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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 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.”

C.O.W. Confronted with Reality of Institutional Racism

Sam Killebrew

Senior News Writer

An anonymous pamphlet titled “The Black Manifesto” appeared throughout campus, prompting discussion and call for actions.

On a quiet autumn morning at The College of Wooster, a document, dubbed The Black Manifesto, was released across campus. The document outlined experiences of Black students at Wooster: lack of Black staff, lack of comprehensive curriculum regarding Black experiences and few resources available for Black students to feel safe and welcome at the College. The demands to the administration encompassed a simple theme: do more to make Wooster a safer place for Black individuals. 

This declaration was given on Nov. 6, 1969. 52 years later, another manifesto appeared at the College, detailing strikingly similar demands. 

On the morning of Oct.19, Wooster students and faculty awoke to campus being covered in pamphlets reading, “DEMANDS.” These pamphlets were titled The Black Manifesto. The manifesto confronted many in the Wooster community with a harsh reality: Black students do not feel safe on campus. The demands outline the expectations that the author(s) have for  the College administration, as the manifesto demands the addition of two Black counselors on campus, more transparent financial opportunities for Black-international students and accountability from  the College to work with the Wooster Police Department for legislation that provides adequate protection against  hate crimes and hate speech on Beall Avenue. The final demand on the seven-part list reads, “WE DEMAND THAT THE ADMINISTRATION PUBLICLY RESPONDS TO THIS MANIFESTO IN ITS ENTIRETY WITHIN ONE WEEK.” 

In response to the manifesto, at 7:35 p.m. on Oct. 20, President Sarah Bolton, interim Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer of Academic Affairs Leslie Wingard and Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students Myrna Hernández stood in the Scot Center’s Governance Room, hosting well over 200 students, both in-person and virtually. Bolton opened the meeting with her intention of ridding the college of racism completely. 

“Our purpose here tonight is to talk about a simple thing, which is making Wooster better. To make Wooster better we need to talk tonight about making Wooster equitable, inclusive and making Wooster a place where racism is not happening and harming black students, staff and faculty. We need to make it a place where discrimination and harassment are not taking place,” Bolton said. The meeting opened up to questions, allowing the campus community to voice their concerns. 

Many students asked a simple but important question: if people have been asking for these changes for decades, how many more meetings will it take before progress is made? In response, Bolton said,  “… There’s a lot of things that people have worked on over time… it’s also true that there are a lot of changes that haven’t happened.”

Wingard added to Bolton’s comments, expressing that she “hears the student(s)” who asked this question. Questions continued to pour in from students concerned for themselves, their peers,  their organizations, and their safety at the College. Many of the questions focused on the demands directly, pressing Bolton and the administration on their words and actions. As the meeting progressed, discussions became heated as students, dissatisfied with the administration’s responses, asked the speakers on how effective they will be in making change. Some students claimed that Bolton and  deans in-attendance were lying straight to students’ faces, referencing policy on racial discrimination training for students. One student said, “You guys have straight up lied multiple times about what you’ve done. As a member of the class of 2024, we barely had any orientation and none of [it] revolved around anti-racism or cultural competency… Our orientation was essentially nonexistent,” they said.

The student also claimed that the College fails to hold students with white supremacist beliefs on campus accountable. “Also, [student evaluations] are not actually taken into account… I know personally … white supremacist students are not being dealt with,”

 Neither President Bolton nor the deans present responded directly to this claim, and the microphone was passed to another student. At one point, a student called the administration out on the tone of their responses to the questions presented throughout the meeting. 

“All of this has been unsubstantial,” they said. “Are you going to fire the staff that is racist? Are you going to actually look through audits? Because none of us believe the audit on Howard Lowry, for example,” said one student.  

The student also brought up particular incidents in which lack of accountability within administration forced students themselves to hold the administration accountable. 

“I used to be an R.A. I went through R.A. training for racism. None of it was substantial. [Former Director of Residence Life] Nathan Fein left, because we had to push him out as students. He told R.A. Council in meetings that he was overwhelmed by us telling him the things that he did wrong, and that we were in the wrong for doing that. [Students having to pressure racist staff] is a trend at this school.”

The meeting continued, with students becoming increasingly upset with the administration’s response — and often, lack thereof — for over two hours. By the end, most of the students in the Governance Room  left, unsatisfied with the meeting. Cam Love ’25, who attended the meeting, stated, “I did not get what I wanted from this meeting in terms of response. The administration looked confused and only answered with head nods and gestures—nothing sustainable for the issues at hand,” he said. Love finds the College’s lackluster response a reflection of the College’s view of the black community. “I am sure this can be echoed throughout the Black community, but the lack of attention to this meeting reflects how The College of Wooster views Black people and displays the College’s lack of care for the Black community.”

Love was not alone in this sentiment, either. About an hour after the meeting ended, Tiffani Grayes ’25 emailed the entire school, including organizations and staff, an eleven-paragraph response to the meeting titled, “Black Manifesto Meeting.” In the email, Grayes explained her frustration and blatant dissatisfaction with the meeting. She wrote, “Why did you stop recording? Why did you ignore the chat? Why was it not mandatory for everyone to attend and get a first-hand witness on how we feel? Why were certain departments not addressed? Why weren’t financial aid concerns addressed? Why weren’t there any transparent answers? Why was there no structure? This isn’t just an event that should have been thrown together last minute. These are real life issues that we are still facing and know for a fact that you can’t relate to due to privilege.” 

Throughout the next few days, President Bolton responded to Grayes’ email as well as to the Manifesto itself in writing. First, Bolton sent an apology letter in response to the common sentiment that the protocol during the town hall was inadequate. Then, on Oct. 21, Bolton presented an outline of the plans for change by the administration that included a list of actions that are planned in direct response to each demand made by The Black Manifesto.  

As student organizations analyze this situation and how they want to address it locally, it is important to recognize the underlying theme of this situation. If there is anything that should be understood about The Black Manifesto, it is that it is not a new sentiment. For decades, students have demanded change to the way the College treats black students and staff. What hangs in the balance now is the student body’s trust in the college’s ability to adequately address and respond to these long-standing demands. 


The Manifesto outlines the following demands:

  • We demand at least two black counselors in the wellness center within the next academic year.
  • We demand that black faculty and staff are given equitable pay and resources, including counseling services, in accordance with the racial barriers that they face.
  • we demand that the college of wooster holds the wooster police department accountable for legislation that ensures protection against hate speech/crimes against black wooster students on beall avenue in accordance with our right as students to be in a safe and supportive environment free from discrimination, harassment, bullying, and bigotry.
  • We demand that all faculty and staff receive ongoing, mandatory training on cultural competency, bias and empathy, safe zone, etc.
  • We demand that faculty and staff are transparent with all financial resources available to black international students.
  • We demand to stop having to constantly bear out our traumas to justify why we need to receive aid and scholarships.
  • We demand that the administration publicly responds to this manifesto in its entirety within one week.

Bolton’s response to the Manifesto can be found here: