All posts by Chloe Burdette

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A Community-Wide Racial Justice Policy Dialogue

Blakely Dishman

Features Editor

 

Content Warning: This article contains brief mentions of police brutality and racialized violence.

This past Monday, Nov. 8, Amnesty International came together with the Wayne County Racial Justice Coalition and Wooster-Orville NAACP to put on an evening discussion about local law enforcement policy and advocacy. The event lasted two hours and was open to students, faculty and members of the Wooster community. One goal of the event was to connect students with both the existing and new racial and social justice organizations, those being the Wooster-Orville NAACP and the Wayne County Racial Justice Coalition, respectively. 

After explaining what the two organizations have accomplished since their inception in 2020, such as advocacy to the Wooster City Council through Let’s Chat sessions, the leaders detailed what projects they are currently working on. First, concerning media outreach, the NAACP and Coalition are seeking regional and international news coverage. Additionally, they are continuing to work on their “Letters to the Editor Campaign,” which is a form of advocacy where participants write letters to the editors of The Daily Record, Wooster Weekly News and The Wooster Voice discussing racism and police brutality. Another project that the NAACP and Coalition worked on was an anti-racist book donation drive, where they collected 100 books for Wayne County Public Libraries. In addition to these projects, they are also continuing their Anti-Racist Discussion Group. 

When they finished describing these projects and how students can contribute to them, the leaders educated the audience on political leaders who have the power to impact racial justice-based policies at the local, state and national level. Once explaining the governmental leaders who have the power to make change, the group was introduced to the “Wooster Safety for All” Policy Reform Proposals that will be presented to the Wooster Police Department. A community member explained that the Wayne County Police Department Policy was not publicly accessible until they filed a public access request. Upon reading the newly accessible policies, they developed proposals covering chokeholds, carotid holds, no-knock warrants and diversity in hiring and transparency. After explaining what the Policy Reform Proposals covered, the leaders of the event told the audience what they could do to impact local racial and social justice policy. 

They began this explanation with the acronym: P.A.D.O., which stands for Participate, Advocate, Donate and Organize. To those who are reading this article and are interested in making an impact, this part is for you! Participate! Students can join student or community organizations, attend the daily demonstrations in the Wooster Square from 12 to 1 p.m. or join the Wooster-Orville NAACP and the Wayne County Racial Justice Coalition. Advocate! Students can write letters to the editors, email local leaders in support of anti-racist initiatives or email/call elected representatives. Donate! You can donate your time, skills or money to a relevant organization. Organize! You can create a plan to change current policies, become a community organizer, and form a discussion group. 

After learning how they could get involved, the audience dispersed into breakout groups where they completed action items. One group wrote postcards to the Wooster City Council, Chief of Police and representatives. The second group learned about the new City Council members and how to contact them. There was also a tutorial on how to write letters to the editors of various news outlets. Another group planned a student demonstration day, while the final discussed campus-focused law enforcement policy and the Black Manifesto. 

The event was concluded after these breakout sessions were finished. Stay tuned for similar events that may occur in the future! Follow @amnestywooster for updates.

Rake a Difference in the Wooster Community!

Emilie Eustace

Features Editor

 

This past Saturday, Nov. 9, many students took on the classic fall task of raking leaves for members of the Wooster community through an event titled “Rake a Difference.” Rake a Difference is an annual event organized by the Wooster Volunteer Network (WVN) that allows college students to connect to the larger Wooster community. At Rake a Difference, volunteers had the opportunity to rake yards around Wooster while spending time with their friends and members of various organizations on campus. The event is a great time for students to unwind while also helping the city out; moreover, ending in donuts and cider, the event was rewarding in many different ways. Many different groups on campus came out to volunteer, including different Greek groups and sports teams. A member of Delta Theta Psi, Emma Teichert ’24, reflects on her experience at the event. She said, “I had the opportunity to walk with members of my sorority to community member’s houses and rake some leaves. It felt rewarding to help people who otherwise may have not been able to have a clean yard.” Not only was this an opportunity to volunteer in the community, but it also allowed teams and groups to work together and bond through helping others. When asked why she chose to volunteer at the event, Jenna Rashid ’25 said that, “Rake a Difference was a great way to help the community around Wooster. Even something as little as raking leaves can make someone’s day better.” 

Looking at the operational side of the event, members of WVN explained the process of putting Rake a Difference together. The organization walked door-to-door around the community in order to pass out flyers for the event and determine what yards needed to be raked. They then mapped out multiple paths throughout the city to ensure that all of the yards were covered. Next, they passed out flyers around campus to have as much outreach as possible, allowing awareness to be spread about the event resulting in a large number of volunteers. When it was time to go out, volunteers headed out to houses that had a flyer left in their front door as a way to signal that they wanted their yard to be raked. Although it seemed like a volunteer opportunity that arose out of thin air, there was a significant amount of  planning that went into this event in order to make it a success. Kyle Stringer ’24, an executive member of WVN, said that “The event was a really good way for the College to give back to the community. We had over 100 volunteers going door to door around the neighboring community of the campus to help rake leaves. I was really proud of how we all came together to really provide a simple service that could make people’s day better.” With the amazing turnout of the event this year, WVN is already looking forward to organizing it again next year.

