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RBG wants you to vote

Abigail McFarren

Contributing Writer

 

This Viewpoint was written on Tuesday Sept. 22 and facts may have changed by the time of print. 

Shock. Fear. Grief. Those emotions washed over me like a tidal wave within the first minute of my hearing the news about the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (RBG). I was spending the evening with my roommate, who is just as insanely politically active as I am, and one of our STEM major friends, who is less intensely consumed by politics. We were about to start watching a movie and could not bring ourselves to press play until a good 30 minutes later because of all the potential consequences running through our minds. We barely had time to truly grieve this enormous loss because of all the uncertainty her death created. Who would be her replacement? Who would get to choose her replacement? Would Republicans act with any sense of decency and follow the precedent they set in 2016? Now, three days later, some of those questions have clear answers; others, not so much.

In 2016, Justice Antonin Scalia passed away in February, eight months before the general election in November. President Obama put forth a name to replace Justice Scalia: Merrick Garland. However, the Republican-led Senate refused to even vote on the replacement because, in their opinion, it was unfair to appoint a new justice when the election season was already underway. At the time, multiple Republican senators said that they would hope to be held to the same standard if a similar incident occured during an election if  a Republican were president. Those senators have since proven that those words were a bold-faced lie. Republican senators, with the exceptions of Senators Murkowski and Collins, have expressed their intentions to move ahead with a vote on President Trump’s nominee, and President Trump has said that he fully plans to put forth a nominee on the Supreme Court by Saturday, Sept. 26. This puts the court in the position to have three liberal justices and six conservative justices, a position that would be hard to come back from for at least 30 years, and could put so many civil rights at risk.

 We do not have to sit quietly while this is happening. There are ways for us as citizens and voters to make our voices heard. First, make sure you are registered to vote. It can be completed online in Ohio and takes about five  minutes. Call or email your senators if they have not already agreed to vote “no” on the nominee. Use their past words against them. Senator Portman of Ohio supported holding off on voting for President Obama’s nominee but now says he plans to fully support President Trump’s. In 2016, he even went so far as to write an editorial in the Cincinnati Enquirer to support his opinion. Call his office and remind him of that. Volunteer to phone-bank with candidates across the country. Electing Democrats is still incredibly important.

Even if we are not able to stop RBG’s replacement from sitting on the court, Justice Breyer is 82 years old. It is important that we elect Joe Biden so that Justice Breyer has the ability to retire and we can replace him with a younger justice. Also, there is still potential to flip the Senate. Volunteering in competitive Senate races can make a huge difference. And most importantly — vote! This is so incredibly important for our generation. Our age range voted in record numbers in 2018 and we saw the results. If we turn out, our votes can make a difference.

Do not respond to RBG’s death with silence. Respond with the full force of your political power. May her memory be a blessing, and maybe even a revolution.

A Roundtable on the Philosophy of Love

Kaylee Liu

Features Editor

 

Last Thursday, Alexandra Gustafson, a class of 2016 graduate, was welcomed back to The College of Wooster to give a talk during the weekly Philosophy Roundtable (hosted by the Philosophy Department) about her research at the University of Toronto, titled The Phenomenology of Love. She’s currently pursuing a PhD at the University of Toronto and is what graduate students call “ABD” – all but dissertation, which really just means that she’s on the last leg of her journey to being addressed as Dr. Gustafson. Her dissertation asks the ever-relevant questions of what it feels like to love, not just what love is. Does love feel the same for everyone? How do we know we’ve fallen in love with someone? Is it by the way they make us laugh, or how a text back from them makes us grin like idiots and feel like we’re having a crush for the first time all over again? Or as Gustafson puts it, “One day, I realized that I’d fallen in love with someone without noticing that I’d been falling — how was that possible?” Questions like that are what inspired her to research the way that love feels. This may not seem like a philosophical question – philosophy does, after all, tend to conjure up images of boring blackboards of logic and marble busts of dead Greeks — but according to Alexandra, “philosophy is actually primarily concerned with the things that happen in our day-to-day lives.” Personally, as an aspiring philosopher, I’m inclined to agree. There’s something for everyone in philosophy, even for the true romantics. Attendee Max Shiffman ’23 remarked that he “thought the speaker did an excellent job and talked about a subject [he doesn’t] normally consider from the perspective of philosophy which is always interesting.” 

