Category Archives: Features

Leftists and Republicans Find Common Ground

Haley Huett

A&E Editor

 

Many problems and their solutions are politically polarizing. Certainly, it is difficult to accept the opinions of others when their politics vary so wildly from your own. On Wednesday, Oct. 27, the College Republicans and the Leftists of Wooster attempted to accomplish that feat. 

The two groups met to tackle three broad issues: self-defense, worker’s rights and climate change. Split into three discussion groups, the Republicans and Leftists worked together to create action items for addressing these issues on Wooster’s campus. Libby Hall ’23, leading the discussion on climate change, instructed her group to “leave the party titles at the door and have a conversation with fellow students.” 

With the meeting’s objective being for both groups to reach a consensus, the Leftists and Republicans both seemed pleased by the outcome. Artemis Swanson ’23 believed that the discussion “delivered far more than ever expected.” 

Proposed solutions to the three issues included lighting the ground along Beall Ave. to minimize light pollution while improving visibility along the route, increasing financial transparency to support employees at the College and increasing education about recycling on campus. Discussion then turned to how to best partner with other campus organizations to create programming and action steps to accomplish these items. 

In particular, discussions about self-defense and campus safety seemed to return what the groups referred to as “highly feasible solutions.” The current campus contexts, centering the issues of student safety on Beall Ave. and the lasting impacts of the Lowry renovation, were critical to the conversations between the Republicans and Leftists. These issues, at the forefront of many students’ minds, inspired a robust dialogue. In addition to the proposed on-ground lighting along Beall Ave., another solution included developing more common spaces on campus. The removal of the common gathering spaces in Lowry, such as the Pit and study rooms in the Alley, have decreased spaces of “passive interaction” between students. These spaces, the groups argued, exist to create trust between students. Increasing the accessibility and availability of these spaces may have positive impacts on student safety. 

Another discussion group, focused on the rights of workers at the College, asked its participants to consider what the College can do to better compensate or improve working conditions of staff, including the dining staff. In these conversations, students focused on the importance of financial transparency, solidarity between students and staff and an education-first approach to the issues. Arguing that students should first be informed of the issues currently facing the dining staff, the group agreed that the solutions to this broad and complicated issue must be centered on developing an understanding between staff and students. The discussion group proposed partnering with multi-cultural organizations on campus to meet this goal. 

Other Leftists and Republicans tackled the issue of climate change together. At Wooster, they believe students need more education about the recycling process. Dispelling myths about recycling and creating programming that would encourage students to recycle, the two groups focused their discussions on awareness of the environmental resources on campus. Another facet of the conversation relayed the importance of individual-level decisions to reduce one’s impact on the environment. These proposed measures included reducing the amount of cars on campus or limiting their usage, encouraging students to use the Wooster Transit whenever possible as well as taking other smaller actions, like unplugging electronics when not in use. 

Civil discussions were emphasized by both groups as pivotal to making positive change. Katie Fields ’22 clarified the importance of these politically diverse conversations, where an open dialogue is “not only a great way to constructively discuss and search to remedy issues… but also a way to foster cohesion and understanding between the College’s political groups.” 

Both groups emphasized the need for more voices to be heard at these discussions. Students who feel motivated by these issues should seek out these spaces to advocate for their campus community and engage with the issues impacting the student body. Highlighting the importance of this work, Swanson ’23 reminds us that “we shouldn’t forget our differences, but we shouldn’t let them limit us from helping the campus community.” 

