including three in Cleveland and one in Canton. Moreover, the illness is likely circulating in the larger regional community, and once the illness is circulating, will probably circulate for a while.

On Tuesday, March 10, Governor Mike DeWine of Ohio held a conference call with all the presidents of the universities and colleges in Ohio and discussed the role that colleges play in transmitting diseases. DeWine took the seemingly drastic actions of recommending that all universities and colleges in Ohio go to remote classrooms and to remove students from dorm room housing because people on campuses live and work particularly close which will make the disease more easily spread. This is also needed because people are contagious before they show symptoms.

“The moment you need to act, it will seem ridiculous to do so,” Bolton stated. “[But] by the time more people start to become ill, it is too late to take those actions. That’s why governor is doing things that seem drastic.”

In Bolton’s initial email sent on March 12 she stated, “There will be no in-person classes between March 23 and April 3. We hope to resume in-person classes on April 6, if health conditions permit.” However, she said to expect the dates to continue to change as updates occur. When referencing the idea that some students wanted more certainty about the situation, Bolton stated, “I would love to be able to tell you that [we will be back by April 6], but the true answer is the health situation is changing daily.”

The CDC recommended that the College follow its recommendations, including reduce as much as possible the number of people living densely on campus as quickly as possible, limit travel and to limit gatherings of large groups. Bolton stated that any following update meetings would be remote in order to maintain such guidelines.Therefore, students are asked to be off campus until at least April 5. “This is a burden for everyone, and impossible for some people,” Bolton stated, referencing students who live abroad, do not have a safe place to go and can’t afford travel expenses. “If you absolutely need to be here, we will make it possible for you to be here. There will be food, there will be support.”

If students do not have the resources to leave campus, the College will work with the student to cover the cost. Students in such circumstances are to put that information in the student planning form that Bolton sent out in her March 12 email (a revised version was sent by Myrna Hernández later on March 12). When asked where the College is getting the money for students to travel home, Bolton stated, “I don’t know where that money is coming from. We are going to make it happen anyway. Period. I’m serious. My worry this week is not budget, my worry this week is taking care of students.”

Bolton also addressed the students who are counting on student jobs, saying that the College is working on it. Bolton acknowledged that there is not a full answer, but that the COVID-19 Task Force is trying to figure out what they can do to manage or makeup for that missing income. Regarding what will happen to hourly staff who may rely on their income from the College to sustain their livelihood, Bolton noted that hours would not be cut because those workers will still be needed for the students that remain on campus. Additionally, the College is dedicated to working with employees who may need to stay home with their children since Wooster public schools have closed for several weeks.

“No one is losing income because they have to stay home,” Bolton said.

A common worry from students was how the school would manage going to an online platform, especially for discussion, performance and lab-based classes. Bolton stated that they do not have a concrete plan in place, but that there are discussions in place for each department — led by the relevant faculty — and that information would be coming shortly with such details.Because the College is not the only school in the country facing such challenges, universities and colleges across the country are asking the same types of questions and starting to come up with solutions that will be shared among different institutions. For students who left course materials behind because they expected to be able to come back to campus after spring break, Bolton acknowledged that the College is aware of such circumstances and that faculty are trying to figure out how to work around that. Students who are in a position to come back to campus to collect personal and class materials will be allowed to do so. If something was left that a student needs, they are encouraged to fill out the student planning form or contact the Dean of Students’ Office.

Another common question concerned Independent Study. “If you’re here, feel free to turn in I.S.,” Bolton stated. The due date was moved from March 23 to March 25 to allow for a couple of buffer days, and that students who are not on campus should email their document to the registrar, which is tracking the sequencing so students will still know the order in which they turned in. Seniors are encouraged to follow the instructions emailed to them specifically on March 12. Bolton emphasized the everything will be done to make sure Wooster seniors will get some type of celebration for their accomplishments.

In responding to a question about the likelihood of a refund to students for room and board, Bolton said that there may be some kind of refund, but that it hasn’t been completely figured out because it depends on how long students are required to stay off of campus. Bolton reiterated that the College is concentrating on “health stuff first and that kind of stuff second,”but it is still an important discussion the Task Force and others are focusing on. For students who are remaining on campus, Bolton assured them that dining options would be available. “We are trying to make it as good as it can be while also as safe it can be,” she said.