During the talk itself, Alexandra provided two examples of a loving couple on the eve of their 12th anniversary. In the first example, one of the lovers can’t help but smile as she thinks about how happy and grateful she is to be in a relationship with her wife. In the second example, the lover unconsciously smiles because she’s empathetically happy for her wife: she sees her happy wife and thinks “Good for her.” While we can’t define or quantify love, most people would agree that there seems to be something missing in the relationship in the latter example — Gustafson referred to it as an “impoverished” version of love. What’s the missing piece? Is it because the former example feels like adoration and the latter feels a little more transactional? But is there really a difference if they’re both in happy, successful, long-term relationships anyway? I think there is, but I have no idea how to explain it. When asked for his thoughts on this difference, Professor Evan Riley gave this rather eloquent statement — “Love has been on the philosophical agenda for thousands of years — at least since Plato’s Symposium. So you might think that philosophy would have nothing more to say about it. Yet I expect that Alexandra is really on to something fruitful in her basic methodological presumption that directing our attention to the phenomenology of love —  to what it feels like, for both lover and beloved — will pay fresh theoretical dividends.” Professor Riley is also “looking forward to hearing more about the development and defense of this thought in her dissertation.”

On reflecting on her time at Wooster, Gustafson a told me that “it was at Wooster [that she] learned to love philosophy.” That’s rather lovely, don’t you think? It’s also understandable, considering that the philosophy department is both dedicated and rigorous. Wooster is “where [Gustafson] learned to trust [her] instincts and ask the questions [she] wanted to,” and I, for one, am grateful that the College has prepared her to ask the eternally compelling question of what love feels like. We’ve all got an investment in the topic — during the talk, Gustafson  stated  that she couldn’t comment on how the love of a 30-year marriage felt because she hadn’t experienced it, and a professor unmuted himself to yell, “It’s awesome!” — so I suspect that her eventual dissertation will be engrossing even to those of us who don’t care for philosophy. Humans love love. We talk about it, sing about it, write about it, cry about it. Many of us will spend years searching for it. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that we don’t just look for it; we live for it. Gustafson  has a wonderful piece of advice on finding love:  “You don’t have to choose between your head and your heart — that’s a false dichotomy.” So good luck to all of us, and good luck to Gustafson  for the completion of her dissertation, though I suspect she won’t need it given her philosophical acumen. A closing remark from Gustafson :“If ‘philosophy’ means ‘the love of wisdom,’ then it’s impossible to do philosophy without love. I think that makes it pretty important to think about.” 

If this article has moved you to care about love or philosophy, Professor Riley encourages you to consider attending future Roundtables. Helpfully, he told us that the “Philosophy Roundtable will be held on Microsoft Teams this semester starting at 11:15 a.m. – 12:15 pm  most Thursdays See the schedule under “Events” via the departmental web page. All members of the College community are welcome to participate — just ask to be put on the list of interested parties and we will make sure you get the relevant reminders and links.” If you’d like to take Professor Riley  up on his offer, please contact him at eriley@wooster.edu, or Patrice Reeder at preeder@wooster.edu

COVID-19 PLAYLIST

Jenelle Booker 

Contributing Writer

 

In a time where sitting inside is the preferred option to going out, a quarantine playlist that accompanies every mood of a pandemic, is an essential. First, however, it’s hard to talk about COVID-19 and 2020 without talking about Black lives and the awakening of young people to the systemic injustices in America. So, to begin this playlist are a couple songs to honor the many who have lost their lives to racists, sexcists, homophobes, xenophobes, and bigots of every kind and those who are placing their bodies in the streets to advocate for real change.

