Category Archives: Front Page

Soup and Bread’s popularity rebounds

Ben Taylor

Viewpoints Editor

Soup and Bread has more than doubled its average weekly attendance since last year, increasing from between 60 and 70 students a week to between 120 and 150, and is looking to grow further still.

“We’re hoping to keep bumping up our average,” said Soup and Bread Coordinator Hannah Redding ’15. “We’re really hoping to get our numbers up high enough, so that potentially we could have a Soup and Bread dinner and lunch every week and raise more money that way.”

Soup and Bread, a program that has existed in various forms for more than 20 years, allows students to use a portion of their meal swipes to contribute to organizations that work to feed the hungry. Each swipe at Soup and Bread is worth five dollars, and roughly half the money goes to charity. At the end of the year, the interns vote to choose one local, one national and one international group between which they will divide the proceeds.

Although Dining Services staff in Lowry prepares the food for Soup and Bread, student volunteers keep the soup stocked and clean up afterwards. Volunteers are recruited through tabling at Scot Spirit Day and contacting student organizations, especially Greek groups looking to fulfill their service requirement.

“Dining Services and our student volunteers make it very easy and fun for members of our campus community to give a little bit back to those who struggle to simply eat well,” said Linda Morgan-Clement, the Henry Copeland Chaplain and Director of Interfaith Campus Ministry, who also oversees the Soup and Bread program. “For students who eat very well and exercise incredible dining choices, we hope that Soup and Bread can be a choice that they make to make our community a better place, as they eat simply once a week — so that others may simply eat.”

Part of Soup and Bread’s recent growth is due to its decision to hire a third intern to help with administrative tasks. Redding’s fellow interns are Alyssa Gilbert ’15 and Kate Redding ’16, Hannah’s sister.

“I think the reason [for the increase in popularity] is this year we decided to hire an extra intern, so that way we’d have more people staffed to do advertising and things like that,” said Hannah Redding. “It’s so much work to run Soup and Bread and coordinate all the volunteers and do advertising for it and come up with themes and things like that. Now having one extra intern makes the work so much more manageable.”

Soup and Bread has also been in the process of increasing its advertising outreach. One recent change includes the addition of t-shirt giveaways, and a number of other strides are being made to attract more students.

“Now we make sure to put Facebook ads up, Pot ads [and] WHN ads every week,” said Redding. “We’re going to this week be making posters. We’re doing the t-shirt giveaways. We’re trying to come up with themes for certain weeks … I think the advertising has been helping a lot.”

The aim is to increase interest to the degree where it would be possible to have more than one meal per week. To do so, Soup and Bread would need to have about 200 attendees on a consistent basis.

“It’s just such a cool program that’s so original to Wooster that it would be really cool if we couldn’t make it more well known and just more popular,” said Redding. “I just think it’s a lot nicer to be able to give a bigger donation away at the end of the year.”

If attendance keeps rising at the current rate, this is a feasible goal.

“We will still not be at the point where we were 10 years ago — where there were two meals a week and we raised over $12,000 each year for hunger causes,” said Morgan-Clement. “But for the current context, I believe that we are moving forward and making an impact.”

Chaos in Armington

Intoxicated visitor sets off extinguisher in hallway at 3 a.m., triggering fire alarm

Wyatt Smith

News Editor

Around 3 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 7, an intoxicated young man set off a fire extinguisher in the second and third floors of Armington Hall, activating the fire alarm and coating the floor and walls with powdery extinguishing agent. Students were only allowed back into the 82-bedroom dorm after the Wooster Fire Department and Security and Protective Services  (SPS) cleared the building room-by-room.

Although the fire department found no evidence of fire, there are reports that several posters were burnt.

The alleged perpetrator was not a student, but rather brought on campus by a former student. Following the alarm, security issued a no-trespass order against the suspect and plans on filing a police report, according to Director of SPS Steve Glick.

According to multiple students, the suspect and former student were on campus to celebrate the 21st birthday of an Armington resident.

“The non-student was separated from the former student in Armington and decided to tear posters off of the wall and generally cause mayhem,” said Glick.

Prior to using the fire extinguisher, the suspect pounded on and tore posters off the door of Kyrstin Gibson ’14, for reasons unknown.

“I really thought someone was coming after me,” said Gibson.

When the fire alarm sounded at 2:45 a.m., students left their rooms to encounter a thick, smoke-like haze caused by the extinguishing agent.

“It was really scary because when I opened the door, I thought it was smoke,” said Molly McCartt ’14. “It was much different than a normal, routine fire alarm.”

The Armington residents camped out in Stevenson Hall and Andrews Hall while SPS and the fire department went through Armington, opening doors and windows to ventilate the building. According to the fire department’s incident report, several students were found to still be in their rooms.

At 3:08 a.m., the fire department finished their sweep and allowed students to reenter the building.

