The Wooster Voice has announced its senior editorial staff for the 2020-21 academic year. Chloe Burdette ’21 and Samuel Casey ’21 have been named as next year’s editors in chief by Waverly Hart ’20 and Desi LaPoole ’20 who currently occupy the leadership positions, as well as Chief Copy Editor Eleanor Linafelt ’20. Burdette and Casey will lead the 14-person editorial staff, as well as a group of copy editors, writers and photographers.
Burdette and Casey will work closely alongside next year’s managing editors, Megan Tuennerman ’22 for the fall semester and Amber Rush ’22 for the spring semester. The first step for the senior editors will be conducting interviews and selecting next year’s editorial board.
All four students have served the Voice in numerous ways the past few years. Casey has served as news editor for three semesters, and is excited to work on the Voice as editor in chief.
“I am beyond honored to be chosen for one of the two editor in chief positions,” said Casey. “I remember my first year when I excitedly grabbed a copy of the Voice before heading to lunch every Friday; I would read it cover to cover, so this comes full circle for me. I was nervous to get involved at first, but I was persuaded by Maha Rashid ’19 and Mackenzie Clark ’19 and never looked back.”
Something Casey wants to focus on next year is connecting writers, editors and the general campus.
“We still want to hear feedback from everyone on the editorial staff, but one idea I have is building the relationship with writers and editors,” said Casey. It can be intimidating at first to start writing for a college newspaper, especially if you don’t have previous experience; so, I think it would be really cool to have a workshop at the beginning of the year to help new writers understand each section and AP style. I can’t wait to hear about any other ideas we could implement and to start interviews for our staff (read: family) next year.”
Burdette worked as sports editor her sophomore year, before stepping into the role of managing editor during the 2019-20 academic year. Burdette shared why she is passionate about the Voice and her leadership role.
“I am passionate about the Voice because journalism is something I want to focus on after Wooster,” Burdette stated. “The Voice might look like a small, student-run newspaper, but it is so much more than that. The relationships I have made with other students who are as passionate about journalism as I am is inspiring, and working together to put an issue out every week is extremely rewarding.”
Tuennerman, current arts & entertainment editor, shared what she thinks the Voice’s role is on campus.
“The Voice provides an important network of communication on campus and I feel pride in having an impact directly on that,” Tuennerman stated. “The students that I am lucky enough to be on staff with are some of the most dedicated and fun people I know.”
In addition to the Voice serving an important role on campus, Tuennerman genuinely enjoys spending time with Voice staff.
“It is always funny, I tell my friends that I am at the Voice office all night on Tuesdays and they say, ‘Oh man, I’m sorry,’ but I really look forward to Tuesday nights. We do work, we laugh and I have learned so much,” Tuennerman stated.
Rush, currently a viewpoints editor for the Voice, detailed her goals when she steps into the role of managing editor.
“As managing editor, I am excited to continue facilitating conversations between students, faculty and staff,” stated Rush. “I want everyone on campus to feel they have a place in the Voice.”
Tuennerman echoed this statement, saying, “As managing editor I want to work to expand who contributes pieces to the Voice. We have such a diverse campus, and I want to ensure that the Voice reflects that not only in the topics that we cover, but with who writes them as well.”
Burdette and Casey are excited to continue a student-run publication that has been around since 1883.
“I see how powerful the Voice is within the College community, and I am so eager to keep producing quality articles to keep students updated on College and city events,” Burdette stated. “In this new leadership role, I am hoping to carry on the hard work that Desi and Waverly have done this year. This is a team effort, and I hope that everyone on staff moving forward will put forth that effort.”
On Monday, Feb. 9, The Chronicle of Higher Education published a list of institutions that produced the highest number of Fulbright scholars and students in the academic year 2019-20. The College of Wooster was one of the institutions that were included on the list, and it was recognized for producing four Fulbright award recipients last academic year.