Queer Exile: A Lecture On Those Once Forgotten

Blakely Dishman

Features Editor

 

This past Wednesday Oct. 27, Dr. Roman Utkin came to campus to discuss his research in a presentation titled “Queer Exile: Russian Émigrés in Interwar Paris and Berlin.” Dr. Utkin’s presentation was sponsored by the Great Lakes Colleges Association (GLCA) IIF Grant, the Cultural Events Committee, the Department of German and Russian Studies and the Department of History. The event was held both in person at Kauke lecture hall and virtually on Zoom. The virtual option was used by members of the Wooster community, as well as faculty and students from other GLCA institutions, such as Kenyon College and Oberlin College. During this event Dr. Utkin, of Wesleyan University, examined the impact of being a queer refugee, or “an exile within exile.” As a professor of Eastern European studies, Dr. Utkin focused on the Russian exiles living in Berlin and Paris after the Bolshevik Revolution. Professor Filimonova of the Russian studies department said that “This talk shed light on the attitudes toward homosexuality among some of Russia’s most prominent émigré figures, contributing to our understanding of the double alienation that queer émigrés felt in exile in interwar Europe, at a time when homosexuality was criminally prosecuted in many countries.”

The presentation began with an informational portion about the minimal representation of queer people in art and literature documenting the exiles living in Berlin and Paris. When asked about her thoughts on the lack of representation of queer Russian exiles in the historical record, Nina Anderson ’24 said “It was heartening to see that things are being done to combat queer erasure among Russian émigrés. When I first started reading Marina Tsvetaeva’s poems, I did not know that she was queer, but after learning about her relationship with Sophia Pastok in the lecture, I was able to get a new, maybe truer perspective on who she was and how she felt while she was writing.” 

Following the brief historical context, the audience in the lecture hall was immersed in the case study of Sergey Vladimirovich Nabokov. Nabokov was the younger brother of Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov, the prolific author of Lolita. Sergey Nabokov was a gay man who traveled between Berlin and Paris during his time of exile. When asked about her thoughts on this specific case study, Katherin Yordy ’22 said, “Dr. Utkin’s use of the Nabokov brothers as a case study was fascinating because Vladimir Nabokov is such a prominent figure in both Russian and English literary canon, but I never knew he had a brother who was openly gay during a time where it was so dangerous to be so.” Dr. Utkin detailed the tumultuous history of Sergey Nabokov’s relatively short life using a variety of images, which included everything from pictures from his childhood to pictures of him and his husband. Attendees were also shown images of his letters to various friends and family members. 

Dr.Utkin used software to revive part of a letter that had been crossed out as a form of censorship. Nikolai Kowalchuk ’23 said, “it was pretty cool how he used that software to figure out what the redacted letter was saying.” By retrieving this once lost segment of the letter, Dr. Utkin has made a significant contribution to the historical record. Further, a different letter written by Sergey is the first written documentation of a gay man coming out that historians have found. 

Unfortunately, Sergey Nabokov was killed in the Nazi concentration camp of Neuengamme in 1945. However, the narrative that Dr. Utkin has created surrounding Sergey’s life gives a valuable glimpse into the concept of queer exile. 

Erik Livingston ’22 said “this talk was fantastic and I hope we can have similar lectures in the future. The work of queer Russian academics and works regarding the queer Russian and Eurasian experiences are so important to showcase.” Stay tuned to learn more about lectures put on by various departments.

Scotlight: Mia Villavicencio-Eschinger

Blakely Dishman

Features Editor

 

Can you introduce yourself?

I am Mia Villavicencio-Eschinger. I am a senior political science major from Guilford, Connecticut. My pronouns are she/her. Also, I am a Gemini—a proud Gemini.

What are you involved with on campus? 

On campus I am a part of Pi Kappa Peanuts, I have the Girls* Room radio show on Woo91 and I am a part of Latinas Unidas. I am also a Senior Intern for the Admissions Office.

What are you passionate about?

I am passionate about human rights, specifically immigration and rights regarding that topic. I don’t know…I am passionate about a lot of things. I am passionate about doing good. And “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” as well as “90 Day Fiance” and “Kath and Kim.” So yeah, lots of passions.

Who is your favorite drag queen?

Okay soooo I have been watching “Drag Race” since 2012, since I was 12, and I have a lot. But, more recently definitely Bimini Bon-Boulash. I love them and think that they are a really great representation of drag. But for the US, I have to say I love Alyssa Edwards. I also love Jinx Monsoon and Katya. I actually went to RuPaul’s first Drag Con in New York City when I was 17. I slept on my friend’s NYU dorm floor. I got to meet Farrah Moan, Kim Chi and Milk. They are all so beautiful, it is not fair.

