Category Archives: Front Page

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.”

Student Orgs Hold Discussions on the Black Manifesto

Sam Killebrew

Senior News Writer

 

As The College of Wooster community reels from the administration’s response to the Black Manifesto, student organizations have taken it upon themselves to create change from the ground up. Since the response of the administration, which many students believe to be inadequate, student organizations on campus have held discussions and meetings centered around making local change. Two of those organizations, Bodies of Diversity and BIPOC Performing Arts Alliance, recently held discussions regarding the Manifesto. Morgan Ann Malone ’23, president of Bodies of Diversity, and Teresa Ascensio ’23, co-founder and co-president of BIPOC Performing Arts Alliance talked to the Voice about their organizations’ reactions to the Manifesto.

What was the main objective in the beginning of the discussion? Did that change as the discussion went along? How did it change?

MM: The discussion that took place last week was vulnerable, emotionally

charged, yet it was very necessary. Jada Green ’23 — my friend and Bodies of Diversity’s treasurer — and I both felt extremely emotionally and mentally spent after the

meeting, yet slightly hopeful at the same time. We were not expecting the turnout we received that day, and we were so grateful for the amount of interest because we really felt — and still feel — that this particular topic is worthy of extended discussion. That was, I would say, the main objective of the meeting on Oct. 28. The objective of the meeting did not change as the discussion went along, even though there may have been distractions at certain moments that attempted to divert from the primary objective. I am so proud and blessed to have had [Green] with me in that moment, as well as the many people who came to the meeting with solid intentions of making Wooster a better, more inclusive place for the entire student body.

TA: The discussion last week was the BIPOC Performing Arts Alliance’s response to the release of the Black Student Manifesto along with a reading of our solidarity statement and our demands for the music and theatre/dance departments at the College. Our main objectives were to go through these texts and hear audience responses and thoughts, prioritizing BIPOC and specifically Black student voices. These objectives changed slightly as several people in the crowd were not as familiar with the racial and equity issues in the theatre department, and we ended up allocating more time for Black students to reflect on the Manifesto and the school’s response (or lack thereof). However, we still received a good response to the demands we created for the theatre/dance and music departments, which led to a larger discussion of groups of students potentially coming together to create demands for each academic department at the school.

SK: What key points came from the discussion?

MM: Much of the key points that came from the discussion were both critiques and praises of the Manifesto, as well as ways to quickly yet effectively implement these demands into the Wooster community. Many students of color on campus discussed the discomfort and anxiety that often come with being put in a position of having to discuss traumatic events related to racial or gender-based harassment with Campus Security, the Center for Diversity and Inclusion, or other offices on campus. Many of those same students pointed out the fact that reliving those experiences can be very traumatic and anxiety-inducing, and that it can often feel as though they are speaking to a brick wall in those instances because of the school’s lack of experience with students of color, as well as their lack of training when dealing with such situations. There is a definitive need throughout all departments of the Wooster community for more representation  within certain academic departments as well as certain sectors of staff. Students of color and marginalized students, in general, need to be able to see themselves in their mentors, their leaders and their superiors in order to truly be able to thrive. Another point from the Manifesto that resonated with not only myself but with many students present at the meeting was the point about making it a top priority to hire two Black mental health counselors in the Wellness Center within the next academic year. Many students struggle with mental health issues, and everyone has needed professional counseling or encouragement at one moment or another. For students of color, especially, there are nuanced, complicated issues within one’s specific culture that can often act as a trigger for negative emotions such as anxiety, anger or depression. It is difficult to relay those issues to a white counselor in a way that they would understand, let alone in a way that would equip them with adequate enough knowledge to be able to help. This is one of the primary ways, in my opinion, that students of color will be able to thrive on this campus.

TA: One of the biggest points that came across was the importance of representation in all areas on campus. For instance, students cannot debrief after a hard week, or work through struggles if they can’t see themselves in the counselors employed. Students can’t envision themselves succeeding in theatre, STEM, history, education and more if they don’t see themselves represented through faculty and staff. The school needs to provide a safer place for BIPOC faculty and staff to feel encouraged to come to Wooster and stay at the College.

SK: What did you take away from the discussion?