The students who received the awards were Emani Kelley ’19, Burke Poeting ’19, Joe Besl ’09 and Erin Tupman ’19. Kelley and Poeting were awarded English Teaching Assistantships in Spain and Germany respectively, where their responsibilities include pre- paring and leading classroom activities in English. Likewise, Besl and Tupman have received Study/ Research Awards and are now conducting research in Canada and Russia respectively. Besl is currently pursuing research on water issues and climate change, while Tupman is continuing her research on Russian literature. The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is an exchange program that allows students, as well as professionals, to undertake advanced research, university teach- ing, international graduate study and primary and secondary school teaching throughout the world. According to The Fulbright U.S. Student Program website, this program “currently awards approximately 2,000 grants annually in all fields of study and operates in more than 140 countries worldwide.
While the process of applying for the award is competitive, the College has a committee dedicated to helping applicants, which is led by Professor of sociology and anthropology David McConnell and Associate Professor of biology Laura Sirot.
The Voice reached out to one of the award recipients, Kelley, who described the process of her application and explained her plans for the future.
Kelley mentioned that she immediately reached out to McCo- nnell after deciding to apply for the Award, and that he helped her throughout the process. “I had decided within the first month of the school year that I wanted to apply for a Fulbright in Spain, so I immediately reached out to David McConnell and asked for his advice in terms of where to even begin with my application. He was extremely helpful in guid- ing me and providing me with the right questions that helped me nar- row my focus and what I was looking for out of a potential Fulbright experience,” Kelley said.
She also mentioned that she received help outside of the committee as well. “I received a lot of guidance from my professors, coworkers in the Writing Center and even past Fulbright alum from Wooster,” she stated. “The College does a great job of providing applicants with the tools and resources needed to be able to apply for whatever type of program Fulbright offers, which is typically as an English Teaching Assistant or Researcher. They are present and available throughout the personal statement and grant writing phases. The amount of times that I both sent my drafts to the board and made Writing Center appointments to go over my statements was too many to count! It was extremely helpful to have extra sets of eyes read it over, watch its evolution and offer valuable suggestions that ultimately helped me turn it into an award-winning element of my application. It also helped me feel more confident in my application to be able to go through that interview process with Wooster’s Fulbright Board and have them ask me questions in person and provide for that opportunity to really polish the application in its entirety before officially sending it to the U.S. Fulbright Board.”
Kelley also highlighted some of the academic experiences at the College that helped shape her professionally. She said, “As a psychology major, much of what I learned and many of the experiences and interactions I had with my professors and advisors have helped me in learning about what I do and don’t want professionally. After having successfully gone through I.S. and writing an Honors thesis using the resources that Wooster provided to help me along the way, I have gained the tools necessary to teach about writing a thesis, work with students from various academic disciplines on all types of writing and actually feel comfortable doing so.”
While Kelley is currently enjoying her experience as a Fulbright Scholar in Spain, she has also started looking into her plans after the nine-month program comes to an end. “I am currently working as an English Teaching Assistant and Writing Center tutor at a university in Madrid, Spain and loving it,” she remarked. “This year I even co-authored a Writing Manual that will be published by the university. After this Fulbright year, I will be applying to graduate school (probably for a Master’s in philosophy).”
She also stated that she has several resources at Wooster who will be able to support and guide her when that time comes.
While Kelley does not plan to continue formal teaching after the program ends, she mentioned that she will still be pursuing a career that is tied to education. “I do not think that formal teaching is something that I have a particular passion for, but education is. I know that whatever route I do end up taking professionally, there will be an educational component and both Wooster and my Fulbright experience will have prepared me for that in many ways,” she concluded.
On Wednesday, Feb. 5, President Sarah Bolton sent an email to the Wooster community regarding recent concerns about the coronavirus and questions raised by students, faculty and staff. According to the New York Times, the coronavirus is a “novelty respiratory virus that originated in Wuhan, China [that] has spread quickly throughout the country and to two dozen other nations, leaving many experts to fear a pandemic may be on the way.” Most of those infected have been in mainland China, but both the World Heath Organization and United States have declared public health emergencies. As of Feb. 18, around 72,500 people have been infected with almost 2,000 fatalities.
In her email, Bolton shared information about the precautions the College is taking.