For the next two hours, custodians vacuumed the hallways to get rid of the extinguishing agent, then returned later in the morning to finish the job.

“It sounds like another case of drunk people doing stupid things,” said McCartt. “There were a lot of times in my four years here where there’s just been ridiculous incidents, like pieces of vandalism and things like that. … People I don’t think always understand the implications of small things and how it affects so many other people.”

“I really feel like they should be ashamed of themselves,” added Gibson, “because that was just pointless.”

Upcoming Campus Council elections will implement new system

Maddi O’Neill

News Editor

Campus Council will hold its first election under a new system of representation from Feb. 18 to Feb. 20. Instead of being chosen by student organization, Campus Council seats will be allocated by issues including international diversity, racial diversity, gender and sexuality diversity, service and civic engagement and selective organizations. In addition to each of these five issue seats, four at-large seats are also being contested in the upcoming election.

The issue seats system is replacing a previous system in which certain student organizations —  including the Black Student Association, Inter-Greek Council, the Student Government Association and others — were guaranteed a seat on Campus Council.

Jordan McNickle ’14, currently the Student Government Association representative on Campus Council, explained that the change was meant to “make the representation less based on including particular organizations, and instead be open to any student who felt they could effectively represent an issue of importance on campus.”

Current members expect that the new representation system will encourage more passionate individuals to run for seats. At-Large Representative Stephanie Megas ’14 said that “those elected to seats [under the new system] will be on council through their own initiative, unlike the consequence of former system of ex officio members.”

“Under the new system, it seems less likely that someone will be sent to Campus Council by their parent organization simply because the organization has a seat and they want someone representing them to be in the room,” McNickle added.

The new system has increased the competitiveness of Campus Council’s elections. As of Monday, Feb. 10, the due date for “intent to run” forms, there were twice as many candidates as there were seats to fill. According to Megas, all but one seat will be contested in Tuesday’s election.

The new system does not seem to have discouraged members of the original parent organizations from running for seats. “There are a fair amount of candidates running from the existing/previous groups represented on campus,” said Megas. “However, there are several individuals who have shown interest and reached out to council members that do not represent the former organizations, but feel as if they represent an important niche on campus that would not be elected in an at-large popular vote.”

McNickle hopes that the change will have an effect on the dynamic of Campus Council. “We won’t necessarily be pulling from the same organizations every year for representatives, and individual students may have unique things to bring to the table for discussion that static organizations might not necessarily have on their mind,” he said.  “I think we are also hoping that this change will affect the atmosphere of campus council by putting the organization under a more critical lens from the students.”

With more student representatives coming from the general campus population, McNickle expects that the student body will take notice and pay more attention to Campus Council issues than in the past.

The ballot for at-large candidates will be available online on Feb. 19. The issue-based candidates can only be voted for in-person after they have presented a short speech in the Lowry Pit on Feb. 18 or 20.

Water damage to Shack to cause delays in the College’s ownership

Ben Taylor

Viewpoints Editor

The recent spell of cold weather has caused the water pipes at the building that formerly housed the Shack to burst, resulting in a substantial deal of damage to the property and potentially affecting efforts by the college to acquire it.

“I haven’t seen the damage first hand,” said Dean of Students Kurt Holmes, who is one of the people closest to the situation, “but my understanding is that it was a significant amount of water.”

As the Voice reported in December of last year, the College is in the midst of attempting to purchase the property, a process that is still ongoing due to some confusion regarding the legal status of the building.

“The Shack is not yet owned by the College but we do have a pending purchase agreement, which is an agreement to move that direction,” said Holmes. “At a minimum I suspect this will delay our ability to take possession of the facility and thus delay our initial uses.”

While it may delay the process, the occurrence of the water damage will not keep the College from purchasing the property, though the building itself may now be unusable. Evaluations as to the usability of the land have yet to occur.

“This damage is obviously a serious issue, but it doesn’t change the value of the land, and, if the damage can be successfully remediated, the usefulness of the building as well,” said Holmes.

“I don’t think we even know yet what it will take for a professional to remediate the problems, or even if that is possible. That investigation is underway by the current owners.”

As of the Voice’s last report on the Shack in December, the College was not planning to demolish the building.

A number of potential uses for the space have been discussed, but without knowledge of whether it can be remediated, it is unclear how many of these options are still viable moving forward.

College considers options for new science building

Debt financing on the table for the massive project

Maddi O’Neill

News Editor

The forthcoming construction of a new science facility will cost an estimated $40 million, and will be the largest project the College has ever undertaken.

Due to the size of this expense, administrators are considering using some debt financing to pay for the development.

John Hopkins, associate vice president for college relations and marketing, said that the College has begun an “aggressive fund-raising effort,” which administrators hope will cover most, if not all, of the cost of the science facility.