MM: One of the biggest takeaways from this discussion actually echoes something interesting that I learned from Dr. Eduardo Bonilla-Silva’s Zoom conversation on Nov. 3 in which he discussed systemic racism, as well as the characteristics that make it “systemic.” One of the main points he touched upon was this idea of “Historically White Colleges and

Universities” — also known as “HWCUs” — that obviously mirror the institution of Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Another student discussed the idea of colleges and universities that are historically white: they can implement as many diversity and inclusion initiatives as they

wish, but the system at the core of such institutions will never be inclusive toward marginalized students unless it is destroyed and rebuilt. These institutions are a part of the complex system of white supremacy in this country, and unless they are completely reconstructed to be fully inclusive and accepting, they will always operate within the mold of white supremacy.

TA: There is still so much work that needs to be done. Sure, we have received several responses to our demands from our respective departments, but I feel as though those responses came out of fear and were incredibly reactive. Rather than reacting to the situation at hand once it is thrust in their face, the school needs to be proactive about creating a safer and more equitable campus for BIPOC and specifically Black students. Rather than reacting to the Manifesto or to demands like the Administration did, they need to actively be working on improving campus for those students and faculty members that give Wooster such esteemed status such as being one of the most diverse colleges in Ohio. 

SK: What is your plan of action going forward?

MM: Bodies of Diversity’s plan of action going forward includes a variety of different action points. We will continue to have bi-weekly meetings in a safe and inclusive space about various hot-button issues having to do with marginalized groups in society (our next meeting is Thursday, Nov. 18 at 6:30 p.m. in the Douglass basement!). On a wide-scale basis in terms of the Black Manifesto, we will continue to collaborate with both other student groups on campus as well as faculty and staff to both make the demands of the Black Manifesto known on a frequent basis and to work to ensure that the College is a safe and inclusive space for all. Despite the issues that our campus is currently facing, the College is such an amazing place to me; I get a kick out of telling people that this was the only school I applied to, early decision and all, because since my first visit as an eighth-grade student during a Power of

the Pen competition, I have loved it so much. I love this community enough to want to change it for the better, for both the current and upcoming communities.

TA: My fellow co-founder and co-president Victoria Silva ’23 and I will continue to meet with Lisa Perfetti, Dr. Leslie Wingard and members of the theatre/dance department to discuss specific plans of action moving forward. We are holding folks accountable to listen to both our demands and the demands written eloquently in the Black Manifesto and to respond actively and proactively to what students are asking for and so desperately need. We will also continue to hold General Assembly meetings to discuss these topics further and to continue to provide a safe outlet for BIPOC students to express their truest selves, in the performing arts and beyond.

Students Discuss Concerns with Board of Trustees

Samuel Boudreau

News Editor

 

Trigger Warning: Racist Actions 

With the gavel drawing their presentation on racial justice and equity to a close, Izzy Flores Perez ’22 had only one question left for The College of Wooster’s Board of Trustees at the biannual Student Development meeting . “Has there been any actions or good results that have come out strictly from these meetings?” Perez’s question was met with silence from the trustees. Again, Perez asked trustees, “has there been any action that has changed or anything that has changed directly from these meetings?” Again, silence. Perez turned to Anne Wilson ’73, board member and chair of the committee, “Do you remember any change that has happened directly from these meetings?” Wilson responded, “This is my first year to chair this committee, so I am sorry. I have sat in on a couple meetings, and, I will say, just be aware of all the changes that have emerged from these meetings.” Perez pressed on, “but can i get one example?”

With murmurs of disapproval emerging from the student body at the meeting, Wilson answered, “I think the awareness.” Wilson continued, “can I give you an example of a change? I cannot. These issues come up and we have talked about them as a board. I have only been on the board for three years and we hear and try to have conversations.” During Perez and Wilson’s exchange, students had to wake up a trustee who fell asleep. To answer Perez’s question, Jim DeRose ’72, trustee since 2012, said that seven years ago, trustees helped increase the numbers of counselors at the College. “That said, we still recognize the needs are still not being fully met,”DeRose said, “but that is an example where students came to us, said ‘we have a crisis,’ and we were able to respond.” 

