Category Archives: Features

Why Sidney Sheldon should be on your shelf

Kidi Tafesse

A&E Editor

 

If you have suddenly found yourself swamped with academic obligations and in need of an engaging outlet, then let me do you the honor of introducing Sidney Sheldon. Sheldon is an American director, writer and producer who has, over the span of his life, sold millions of copies of his novels worldwide; he is currently the most translated author to ever exist. Sheldon’s legacy includes a wide array of page-turners that are worth checking out.

First up is Sands of Time, an engrossing tale set in 1976 Pamplona, Spain that oversees the lives of Jaime Miro, a revolutionary whose sole purpose is to gain autonomy for the Basque people, and his two companions who share the same ideal. Although Miro’s zest for freedom fighting and prison breaks create enticing visuals, it is the story of the four nuns turned fugitives that really takes the cake. Each nun has an intriguing backstory. Lucia is the daughter of a formidable mob boss and is hiding within the walls of the Cistercian convent. Graciella, on the other hand, is escaping her past through finding conviction. Megan shares that conviction but unknowingly comes from one of the most powerful families in New York, and Teresa has deemed outside life unworthy due to her misgivings with romance. Overall, this novel explores the dangers of revolt and the hopeful despair that often comes with love in a timeless manner.

A personal favorite of mine is The Other Side of Midnight, a historical novel spanning both World Wars. The novel follows Noelle Paige, an eccentric woman who comes from a low-income family. She seizes control of her life through the mastery of seduction but later falls in love with the wrong man. This is definitely a great book for all fans of the concept that “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.” If this does interest you, also check out the sequel, The Dark Side of Midnight.

Now that we have romance and thriller down, it is time we stepped into sci-fi territory with Doomsday Conspiracy. After being sent out on a covert mission to Switzerland by the National Security Agency, Robert Bellamy finds himself thrown into the world of conspiracy theories, uncovered government secrets and the possibility of contact with extraterrestrial life. If you’re a sci-fi geek looking for a touch of environmentalism in a fantastical world, then Doomsday Conspiracy is the novel to read.

At the risk of veering too much into the romantic section of Sheldon’s work, The Stars Shine Down is simply a must-read. With roots in the mining districts of Nova Scotia and an eventual lead-up to a dazzling life in Chicago’s real estate scene, Lara Cameron’s character is a force to be reckoned with throughout the entire novel. Through her life story, we see the complexities that come with being a successful businesswoman who still grapples with difficulties of past poverty and future hopes and dreams. The Stars Shine Down is perhaps Sheldon’s least jarring book due to its minimal gore and violence, but it contains a sweet touch   that you won’t find in many of his other novels.

 

 

Latinx/Hispanic Heritage Month adjusts to COVID-19

Emma Reiner
Senior Features Writer

 

Tuesday, Sept. 15 marked the beginning of Hispanic/Latinx Heritage month, which includes a series of events through Oct. 15. Latinas Unidas and the Organization of Latin American Students (OLAS) have put together events to celebrate the month. Though the COVID-19 pandemic has changed many aspects of student organizations and events this school year, the organizations are still able to celebrate the month with members of the College community. 

When asked about what this month means to them, members of OLAS and Latinas Unidas had different perspectives. Although they all highlighted different aspects of what the month means to them, they all agreed that the month is about celebrating and sharing their cultures. Lizbeth Acevedo ’21, the vice president of OLAS, said that this month has two meanings to her — to recognize the various accomplishments of many Latinx/Hispanic-Americans in the United States and to educate others about their cultures and the struggles and triumphs they face living in America. 

Linat Westreich ’23, the vice president of finance for Latinas Unidas, added that “each event has an element of celebrating Latinx culture while incorporating elements that can educate and include non-Latinx students, faculty and staff.” 

Priscilla Ramos Rico ’21, the co-president of Latinas Unidas, shared a similar sentiment, emphasizing that this month is also about celebrating “the people within our community that normally wouldn’t get noticed.” This month’s special emphasis on Hispanic/Latinx heritage highlights the many unique facets of Hispanic/Latinx culture that could be easier to miss during the rest of the year. 