Rake a Difference is one of the largest community outreach volunteer events that the College organizes. It bridges the gap between the city and the college campus, and allows students to interact directly with community members. Another volunteer, Izzy Manche ’23 said,  “Yard work is something that I feel gets overlooked when thinking about community volunteering, but getting to see how appreciative some of the homeowners were really put its importance into perspective for me.” Volunteering is so important, and there is no doubt that Rake a Difference not only made many community members’ days, but also allowed students to see how big of an impact they can have. 

Visit Wooster Volunteer Network on Instagram @wooster_volunteer_network to find out more about upcoming events.

Please Say Please, Thanks for Saying Thanks

Tali Lansing

Contributing Writer 

 

Working in Lowry is not an easy job. Sometimes it looks like the employees are standing around while we grab food, but there is so much more that goes on in the background. Feeding over 2,000 people who each have their own dietary restrictions, preferences and opinions is a challenge and it is made more impossible when students are not appreciative of their efforts. Furthermore, I have seen students be blatantly rude to Lowry employees. 

Unlike us, they do not get a fall break. They do not get to wake up at 7:50a.m. for an 8:00a.m. class. They do not get to be done with classes by 4:00p.m. These workers are up before the sun, and are supplying us with food until midnight every single day. It is important for us to do everything we can to make their jobs easier because being mad at an employee who can not change what happens does not help anyone. Most of the time, employees there have had very long and difficult days and would love for you to smile and say “hi”. 

 I have to admit, there are days where I am rushing up to Lowry to fill my to-gobox and leave quickly. On those days, it’s hard for me to remember that everyone is doing their best with a difficult scenario. The stairs are burdensome, the long line at Basics makes me impatient and the food options make it difficult for me to find a healthy meal. The lack of vegetarian options frustrates me enough not to smile and greet them. I often forget to thank the workers behind the food lines for their hard work. 

 Do you remember when you were little and an adult would ask you, “What’s the magic word?” To this day, please and thank you are still magical words. I don’t mean that they are going to fix the food situation at Wooster, but saying them makes everyone feel appreciated. The employees preparing your dinner are people too. They have days that are stressful and long, just like we all do. There is no reason to treat them as if they are not there. 

 Sometimes, talking to the person making my scrambled eggs or preparing my veggie burger completely turns my day around. The people that work at Lowry are some of the kindest and most selfless people I have ever met. They spend their days making sure we are taken care of and fed the same way they would care for and feed their own families. Even though they have a million and ten things to do at once, they do their best to improve the Lowry situation for our benefit. After all, they’re eating the food they prepare as well. 

 I promise you that saying “thank you” to the person refilling the chipotle mayo will not harm you in any way, but it might turn their day around. I completely understand why we are fighting for the food situation to change, but the person that is serving breadsticks would really love it if you would say “please” before asking for 50 of them.

BIPOC PAA Releases List of Demands

BIPOC Performing Arts Alliance Demands of Theatre/Dance and Music Departments:

  1. The resignation of Shirley Huston-Findley from department chair until further substantial equality education is reached and the DEI plan is completed. 
  2. A public and formal apology for inflicted harm and racism against our BIPOC students on behalf of Huston-Findley.
  3. The hiring of a Black Theatre AND Music professor (with equitable pay) before the graduation of the Board in 2023.
  4. The substantial and outside training of Huston-Findley in not only racial issues and equity, but also in Directing and in teaching holistically in order to better direct and educate BIPOC students in her courses and productions. This demand will bar Huston-Findley from direction until this education is complete and audited thoroughly. 
  5. The transparency of investigations of racial and incident bias reports and their outcomes for any staff members from these departments.
  6. The completion of the BIPOC and revised Theatre library before the start of the Spring Term.
  7. The proper introduction of BIPOC curriculum in all Theatre History courses with a variety of artists that are not tokenized or misrepresentations of their cultures/racial groups. 
  8. At least one department play yearly that is BIPOC written or starring a BIPOC student (this student should not be the only BIPOC student in the cast) in one of its leading roles. This can also be fulfilled by student productions that are treated like main stage productions. The department must show a vested interest in BIPOC work.
  9. Continued and perpetual auditing of the education and resulting conduct of the faculty and staff in each department.

College Democrats Call for Admin Action

(College Democrats)

Contributing Writers

 

Tuesday, Nov. 2, was election day. Across the country, people voted to fill offices ranging from governor to mayor, as well as local down-ballot seats. Here in Wooster, voters elected new school board and city council members as well as enacted a tax levy. It was also an election with historic firsts—for instance, Michelle Wu became Boston’s first elected woman mayor while Aftab Pureval became the first Asian-American mayor of Cincinnati. 

Unfortunately, off-year elections like this one receive less attention and lower voter turnout. College Democrats, in conjunction with other civic and service engagement organizations, organize voter registration each semester. Over the years, we have noticed that voter registration numbers dip in non-general election years. That also occurred this year, which, while disappointing, was not necessarily surprising. 