International students raised questions about their visa status and whether or not they should stay on campus. “If your visa requires you to be in the U.S., we will make sure you can stay in Wooster,” Bolton said. International students with questions about visas or U.S. students who will return from an outside country should reach out to International Student Services (ISS) and those with questions about traveling to and from virus hotspots in the U.S. can reach out to the Dean of Students.

According to ISS staff, alumni, host families or willing students will not be encouraged to host students who do not want to stay on campus or travel home, but they will not be dissuaded from doing so. This will be at the discretion of the interested parties and will not be officially facilitated by the College.

Bolton emphasized that administrative offices remain open and that students and other concerned parties are encouraged to get in touch if they have questions. The Dean of Students office, CDI, the chaplain, the president’s office, ISS and the student affairs team all remain open and accessible. The Wellness Center will be open to calls starting Mach 13 for students who may be concerned they are exhibiting symptoms of the virus and the next steps that should be taken; they are also looking into providing counseling services for students whose mental health has taken a toll throughout these events. Even if it seems unnecessary, all students are able to fill out the student planning form. Additionally, the Student Government Association (SGA) will be providing shuttles before March 19 for those on campus who need to get to the airport and will provide updates regarding their status. The College has setup an email specific to the COVID-19 virus that people can contact: wooster-covid-19@wooster.edu.

Overall, Bolton emphasized that the administration is taking everything into account and students will be updated as soon as decision are made, most likely starting at the same time every day so students can look for an update at that time.

LCSA struggles to hire new staff member

Bijeta Lamichhane

News Editor

The search for a staff member to assist Lowry Center and Student Activities (LCSA) is ongoing. Although the College hired a part time staff member, Jean Graf, she left shortly after accepting the position.

LCSA’s struggle to hire employees is often reflected in both the results they produce and the role of the Director of LSCA Julia Zimmer as the only resource in resolving issues related to student activities. Dean of Students Scott Brown mentioned that Zimmer has “been doing essentially three jobs.” The lack of an adequate number of staff members in LCSA to address students’ issues caused concerns with organizations’ budgets last year. It also continues to make LCSA inaccessible to students due to lack of communication.

When asked about the reason behind the staff member leaving, Brown stated, “We were hiring for a part-time, temporary position, which means that if someone wished to find full-time employment, that would be more attractive. We were hoping we would be able to cover for the rest of the spring, but unfortunately we were not able to.”

Zimmer shared Brown’s reason- ing, explaining that temporary staff members often leave when they are provided with a permanent position. “The position was a temporary position to get us through the rest of the academic year,” Zimmer said. “In these cases, the person often times is given other opportunities that are better fits for them and provide them with a permanent position.”

However, the lack of an adequate number of staff members continues to conflict the communication between LCSA and the students. When Zimmer sent an email about budget trainings on Feb. 18 — with the first training happening the next day — organizations mentioned that they should have been told about the events earlier.

For their part, LCSA continues to search for a staff member to provide assistance in their activities. “We had hoped the temporary position would [suffice],” Brown stated. “[For now,] we will continue with our plans to hire a permanent full-time person — now we are in the prime season for student affairs hiring.”

Zimmer added, “We will be focusing on hiring the assistant director for student organizations, with the goal to have the person start [work- ing by] July 2020.”

In the meantime, LCSA has hired a student intern, Courtney Lockhart ’20, to help students during the bud- get process. Matt Mayes ’20, chair of Campus Council Budget Committee and Isaac Weiss ’20, a member of the committee, are also available to help organizations with questions related to budgeting.

PPR 2020 discusses the state of politics during annual retreat

Kidi Tafesse

Contributing Writer

This past weekend, students, staff and faculty joined to partake in the annual PossePlus Retreat (PPR). Situated in Salt Fork Park Lodge, a two-hour drive away from the College, this year’s participants were treated to the fun exercises and valuable activities that usually characterize PPR. This year’s theme was “PPR 2020: The State of Politics,” which couldn’t have come at a better time as the 2020 election approaches and it becomes increasingly impor- tant to engage in healthy and productive political discourse. Students, staff and faculty alike got the opportunity to engage in an informal setting and discuss both comfortable and uncomfortable topics.

