Category Archives: Front Page

Students Share Concerns with Board of Trustees

Sam Killebrew

Senior News Writer

 

 

At this year’s student development meeting, students raised concerns on next semester’s changes at The College of Wooster. 

The meeting opened with a speech from Scot Council president Emmy Todd ’22, who touched on the reintroduction of the ad hoc COVID Committee on Scot Council and administrative changes at the College.The Board then had five minutes to ask questions and comment on these updates. 

Last semester’s Student Development Meeting, occurring amidst controversy on campus, was the topic of discussion on campus for weeks after the fact. Complaints about the meeting included lack of engagement from board members, disorganization on behalf of Scot Council and disrespectful remarks from board members. This lack of engagement was something that Todd  addressed this lack of engagement with the board prior to the student development meeting. She appeared happy with the result. “This semester’s meeting was more organized, which garnered more discussion,” said Todd. Many who attended the meeting disagreed with this sentiment. 

Students disagreed with the organization and order of this year’s meeting. In the weeks prior to the meeting, students had to complete a form to address the board. Mochi Meadows ’24, said  the form inhibited the student body’s  access to the board.. Emmy Todd responded to Meadows. “That’s the way it’s been in all my years here,” said Todd.“It was a mistake on my behalf to allow people to speak without filling out a form last semester.”  

The College Democrats and Greenhouse club addressed the board.The two clubs raised concerns about their efforts in their respective groups, and how the new administration will address these concerns.

Meadows was the third representative to speak at the meeting,who spoke on behalf of QTPOC. Meadows y addressed equity concerns on campus, specifically regarding all-gender housing issues. Meadows also  commented on the complacency of departments such as ResLife, which they claim refuses to change the location of all-gender housing despite health concerns involving chest-binding individuals and lack of air conditioning. They also mentioned that all-gender housing does not receive advertisement, especially to first years. Meadows then recounted instances of complacency by the board in several issues across campus. Specifically, they expressed concerns about accessibility for  BIPOC students on campus. “My co-leader, Malachi Mungoshi ’24, is absent in protest of the lack of representation in these meetings,” said Meadows. “They told me they didn’t want to be the only black student here.” Last semester’s meeting, in the wake of the Black Manifesto, confirmed a sentiment held by many students, the student development meeting is an uninviting space for Black students. Courage Kusena ’23 expressed her frustrations with this at the Scot Council meeting on Monday, adding that the board must regain the trust of students of color on  campus before expecting engagement at meetings.

Student speakers who did not complete the speaking form were invited to speak at the meeting, as audience members urged Todd to allow students to ask their questions. With this student’s remarks came the end of the meeting, which was signaled by Giselle Rivera’s last remarks. “Just because there aren’t any BIPOC students here doesn’t mean they don’t want to participate, but rather that they don’t trust that they’ll be heard.”

Dining and Custodial Staff Denounce College’s Decision to Outsource

Samuel Boudreau

News Editor

Bijeta Lamichhane

News Editor

 

 

Sources express concern over benefits and sick time. 

As the College of Wooster moves closer to selecting a partner to outsource the College’s custodial and dining services, custodial and dining staff members and students speak out about the College’s decision to outsource these services. 

“We are saddened to see the College enabling this through outsourcing us to [a] big corporation,” said a Campus Dining and Conference Services staff member. Due to outsourcing jobs, the dining staff member expressed concerns regarding their benefits and sick time. “I have accumulated nearly 1,000 hours in sick time, not calling off work in years. Some people have over 1,200 [hours]” they said. The dining staff member also claimed that the College can afford to pay out their sick time “but choose not to,” stating, “they have left us up in the air on this subject, perhaps to deter people from calling off who believe they can ‘use it or lose it.” The staff member also said that members of the dining staff think outsourcing their services will make things worse. “The administration has stated that they are outsourcing to alleviate our suffering,” they said. “We feel as though they have increased the hardship.” 

While President Sarah Bolton said in an email on Jan. 5 that the College will provide staff members with a wage level that “at least” matches their current wage and “good benefits,” the dining staff member said they are skeptical of these promises. “We all hope that will be true,” they said, “but the distrust is very high.” Bolton told the Voice in January that the College was asking their staff members to do the “impossible” throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The dining staff member said that dining’s independent operation called for perseverance among staff members. “We have put in the time working 20-40 hours overtime per week to make feeding students possible.” The dining staff member also said they do not believe the outsourcing corporation can “magically” hire enough staff members. “With companies nationwide struggling still to fill job vacancies,” they said, “we do not believe that a new company will magically be able to hire all the people needed.”

