Self-becoming is a challenging, rewarding journey

All things exist in seasons; each season of your life will always require a different version of yourself. Who you are now is so important presently, with all of its complications of personhood, but it is also preparation for who you will become. We navigate these changes as gracefully and resiliently as we can, but can be often sidetracked by our projections, comparing other people’s journeys to our own. The thing is, you can’t live for other people. You are born with only you, and that is a blessing and a power humans have been pondering since the beginning of time.

Seasonally speaking, spring often symbolizes the cyclical beginning of time, in terms of faith, nature and opportunity. The birth of a new, green world from frost and snow feels like a miracle, and the only way to engage in this miracle is to engage in the change occurring around you. For example: this time last year, I decided that there was no such thing as “failure” or “wrong” anymore. There was only “winning” and “learning,” and I decided that I was going to do whatever possible in order to be my strongest self.

No matter what next stage the course of this life reveals, my aim is only to gain as many strengths as I can. You can be physically strong, you can be fast, you can calculate equations, you can sing, you can draw, you can write, you can speak at all different levels of experience. Spring for me is a time that very naturally encourages all the ways I can improve myself. There are so many ways to be strong, and becoming your best self can mean testing your limits and gathering as many of these strengths as boundless potential allows.

What I have learned from senior year (or as I like to call it, Womb II) change can be uncomfortable and ugly and challenging. It often does not look or sound or smell the same; it may not entertain the same circles as it once did. This is important. There is no growth without challenge and turmoil. You don’t deserve me at my Fire Lord Zuko if you cannot appreciate my Book Water’s Petulant Prince. That kind of struggle is one of the most important lessons of renewal and rebirth: you can hate and love the process simultaneously.

The good times and the bad times can be the same exact times, family. While you are stressing about job offers, internships and relationships, it doesn’t have to stop you from laughing, playing and enjoying the beauty in your struggle. Every moment matters. If the beginning is always better than the end, then all you have to do is never end. As long as you keep living, you can keep winning.

Bird Jackson, a Contributing Writer for the Voice, can be reached for comment at HJackson18@wooster.edu.

“What U Laughing At?”

Ronnie Wright ’18 called me out in the first 10 minutes of Podcast of Wooster’s first live comedy show, “What U Laughing At?” Saturday in Douglass basement. After one of her punchiest jokes, she noted, “This time next week, there’s going to be a Voice article saying Ronnie Wright is a reverse racist.” Yet, as a comedian of color, Wright clearly knew how to connect with her audience, earning big laughs from an overwhelmingly white crowd.

Several performers had prepared race-based material for the show, at which host Sam Carlson ’18 assured the audience, “It’s okay to laugh. They’re jokes. That’s why we wrote them.” A spiral-patterned sheet and single spotlight provided a warm welcome for the comedians, who sat ready to dole out laughs for their peers on couches next to the stage.

Omar Kelly ’21, in his first-ever stand-up performance, leveled the banter by explaining that black people and white people do the same things, just differently. With a smile and a self-aware stage presence, his segment on dating matters and even the nearly minute-long improvisation at the end of his set seemed completely natural.

Blaire Bosley ’18 took a storytelling approach that is probably more familiar to the Wooster Moth story slam scene. Although soft-spoken, she spoke candidly with the audience, peppering a religious childhood-to-college narrative with jokes about cat-calling and IKEA. As a fellow senior, her praise for Camp Woo also rang amusingly true for me.

Some faces were familiar to Common Grounds’ stand-up nights. Seasoned comedians André Baronov ’20 and Nat Davis ’19 stood out for their crowd work. Baronov  interrupted his own comedic singing and strumming to rib his TA in the audience before picking up precisely where he had left off. Overall, the Bo Burnham-like combination of music and comedy served Baronov’s act well and differentiated him from the lineup.

Compared to the improvised nature of some of the other acts, Davis’ set was meticulously written and outrageously descriptive. While his far-reaching pun openers got a few reluctant laughs and several groans, his sentimental closer evoked more than a few “awws.”

Finally, Carlson, another Common Grounds and Podcast of Wooster alum, closed the show with two subjects in mind: dining services and race in his own family. The topic of dining services is familiar to all Wooster students, but Carlson also managed to draw us in to the exaggerated nuances of his family. While some audience members might have left going, “same,” I left with the feeling I get after watching reality TV: much saner than before.