What is your IS about?

So my IS kind of plays into my passions. I am focusing on the rise and success of the far-right in Western Europe. I will be traveling to Denmark to interview far-right leaders and opposition leaders over winter break. I am focusing on the usage of anti-immigrant sentiment in rhetoric and how it affects the overall success of the far right ideology and electoral success. It is really depressing and disturbing, but as my advisor says, “someone’s gotta do it or else it is going to continue.” And so it is hard work, but it is good work.

Who has acted as a mentor to you on campus?

I am grateful that I have had a lot of mentors over the years. Some include April Gamble in the Admissions Office. I love April, she is always there for me regarding talking about academics, my IS and also she is just there to give life advice and talk about anything. Dr. Leiby has been a great resource, especially this year and last year during the pandemic. I have taken a lot of great classes with her. We share a love for animals and we start off our IS meetings every week showing pictures of our dogs. I am very grateful for both of them. 

What is your favorite Wooster memory?

Considering I wasn’t really here last year, that limits me. I’ll say probably IS Monday. I am very excited for IS Monday to come back, because it is just such a vibrant day on campus and I will actually be able to celebrate my own completion! So I think it will be different. I am just excited to see everyone celebrating each other and I am excited to see that in a physical form this year. 

Do you have any pets?

Yes! I have my little baby Pearl, AKA Puddin’, AKA Pillsbury DoughGirl, AKA SnackPack. She is a chunky pug who is going to be turning one year old in late January. And she has an instagram: @pearlthechinchillapug. She is just a bundle of sunshine and joy and I love her very much. She is very mischievous and chaotic and just goofy. She is full of love though.

If you were an animal what would you be and why?

So I would be a dog, but a very lazy dog. One that doesn’t do much, maybe in an apartment where I have a nice window that I can lay near and sunbathe in. I’d go on walks, I’d get table scraps, and I’d get lots of scratches. You know I love all dogs, so I do not know what kind of dog I would be. Just any dog.

Scotlight: Professor Leiby

Blakely Dishman

Features Editor

 

Can you introduce yourself?

My name is Michele Leiby. I am a professor of political science. I am the department chair for the next couple of years!

And what does that position entail?

The primary role that students would be familiar with is that I meet with students that are interested in exploring majoring or minoring in political science. We talk about what that would look like, what the structure of the major is, what kind of resources we have available for our major. That is the main student-facing role. The other main role that is probably less interesting to students is intradepartmental management. So I run our meetings and I make sure we get our information to the registrar’s office on time, things of that nature. 

Where are you from? Where did you go to college? 

Oh, I love this question. I am originally from southeastern Pennsylvania. I am from a very small, rural farming community not terribly unlike Wooster. So my family are almost all farmers, some went into the military, but those are the two main tracks of livelihood that are available to folks where I am from. I went to college probably an hour away from where I grew up, in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The college is a liberal arts college quite similar to Wooster. It is called Moravian College. Actually, it is probably a bit smaller than Wooster if you can believe that. There was a very small political science department, nothing like this at all, but I loved it. I double majored in Spanish and political science. My courses in political science woke me up to class politics in the United States and then studying Latin American politics and culture through my Spanish major. That is how I came to my area of interest. 

Do you want to tell us about George?

Oh my goodness, of course I do. George is my new dog. We got him days before the shutdown in Ohio. We had lost our previous dog that fall before the pandemic really exploded in 2020 and we were waiting to get a new dog. We had a big vacation planned to the International Studies Association Conference in 2020. It was hosted in Honolulu, Hawaii. I was going to present my research, then we were going to spend two weeks hiking and kayaking and having this great fun in Hawaii. So we were waiting to get another pet until we got back from that. As soon as the trip was canceled because of the pandemic, we were like “that’s it! Let’s go!” So George has been with us for a little over a year now. He’s a total goofball, but I love him. He’s a sweet boy.

What other activities are you involved with on campus? 

