Wooster must commit to economic justice

Wooster is no stranger to change. Over the past 200 years, the town has gone from frontier village to regional hub of 26,000 people; after 100 years of being wed to conservative Christian sensibilities, the College took bold steps to modernize in the 1960s, this transformation heralded by the construction of McGaw Chapel. With how uncertain the future is, no one can say how either the town or College will fare going forward, but it is  irresponsible for us to sit around and wait for the next existential threat to emerge before we take action. 

As it stands, the greatest obstacle in our community is that the town and the College seemingly exist separate from each other. The College has very few stakes in the local economy, as the town’s primary economic base in manufacturing becomes ever more precarious.  The best paying jobs at the College are done by highly educated professionals who would otherwise be working in prosperous urban areas, while most Wooster natives on the school’s payroll do underpaid, undervalued manual labor. And despite spending four years in Wooster, college graduates have little incentive to stay and contribute to the town, typically heading off to Chicago or D.C. to climb the social ladder. 

There is nothing abnormal about this relationship. The College of Wooster’s model is not so different from that of Kenyon or Oberlin — the essential goal is to produce as many exemplary middle-class professionals as possible. But just because there is nothing strange about being a bourgeois institution does not make it good or moral; what our college’s doctrine implies is that your ability to live with dignity is guaranteed not by your inherent humanity, but by your being able to contribute meaningfully to the economy. Each person represents not a soul but a skillset. 

It makes sense, then, that the administration would fail to endorse a living wage for hourly staff, as such a resolution runs contrary to the College’s interest in making the possibility of ascending to the rank of bourgeois the only way for the poor to have their humanity fully realized by society. In Wooster, former factory workers and their children, unsure of the future, look on as the College commits vast finances and labor to projects they have absolutely no stake in. It only makes sense that they feel alienated, or that they that don’t want students voting in local elections. If our college really is a humanitarian institution, how do we allow such grief and anxiety at our very doorstep? The reason is that The College of Wooster is inherently complicit in class hierarchy. 

While I have fundamental issues with the College, I think there are ways it can strive to be more equitable in the community. I believe the school administration should make the implementation of a living wage for all employees a top priority. I also believe the City and the College should take deliberate steps to make privileges enjoyed by the College community more accessible, expanding scholarships for Wooster residents (including those studying part-time) and by offering tangible benefits to college graduates who choose to stay in Wooster. To prompt increased collaboration for the public good, I think the City of Wooster should invest a considerable stake in the school’s endowment as to influence choices made by academic governance. 

To my knowledge, this would be an unprecedented move for a school like Wooster, but I would delight to see my college make so bold a commitment to social justice as to put itself at the mercy of the public.

Ciaran Lyons, a Contributing Writer for the Voice, can be reached for comment at CLyons20@wooster.edu.

The Scene – “Heard it in a Past Life”: Strength through change

Maggie Rogers’ album “Heard it in a Past Life” debuted at no. 2 on the Billboard 200 in the week of Feb. 2. It is Rogers’ first full-length studio album and details Rogers’ life since gaining fame in 2016 from a master class she participated in with Pharell Williams. The album is full of complex, yet danceable beats and infectious melodies, as well as raw vocals and elegant and relatable lyrics. Perhaps the most impressive part of this album is Rogers’ auteur approach to its production. During a time in pop music when we’ve become accustomed to an assembly line style of production, it’s refreshing to see an album wherein the artist is the writer and producer on every track. 

One major theme in the album is how Rogers has dealt with her newfound fame and success. As she explains in “Light On,” fame can be confusing and overwhelming, singing desperately, “Oh I tried to stop it / tried to slow it all down / crying in the bathroom / had to figure it out / with everyone around me saying / ‘you should be so happy now.’” In the following track, “Past Life,” Rogers further pontificates on the deeply complicated feelings she has about gaining fame. At the end of the song she sings contemplatively, “Maybe there’s a past life coming out inside of me / maybe it’s the song I’m singing / maybe everything’s just turning out how it should be.” In contrast to the dance-y, percussive and synth-driven songs on the rest of “Heard it in a Past Life,” “Past Life” is stripped down. The track consists only of Rogers’ vocals and a chord-driven piano part. It is also, notably, the only song for which Rogers is the sole writer and producer.