Overall, students received the stand-up format warmly. With a larger crowd and more planned acts, this event put more on the line for performers as writers and distinguished itself from the Moth or Common Grounds. Podcast of Wooster was established in 2015 and aspires to “inspire, motivate or amuse.” With “What U Laughing At?,” the group continued its legacy of providing the campus with art in new and unique formats.

Fell Runner performed a casual yet musically powerful show

Andy Kilbride
Contributing Writer

On April 13, the Los Angeles-based experimental rock band Fell Runner played a passionate and lively show in the Lowry pit hosted by the Wooster Activities Crew. Anyone who’s been in the pit knows it’s far from your typical concert space, but with a creative assortment of the space’s couches and chairs, they were able to play to roughly 30 people in a way that felt unusually personal and intimate. When singer Steven van Betten spoke away from his microphone he could be heard fine, just to give you an idea of how low-key the pit show was. This easily added to the charm of the concert.

Like any band worth talking about, it’s mind-numbingly difficult to discuss what Fell Runner actually sounds like. Sure, I can say that they perform a particularly eclectic brand of pop-rock with strong Afrobeat and post-rock influences, but even though this genre-labeling is easy, it feels generalizing and ultimately tiresome. What I can say more confidently is that in this sonic smorgasbord, there’s sometimes cohesion and sometimes an admirable unpredictability.

The band is, put simply, a musical powerhouse. Guitarists and vocalists Steven van Betten and Gregory Uhlmann alternate between complex, intricately rhythmic instrumentation influenced by West African music — something the two are absurdly good at even while singing — and more effects-heavy atmospheric noodling that harkens back to bands like Slowdive and Mogwai.

No mention of the band’s gripping musicianship, however, would be complete without praising the tight rhythm section of bassist Marcus Hogsta and drummer and backup vocalist Tim Carr. Hogsta’s playing is far less flashy compared to the two guitarists’ but no less creative, something that fittingly grounds the sprawling instrumentation. The band’s secret weapon though, is arguably Carr, who shifts between rhythmic shuffling — I’m not a drummer so if I sound like I don’t know what I’m talking about, it’s because I don’t — classic rock bombast and airy, atmospheric ride cymbal usage.

The band played several songs from their 2015 self-titled album, including the Afrobeat-influenced “Rain Room” and “Song of the Sun,” but they also went out their way to play miscellaneous singles and unreleased material — possibly for a new album the group was hinting about. Personal favorites include “Supermarket” and “Jeffery,” with the former being about the all-too relatable experience of seeing someone you know at the supermarket while being too socially awkward to actually talk to them, and the latter is a heartfelt ode to a man who wants to become an astronaut to escape the mundanities of terrestrial suburban life. The best song of the night, however, was the musically sparse and mostly acoustic “Fall Back,” which starts as a soft folk-rock ballad before expanding into an atmospheric, shoegaze-esque finale.

It would be unfair to leave out Ted Murray ’21, who opened the show with a similarly intimate seven-song acoustic set consisting entirely of his original material, with some lyrics being written by him and others by friends of his. Fittingly, Murray clearly knows how to channel his innermost thoughts and emotions into his music and communicates the words of his friends as if they were his own, as if he has a vivid understanding of their emotional weight.

Spring Dance Concert includes guest artist, I.S. project

Meg Itoh
Editor in Chief

The College of Wooster’s Theatre and Dance Department is presenting its annual Spring Dance Concert from Thursday, April 19 through Saturday, April 21 at 7:30 p.m. in Freedlander Theatre.

While the concert showcases the talents of guest artist, Liliona Quarmyne — an independent solo artist in Nova Scotia, Canada who has extensive training in contemporary, modern, African, ballet, hip-hop and jazz dance — pieces by student choreographers will also take center stage. The student choreographers include Meredith Bruch ’18, Brigitte Galauner ’18, Kimi McBryde ’18, Vincent Meredith ’18, Rachel Lau ’19, Teagan Robinson ’19 and Katherine Kurz ’21.

Kim Tritt, professor of theatre and dance, explained that the concert presents students with the opportunity for creative expression and the agency to bring their visions onto the stage. “It’s their work and they take responsibility for it,” she said.

Tritt will be directing the concert and presenting “Newspapers,” which is a reconstruction of original choreography by Gladys Bailin, a director emerita and distinguished professor of dance at Ohio University (OU). Bailin boasts an impressive life intertwined with dance, beginning with when she met and trained with Alwin Nikolais beginning in 1948 at Henry Street Playhouse in New York City. From 1950-63, Bailin performed with a company originating many roles in signature Nikolais works, choreographed solo and group works and taught at the school. She currently teaches Dance Composition at OU.