In spite of the hopelessness and anxiety COVID-19 has brought me, it’s important to remember (as cheesy as it sounds) that this time will indeed pass, that there are moments within every day to appreciate, and there is comfort and sanity in dreaming for the future. From “Summer 2020” to “Almeda,” these songs have brought me that comfort and sanity. Comfort in remembering sadness as a necessary part of life, and sanity in shifting my focus back to the very present. Not present politics, or present events; but to the present as in me typing this, or of you reading this. Of us existing and consciously making decisions that design our day to day. There’s power in our very existence, so make sure to recognize it.

         Of course, appreciation of the existential doesn’t really do it for you when all you really want to do is go out and party. You’ll find some head bangers, hip whines and other high energy hits that have me hyping myself up in the mirror. Jumping around the room alone may not have the same feeling as a mosh pit, but it’s much safer (besides, who likes the feeling of sweaty skin?). Go ahead, play through “Coño (James Kennedy Remix)” to “Walk (Remix)” and let your instincts take over — it’s the only time you can practice your dance moves without judgement. If you’re not one for dancing, yelling at the top of your lungs is also an acceptable use of this section. With a mix of old bangers, foreign beats and new releases, any need for crowded dark rooms can be satisfied with a party of one (or few). For those pressed to leave the house, turn the bass up in your car, max the volume and hit the interstate (a special mention to “HUNNIES,” “Don’t Come Out The House,” “Sugar” and “Riverdale Rd”).

         When you’re otherwise feeling sad (let’s be honest, “sad boi hours” is 24 hours now), “9” to “Home (Remix)” is here to keep you company through the tears. Sometimes a heartbroken song and self-pity is all we can manage through the day, and that is okay. As a hopeless romantic myself, I’ve thrown in a couple of my favorite love songs. If you’re in a relationship, I hope this helps you through the separation, and for my singles, through the disappointing Hinge chats. Finally, I’ve ended the playlist like I end my day — with meditation.

 

Students studying off campus adjust to a new normal

Sam Boudreau

Senior News Writer

 

For Marloes Krabbe ‘21, an anthropology and art history double major, Art History & Museum Studies club meetings are usually a normal part of her routine. However, since studying remotely due to COVID-19, this meeting has taken a turn she never expected. As Krabbe was preparing to start the meeting online, a commuter bus slammed into a nearby powerline, knocking out the power for her whole street in a town right outside of Detroit, Mich.. “It’s like if I lose power at home, and I don’t have any way of contacting my professors, it feels like I just disappear.” This is just one of the many obstacles facing remote students this semester.

For many, living in different time zones has been an issue. Across the Pacific Ocean, sophomore Kaylee Liu ‘23 lives in Singapore, where the time zone is 12 hours ahead of Wooster. “All of my classes are recorded, so I watch them asynchronously, and then meet with my professors once a week. I am really grateful for how much professors have helped me this semester,” Liu said. “While professors have worked around the time zones, group work appears to be a major challenge. “I can’t really ask [about] problems in the group chat since nobody is awake.” Liu serves as an editor for The Wooster Voice and is a member of Pi Kappa, where she has been able to communicate with members.

While some clubs and organizations have been able to thrive remotely, others have struggled to adjust.

Kennedy Pope ’23, a psychology and women’s, gender and sexuality studies (WGSS) double major, is studying remotely from Atlanta, Ga. and the distance has hurt her ability to contribute to clubs on campus. “It has definitely been rough to adjust to clubs remotely,” said Pope. “The clubs that I’m an active participant in are all focused on creating safe spaces and community for Black people on campus. A large part of creating that atmosphere has always been having events and meetings face-to-face and present with one another, so that people know they are seen and  appreciated. Sadly, going completely virtual has made it harder to recruit and be known to the first-years on campus. I am optimistic that everyone’s efforts will allow us to get over this hurdle.”