Let’s see… so because I am chairing, I have curtailed quite a bit of what I typically would do in a given year. But, some of the things that I have been involved with in the past and really would like to come back to when I am no longer the chair of political science would be having a strong active role in the Organization of Latin American Students on campus and the First-Generation and Low Income Students organization on campus. Those are constituencies and issues that I care about very much. Right now one of the things that I’ve still been maintaining is that I do a lot of social justice work in the immigrant community, which I then bring to and connect explicitly to things that are going on on campus. For example, during Black and Gold Weekend, we hosted a fundraiser for the Centro San Jose Scholarship, which is a scholarship that is designated for undocumented immigrants that are wanting to apply for and attend college in the United States but because of their immigration status don’t have the access to the kinds of federal state funding that many students would. We just hosted one of our fundraiser events for the scholarship in Westminster over Black and Gold Weekend and we raised over $6,000. We are pretty excited about that and we will have a few more events like that, that either will be hosted alongside things happening at the college and plugged with groups on campus who would be interested. That is where I try to keep my time and focus right now. 

What projects are you currently working on in terms of your research? Editors: content warning for this paragraph, there is the mention of gender based violence/SA.

So I have had some really outstanding Research Assistants over the last couple of years, Blakely included, who really helped me. I am just coming off of one semester of sabbatical, spring last year, which really helped me to make some progress on a couple of big projects. So one which is hopefully going to be submitted for peer review in a matter of weeks is a project that I am working on with Inger Skjelsbæk from the Peace Research Institute in Oslo, Norway and Kim Thuy Seelinger who is at Washington University. The three of us are woking on this piece that focuses on research related trauma among scholars and practitioners who work on conflict-related sexual violence. So, we kind of turn the lens inward a little bit and take a step back from the work that we have been doing with survivors and then in some cases a number of researchers have worked with perpetrators of these kinds of crimes. But we step back from that and actually interviewed and surveyed a number of scholars and practitioners about how that work has been affecting them both physically and emotionally. We will be presenting the results of this survey project and trying to urge academia to provide more holistic support for researchers who are working on these kinds of sensitive topics. That is one project that will be coming out soon.

The other is actually a big blank manuscript that I am working on with a number of scholars, including Dr. Corral, who is also in the political science department. That project is looking at the lived experiences of Latinx immigrants here in Ohio. My particular contribution to that, as someone who studies Latin American politics, is looking from the perspective of domestic politics in Latin America, in countries where a lot of asylum seekers and immigrants are originating from and trying to understand what the conditions, whether they be economic, social, cultural or political are pushing many—in particular Guatemalans, Mexicans, Hondurans and Salvadorans—to leave their countries of origin and seek resettlement here in the US, specifically here in Ohio. Dr. Corral has the very challenging task of looking at how folks who are living here, immigrants who are living here in Ohio, have survived through, and how they are trying to survive through, this period of enhanced immigration enforcement. So you know, how communities are heavily surveilled, some of the largest workplace raids in history took place in Ohio over the summer of 2018. So again, this work draws from a very large survey that we did with over 350 immigrants from Latin America who are here in Ohio. I’m thinking of publication next year for this project. 

What are you most passionate about? 

Oh my goodness. Okay, well the silly answer is animals. I love dogs, I love cats, I love beavers, I love otters, I mean just animals full stop… and nature in general. If I am not here, I am outdoors somewhere. I love kayaking, I love hiking, I love being outside as much as possible. The more serious answer, although nature and animals are not unserious… that is serious stuff. But the other thing that I am very passionate about is political issues that I would define as social justice issues, so human rights. So if I am not outdoors, if I am not enjoying my personal time and I am not working here, I would probably be working on social justice issues. Particularly right now immigration justice and trying to advocate for asylum seekers, trying to organize protests downtown or contribute to protests downtown. I try to attend meetings of our city council and try to encourage them to be more responsive and transparent in their governing of Wooster city government. So those are areas where I put my time. 

What is your favorite Wooster memory? 