“Our Wellness Center staff, and emergency planning teams are fol- lowing all advice of the national Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the Ohio Department ofHealth,”she stated.“We received updates daily from the local and state health departments.”
Regarding precautions that should be taken, the College has been advised to “follow normal health protocols,” which includes washing hands often, coughing or sneezing into sleeves and making the Wellness Center aware of the situation. The College does not recommend wearing a mask.
Bolton also explained how it is important to be aware of how the virus affects people differently in the campus community.
“Although there is no coronavirus in our area at this time, many in our community are deeply affected by the outbreak, as they are worried about friends or family at home, or unable to see loved ones due to travel restric- tions,” she said. “It is also the case that many Asian and Asian-American people are experiencing heightened xenophobia, bias or discrimination.”
According to Ivonne García, chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer (CDEIO), “International Student Services (ISS) has been very proactive in reaching out to our Chinese students
…All Center for Diversity and Inclusion(CDI)directors and staff stand united in the effort to support all students, especially those who feel targeted during this time.”
Jill Munro, director of ISS, explained that the College has responded in several ways in addition to Bolton’s email. This includes sending an email to international students to offer support, the Chinese Department hosting a Lantern Festival, informing faculty about the stress, stigma and micro aggressions that Asian and Asian-American students are facing, and Bolton hosting an open house for Chinese faculty, staff and students.
Regarding travel restrictions for students for spring break, Munro said that only students flying to China would be affected.
“Currently, Chinese students who live in China are not able to travel home due to flight restrictions into the country,” she stated, “and if they are able to get a flight, they might be able to get in, but not be able to get out or return to the U.S.”
Munro also shared at the February faculty meeting that an Asian student had overheard racist comments from other students, but no bias reports have been filed.
In light of this incident, García spoke about how the campus can be adequately respectful during times like this.
“My advice is that we all join in efforts to be actively anti-racist, and to be more self-aware of or own positionality and privilege so that we can avoid engaging in racist and xenophobic actions or comments that cause harm to our fellow community members,” she informed. “The College of Wooster has a unique history of inclusion in its very founding, and I want to encourage every member of this community to actively engage with that historic commitment to the cause of equity and inclusion.”
Yuxuan (Katie) Ke ’20, a student from China, offered advice on how to act given the situation.
“Coronavirus is like any other epidemic in the world. It is not a race- specific disease, and it is a serious trauma for everyone being affected by the outbreak, regardless of their origins,” Ke stated. “I think the best way to support the Chinese community at Wooster is simply to recognize that we are all members of this community.
And let your friends know if you are thinking of them too, though not everyone is comfortable sharing personal stories. If you notice your friend is expressing emotional fluctuation, please try to understand their situation and be there for them when they need you.”
García noted that CDEIO Program Coordinator Kayla Campbell will host office hours in the evening once a week to help others understand the resources available.
Bolton’s email provided additional resources for students, including contact for the Wellness Center, Munro, MacKenzie Bowen, assistant director of ISS and Carol Knoble, international student coordinator. Anyone who has experienced or witnessed an act of discrimination should file an online report available on the College’s web- site. Anyone with interest in traveling to China or any country affected by the coronavirus should contact Candace Chenoweth, director of global engagement or Jamie Adler, assistant director of global engagement.
“Wooster is a global community,” Bolton stated, “and we will support one another in the face of this challenge, which is rapidly evolving and may take significant time to resolve. We will keep [the College community] informed of any changes to health advice or other developments.”
On Feb. 5, members of the joint Student Government Association (SGA) and Campus Council (CC) Oversight Committee held a discussion to talk to the student body about the planned merging of the two governing bodies at the College. An email sent by SGA emphasized the purpose of the meeting, stating, “At this panel, we will be giving a more in-depth overview of the recommendations we will be making to restructure how student government works at the College and will be available for student input or feedback.”
Members of SGA and CC, as well as other students, were present at the discussion, which was led by Emilee McCubbins ’20, Matt Mayes ’20, Isaac Weiss ’20, Emmy Todd ’22 and Samuel Casey ’21.