“I learned about tools to use when having a political discussion: consider being wrong, attack the idea not the individual and just be an active listener,” said Delitza Nieves ’22, who attended the retreat. This can be seen in some of the activities the retreat involved: “One exercise that stood out to me the most was when we were presented with 11 or 12 different qualities posted around the room to make a productive conversation. We were then asked to stand next to the ones that we have the most difficulty with and the ones that we thought we had a good read on; just hearing people reflect on the things that they weren’t good at was nice to hear because it gave people a chance to think about why they were having difficulties in the first place and to think about what steps they can take to become good at it,” said Aryana Rhodes ’22, who was invited to the retreat by a Posse scholar.

Moreover, the retreat involved activities that engaged everyone in simulations of real-life issues so they could have a better understanding of the delicate balance between politics and issue resolution. For instance, one exercise involved a scenario in which a city was hit with an unexpected drought, and the members of the exercise acted as policy makers and had to decide which problems took priority and what the most effective wayof handling the situation was in a designated time frame. These exercises, of course, were not lacking in their production of diverse opinions. “The politics portion of the weekend reminded me of how everything in this country is politicized, and it seems as though you have to have an opinion on something,” added Posse Scholar Perry Worthey ’21. Although the focus of the retreat was embracing different beliefs and discussing difficult topics with an open mind and no judgement, PPR was definitely not short of fun, relaxing activities too. A no-talent talent contest and “warm and fuzzy” (an activity involving writing sticky notes to people to compliment them on their qualities) were just some of the numerous playful events everyone got to enjoy during the weekend.

There was also an emotional event as the last activity of the retreat. “Taps” involved sitting with your eyes closed and everyone taking turns to tap participants on the shoulder in response to prompts such as “tap someone who inspired you.”

“I’m usually sitting in a puddle of emotional tears by the end of it—it is a moving experience to be the recipient of these anonymous gestures of appreciation,”said Director of Campus Dining and Conference Services Marjorie Shamp.

Overall, this was yet another successful and well-rounded PPR and matched the expectations of the previous years. The wide range of events and topics from stimulating political issues to fun icebreakers and activities made the PPR experience one to remember.

New initiative works to highlight individuals on campus

Chloe Burdette

Managing Editor

Have you ever wanted to share your own unique story with others around you? Do you wonder if others in The College of Wooster community have shared a similar experience? Do you want to feel more unified with your classmates at the College? Wooster Threads was created with these exact ideas in mind.

Wooster Threads, an Instagram page created in the fall of 2019, is dedicated to giving individuals at the College a platform to share their personal stories to inspire others. The idea came to fruition through the efforts of campus photographer Matt Dilyard and Chief Communications and Marketing Officer Melissa Anderson. The idea is inspired by Humans of New York, a photography project created in 2010 by Brandon Stanton that highlighted the many stories of people who inhabited the city.

Anna Russell ’23 was a fan of the idea and decided to aid the creation of the page and make it her goal to feature Wooster students in their truest form. “I believe that everyone deserves a voice — an opportunity to share their story undisputedly,” Russell said. “The mission of Wooster Threads is really to highlight tidbits of individual students’ lives within the larger Wooster community and hopefully continue to unify the community.”

Each Instagram post focuses on one particular student or member of the campus com- munity. Interviewers consist of Russell, Kennedey Bell’21, Patrick Redrick ’21 and Yuta Nitanai’21.“I think the people I interview often surprise themselves with how much they are willing to speak about,” Russell said. “Life moves so fast and there is very little empha- sis on actively listening to others, but I think everyone just wants to be heard. If you ask people with genuine interest and show empathy, there’s very little they won’t share, even with a complete stranger.”

The project soon collaborat- ed with the Soft Power Project (SPP) to gain more traction. After hearing about Armel Lee ’19’s Independent Study — which focused on expanding cultural relationships on campus — SPP was conceptualized this past year. “Armel’s project inspired an entire organization dedicated to forming cross-cultural communication on campus with a desire to expand into the greater Wooster community as well,” Bell said.