Hispanic/Latinx Heritage month looks different this year at the College. Last year, the organizations put together the Latinx Gala and in years past they put on events like “Taste of Latin America” where they had different foods from Latin American countries. Those specific events are not going to happen this year due to social distancing guidelines. However, that does not change everything about the month. 

When asked about handling event planning with the pandemic, Natalia Parra ’21, president of OLAS, expressed frustration, stating “This year almost everything is online, which can be a bit stressful since we have to go through a lot of red tape to even bring an idea to the table.” 

Jackie Perez ’21, co-president of Latinas Unidas, added that “planning for events during COVID-19 has been interesting because we had to go through a process of elimination to figure out which events would be possible and which we could adapt.” 

However, that does not make it impossible to put together events. Acevedo argues that “although there are restrictions, we have made many accommodations to continue our celebrations and find meaning in staying connected virtually.” The organizations are planning on making most of their events either virtual or hybrid.

One example of an event that was held virtually was the Salsa Night on Tuesday, Sept. 22. When talking about the event, Ramos Rico said, “We were able to learn about the history of Salsa as well as learn how to dance it.” She also emphasized that the event helped de-stress her and other people who attended the event. Parra led the class and taught the basics of Salsa to everyone. 

Giuli Morales ’23, the vice president of communication for Latinas Unidas, said that “the Salsa Night event was a fun night where all of us presented a PowerPoint and showed our members how to dance.” Even though this event was virtual this year, it was still a success. 

This year, Hispanic/Latinx Heritage month at the College  has multiple weekly events, including a craft night and decorating the Latinx lounge. For more information on these events, visit the social media pages for Latinas Unidas and OLAS. 

History Department lecture focuses on police brutality

Allison Ringold
Staff Writer

 

Because of the current focus on the Black Lives Matter movement and the killings of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and many others, it’s easy to think of police brutality as a primarily modern issue, especially when it’s not something one might experience every day like many Black Americans do. However, history illuminates a completely different, bleaker reality.

According to  Shannon King, associate professor of history at Fairfield University and this year’s history lecture speaker, “Part of what’s happening, then and now, is that African Americans are not only being victims of police brutality but even in cases of crime in America … they’re not protected. That is a long pattern that we have not been able to address.”

King’s work, pertaining mostly to Harlem, explores the role of liberalism in institutionalized racism and police brutality, though his research starts in the 1920s and 30s, which is very unusual for this topic. “What I want to do is bring the discussion of so-called ‘liberal law and order’ further back from the ’60s to the ’30s, and I want to start at the very point when scholars begin talking about liberalism,” he stated.

This unique work does not go unnoticed, either. According to Professor of History Gregory Shaya, COVID-19 widened the choice of speaker. “The pandemic meant that we couldn’t bring anyone to campus — but it also meant that we could invite scholars from anywhere in the world,” he pointed out. However, this only speaks to the relevancy of King’s work. “We want these events to speak to the campus more widely and to show the ways in which history can help us to understand our world. In 2020 — as we look at the Black Lives Matter protests and the continuing struggle against racism and anti-Black violence — Professor King’s work on police brutality and liberal law and order is poignant and revealing,” he said.

Though King, a former professor at Wooster, started his research long before the recent surge in the Black Lives Matter movement, it’s hard not to compare and contrast the past he studies with and against recent events. 

According to a chart created by the Bureau of Justice, “From 2008 to 2018, the imprisonment rate dropped 28 percent among Black residents, 21 percent among Hispanic residents and 13 percent among white residents.” However, according to the same chart this statement accompanied, roughly 1,000 per 100,000 Black residents and roughly 500 per 100,000 Hispanic residents were imprisoned than those of the white majority in the United States — and these people are those who are not killed in interactions with the police.

Statistics like these, along with recent public trials that result in acquittals and fines rather than convictions, highlight the alarming notion that police are biased against people of color.

However, there may be some hope for the future. According to King, “At least, temporarily, we’ve never seen so many white Americans — and even a diversity of people of color — participate in a movement around police brutality.”