A custodial services staff member shared similar concerns. “This situation is downright ruthless!” they said. “We have had a total of four people turned in resignations last week and today, and the rest of us except for two are frantically searching for new jobs,” claimed the custodial staff member.  The custodial staff member also emphasized the potential absence of sick time with an outsourcing partner. “They are taking away all our sick time,” said the custodial staff member. “We earned it.” Regarding the Voice’s coverage of custodial services last spring, the custodial member claimed  “nothing has changed, still the same and the workload [sic] has doubled.” The custodial member cited the College’s hiring of ABM as a step towards outsourcing. “Due to the furlough of our workers and then bringing them back to the second shift, which disrupted their lives, we lost half of our crew,” said another custodial services staff member. “No one is going to want to go into those residential halls with ginormous [sic] cockroaches and put up with that with no benefits.” 

A former member of Campus Dining and Conference Services also reprimanded the College for their lack of transparency and that “there are folks that have worked for the College for two, three and even four decades in the Dining Services Department,” they said. “These dedicated people are being outsourced. People who will probably not speak to [the Voice] out of loyalty and respect but, also, because of fear that the company they are being outsourced to may choose to let them go after six months for being too much trouble.”

The former staff member commended the dining staff’s resilience throughout the pandemic, and raised concerns regarding how their benefits will be impacted when a new company takes over. “​​While the pandemic has created trying times for most retail and custodial service departments, there are Dining Services folks that continue to show up and work past their shift for the students and staff,” they said. “Many of these employees rely on the College’s abundant benefits for themselves and their families. Now they are going to have to fight against a new insurance company who may or may not choose to cover a preexisting condition, or who may or may not match their retirement contributions. Then, they may have to battle the hardest challenge of all: ageism in the hiring process.” 

The Living Wage Campaign (LWC) recently reached out to President Bolton about the “abrupt and unexpected decision to outsource our community’s Dining and Custodial Services.” LWC asked Bolton to address the College’s plans to receive student and staff’s feedback, interrogated the wages for dining workers, and also raised questions regarding the process to outsource custodial services. When asked how the College plans to ensure that students and staff can attend the meeting with the finalists for dining services if they present during work hours, Bolton replied, “we will record the presentations and provide them for people to view at their convenience if they can’t make it.” She added that “during the designated time for dining staff to meet with those presenting, we will close dining so that all dining staff can easily attend.”

Bolton also explained how students and staff can be a part of the decision-making process. “There will be a survey shared for feedback,” she said. “The survey won’t just be ‘which company do you prefer?’ It will ask a variety of questions to get input from students, staff and faculty. Those results will be useful to the selection committee not just in choosing the company to go with, but also in further honing what we ask of the company that is selected.”

She then made reassurances regarding wages for workers. “All of the companies work very actively with student workers on their campuses, and all pay at least what we currently pay student workers,” she stated. “Some of the companies have roles for students (for example as sustainable food interns) that go beyond what we have offered in the past.”

Finally, Bolton clarified where the College stands in terms of the process to outsource custodial services. “The custodial process is a little bit behind the dining process,” she said. “We expect to have more details for campus about that process within a few weeks. The same commitments hold for both custodial and dining staff: everyone who wishes to have a job with the new company, everyone will have at least the wage they made here, if not more, everyone will have good health insurance and retirement, everyone will continue to have access to the College’s tuition benefits.”

“We are grateful for all the years The College of Wooster has allowed us to work for them and made providing for our families possible,” the staff member said, “but we do not understand the betrayal now.” 

“We are all tired, exhausted, overworked,” said a custodial member. “We are tired of the lies, mistreatment, and most of all we are tired of being silenced.”

“Great Decisions of Wayne County” Lecture Series Returns to C.O.W.

Samuel Boudreau

News Editor

 

After a year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Great Decisions of Wayne County lecture series returns to The College of Wooster. The lecture series’ theme this year is “Global Sustainable Development.”  

Executive Director of the lecture series and professor of sociology and anthropology, Tom Tierney, hopes students take away “an appreciation of new possibilities about sustainable development,” he said, “hopefully learning something they have not thought about.”  

“Even students who are committed to environmental sustainability will come away with new knowledge and new insights,” added Tierney. Lucas Stengl ’22, Alice Markey ’23, Emmy Todd ’22, Carrie Buckwalter ’24 and Megan Tuennerman ’22 helped develop this year’s discussion topic. Vijay Vaitheswarm, Colin Mangham and Kyle Dreyfuss will serve as the speakers for this year’s lecture series.