The three branches of the SPP — WooStories, OpenTable and Wooster Threads — all aim at starting themed conversations between campus and community members to get a glimpse of peoples’ unique circumstances that may be different from their own. “[The SPP] hopes that people will begin to reach out to others who don’t come from the same racial, ethnic, religious, socio- economic, etc. background as they do,” Bell added.

The addition of Wooster Threads was a way for the SPP to have student stories become more individualized and allow students to learn more about people on campus even if they cannot make it to a panel or discussion. “We think interviewing gives a special look into peoples’ lives,” Bell stat- ed. “WooStories and OpenTable are both themed and require people to show up; with WoosterThreads, our inter- viewers go out and find people they may know well or not at all … with sharing on social media, viewers hear deep stories from people who they may never get to have class with or be in a club or in Greek Life together. Wooster students can take five minutes looking through the Wooster Threads page and connect with someone they may only see in Lowry.”

Wooster Threads has already made an impact on students at Wooster and has encouraged them to be vulnerable and share their stories. Liz Olsen ’22 is one student that is honored to have been featured on the page. “I was approached out of the blue and I didn’t really know what to expect or who would end up reading my story, so I had to be vulnerable,” Olsen said. “I’m glad now that I shared what I did; I think it’s a great way for people to tell as much as they want and allow others reading to relate and appreciate others’ differences.” Even those who work for the SPP have been influenced. “I believe that reading about and learning the complex lives of the people around us helps us grow and maintain empathy for each other, which ultimately makes us feel more connected to the community that surrounds us,” Redrick said.

“Silent Sky”unites theatre, social change and science

Megan Tuennerman

A&E Editor

This weekend, the theatre and dance department is sharing the story of Henrietta Leavitt through a production of “Silent Sky,” directed by professor Jimmy A. Noriega. Leavitt, who is being played by Annie Sheneman ’22, was a female astronomer who worked at the Harvard Observatory in the 1900s as a “computer” for the male scientists. “Henrietta Leavitt was limited in a lot of ways: she was female, hard of hearing and generally treated as lesser in her academic field. How- ever, her work has become the foundation of our understanding of cosmic measurement; her work on the Period-Luminosity relation to cepheid stars allowed the first calculations of intergalactic stellar distance to be made,” commented Sheneman. She continued, “it has been wonderful to inhabit the character of Henrietta Leavitt. She was such a passion- ate and interesting person and performing as her has been such a wonderful experience.”

“Silent Sky” is presented as part of the dialogue on “Women in the Sciences” at the College. “My research and creative work is focused on theatre for social change, so I was drawn to this text be- cause it reveals the significant ways women scientists have contributed to our knowledge of the universe, while also being denied the opportunities and tools that were provided to men,” explained Noriega when asked how he chose “Silent Sky.”

The importance of the show in a social context was echoed by Sheneman, when she explained, “I think we tend to assume that scientific ideas are too complex for those without prior training to understand, but the collaboration of the sciences and the arts can make those complex ideas more accessible to a broader audience.”

Bridging the gap between theatre and science, “Silent Sky” brings representation to under- represented groups in a way that is accessible to many. “There are so many women like Henrietta Leavitt, Williamina Fleming and Annie Cannon [all characters in the show] that get lost in history because of the way we learn about history in our education system. This is a story that everyone needs to know, especially since it has a lot to do with our universe, which is a pretty big deal,” commented Amari Royal ’23, who plays Cannon in the show.

The cast and crew have put tremendous work into the production. “It has been really wonderful seeing all the technical elements be added to the production; the show is set from 1900-1920, so seeing the beautiful period costumes be constructed has been so interesting. I am really proud of this show and all the hard work that has gone into it,” commented Sheneman.

Royal agreed. “I am super excited to show everyone the work that not only the cast has put in, but the rest of the theatre department. They’ve made a show about science look like magic, which is amazing,” she said.

“More than anything, I hope students learn to appreciate the ways people have fought for our rights to learn and discover. Access to research, specialized tools and learning have not always been guaranteed to all segments of our society and this show represents a piece of that struggle,” commented Noriega.