At least for now, it seems, the United States is crawling towards a just system for people of color, at least in public opinion. But that same country is still far from a fair and equitable system for all.

Scotlight: Mahi Lal

Maggie Dougherty

Viewpoints Editor

 

Viewpoints Editor Maggie Dougherty ’21 sits down with Mahi Lal ’22 to discuss her recent scholarship, the concept of the gaze and her leadership in creating a new club to support women and gender minorities in economics. 

Can you introduce yourself?

Hi! My name is Mahi Lal. I am a Junior economics major with a minor in math from Kolkata, India. On campus, I work as a Resident Assistant, Teaching Assistant and a Research Assistant. I also love being a part of the South Asia Committee and I participate in the Culture Show every year. 

You were recently selected out of over 800 students who applied for a scholarship, right? 

Yes, there were a total of four Flywire Charitable Foundation scholarships – two in the area of global health and medicine and the other two for social justice. This was the first scholarship I had come across that was open to international students. And I, along with three other students from across the globe, won.

How did you apply?

Over the summer, I received an email about academic scholarships from the Flywire Charitable Foundation. Having been involved in social entrepreneurship and social equity since high school and for a year here at the College through Local and Global Social Entrepreneurship Programs, I chose to apply for the Social Justice Scholarship that required me to write a one-page essay about myself, the hurdles I had overcome to pursue my studies and what I hoped to achieve with my education in the realm of social work. I filled out the application on Flywire’s website and submitted my essay!   

What did you write about for your essay? What did that mean to you?

The concept I explored quite a bit was that of the gaze, which I like to define as a certain kind of prolonged look you experience when you are born with a vulnerability (the opposite of privilege). Everyone gets gazed at, and as a woman of color and an international student, I have grown accustomed to it. Being in classrooms, feeling like an outsider, it became very clear to me that the gaze is not just a perception. It is an unspoken but active interaction between a privileged and a vulnerable person in which the former looks down upon the latter, rendering them inferior. This then has costly repercussions.Hence, I wrote about the importance of recognizing the gaze and gaining the confidence to gaze right back.

Writing about my personal experiences with the gaze meant a lot to me because I finally felt comfortable being heard. Winning the scholarship has given me the confidence that my voice is worth being heard.

Did you write about any past work or research experiences in your essay? 

I did. I was working for the Rights and Resources Initiative as part of the Global Social Entrepreneurship Program this summer. The project involved examining the livelihoods of India’s indigenous people, tribal communities and Afrodescendants through the lens of the Forest Rights Act, 2006 (FRA), the most important Indian forest legislation, that recognizes people’s rights — collective or individual — to their own land. The FRA was a result of the historic struggle of marginalized people. Discrimination against them has been more overt than a gaze, but at the core, the two have the same reasons — the us versus them mentality, the dominant versus vulnerable reality. On a micro-level, there was discrimination even within indigenous people on the basis of caste and gender, affecting their bargaining power and livelihoods. The key is to make models that cater to those who are winning at losing and by doing that, my team (Maggie Dougherty ’21, Mekdes Shiferaw ’22 and I) could truly be a part of the change-making process for the most vulnerable groups of the society.

You and I are currently in the process of founding a new club here on campus. Can you tell our readers about that?

We are in the process of founding a much-needed club in the Department of Economics – Wooster Women and Gender Minorities in Economics (WWGME). In a highly male-dominated space such as the Economics department, something that my female and gender minority majors or minors and I shared in common was this feeling of not belonging. Most of these economics majors were double majors indicating that they were not comfortable in this space or felt that their needs were not met just by the economics department. Intersectionally speaking, even within female economics majors, I felt like an outsider because these spaces were predominantly white.

I believe that this club will provide a safe and comfortable space for women like me. With the recent increase in representation in both gender and race in the department, students are already feeling more comfortable. This club will further provide an escape and solidarity to not only those who feel left out, outside of classes, but also to everyone who has a very narrow view of economics. Heterodox economics, including feminist theory, is equally relevant in today’s world and we choose to focus on such topics.