What was surprising, however, was the College’s lack of support in helping the campus community vote. We understand that admin and staff are very busy and that responsibilities have changed hands due to turnover. We should also note that after the College Democrats executive board members brought certain voting related issues to the administration’s attention, they were very receptive to improving this process for the future. Yet, it is unacceptable that information about voting did not get sent out until the afternoon before election day, and that there was no assistance from administration in conducting voter registration. Furthermore, the utility bills sent out last-minute were difficult to access and often incorrect, jeopardizing students’ ability to vote. If College Democrats’ executive board did not make voter registration a priority and then recruited volunteers from our club, Wooster’s NAACP, the Leftists of Wooster and College Republicans, it is likely there would have been no voter registration drive at all. If our executive board and volunteers did not keep track of forms and information by lugging a bag of supplies around campus to set up at random tables in Lowry, drive completed forms down to the Board of Elections or provide essential information to students, there would be fewer people on this campus registered to vote. 

Voters also had to contend with limited transportation to the polls. In years past, shuttles to and from voting locations were available, and we have heard from students that the lack of shuttles this year led to their inability to vote. Even though we registered sixty new voters on campus, those students still may not have been able to cast their vote due to lack of access to the polls. 

Students cannot be solely responsible for voter education on campus. When we graduate, who will take it over? College Democrats are more than happy to volunteer our time for voter registration, but we need institutional support. In an election of small margins (this year’s tax levy passed by only nine votes!), every vote counts and local elections are critical to determining policy that impacts this campus. Voting is not some fun club activity, but something that affects every student. While other colleges like Oberlin and Otterbein University are considered Voter-Friendly Campuses in Ohio, Wooster is not on that list — and without a concerted effort from the College to help students vote, it’s not hard to see why. 

Wooster prides itself on being a civically engaged campus and frequently encourages students to use their voices. Going forward, we hope that means the admin will do better to help students vote during every election.

College Introduces Additional Dining Options for Campus Community

Riley Jones

Staff Writer

 

Over the course of the semester, more dining options have become available around campus. The College has introduced food trucks located behind Ruth Williams Hall anda plant-based guest chef in Kittredge Hall for lunch. Pop’s has also returned to McLeod’s Convenience Store for quick grab-and-go type lunches. The Director of Campus Dining and Services Marjorie Shamp mentioned that in addition to mitigating staff shortages, these new services have been introduced to address other logistical issues.

Before the Student Center renovations began, staff and management had been working to figure out the logistics of receiving and storing food deliveries for the Student Center, Knowlton Café and Kittredge Hall. In addition to food management, another problem became prevalent during these logistic meetings: supply chain disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. While it once took only an hour to place food orders for the dining halls, Shamp explained, “[Ordering food shipments] now takes several hours due to the ‘out-of-stock’ notifications that are received daily for commonly purchased items. Our purchasing staff must search multiple vendors for replacements.” These issues are caused mainly by the national worker shortage that has affected many businesses across the country. Food production companies lack truck drivers, inhibiting the arrival of needed goods to campus. Not only is it difficult for the administration to find and hire workers, but the highly competitive labor market is impeding on the College’s retention rates of employees.

To combat these detrimental supply shortages and ensure that students receive a variety of choices for their diets, the College created a task force of key administrators to offer additional dining services on campus. Consequently, some of the new options include Bully Run Coffee truck, which offers coffee and pastries behind Ruth Williams Hall from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. Another addition in the dining services is Annette Swindin, also known as The Green Vegetarian, who visits campus each Monday in Kittredge Hall for a rotation of plant-based lunches. Finally, Grant’s Guac and Roll Food Truck, located behind Ruth Williams Hall has also been added as an option for the campus community on several weekdays for lunch. In addition to these options, the College has reached out to Local Roots Market and Café in downtown Wooster to partner with local chefs trying to build their businesses. Justin Mullis, owner of Oma Gourd Handcrafted Tacos, will serve lunch in Kittredge Hall on Thursdays and Fridays starting this week. On Wednesdays, owners of The Curry Pot Tania and Renoy Barua will offer Indian cuisine in Kittredge Hall for lunch.

Students understand that with the Student Center under construction, and the College having trouble hiring new employees, these new dining options are beneficial for all. When asked about these additions, Aaron Betty ’25, said,“I think [the food trucks] are creative ways to lighten the load on [the Student Center] and Knowlton. It’s really nice having another option than what I’ve been eating for the past month.” Variety is hard to find with the only major dining hall experiencing trouble with food orders due to out-of-stock items. There is usually a rotation of similar food in Lowry and Knowlton, and without the means of transportation to go to different restaurants in Wooster, students feel that eating the same food every day becomes mundane. One student, Morgan Hunter ’25 echoed a popular sentiment on campus, stating, “Many students feel that they are stuck in a box having to largely rely on only one dining hall for diverse food options, whether it be craving something and somewhere different or a physical lack of options for dietary restrictions. While the school is unable to give us the solutions that were once available, this is proof that they hear our complaints and are starting to make a physical effort to accommodate students.”