“Heard it in a Past Life” also features two of Rogers’ previous singles, “Alaska” and “On + Off.” The former is a song about an outdoor excursion Rogers had in the Alaskan wilderness that brought her clarity and closure on a breakup and gave her more insight into her own self. “On + Off” is, as the name suggests, about an on and off relationship she’s been in. In the song, she concludes that she’s always happier when she and her partner are back together. Both tracks are stylistically indicative of the rest of the album, featuring intense and almost disorienting percussion, ethereal backing vocals and harmonies, as well as various natural and electronic samples that give her songs an atmospheric and dreamy vibe.

The final track on the album, “Back in my Body” details Rogers’ process of self-discovery and finally being able to love herself. In the choruses she repeats nearly endlessly “This time I know I’m fighting / I’m back in my body.” It is a powerful and anthemic note to end on, complete with heavy chords and triumphant percussion. In tandem with the rest of the album, “Back in my Body” offers insight into the dramatic and mundane changes in life and how we can reclaim ourselves in the face of such changes. 

Matt Woodward, a Contributing Writer for the Voice, can be reached for comment at MWoodward19@wooster.edu.

Student groups prepare for Board of Trustees meeting

Bijeta Lamichhane 

Contributing Writer

On Thursday, Feb. 28, representatives from different student organizations at the College will be speaking in front of the Board of Trustees at the Student Development Meeting (SDM). The meeting provides the student body — specifically the students involved in these organizations — with the opportunity to directly present any questions or concerns they have regarding the campus community to the board.

While the intention behind the meeting is straightforward — that is, to establish a collaborative relationship between the board and the student body — the process of presenting different organizations’ stances requires a lot of work. The Student Government Association (SGA) has been tasked to hold planning meetings a month prior to the meeting with the Board to assist the representatives in refining their questions, concerns and opinions.

“Every semester, when the Board of Trustees come to campus, they like to meet with students. SGA is tasked with running such a meeting so that students can talk directly to them,” said Isaac Weiss ’20, treasurer for SGA.

“We put a call out about a month before the meeting to ask student groups who wish to speak to the Trustees to come out and talk to SGA beforehand, so that we can make sure that the conversation is well tuned to what the Trustees can actually work with,” Weiss added. “Then, the President of SGA [Monét Davis ’19] runs the SDM, and the students of the College will have the unique opportunity to talk to the Trustees.”

The planning meetings were held earlier this month, on Monday, Feb. 4 and Thursday, Feb. 7.

The representatives of different organizations present their stances on various issues and even provided updates. Wooster Activities Crew (WAC) plans to update the Board of Trustees regarding their success and provide an outlook for what is to come in the next months. Emily Stoehr ’20, the vice president of finances for WAC, said, “We have no concerns to raise. Instead, we would like to thank them for always assisting us with our endeavors.”

Co-President of Inter-Greek Council Maha Rashid ’19 plans to attend the meeting with a similar agenda. “Our goal is to enlighten the Board about successes that the Greek community has had and ask for their help to propel the momentum even farther,” Rashid said. “We are very grateful for this opportunity and look forward to speaking with the Board.”

Some organizations, however, are shedding light on issues regarding different aspects of the campus community — from working for a cleaner environment to concerns regarding personal safety.

Henry Mai ’20, the co-treasurer of the Sexual Respect Coalition (SRC), said, “At the [SDM], we will be discussing our initiative of having content warnings put onto syllabi, the reestablishment of the working group and the formation of the survivor advocacy house (as a result of the Galpin Call-in).”

Mai continued, “We will also be emphasizing the College’s need for updated posters containing information about reporting a Title IX violation.”