For those reading, how do you pronounce WWGME?

Wig-Me <3

What do you hope the club will be able to do and offer students? One of my favorite trips outside campus was with Dr. Long and Dr. Krause to the Cleveland Federal Reserve as a part of the Women in Economics program. It was a group of smart, strong and brilliant women that attended this program where successful women in different spheres of Economics spoke. Being with so many like-minded women also gave me the idea of a club like WWGME. We would like to go to more events like this along with graduation panels and other programs designed specifically for the main purpose of WWGME – to uplift the voices of women and gender minorities in the field of economics; to provide opportunities for educational and professional development; to support success in career planning and placement; to promote a safe space and community; to elevate female, non-binary, and other gender-minority students as leaders in the field of economics.

 Why are you excited about it?

Economics holds a very special place in my heart. In my three years at the College, I have made some brilliant friends in economics and working alongside them to make WWGME a reality and then a success is something I am the most excited about. It was in conversations with them that the conception of WWGME took place. It is definitely our baby and we can’t wait to introduce it to everyone.

Who else has been involved in creating WWGME?

I cannot thank our senior economics women, Maggie Dougherty, Nasua Labi ’21 and Rita Chiboub ’21, who have taken upon themselves to get this club chartered (fingers crossed!) before they graduate. They have done so despite realizing that they would be involved with the club for a fairly short time period. Without their help, this would have remained an idea. Along with the seniors, many of my friends from the department have devoted their time with the application and constitution. Their interest and dedication is a testament to the importance and necessity of such a club.

Our advisors, Dr. Krause, Dr. Long and Dr. Tian, did not hesitate for a single moment to hop on this journey with us once we told them about the idea. They have been instrumental in helping us talk through the logistics, dividing roles amongst themselves and potential programming ideas.

Last but not the least, Julia Zimmer has been incredibly receptive of our ideas for WWGME. She has helped us improve our application and we look forward to working closely with her throughout this process.

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

Over the RainboWoo Not deterred by virtual clouds

Kaylee Liu

Features Editor

 

On Wednesday, Sept. 9, the Center for Diversity and Inclusion (CDI) hosted their annual welcome back event for LGBTQIA+ students and allies, Over the RainboWoo. The goals of this event were to forge friendships and get students in contact with supportive staff and faculty. This is especially important for queer first years trying to make fellow LGBTQIA+ friends and to get connected with the larger queer community at Wooster. Being a first-year comes with many struggles, so this event was meant to alleviate some of the stress for queer students who might have a harder time than some finding their place. Due to social distancing restrictions, the event was hosted over Zoom rather than in the Compton basement lounge, meaning students and staff had to forgo the snacks and refreshments usually provided. Despite this, the rest of the evening  was relatively similar, with students and staff engaging in meet and greet activities along with icebreakers. The event also connected students with support resources like the CDI’s recurring Trans & Nonbinary and Queer Support Groups, weekly support groups that help students learn mindfulness techniques and build bonds with fellow students with similar identities. 

Over the RainboWoo is part of the CDI’s larger efforts to foster a welcoming and supportive atmosphere on campus. One can tell that their efforts have paid off with the proliferation of pronoun badges and pride flag stickers on campus. Other events that CDI hosts for LGBTQIA+ students include Gender and SexualiTea, a monthly event which allows the campus to have an ongoing dialogue about the intersections of gender and sexuality, and LGBTQIA+ History Month, which is celebrated annually in October. There are also multiple queer student groups on campus like the Queer People of Color (QPOC) and the Queer Student Union (QSU), which are open to all students on campus regardless of sexuality or gender identity. If you’re interested in any of these events, do swing by at one of their recurring meetings. You might learn something new, and even if you don’t, you’re guaranteed to make new friends. More information about CDI-hosted events can be found in their newsletter, by contacting Melissa Chesanko (mchesanko@wooster.edu) or by reaching out to student led organizations like QPOC and QSU via their Instagrams, @wooqpoc and @woosterqsu, respectively.