Tritt is excited for audience interpretation of the performance. “[The piece is] timely because of all the ‘fake news’ [and] it can be interpreted in so many different ways,” she said.

Tritt was also quick to note the unique nature of collaboration that defines the spring concert. “Isn’t that incredible? That you can put on a concert like this with students,” she said, “[and] each concert that we present is so varied from the year before.”

One element that adds a level of difference to the annual concert is the Independent Study (I.S.) performances that change from year to year. The 2018 Spring Dance Concert will showcase part the I.S. of Justine Walker ’18. She is a double major of physics and theatre and dance, and has created a piece that combines elements of both disciplines.

“My I.S. is more than just looking at how the mechanics of dance change at lower gravities, such as on the moon. It’s also about understanding the impact of space travel on humanity and the cultures we will form in the future,” explained Walker.

Her I.S., self-defined as “eccentric, fun, scientific, artsy, energetic and insightful,” reminds us of the complex relationship that exists between gravity, dance and earth. As Walker points out, gravity can indeed change movement, causing the act of dancing to be different on a planet beyond the bounds of the Earth.

This exploration of the sciences and dance has been on Walker’s mind for years now. “During my summer before sophomore year one of my classes got cancelled, and because of a bunch of random circumstances I ended up in two Theatre and Dance classes that [fall] semester,” she said. “I ended up falling in love with dance.”

Walker had always considered a combined I.S. “Kim told me about a physicist who had wrote about the physics of dance (Kenneth Laws) and since I was working with [Professor of Physics John] Lindner on a space related computational SoREP project at the time … Eventually Kim, Dr. Lindner and I all decided on dancing in lower gravity being the next frontier for space S.T.E.A.M. [Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math],” she said.

Tickets, which can be purchased at the Freedlander Box Office, are $9 for general admission and $6 for senior citizens as well as faculty, staff and non-College of Wooster students.

Scotlight

A weekly inside look at the unique faces and personalities that make up The College of Wooster community.

Nancy Grace, a professor of English retir
ing after 31 years at the College, 

What made you realize you wanted to be a journalist?

I was 10, 11 or 12 and I grew up in a small town — Lexington, Ky. — and the paper there was the Mansfield News Journal. They never published much at all about Lexington except for when the men’s basketball team won. That made me mad, so I said, “I’m gonna be a journalist when I grow up and create a paper that will put the Mansfield News Journal out of business!” That didn’t happen, but that’s when I first realized myself. Journalism is a good thing and people whose voices need to be heard need journalism to get their voices out there.

What made you switch careers from being a paralegal to a journalist?

I was working for this really huge law firm in Cleveland … I was working on a case, the EEOC [equal employment opportunity committee] vs JCPenney and this firm I worked for represented the store. The EEOC was saying that JCPenney was not paying women employees equally to the men and my job was this research project to claim that JCPenney’s was not unfairly paying their female employees. I turned in this really good report to the attorney representing JCPenney and he loved it and had me guard the files as a reward for good work, an easy job. But after hours and days of this, I thought, “This is not right; these women deserve more pay and why am I sitting here guarding these stupid files?” That’s when I decided I quit.

What are the dynamics of women compared to men working in journalism?

There are a lot more women working in journalism now than there were 30-40 years ago, definitely … I think it’s still hard for women to make their way up that editorial ladder if that’s the way they want to go — it’s a difficult profession, it doesn’t pay well and there’s all these moral and ethical obligations and responsibilities attached to it … There is still an incredible amount of sexism that women have to face and not just in the office but in going out and interviewing. It’s not easy; it’s not easy at all. Racism is of course a large problem in our society, but I think sexism is just as big, but more hidden, more invisible.

What was your experience like working on the newspaper during the older protests going on?

When I came in 1987, the College had actually shut down the paper because it was so awful, the students had just let it go. The students were saying they wanted someone to help them with this, as was the administration, so the English Department said they were going to offer a course in news writing — I was hired to do that. Fairly quickly, those groups of students got it together and started to publish a really good paper — not really because of my class, but because they decided it was important to us.

Then during the ’89 protest, I asked the editor if the journalism class could put out an issue, you know, “Are you willing to turn the paper over to us for one issue?” So the week that this group was putting out the Voice that was the week of the Galpin Takeover, so that class covered it. The bylines are of students from my journalism class, not the editors of the paper.