Hopkins added, however, that “this is by far the largest capital project the College has ever undertaken, and it’s possible that we will need to consider supplementing the fund-raising with some debt financing.”

Typically, the College has tried to avoid debt financing as a means of funding projects.

Hopkins said, “That has generally been the case, but over the past decade or so the college has also used modest amounts of debt when necessary to accomplish our goals.”

“Our approach is very conservative, but there are instances where a prudent amount debt financing makes good financial sense,” he said.

The College’s conservative approach to financing in the past has led to what Professor John Rudisill describes as “a bond rating that is as good as it gets.”  Rudisill, sharing his perspective as a professor, explained that this means that the College has access to debt financing at very low interest rates.

“Not advancing and building things to maintain our status as a premier institution seems to be unwise given that [we] could do it at a faster clip with low interest,” said Rudisill. “Most of the administration recognizes that that makes fiscal sense.”

With regard to the College’s annual budget, Hopkins said that students should not feel any major changes as a result of the project. The possibility of debt financing is not expected to make a significant dent.

Referring specifically to the expected maintenance costs of the science facility, Associate Vice President for Facilities and Auxiliaries Jackie Middleton said that the College “will accommodate that additional expense in our financial planning.”

Although specifics are still undecided, Middleton explained that the College will request proposals from a number of architectural firms which are interested in constructing the science facility.

“We anticipate beginning the design process in January 2015, and hope to break ground 18 months later, in June 2016,” she said.

“Construction will likely take another 18 months, so the soonest the new facility would be ready to come online would be sometime in 2018.”

Administrators do not anticipate any interruptions to classes during the construction process.

Curriculum changes in the sciences are also expected to accompany this project. Provost Carolyn Newton explained that members of the College’s faculty have been planning ways to adapt science education for several years.

Their input will be taken into account in the planning of the new science facility. “Faculty are excited about building a curriculum for the future, a future that we know will be ever more interdisciplinary and collaborative,” Newton said.

Currently, Newton expects that the completed facility will house the biology, biochemistry, molecular biology, neuroscience and environmental studies departments.

Reusable to-go boxes coming soon

Greenhouse working with Dining Services to implement plan next semester

Wyatt Smith

News Editor

The student group Greenhouse is working with Wooster’s Dining Services to implement a reusable to-go box program next semester.

“The change has not yet been approved,” clarified Chuck Wagers, director of Campus Dining and Conference Services, “although the motivation for change is sensible. … There needs to be education and buy-in from the student population and administration before the decision is made to implement this new system.”

Under the new system, students will receive a token which can be exchanged for a plastic to-go box when entering dining halls. Specialized vending machines will trade a dirty to-go box for another token.

Unlike the current disposable boxes, the reusable containers will have multiple sections to keep food separate, although they will not come with a detached cup. The new boxes will likely be larger than the present ones.

If students lose their token or to-go box, they must pay a fee to receive a new token.

To make the plan financially viable, the reusable boxes would completely replace their disposable counterparts. If prices do not change, the program will pay for itself in three years.

“I think it’s a great thing,” said Caroline Kamen ’16, one of the students who first proposed the idea, “because it’s another step towards having a sustainable future and towards people consciously thinking about what they’ve used in the past and how it’s wasteful.”

The College currently goes through over 100,000 disposable boxes annually.

“Ideally, these containers would go to our compost facility once used,” said Wagers. “In reality, most to-go containers end up in a trash can instead of a compost container. Either way, our current to-go containers are disposable and create waste, both physical waste and financial waste.”

“I’m always looking to eliminate things that are building up in our waste stream,” said Sb Loder, the College’s sustainability coordinator. “We should just find ways around them.”

A relatively new phenomenon, reusable to-go boxes are already available at a handful of colleges, including Oberlin College, Washington & Jefferson College, Boston University and Williams College.

Wooster’s move toward reusable to-go containers started over a year ago, when Kamen and Lauren Swank ’16 researched the idea for Greenhouse, Wooster’s largest environmental student group. Working with Loder, the two students pitched their idea to Dining Services in the fall of 2012.

Due to peculiarities in Ohio’s health code, Kamen and Swank’s plan had to be approved by the state government, a process that took from early 2013 until last June.

In the fall of 2013, Loder, Greenhouse and Dining Services began working on the specifics, such as when to implement the switch as well as the number and location of the vending machines. This past fall also saw the addition of Annette Hilton ’17 to the cause, who replaced Swank after she transferred to a different school.

The plan’s designers hope to introduce the reusable containers at the beginning of the 2014-15 school year, both to ease the transition and to properly incorporate the start-up cost in Dining Service’s budget.

Kamen, Hilton and Loder are presently working to inform the campus about the switch. Greenhouse hopes to table in Lowry and hold public meetings to address student questions and concerns.