In addition to raising their concerns, the representatives of SRC also plan on providing an update on the recent activities they have conducted. “Finally, we will be giving the Trustees a recap of all the events we have done over the past such as Sex Month, the MLK justice dialogue, Take Back the Night and the speaker we are bringing to campus in collaboration with South Asian Committee,” Mai concluded.

The representatives of Queer Student Union (QSU), Zizia Swan ’21 and Sam Corrigan ’20, will be raising their concerns regarding the students’ lives and safety, specifically those in the LGBTQIA+ community.

“We will be discussing the name change process, as there continues to be many issues with students’ names not being changed across all systems,” Swan, the co-president of QSU, said. “We also plan to request more transparency during bias incident investigations. It is difficult for students to feel safe knowing that these threatening situations are happening on campus, but not having very much information about the ongoing investigation.”

Many of the issues raised in the meeting will concern the well-being of the students — especially minorities. The representatives of Latinas Unidas and Organization of Latin American Students (OLAS) plan to voice their concerns regarding the representation of Latinx members in the campus.

“Our common concern includes the lack of Latinx representation of faculty and staff,” Evelyn Marin ’19, the co-president of OLAS, said. “It can definitely make transition at a PWI [predominantly white institution] easier and more comfortable if Latinx students recognize how a college education can provide so many opportunities for people that identify as they do as well.”

Marin also highlighted the importance of raising this issue. “They can seek out these professors/advisors/employees with more ease because they might share similar experiences and obstacles.”

“Another concern is the lack of attention towards courses that involve Latin-American studies. This could possibly be due to the lack of interest by professors, especially if they do not identify with Latinx culture. If the school can recognize this issue and take initiative in creating more representation of these Latinx identities, I see a future of hardworking Latinx students making a difference not only at this institution, but carrying what they learned here into the real-world,” Marin concluded.

Some of the concerns go beyond the issues regarding campus community. The Wooster Volunteer Network (WVN), for example, is looking forward to requesting assistance in making service trips across the city easier and more accessible.

Elizabeth Testamark ’22, a representative of WVN, said, “We are planning to advocate for the ability to access service trips. Since Wooster promotes civil engagement within Wayne County, we are vouching for those who cannot participate in them due to financial reasons.”

Another organization, WOODS (Wooster’s Outdoors Club), aims to increase accessibility to natural spaces at the College. Woods also desires to take measures in serving their members more efficiently.

“Woods has been growing and diversifying with a stronger on campus presence,” Cambry Baker ’21 said. “To continue this trend, WOODS would like to advocate for more natural space on campus to increase accessibility to experiences in nature for students. To best serve students on our break trips we want to certify a student in top rope climbing and another in whitewater canoeing.”

Finally, the representatives from Greenhouse plan to address the College’s recent response on the new recycling laws and how the organization actively worked on supplying information. They also plan to direct the Board of Trustees to pay attention to the recommendation of Sustainability Committee.

“The Committee is creating a five-year plan to make the College more sustainable and competitive with other Ohio 5 [Five Colleges of Ohio] schools,” Mackenzie Goltz ’20, president of Greenhouse, said. “They have great and important ideas, including the need for a sustainability coordinator. We need these changes to keep Wooster relevant and to do our part in the global community.”

Celebrate for those who cannot

Dear America. Land of the Free. Home of the Brave. Where every life matters, right? Or maybe, not so much. 

See, Miss America you’ve brought me so much yet taught me so little. So little worth knowing. So little worth sharing. The only thing I’ve learned really is how to stop caring. Caring for those who neglect my darker skin sisters and brothers. For those who lack compassion, understanding and perspective. For those who have the nerve to ask “Why do black people get a whole month of celebration?” My dear America, we get one month because you get the other 11. Because you stole the first 200 years from us. Because we deserve to celebrate the skin we’re in. You preach equality for all, but laugh when you see another fall. Or maybe it was you that tripped us in the first place? 