Goodness. Wow, that’s a tough one. Well, a couple come to mind. A few years ago, I think it was post 2016, maybe 2016 or 2017, a student group on campus that was really interested in immigration justice and questions around policing the US-Mexico border came to me and was interested in putting on a big event on campus. And so through our contacts with the Immigrant Worker Project, we contracted with a local artist, who is from Guatemala based in Cleveland now. Hector Castellanos, who is just outstanding, came to campus and designed, with students and me, a carpeta, which is a traditional art form in Guatemala, though you can find it in other countries too, where the artist will dye sawdust with various colors then they use the sawdust to essentially make a mural. So it is ephemeral, as soon as a hearty wind comes through, the art piece is gone in its physical form. So we actually used the pit in Lowry and made this big mural, this big carpeta, to call for an end to deportations and it was great. 

What are your goals for this year? 

Rest and reconnecting with students, that is the big one. Being able to see students in person and feel that connection was much harder last year and that is the biggest thing that I am looking forward to this year. 

Prospective Students Once Again Storm Campus

Emilie Eustace

Contributing Writer

 

On Sunday, Oct. 24 and Monday, Oct. 25, twenty-seven high school seniors were given the opportunity to participate in an overnight visit program through the Admissions Office here at the College. Although it was a rainy weekend, these students brightened up the campus with their curiosity, support and growing love for Wooster. Cathy Finks, the Executive Director of Admissions, stated This past weekend, Admissions was pleased to offer our first overnight visit experience to vaccinated prospective students since February 2020. Our student volunteer hosts were great ambassadors for Wooster and we thank them for sharing their Wooster experience. High school students have spent a lot of time isolated from their schools and community and the college search has been interrupted for many high school seniors. Visit options like an overnight experience, sitting in on class and eating in the dining hall are ways a student can ‘feel’ a community and find the engagement they have been missing, so Admissions is pleased to be able to offer these opportunities for prospective students again.”

Students began piling into Freelander Theater on Sunday evening, with tours, snacks and mingling occurring amongst Admissions staff, tour guides and senior interns. The former Vice President for Enrollment, Scott Friedhoff, even made a special appearance to mingle with prospective students and their parents under his new title of “Special Assistant to the President for Enrollment.” From there, prospective students began their overnight journey by going on tours of campus, exploring the art museum, hearing a Round of Monkeys perform and listening to various staff members discuss experiences at the college. They then parted with their families to have the opportunity to explore campus independently, giving them the first taste of what it feels like to be a college student. Finks said that in an evaluation of the event a prospective student commented, “It’s hard for me to say anything…because everything was simply put, perfect. I already love this school and the program only made me more excited to spend my college experience at Wooster.”

Sunday evening featured many events hosted by organizations including Scot Council and the International Student Association. Students were able to watch Wooster’s improv group, Don’t Throw Shoes, perform; paint pumpkins; and drink hot chocolate while learning about what it is like to be a Fighting Scot. They were hosted by tour guides and other student volunteers who were responsible for showing them around campus and sharing the true college experience. Prospective students were also given the chance to eat in Lowry with their hosts, an opportunity that has not occurred since before the pandemic. While prospective students had the opportunity to explore campus, their parents took on the JAFB Wooster Brewery downtown with senior interns, where they had the chance to ask questions about campus life and academics. Sarah Neuville ’22, a senior intern in the Admissions Office, had the chance to go on this trip with the parents. She said, “We had a really good time talking about what it’s like being a Wooster student and an alum shared how it’s changed since she was a student. I think everyone really enjoyed themselves and some parents even stayed after to talk more!”

Prospective students then had the opportunity to attend one or two classes on Monday morning. They could choose to attend a class that was in their potential major or just one that interested them. Many of the prospective students that attended classes loved their experience as it allowed them to connect to both Wooster students and professors, as well as sit in on a college-level class. There were also various educational sessions held for prospective students and parents Monday afternoon, including one about financial aid, Advising Planning and Experiential Learning and the Academic Resource Center.