Pope noted that “the last time it was election year on campus, it was not the safest or healthiest environment for people of color in Wooster, so I hope that all cultural clubs will still be effective resources for students in need.”

This remote semester has helped Pope learn more about herself, she tells The Voice. “I had never realized how much I relied on the positive peer pressure from my friends to study … It is a lot easier to do your work and study when everyone around you is doing the same thing as well,” she expressed. “If you’re the only person in your environment who is in school, it is extremely easy to not feel any sense of urgency to complete assignments.”

Like Pope, many other students have focused on how to make a difference in an election year. Alec Monnie ’21, a political science major currently studying from Meadville, Pa. is serving as an advisor for Joe Biden’s rural coalition in Pennsylvania and working at a local deli. “Socially, it has been pretty hard to be at home pretty much all the time,” Monnie reflected.“I have been working in a deli at home two days a week, and recently started a position on the Biden campaign, so I’ve been working a lot more than I normally do on campus, and even with my I.S. and classes, I still have considerably more free time than I do when I’m at school.”

When asked how professors have made their courses accessible, Monnie has been very impressed as “professors have been wonderful at being accessible in light of the circumstances this semester.”

Halen Gifford ‘21, a communication studies major from New Albany, Ind., agrees. “All of my professors have been extremely accommodating,” she told The Voice. Due to health concerns, Gifford decided to study from home. While she misses her dorm, she admits that “it is nice having a real kitchen [as] it has been great to wash dishes in a real sink and make toast whenever I want.”

Chris Roche ’23, a sophomore studying remotely, agrees. “Not to throw shade on Lowry food, but having home cooking every day is a plus to studying remotely. Another plus is being around my family a lot more and being able to walk my dog when it’s nice out,” Roche noted.

For many, the Independent Study (I.S.) experience defines senior year, as Gifford pointed out that “this is not the I.S. experience I expected … but I have enjoyed it so far.” While working on her I.S., which “is a genre study of horror cinema,” Gifford credits her mom as a great support. “One nice thing [is that] my mom has watched all the films I’ve looked at for my literature review with me which has been very wholesome. Virtual learning, as we all know, is a challenge. However, I have gotten pretty used to it.”

“Working successfully on an I.S. from home sounded intimidating at the start of the semester, but I think it has gone well so far,” said Carlos Owusu-Ansah ’21, a math and physics double major. “The  hype around I.S. is not felt as strongly from [home]. That is a bit sad because I was hoping to put my best effort into the project.”

Many students miss the resources that the College of Wooster offers, especially during I.S. “For books and articles that I need for I.S., I want to critically read them, but without the printing capabilities offered on campus, that has been hard,” said Marloes. “There’s just this weird duality with being at school and home.You have to keep up with your friends, attend classes and be there for your parents. It’s something that I’ve never had to deal with before.”

#ScholarStrike: A Call to Action

MorganAnn Malone

Contributing Writer

 

Education is not only vital to strengthen your own knowledge and intelligence, but also to enforce it and bring it out in others. I had the incredible opportunity to take part in the recent #ScholarStrike teach-in. From Sept. 8 through Sept. 9, 2020, educators across the nation stood in solidarity with activists in professional athletic fields — namely, Colin Kaepernick and Naomi Osaka — to “underscore the urgent importance of addressing racism and injustice in the United States,” from the #ScholarStrike homepage. They did this through means of teach-ins, strikes and protests.

On Tuesday, Sept. 8, Professors of Political Sciences Michelle Leiby and Désirée Weber at The College of Wooster held a combined class with their Human Rights and Intro to Political Theory courses, respectively, and hosted a teach-in about the modern civil rights movement condemning police brutality and racial discrimination. Through a discussion and question-and-answer format, we discussed what the movement meant to each student and how the atrocities committed against victims of police brutality violated various treaties outlining inalienable human rights. 