According to a press release from Tierney, “Vaitheeswaran is Global Energy & Climate Innovation Editor of The Economist, and an award-winning author who has written several books on energy, including ‘Need, Speed and Greed: How the New Rules of Innovation Can Transform Businesses, Propel Nations to Greatness, and Tame the World’s Most Wicked Problems’ (2012) and ‘Power to the People: How the Coming Energy Revolution will Transform an Industry, Change Our lives, and Maybe Even Save the Planet’ (2015). Vaitheeswaran is a Life Member of the U.S. Council on Foreign Relations, and a sustainability and innovation advisor to the World Economic Forum at Davos. He’s been published in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Foreign Policy and The Financial Times, and has appeared in numerous media outlets such as CNBC, Bloomberg, MSNBC, BBC and NPR. He has addressed groups ranging from the U.S. National Governors Association and the United Nations General Assembly to TED and Aspen Ideas conference.”

“Mangham is a leading international expert on biomimicry, which is a design discipline that seeks sustainable solutions to man-made problems by emulating natural patterns in the development of engineering, architecture and design strategies. He is the Founder of Biomimicry LA, Director of Net Zero Accelerator, and Co-founder of Morpho Energy. He formerly served as Chief Marketing Officer of the Biomimicry Institute and Biomimicry 3.8, the world’s leading biological intelligence consultancy agency. Over the course of his career he has used his expertise in biomimicry to help dozens of global brands and hundreds of entrepreneurs to succeed in an environmentally sustainable manner. He has also been a Visiting Faculty Member at Reutlingen University (Germany), a TEDx speaker, and has been featured on CNN International’s ‘Going Green’ series.” 

“Kyle Dreyfuss-Wells is Chief Executive Officer of the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District.  As CEO, Ms. Dreyfuss-Wells oversees one of the largest clean-water agencies in Ohio, which provides sanitary and stormwater management services to Cleveland and 61 suburban communities in Northeast Ohio. She also manages a multi-billion-dollar 25-year Project Clean Lake program, and a regional wet-weather strategy for the health of Lake Erie. Before becoming CEO, she coordinated the District’s watershed management, including the Regional Stormwater Management Program and the District’s Green Infrastructure Policy. She is past chair of the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) Stormwater Management Committee and the One Water Council of the US Water Alliance. She serves on the NACWA Board and chairs the District One Natural Resources Assistance Council for the Ohio Public Works Commission’s Clean Ohio Conservation Program.” 

Vaitheeswaran will speak on Wednesday, March 2, 7:30 p.m. Mangham will speak on Tuesday, March 8, 7:30 p.m. and Dreyfus-Wells will speak on Thursday, March 31, 7:30 p.m. All lectures will take place in Gault Recital Hall in Scheide Music Center. 

Wooster Professor’s Research Featured in New York Times

Caroline Ward

Staff Writer

Samuel Boudreau

News Editor

 

Susan Clayton’s research on climate anxiety inspires students to reflect on climate change’s impact on their lives.

Throughout his life, the natural world consumed the dreams of Nate Netter ’25. “For me, I have really found a love in nature, the outdoors and natural parks,” said Netter. One dream, however, outweighed the rest of them: to climb Mount Everest. However, when Netter thinks of these dreams now, climate change anxiety confronts him. “I get nervous,” Netter said, “because I don’t know if I can do that climb, or do that hike, or go to that part of the world. I get angry because we have been told from a very young age that if you turn off the light, or if you recycle or if you do all this stuff that climate change is not going to happen.”   

Netter’s fears regarding the environment are the center of Susan Clayton’s research as Whitmore-Williams professor of psychology at Wooster. “I began to realize that how people thought about environmental issues was really a psychological issue,” says Clayton. 

On Feb. 6, 2022, The New York Times featured Clayton’s research in a front page article titled “Climate Change Enters the Therapy Room.” The Times’ article centered on a profile of Thomas J. Doherty, a Portland psychologist.

In 2011, Doherty and Clayton published a paper introducing a new psychological phenomenon: “eco-anxiety.” They posited that the damage of the climate crisis was not just physical—it was also emotional. The research study included 10,000 young adults, ages 16-25, spanning 10 countries of varying sizes, geographies and ecological conditions. Clayton said they asked questions like: “What do you expect for the future?” “Do you think humanity is doomed?” “Do you think the future is frightening?” and yes/no statements like “The things I value will be destroyed.”

Clayton says the results were striking: “The majority of people were very or extremely worried about climate change and more than half of the respondents said they felt sad, anxious, angry, powerless or helpless. Less than half of anyone said they were optimistic. Very few people said they were indifferent.” 