The poor are looked down upon, trapped in cycles that you created, Old America. The rich are harshly judged for being the one percent that never had to try that hard to get where they’re at. And those caught in the middle choose to ignore the plight of their brown skin counterparts because it’s just easier that way. We live in a country where money matters, yet they tell us we should do what we “love.” But what if what you love doesn’t pay the bills? What if the correlation between success and wealth is just the result of choosing to ignore the cycle so many of us are kept in.  

Tell me why? Oh Dear America. A country so “grand” refuses to see that our views still have to expand. Our eyes may be open, but you look the other way when it gets too uncomfortable. When it gets too real. When your people are begging for the justice, equality and acceptance we’ve never gotten. We celebrate Black history, Black excellence, Black strength because you refuse to, America. You choose not to. So ask not why we get a whole month, but rather why wouldn’t we? America you were built on the backs of people with no voice, no choice or rights. Of people who fought for basic human rights in times when our rights were an “option” to you. Of people with minds so powerful and inventive they are commodified for your gain. Of those who laid foundations on which you’ve built upon. 

So Dear America we celebrate now, in the month of February, for those who cannot. For those who had no voice, no rights or recognition. A month of Black history, Black excellence and Black strength to remind those that have come before and to show those that will come after; We are beautiful. We are strong. We are equal. And we are Black. 

Catera Clark , a Contributing Writer for the Voice, can be reached for comment at CClark21@wooster.edu.

Minecraft is an underrated creative platform

L.J. Martin

Contributing Writer

Minecraft, following a massive uptick in overall popularity following its acquisition by Microsoft — related in no small part to its expanded cross-platform compatibility    is regarded by many as a game first and foremost for children. This is, however, more a recent development in the game’s accessibility and marketing, rather than a long-standing trend in the broader community. Development of Minecraft under Mojang, the game’s original parent company, was developed through version 1.7.10, with the game’s current PC iteration on version 1.13.2. While there have been distinct benefits which the overall community has been able to draw from, the increased visibility, for instance, causing the movement of Minecraft from an internet phenomenon into popular culture, there have also been serious costs for the people involved, in particular the opensource modding community.

Mods, or modifications made to a game in order to add content or otherwise shift the experience of playing, have been a staple of Minecraft since version 1.4. Some of the earliest mods on the scene was Thaumcraft 2, which added an entire system of magic to a game which lacked it at the time, and a recipe book mod which helped guide new players through the as-yet-undocumented options for crafting in the game. Part of the reason for the presence of numerous mods, even in early versions of the game, was as a consequence of both the lack of structure of the base game, which served primarily as a platform for many people rather than a game in and of itself, as well as the ease with which the code could be accessed and modified. In turn, Mojang took specific steps to encourage modding, and on the Minecraft forums, discussions of mods adding everything from airships to ogres were developed and contributed to by the community.

Unlike many other games, there were even a number of mod launchers for community creators to design packages of mods, or mod packs, which would include a curated suite of mods designed to create a distinct feel. Such launchers included the Tekkit launcher, Feed the Beast (FTB) and Curse launchers creating things like skyblock, a mode of play where the player begins floating on a small square of blocks in the void and must build their entire world from nothing. Essential in both the mod launchers, and for the mod creators themselves was the relatively slow release of new versions of the game. While there were features and fixes made to the base game, the two most popular Mojang versions were 1.6.4 and 1.7.10, which were both in circulation for lengthy periods of time. However, with Microsoft’s acquisition of Minecraft from Mojang, the environment changed, resulting in a much faster progression of versions. Rather than leaving the development of content to the community, Microsoft began updating versions adding things which in the past had been added through mods. While not negative on its face, the combination of rapid version progression in conjunction with a shift towards consoles over PCs resulted in a throttling of the modding community.