Steve Moore finishes last regular season game

Chloe Burdette

Managing Editor

Saturday, Feb. 23 marked a monumental moment for not just Head Men’s Basketball Coach Steve Moore, but for the entire College of Wooster community — Moore coached his last regular-season home game in Timken Gymnasium. With a full house of students, community members and Moore’s past players there to watch, the Fight- ing Scots fought hard into overtime (OT) against the DePauw Tigers and lost by a mere point. Nevertheless, the loss did not alter the gratitude served up by fans for Moore and the team after the final buzzer.

Going into the game, the Scots knew that this game was historic for Moore, but Moore told the team to treat it like any other home game. “Coach stressed to us not to make that game or day about him,” Keonn Scott ’21 said. “He wanted to make everyone feel that it was their day and that he would be absolutely nothing if it weren’t for the players,” said Scott.

From the tip-off to the end of OT, the Tigers and the Scots were neck-and-neck for the entire game. A late three-pointer by DePauw’s Aaron Shank ’21 in the few final seconds of OT silenced the Scots for an 88-87 victory.

“We fought till the end, and sometimes, that’s just simply not enough,” Danyon Hempy ’20 said, who scored an astronomical 40. points in the game against DePauw. “DePauw played a very solid game; we just didn’t get it done on the defensive end in that game and it cost us.”

Blake Southerland ’20 agreed, adding that DePauw had more energy towards the end of the game. “We just needed to have the same intensity for the entire game, and we needed to get more stops. Regardless, it was a hard-fought game for both teams.”

Moore mentioned the Scots’ struggle with defending the Tigers’ three-point shots as an obstacle. “We played well enough offensively to win the game, especially in the second half,” Moore said. “Our players did a great job coming from behind and getting the game to over- time … However, we struggled all game long in defending the three- point shots of DePauw as they made 18 three-point field goals; including the game-winner with three seconds left.”

Upon the completion of the game, a ceremony dedicated to Moore’s illustrious coaching career began with President Sarah Bolton giving thanks to Moore and highlighting his many remarkable moments at the College. Then, eyes were directed to the video board as graduated Fighting Scots basket- ball players thanked Moore for his dedication to the Wooster basket- ball program.

Moore was overwhelmed by the thoughtfulness of the ceremony.

“When I looked at the group of men standing before me, I thought, ‘how very blessed and fortunate I have been to have had the oppor- tunity to coach and develop special relationships with them.’ I thought of Lou Gehrig’s famous speech in Yankee Stadium when he said he was the luckiest man alive.”

Although difficult to say in only a few words, current players con- veyed their appreciation to their be- loved coach. “Coach Moore means everything to me,” Scott said. “If it wasn’t for him believing in my abilities, I wouldn’t be a part of this pro- gram. He just cares so much about each and every guy and is more concerned with us becoming better people rather than just better bas- ketball players.”

Hempy, who also played his last regular-season home game in Tim- ken Gymnasium, couldn’t put into words how Wooster basketball had an impact on him for the past four years. “I could say so many things to Coach. I would just thank him for taking a chance on me. My time at Wooster has been incredible and I would have never had the opportu- nity if it wasn’t for him and Coach Cline.”

As for Southerland, Wooster basketball and Moore have shaped him into who he is today. “I just hope Coach knows how grateful I am to have been a part of this team for the past four years, and what a great ex- perience it has been for me,” he said. “I would like to just encourage him on what a great job he has done inspiring us and teaching us what it means to compete and how to be a good man off the court.”

Trenton Tipton ’20 added, “There are many things I could say, but we still have a chance to play a lot of basketball, so I am focused on winning the game against Allegheny and live to fight another day.”

Moore is beyond grateful for the teams he has coached and the College of Wooster community.

“I want to say to everyone in the Wooster Basketball Family that the program will continue to be very special and successful in all ways with Coach Cline as the Head Coach. He is as responsible as anyone for Wooster Basketball being what it is.” He also added, “Simply, thank you. I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to coach at a tremendous institution for 33 years and to be associated with so many special people.

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