Micah Morrow ’24, tour guide in the Admissions Office, played an active role in the overnight admissions event. Morrow said, “Visit programs are always a bit hectic because of the amount of people coming to see Wooster, but this one was more intense because of the added overnight aspect that has not occurred in two years. I was not touring, but I assisted with parking for a few hours on Sunday and helped with cleanup as different parts of the program ended. It was pretty fun because we were riding around on the admissions golf cart. It was raining and very cold, so we all looked disheveled and probably scared the prospective students. I did not end up hosting a student, but I did eat dinner with some and went to the improv event put on for them. It was lovely to interact with high school students looking to come to the College of Wooster. I hope that they evaluate all of their options before choosing a school.”

The Admissions Office is so grateful to everyone that helped to make this event a success. Prospective students left full of excitement; moreover, they now have a better idea of how well they would fit in as a student here. Current students were obviously impacted as well, and whether it was by hosting students, giving tours or socializing with parents, students and staff had the opportunity to share their Wooster pride.

Students Have Bones to Pick at Archaeology Day

Lark Pinney

Managing Editor

 

On Saturday, Oct. 23, the College’s Archaeology Student Colloquium (ASC) hosted Archaeology Day, a celebration of a semi-return to normal and all things archaeology. Every October, the American Institute of Archaeology, which the College of Wooster is a part of, hosts International Archaeology Day, and this year was no different. The event was open to students, faculty, staff and families. In past years, this event has been open to the broader Wooster community, but due to low vaccination rates and high transmission rates of COVID-19 in the county, the event was limited to members of the College of Wooster. Visiting assistant professor of Archaeology and Anthropology Siavash Samei hopes that “in the future, we will have the right conditions to open Archaeology Day once again to the broader public.” Despite the smaller number of attendees, the day was still a bone-ified success. 

There were a variety of activities and stations for attendees to engage with. Two of the most popular demonstrations were by Steve Kitchen—an archaeologist, flint-knapper and local celebrity who taught students how to use an antler to make sharp flakes out of volcanic glass and obsidian. Kitchen is a community member who has been coming to the College for years to give his demonstrations on flint-knapping and share his collection of arrowheads collected from around the Midwest. Anabelle Andersen ’22, co-president of the Archaeology Student Colloquium, shared that “in the pre-Covid era, Steve would also audit classes at the College!” This author is proud to report that she made an obsidian flake and Kitchen told her she did pretty well for a beginner. The other fan-favorite activity was the atlatl throwing. Atlatls are tools used by some Indigenous communities in North America to throw spears. Experts showed attendees how to properly use them and gave them the opportunity to throw one out onto the Scot Center Promenade. Even President Sarah Bolton got involved and tried her hand at atlatl throwing!

There were also less adventurous stations, including a table from the Summit County Historical Society. Representatives from the historical society displayed artifacts from their collection and gave out information about how interested students could volunteer and get involved. The archaeology lab also brought out their camel skeleton, while students in the major shared what they did this summer. 

Organizers were very pleased with how it went. Andersen and ASC’s goals for the event were for students to be able to “see and handle objects from a variety of specializations so that they might learn what facet of archaeology they are most interested in.” The group also “wanted to make the displays legible for people who aren’t studying it! For this, we had the cool displays, and people could interact with anything they wanted and as much or as little as they wanted!” There was something for everyone: history, pottery, a sandbox and more. Overall, Andersen “wanted to celebrate archaeology in a way that was accessible for all and could be shared with all, regardless of prior knowledge or experience.”

Majors and non-majors alike were thrilled to be able to have an in-person event this year. Archaeology major Olivia Frison de Angelis ’23 shared that although “there was Archaeology Day online last year, so much of what makes Archaeology Day the wonderful interactive experience it is is the hands-on aspect. I’m really happy we were able to interact with people in-person this year so they could pick up artifacts and flint-knap their own tools and connect with the materials on a much more personal level.” 

If students want to get involved in the department, the Archaeology Student Colloquium meets every other Tuesday at 11am in Kauke 039. The next general meeting is on Nov. 2, and the group is open to anyone who is interested.