This hold, however, largely exists for the most recent versions, wherein I feel lies the greatest tragedy. Many older Minecraft players still play on the older versions such as 1.6.4 and 1.7.10 and many modders still develop for these older versions, preferring to make their versions contiguous and compatible with other mods rather than attempting to keep up with the newer versions. However, because this rich modding community is buried under six layers of versions, it is all but unknown to the casual observer, who might never know that such a background exists. It is my hope, then, that there is a certain degree of care paid to the modding tradition which has endured since the game’s inception, and which endures in the Technic launcher, as well as through Twitch. Minecraft is not just blocks. It has an array of machines, golems, magic, autonomous mining bores, rocket ships, magic flowers and even programmable computers. Minecraft is a platform I hope more people will recognize.

(Photo courtesy L.J. Martin)

Wooster Swimming ends season with a splash

Cat Baker

Contributing Writer

Fighting Scots men’s and women’s swim and dive teams finished out their season with a splash this past weekend at the NCAC Championships. The women’s team finished in fourth place, with Kenyon, Denison and DePauw in first, second and third, respectively. The men’s team swam into fifth place, with Denison, Kenyon, DePauw and Wabash pulling ahead. They finished with a score of 1,013 points, breaking 1,000 points for the first time in school history. They also had five champion, or top nine, finishes. The women had six champion finishes for their part.

Kate Murphy ’21 speaks highly of the team’s success: “I believe that our entire team came together this past weekend in a way that helped each one of us succeed in our individual and team goals,” she stated. “There was a lot of great competition at Conference, but all of our hard work this past year has really paid off, and we should all be proud of our performances.”

The first champion finish of the meet was by Doak Schultz ’22 in the 100-individual medley. Not only did he earn seventh place, but his time of 53.97 is the second best in all of the program’s history. 

Craig Klumpp ’21 also swam to a second-place record for the program in the 200 breaststroke with a time of 2:09.74. 

The most remarkable race of the weekend was arguably the men’s 400 freestyle relay, with Cameron Gelwicks ’19, Trey Schopen ’20, Ryan Campbell ’19 and Garrett Layde ’19. Gelwicks was 38 hundredths of a second behind Wabash in the last 50 yards of the race and managed to hold Wabash swimmer Kyle Louks ’19 off to earn a third-place finish for the Scots by just 36 hundredths of a second. Gelwicks also finished first for Wooster in the 100 freestyle with a time of 46.53. Schopen, who already held the school record for the 200 butterfly, lowered it to an incredible 1:51.78 in the preliminaries. Robby Beal ’22 led the Scots in the 1,650 freestyle, earning 15th place with a time of 17:47.23. 

The top swimmers on the women’s side were undoubtedly Madison Whitman ’21 and Murphy. Whitman finished sixth in the 200 breaststroke and Murphy finished sixth in the 200 backstroke; both of which were the top placements for Wooster. If that isn’t impressive enough, both women swam times that put them among the all-time top five program times.

To add, Murphy’s performance was particularly notable: she placed eighth with a time of 2:08.81 in qualifiers, but swam a 2:07.44 in finals, moving her up to sixth place. Brooke Brown ’21 placed seventh in the 100-individual medley with a time of 1:01.91, just 30 hundredths of a second slower than the school record that she set at the NCAC Championships the year before. The women’s 400 freestyle relay of Emma Fikse ’19, Heidi Likins ’21, Nell Kackmarek ’20 and Murphy finished off the meet with a fifth-place finish and a time of 3:35.72. 

Other top-12 placements include Annabelle Hopkins ’19 who placed 11th in the 100 individual medley, Likins’ 12th place in the 100 individual medley (only 28 hundredths of a second behind Hopkins), Hannah Langer ’21 who placed 11th in the 200 backstroke, and Kalla Sturonas ’19 who finished 11th in the 200 butterfly. 

Likins had this to say about her performance: “[it] was definitely reflective of the season. I ended up with new personal best times in each of my events and that reflects the work I put in throughout the season.” 

The women’s swim and dive team finished fourth of nine at the NCAC Championships, and the men’s swim and dive team finished fifth of 10 at the NCAC Championships, respectively. 

(Photo from Wooster Athletics)