From these results, the term “eco-anxiety” was coined. The term, now categorized by the American Psychology Association as a psychological disorder, is defined as “a chronic fear of environmental doom.” 

Clayton’s definition differs slightly. “It’s not a mental illness, and it shouldn’t be defined as one,” she said, citing that anxiety is a normal reaction to problems such as climate change. Clayton defines climate anxiety “as a negative emotional response including things like anxiety, worry and distress associated with awareness of climate change…it can be triggered by different things and it can be expressed in different ways for different people.”

At The College of Wooster, Clayton and Doherty’s findings appear representative of the campus community’s emotional responses to the climate crisis.

When asked how climate anxiety impacts her life, Kira Brehob ’25 said that climate change “shapes [her] concerns for the future.” Brehob continued, “because I wonder what the Earth is going to be like in 10 to 20 years, or even longer. I am sure it is going to be very different, and it is scary to try and plan out a future in a world that we do not know.” 

Some students, however, said that climate anxiety did not impact their view of the future. When asked if climate change is something he thinks about often, Boris Moscardell ’25 said no. “I want to live my best life, and anxiety is part of the journey. Even if it comes from the ecosystem around us, it is still part of who we are.” 

For most students, however, it’s something they think about, even just in passing thought. Kennedy Beursken ’25 thinks of climate anxiety often. “Maybe once a month, maybe once a week,” Beursken said, “depending on if it gets brought up and stuff like that.”  When she starts thinking about climate change, Beursken grows anxious about the future. “You think about it and it’s a slippery slope,” said Beurksen. “What will my children see, what will my grandchildren see and will they be able to survive?” 

Regardless of when or how the emotion is triggered, Blystone, Beursken and Livie Glazier ’24 agree that the reaction is often the same. “I usually cry,” says Glazier. “For me, it’s usually two weeks of being really anxious about it, and then I’ll be like, time to meditate or something.” Beursken says that being proactive, even on an individual level, can help alleviate some of her anxiety. “When I get into the spiral, I start to be more aware of what I am spending money on and definitely work on reducing my plastic waste. I recycle and I’m very eco-friendly.” 

Ben Falk ’24 agrees: “I think that activism is very helpful. It might be all for naught, but you’re doing something, you know that whatever the end result, you know that you’re fighting against it.” Falk finds that  joining a group that understands the anxiety is invaluable. “In joining a group, there’s still a lot of anxiety, still a lot of ‘this is terrifying, I don’t know what to do, I don’t have a clear idea of what we can do to win this’, but I don’t feel hopeless,” says Falk. “I don’t feel despair, because I believe in a theory and in a political project that can, I hope, save us. I don’t give into despair when I know that I’m doing something, and that was really valuable for me.”

Sophia Gieger, an intersectional climate activist who helps organize with climate groups in Washington D.C., speaks to the importance of community. “I find relief and community within the climate activism community because that’s the place where people actually know and speak the truth. [A]s a young person, we are facing the impacts of the climate crisis in a way that older generations never had to and never will,” Gieger said, “and it is being brought upon us by the older generations.”  

Students were also quick to note our generation’s unique relationship to the climate crisis. “Everything is going to be affected by [climate change],” says Brimmer Morrison ’22. “I’m personally thinking about moving to New York, and that’s going to be flooding in the next few years. Other places I’d probably live are also experiencing issues like flooding, and that’s only the beginning of it.” 

The outlook seems pessimistic. “I think there’s hope for anything,” says Beursken. “But if everything does not change, especially within the next 10 years, then I do not believe there is hope anymore.” Blystone agrees: “Unless something big changes, I think it’d have to be an entire cultural shift in our priorities and our pre-set ideas.” 

“I definitely still have hope, but it’s really terrifying, because pretty much no actual, legitimate power is doing anything to combat it,” Morrison adds. “The technology is there, the capital is there, so to say it’s absolutely impossible is untrue, but I think there would have to be a huge structural change if we did choose to actually save the world.”

Clayton remains optimistic for the future, but acknowledges that a secure future hinges on action. “I’m optimistic that we’re taking it more seriously and that we will start to do things about it, but the state of mental health will partly depend on this: do we get the sense that it’s a problem people are beginning to address, or do we stay in a position where people try to deny that it’s even an issue? My hope is that [by defining eco-anxiety], it makes it seem more real to people, more personal,” said Clayton. “People might not necessarily change their lives to save the polar bears, but they might change their lives to save their children.”