On Oct. 29, the Student Development Committee held its biannual meeting in Lean Lecture room, Wishart Hall. The committee is not a policy-making committee, but it provides students with an opportunity to talk directly to the College’s trustees. After the meeting, the committee meets with President Bolton and the rest of the board to relay students’ concerns and find solutions. “Our committee is here today to listen,” Wilson said, “to hear what you all have to tell us.” 

The meeting kicked off with Atticus Moats ’22, president of the College’s First Responders. Motes detailed the expanding pre-hospital training at Wooster, the formation of an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) class at Wooster and health and wellness outreach with the College’s Wellness Center. Moats also focused on how the College and first responders work to help students with medical debt, such as transporting students to the local hospital and bringing experienced EMTs on campus and starting an EMT program on campus. Moats said First Responders also looks to continue community outreach missions, including WooCares on Dec. 9, an event hosted in partnership with the American Red Cross that holds a blood drive, CPR training, QPR training and suicide prevention training. 

After Moats, Savannah Sima ’23, on behalf of First Generation Student Organization, called for renovations and innovations to fix structural problems in campus housing. “With dorms and houses filled with bats, mold, lead paint, sewage leaks and bug infestations,” Sima said, “we desperately need these innovative solutions.” From the beginning of the fall semester to Sept. 14, campus safety caught 40 bats in residence halls and campus housing. Additionally, an unofficial dust sample, conducted by Lauren Kreeger ’23, found “abnormal amounts of lead” in the College’s McDavitt House. As a resident assistant in Bissman Hall, Sima said that overpopulated living spaces paired with structural problems create unlivable conditions for students. “This disproportionate experience routinely falls upon FGLI students who already have to reconcile with many barriers in getting their college degrees,” Sima said. 

After Sima and Moats’ presentations, Mazvita Chikom ’22 and Sinqobile Nyasha Tagwireyi ’22 presented on behalf of the African Student Union, specifically regarding the publication of The Black Manifesto on Oct. 18. “Following the publication of the Black Manifesto, the African Student Union has used this momentum to begin working with the administration to make The College of Wooster truly inclusive and equitable,” Chikom said. First, Tagwireyi and Chikom proposed the increase of accessibility to financial opportunities for Black international students. They also proposed that the College employ someone who studies the economic situations of the countries represented at The College of Wooster. “We ask for the diversity of staff in financial aid and the business office, because we think that is where some of not being in touch with our situation comes from, just because of the shared lived-experiences,” Tagwireyi said. Chikom and Tagwireyi also asked the College’s Financial Aid department to conduct extensive research on corporations and organizations that offer scholarship programs or fellowships for students, especially students who are international and do not have U.S. citizenship. Chikom and Tagwireyi also asked for transparency on financial aid opportunities, such as the College’s international student scholarship and called for a diversification initiative across all academic departments at the College. “A lot of the time, it seems as if the institution mainly hires Black faculty for only the Africana department and very few departments outside,” said Chikom. “I am now a senior, and I have only been taught by one Black faculty member.” 

Following the African Student Union, the Posse Scholars called for racial justice and equity at the College. While Brisa Rivas ’25, Elliot Sommar ’25 and Kayla Robinson ’25 were set to speak on behalf of the scholars, Tiffani Grayes ’25 spoke in place of Rivas, as Rivas transferred from the College due to a hate crime suffered on Beall Ave. Robinson said that a group of white people drove next to Rivas on Beall Avenue and made gun motions at her. Rivas reported the event during her first week and did not hear back from the College until two months later regarding the incident. “We have faced a multitude of discrepancies, such as a lack of support, concern for safety and the fear of inequitable aid on campus in comparison to our advantaged counterparts,” Grayes said. Robinson, Sommar and Grayes proposed three solutions: provide more funding for Black students, invest in diverse faculty and wellness, and invest in ongoing education and training for campus safety. 

Teresa Ascencio ’23 spoke on behalf of the BIPOC Performing Arts Alliance. Ascencio said that she and the alliance were deeply disappointed with the administration’s response to the Black manifesto “we as an organization and members of the campus community were appalled by the invasive and disingenuous responses and frankly insulting conduct shown to us by the highest bracket of power at this institution,” Ascencio said. Ascencio also detailed the personal challenges they have faced at the College as a BIPOC and queer student, including harassment on Beall Avenue, discrimination in class and tokenization as a student of color. “We are tired of having to create manifestos, hold protests, speak at campus-wide town halls and be burdened with having to constantly relieve trauma, just because the school won’t make distinct and systematic changes for the betterment of our future.” Ascencio called for hiring more BIPOC faculty and staff, making nonbias training frequent and mandatory for all, rewarding antiracist behavior, reprimanding discriminatory behavior, hosting more BIPOC speakers for educational and cultural purposes, working with the town of Wooster to make Beall Avenue a safer place to walk at night for BIPOC students, providing equitable pay for BIPOC professors, and using funding for the improvement of BIPOC spaces on campus. “If we are to pride ourselves on being diverse and inclusive, then we need to actually provide basic resources for students that allow our school to [boast] acclaimed status,” they said.

Next up, Cory Horgan ’23 and Taylor Lynch ’24 spoke on behalf of Greenhouse Club, the main body of sustainability and environmental change on campus. Their presentation focused on waste and sustainability in Campus Dining. “Simply put, Campus Dining is not sustainable,” Lynch said. During the 2020 fall semester, the College transitioned to disposable cups, plates and silverware to meet COVID-19 guidelines. “Now that campus facilities’ operations return to normal,” said Lynch, “it is important to return and improve upon the sustainable practices and options we have on campus,” such as returning to reusable dining utensils. Returning to these practices, however, is a challenge, as Campus Dining faces staffing shortages and “inadequate technology, such as dishwashers and other appliances in dining.” 

Horgan brought the trustees’ attention to the College’s five-year sustainability plan, established in 2019, which aimed to increase environmental sustainability at the College. In the plan, President Sarah Bolton listed five “major recommendations for immediate implementation,” which included: to hire a sustainability coordinator, form a renewable energy exploratory committee, conduct an external energy audit and two more actions. “Absolutely none of these have been completed,” said Horgan. “We have actually regressed as a campus in sustainability.”

The meeting closed with updates from Scot Council. Emmy Todd ’22, President of Scot Council, attended the meeting and every student development meeting while at Wooster. “Every year, I think that the issues will be pushed ahead by the Board of Trustees, pushed ahead by the administration,” Todd said, “and every year, I am disappointed that I come back here and see the same issues talked about again and again.” 

Will Dr. Lowry Remain The College of Wooster’s Hero? Board of Trustees Release Findings of Inquiry and Students Respond

Aspen Rush

Editor in Chief

 

In the days prior to fall break of this year, Sally Staley, chair of The College of Wooster’s Board of Trustees (BoT), and Tom Gibian, vice chair of the College’s board of trustees, released the Special Committee’s findings of an investigation into the personal conduct of Dr. Howard Lowry during his time as president of the College from 1944-1967. The investigation came as a result of the persistence of an alumna pursued by Lowry.

Inspired by the #MeToo movement, an alumna from the class of 1962 — identified in Voice articles only by her first name, Irene — reached out to Sarah Bolton in Nov. 2017 to share her experiences regarding former President Lowry with the College for the first time. Between Nov. 2017 and June of 2018, Irene and Bolton exchanged a series of emails relating to the naming of the Lowry center and the dynamics of the Board at the time. After a lack of a substantial response from College officials, Irene reached out to the Voice directly and asked if the Voice’s staff heard of any other women with similar experiences who might validate the claims she was raising to the Board. Led by Co-Editor in Chief, Maggie Dougherty ’21, the Voice launched an investigation into the validity of these claims. Dougherty conducted a thorough investigation, combing through Special Collections, reading biographies of Lowry’s life and histories of the College, speaking with alumni and collecting additional documentation of Lowry’s personal and professional life. Dougherty’s investigation found ample evidence to suggest that former President Lowry engaged in predatory behavior towards recent female graduates of the College. The Voice published Dougherty’s investigation, “The Complicated Legacy of President Howard Lowry: As Our Values Evolve, Do Our Heroes Change as Well?” on Apr. 16, 2021. Dougherty’s article prompted many members of the College community to reconsider their idolization of the College’s former president. The full article is  on the Voice’s website. 

After Dougherty notified administration in advance of the article’s publication and made a request for comment, the BoT sent an email in response to the allegations, outlining the board’s next steps. First, the BoT appointed a Special Committee of trustees ranging in identities, ages and experiences. The Special Committee’s goal was to conduct an investigation free of bias into the allegations against Lowry. The Committee’s inquiry surrounded whether Lowry committed sexual assault or engaged in any illegal behavior.