In the beginning of the discussion, Mayes clarified the reason behind the proposal to create a new body. “The fact that SGA is supposed to be in charge of advocacy and [CC] isn’t, but CC is the one that is able to pass policies does not make sense and it leads to a lot of confusion and inefficiencies between the two,” Mayes said. “Once we have one body whose goal is to advocate for students and actually has the power to pass [policies], I think we’ll see lot more positive changes on this campus.”
After presenting the rationale behind creating a singular governing body on campus, the panelists opened the discussion for questions and comments from the audience.
The first student to raise concerns was the Chair of CC Halen Gifford ’21, who highlighted the potential removal of the civic and service engagement representative, a position that Gifford herself holds. She explained that students express numerous concerns regarding town relations, and that the position looks after improving such relationships by working with the community. “Considering the fact that part of the President’s Strategic Plan on campus is to [improve] community engagement and experiential learning, how does it make sense to remove that individual from the policy-making body?,” she asked. To address Gifford’s concern, Mayes replied, “Most people seem to conceptualize the Constituency [representative] more as a tool in which traditionally under-represented views on campus are highlighted and have additional power. When we compare the needs of — for example, queer students on campus — to something nebulous like Civic and Service Engagement, we couldn’t quite justify that representative having the same representation as other groups. Concerns like town relations on campus, I think that can be done without having a representative from a group that is so wide- spread and dispersed.”
While the members of the Oversight Committee seemed positive about creating a singular governing body, students expressed various concerns about dissolving the present bodies.
One student asked about the new body’s mission statement, to which Weiss replied that it had not been finalized yet, but that the members had a general idea of what it is going to be. “We are working on drafting [a mission statement], but the general idea of this body — as we’re working on the mission statement — is to help advocate for the student body and to help legislate affairs on the behalf of students,” Weiss said.
The most common concern echoed among the audience was that the process of creating a new governing body seemed rushed. At-large Senator of SGA Doug Morris ’22 said, “A lot of the stu- dents have come up to me talking about how they feel like this whole process is rushed, and I’m just wondering why we are pushing to get this done by the end of the academic year and not waiting for at least one more semester.”
Mayes answered that they had received a “green light” from the administration to create a new body. “About talking to students, some students were afraid that if we delayed it further, we would basically be dealing with two student organizations that do not have any powers, waiting for a new government to take over,” he reasoned. “Right now, it seems like it might be a better idea to start the new body. If we need to bring any changes, all of that could be done within the new body.”
However, members of the audience were not persuaded by the response. Several more students echoed similar concerns about the pace of establishing a single government body, and the discussion — which had al- ready gone over its scheduled time — was moved from the Pit to Lowry 119. Although the en- tire audience was invited to that meeting, only two students who were not members of SGA or CC attended.
“I don’t think this was the reaction I was expecting necessarily,” Mayes commented after they moved to the new location. He also noted that he wanted to hear from more students since the same students were express- ing concerns repeatedly. “Is that what everyone is thinking?” he asked. “We’re not trying to de- bate; we’re trying to see how students actually feel about it.”
While student representatives said the process felt rushed, most also agreed that creating a new government body was ultimately a good decision.
Marco Roccato ’20, an at- large senator for SGA, supported the proposal to create a new government body. He urged the audience to think of the merging as creation of a completely new body, instead of thinking of the creation as a “mix-and match.” He emphasized, “We have the chance to set up a stu- dent government that is [not only] the most efficient, but also the most representatives.
Grace O’Leary ’20 also shared Roccato’s sentiment. “I’m all for merging,” she said. “But I really think that we need to come in with a very clear constitution and guidelines.”
Despite her concerns, Gifford also agreed that merging will be a good decision for the future. However, she mentioned that she would not be voting yes until there are concrete policies and minute details “fleshed out.”
After analyzing the feedback, members of the Oversight Committee noted that they would take the feedback and continue to make changes.
On Monday, Feb. 3, the faculty voted to change their policy on accepting transfer credits and International Baccalaureate (IB) exam scores, as well as changing the final exam schedule.