How have political protests and activism evolved during your time at Wooster?

My first impression is that it has remained the same. Like back when a student talked about Take Back the Night, women were doing that in the ’80s. There were protests when the administration wanted to get rid of the dance department years ago, that part of the theatre major. When there is something that bothers Wooster students, they are not afraid to say, “Hey, this is what we believe in,” and that has been consistent.

What was it like working for the Center of Diversity and Inclusion in its beginning stages?

Grant Cornwall, when he came in as president, started that and economics professor Amyaz Moledina the first faculty member, so there were a couple people before me. It struggled a lot; it’s a hard, complex office to create and to function just because it’s work is so hard and it’s not sexy work at all, it’s not like renovating the gymnasium or building a new science building. It’s dirty work, and I mean that people don’t want to think about those issues, and so when you do, you ruffle feathers. You don’t see a lot of progress; you make a lot of progess, but it’s not like putting up a building so you can say, “Wow, look what we did.” Changing one’s mind about social justice takes great patience and perseverance, and you never know when you will see results. It’s like teaching; you just don’t know what will work that day.

QSU, QPoC strengthen ties while maintaining distinct roles

Eleanor Linafet
A&E Editor

Not only was The College of Wooster’s second annual LGBTQIA+ Pride Festival on Saturday, April 7 an event with helpful resources, fun activities and a remarkable performance by the poet Tim DuWhite, but it was also one at which the entire queer Wooster community was welcomed to come together in a space of solidarity and celebration.

The organizations that hosted the event in collaboration with the Center for Diversity and Inclusion (CDI) were the Queer Student Union (QSU) and Queer People of Color (QPoC), two student groups who have both critically similar and distinctly different roles on campus. The members of these relatively young organizations are currently in the midst of fostering a stronger relationship with one another while still maintaining the necessity of being separate groups.

“I think now more than ever I think it’s very important for the queer community at Wooster to really … stand in solidarity with one another,” said Channler Twyman ’18, the outgoing co-president of QPoC. Marina Adams ’18, the other outgoing co-president of QPoC, went on to explain the conscious effort to still maintain the distinct roles of each group. “We’re very concerned with acting as one in the queer community while maintaining this separateness — while being aware that we do need separate spaces,” Adams said.

QPoC was chartered in the spring semester of 2015 by students who wanted “to provide a space for students who identified both as people of color and as queer people, because they felt as though those needs were not being met in other multicultural spaces or within QSU, which was known as Spectrum at the time,” said Twyman. Though Adams notes that at first there was “a lot of estrangement between the groups,” members of QPoC and QSU have been making a concerted effort in recent years to bridge the gap between the similar organizations.

“As a broad, large queer community on campus, I think it’s important to be able to address whatever issues there were, but more than that, to move forward and say whatever happened then, those people are gone, we have another chance at really collaborating effectively and really creating and fostering this inclusive and welcoming group across any boundaries on campus,” said Ben Bridgman ’20, the public relations chair for QSU and recently appointed liaison to QPoC.

Though both groups are committed to collaborating more, they still want to maintain their distinct and separate roles on campus. Speaking of queer people of color, Twyman said, “It is important to understand that different oppressions do affect us differently because there’s the racial aspect and the queer aspect.” Bridgman also recognized the necessity of having two separate groups. “I do know that having the individual groups is important because the people that have those intersecting identities have different things to talk about and need a different space where they can fully feel safe in that environment,” he said.

Fredi Carey ’19, the outgoing co-president of QSU, emphasized how important it is that his group recognizes the different issues that queer people of color deal with. “As the white queer people or the queer group of campus that is not specifically towards people of color, I think we’re definitely always looking for ways to support queer people of color because we need to be cognizant of the fact that white queer people are almost always the ones that are listened to first,” he said.

To Cesar Lopez ’21, the incoming co-president of QPoC, future support and collaboration will work best if the groups’ members build strong relationships with one another. “We’re working on creating more personal relationships and from there collaborating more as organizations,” he said.

Lopez explained that, looking forward, the groups need to think about “how [they] can collaborate together and foster a similar environment that’s safe for anyone who identifies as queer, regardless of whether both of the organizations are separate.” This vision was echoed by board members of both QSU and QPoC and promises a strong future for the relationship between these similar yet different student organizations.