After concluding the investigation, the Special Committee’s goal was to develop a set of recommendations regarding the potential renaming of Lowry namesakes. Committee members were selected intentionally to represent Wooster’s diverse campus community. Additionally, none of the members knew Lowry personally. 

Following the committee’s formation, they hired independent law firm BakerHostetler, a firm with “extensive experience in gender bias and sexual harassment” according to the Special Committee. However, their core practice groups, as outlined on their website, do not include any specialization in gender bias. The College’s contract with the firm guaranteed the privacy of those who wished to maintain confidentiality. The Committee wanted to ensure that their investigation was up-to-date with practices, as they conducted extensive research on the procedures and grounds for renaming the student center. The Committee elected to draw on guidelines from Stanford University’s “Principles and Procedures for Renaming and Other Features at Stanford University.” As per the procedure, a name change is necessary if  “there is strong evidence that retaining the name is inconsistent with the University’s integrity or is harmful to its research and teaching missions and inclusiveness.” 

The committee spoke directly with fifty  people who had personal experiences with Lowry. The BakerHostetler team interviewed the two alumni who came forward in the Voice’s original investigation. In addition to interviews, the committee reviewed more than 2,000 pages of documents from the archives. 

After months of investigations, the Special Committee did not find Lowry responsible for any legal wrongdoing or improper behavior with students. However, there was evidence that Lowry pursued multiple women within a few years of their graduation. When he pursued recent graduates, Lowry maintained his role as president and even suggested they seek employment at the College. 

Following the inquiry’s conclusion, the Special Committee recommended to the BoT that Lowry Student Center maintain its name, as requested by its donors. The BoT accepted the committee’s recommendation. 

After the BoT reached a conclusion and decided to maintain Lowry’s name on the student center, alumni directly affected by Lowry’s behavior and who testified to the Board were made aware of the outcomes. Shortly following their notification, the Wooster community received an email with the investigation’s findings. Enclosed, they detailed the review process, the findings of the review, the recommendation of the Special Committee and the Board’s decision. The email also listed Lowry’s accomplishments and his continuing impact on the College.

As Riley Smith ’22 addressed at the biannual Student Development Meeting,“That email began not by discussing the allegations themselves or the College’s plans to investigate them, but by detailing Lowry’s many contributions.”

 Shortly after the BoT email was sent, all students received a follow-up email from Myrna Y. Hernández, Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students. The email acknowledged the potential negative implications of the decision and provided student resources including the Title IX coordinator, counseling services and the chaplain. 

Many students took issue with the Special Committee’s recommendations and with how the BoT conveyed the inquiry’s conclusions. Smith expressed that the email’s timing, sent mere days before fall break, “felt like an intentional attempt to prevent student organizing around the issue.” 

Smith also emphasized that “certain behavior is not acceptable simply because it is legal. Regardless of romantic intent or lack thereof, it is inappropriate to offer employment specifically to young women one finds attractive.”

Chair of the Board Sally Staley also echoed this sentiment, seemingly contrasting with the conclusion of the Special Committee, saying “I don’t think his conduct is something I would support.”

Lia Kahn ’22, interim president of Sexual Respect Coalition, reflected on the findings’ ramifications: “Do we as an institution want to send the message that we protect and revere predators while discrediting and actively harming survivors? What would happen if a current president or administrator acted this way? Why aren’t we holding Howard Lowry to the same standards?” Since the BoT’s decision, a new petition emerged on Change.org titled “COW Community Urges Board of Trustees to reconsider Lowry Center Name Change.” 

Though the BoT reached its decision, the question posed in Dougherty’s article remains: “As our values evolve, do our heroes change as well?” Looking back at Lowry’s life, it is  difficult to reach a conclusion about his actions within a modern context. That being said, it is essential to validate the experiences and needs of survivors. In a conversation with Voice editors, Staley reflected on this question, again appearing to contradict the decision. “Our heroes do change,” she said. “If anything has been highlighted for us, it’s a belief in the critical importance of equity. We need to do more work. We need to challenge ourselves to think when we need to change our heroes.”