We examined documents such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESR), statements from the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and the Convention against Torture, as well as Martin Luther King Jr’sLetter from Birmingham” and his notable “I Have a Dream” speech. Through these documents, we learned about the right to strike, the right to freedom of association and the right to not be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment, especially not by order of a state official. These were the rights that came up regularly in our class discussion and had to do with the current epidemic of police brutality. 

Through this discussion, our professors provided information designed to challenge anti-Black sentiments and actions, as well as historical documentation that presented linkage between current events and constitutional laws and violations. We learned that the human right to assemble — as seen in the ICCPR — grants people the right to peacefully protest, much of which we have seen recently. Additionally, we deduced that the epidemic of racial profiling and police brutality faced by the Black community is an example of cruel and unusual punishment as seen in the Convention against Torture. 

I greatly appreciated being a part of this portion of the #ScholarStrike movement. Professor Leiby and Professor Weber used their position as educators to emphasize the importance of education within activism. We gathered that education is truly the key for society to improve. Though we all came from a variety of backgrounds, we were all encouraged to think of different solutions to the problem at hand. 

The education surrounding human rights as a whole is a great starting point for examining the injustices faced by various groups, and this is what the #ScholarStrike aimed to do. Not only was it very informative and eye-opening, but it was also very energizing. By getting a better idea of what the current movement entailed and what human rights were being violated, we were very inspired to think about whatever we could to add to the movement. 

One of my biggest fears about this movement is that it will lose momentum and will become a passing moment just as other iterations of the Black Lives Matter or anti-police brutality movements in the past. Through my small participation in the #ScholarStrike, however, I am determined to keep the momentum going in whatever way I can. I also hope that the Wooster community — both on and off of campus — will acknowledge the work that needs to be done and do their part to contribute to the movement so its power does not dwindle.

Inconsistencies undermine COVID response

Laura Barnhill

Contributing Writer

 

Don’t get me wrong, I am extremely grateful to be back on campus, and I completely understand that we are living a reality that none of us have ever experienced before which makes it difficult to find ways to operate safely in the midst of a pandemic. However, a lot of the decisions made by the College to respond to COVID-19 simply don’t make sense to me.

Before coming to campus, I had every intention of making a COVID pod with two friends and staying completely socially distant from everyone else. That plan went out the window very quickly as I realized that there was simply no way to maintain that bubble while living on campus.

The main issue I have with the College’s COVID-19 response is the change in dining services. I understand the decision to eliminate self-serve options, and I think it is wise to not allow students to handle the food-serving utensils in Lowry. My issue is with the physical space of Lowry. While capacity has been reduced, the chairs at the round tables are not placed six feet apart, so if you want to eat in the dining hall, you cannot maintain social distance. Additionally, because it takes so long to get food now, Lowry gets so crowded that even if you decide to get food to go, you can’t social distance even when trying to get food. I also don’t understand the decision to close Mom’s on the weekends. This means that there is only one viable meal option on weekends, forcing even more people to congregate in Lowry. This seems contradictory to the intention of reducing crowds on campus. To really reduce social contact on campus, there needs to be another dining option open every day of the week. My suggestion would be to reopen Kittredge.

Another part of the COVID response that I didn’t understand was the decision to put campus on “lockdown” for the first few weeks of the semester, but still allow tours to go through campus buildings. I found it exceedingly frustrating that, after coming to campus, I was not able to pick up my textbooks to use in class because I hadn’t gotten my test results back, all while visitors were allowed to walk through Knowlton on tours. The only logic I can see behind that is that the school wants to make money, and that makes me as a current student feel secondary in their eyes.

At this point, I want nothing more than to be able to stay on campus and have some semblance of a normal senior year, but I am also worried that if anyone gets coronavirus, we will all get it. Campus is so small that even if we maintain social distance where we can, there are too few degrees of separation between people. Be it standing in line at Lowry during the dinner rush, or going to a class where there are more students than there are socially distanced desks, I hope the school recognizes that students will not be solely responsible if there is an outbreak on campus, and the last thing we all want is a repeat of last spring.