These changes were brought to the faculty by the Educational Policy Committee (EPC), which reviewed the changes and made a legislative decision on them. The changes the faculty ratified include accepting transfer credits from outside institutions, including credits from online classes, dual-enrollment programs and College Credit Plus. In addition to accepting these credits, the College will now accept IB scores on exams scored five through seven.
According to Dean for Curriculum and Academic Engagement Bryan Karazsia, who serves as the co-chair of the EPC along with Professor of biology Bill Morgan, these changes are effective immediately. Karazsia believes the acceptance of credits from dual-enrollment programs will attract and retain Wooster students.
“I suspect the change that will be most relevant to [incoming students] is the dual-enrollment policy,” Karazsia stated. “I know in the past that many prospective students lost interest in the College because their dual-enrollment coursework was not recognized via transfer credit at the College. For current students, it is [in] effect for them, too.” Karazsia also urged any students who think they might have credits that could apply to their “academic progress” to visit the Registrar’s office.
Both Karazsia and Basliel Ababayehu ’22, a student representative on EPC, said the decision in accepting transfer credits from accredited institutions came from discussions about equity. Ababayehu said these discussions were delegated to a sub-committee.
“This subcommittee raised concerns in equity and the College’s competitiveness in the higher education market,” Ababayehu stated. “This subcommittee found that accepting credit in the form of dual- credit and online courses would be more equitable and provide the College a competitive advantage.”
Karazsia echoed this statement, saying the change makes Wooster more equitable and competitive with similar institutions.
“Some students who might benefit from earning credit over the summer, for example, simply might not have access to coursework that fit our previous criteria for transfer acceptable. This could be due to geographic, transportation or a host of other reasons,” Karazsia stated. “Thus, we felt that the prior requirement was creating inequities for students. The second dimension was competitive advantage. Students who engage in IB programs … or who complete dual-enrollment coursework … are engaged in very high-level work. Most of our peer institutions recognized this work through their policies, and so we were at a competitive disadvantage.”
Karazsia says the push for these changes came from President Sarah Bolton. “President Bolton has really pushed faculty and staff at Wooster to think carefully about structures (including policies) that create inequities for students,” he stated. “As we reflected on this message, and as we worked with students affected differently by different policies, we realized that we could become a more equitable institution.”
Ababayehu is “ecstatic” about the decision to accept college credit and online credits, and think it will make The College of Wooster more accessible to all students.
“In my experience, online courses are more cost-efficient than the traditional brick-and-mortar courses,” Ababayehu stated. “With this change in place, a student who may otherwise have to spend an extra semester on campus can more affordably complete an on-line course and graduate on time. Without this change, students who need more credits but can not afford to take extra courses at a college campus during the summer are at a disadvantage because of their financial situation.”
In addition to the changes in transfer credit policy and IB exam scores, the faculty also ratified a new final exam schedule, which will make its debut at the end of the spring semester. Now each exam will be two and a half hours, instead of the three hour or two hour slots used in the past. Exam one will take place from 8:00 – 10:30 a.m., exam two at 12:00 – 2:30 p.m. and exam three at 4:00 – 6:30 p.m.
Karazsia said that the exam schedule of two years ago, which started at 8:00 a.m. and lasted until 10:00 p.m., presented concerns over learning, safety and balancing academics with student life. As a result, they piloted the most recent final exam structure, in which students took exams in a two hour time slot. EPC then solicited hundreds of survey responses to find out how students felt about the final exam schedule and worked to make it better.
“The current exam schedule of two hours did not produce a favorable impact amongst both students and professors, especially in STEM courses,” Ababayehu said. “It proved particularly difficult to fully test student knowledge in a two hour cumulative exam. So, it was reported that students felt that the actual exams were not shortened proportionately to the shortening of the time.”
As a middle ground, EPC and faculty decided on two and a half hour exams. “In my experience, two hour exams are too short for a comprehensive exam in courses that are not essay based,” Ababayehu stated. “I believe that there is little harm in increasing the time because a student done early is always welcome to leave the exam, but I have experienced that the length of some of my exams in STEM courses warrant a longer duration to truly reflect a student’s understanding of the material.”
EPC manages some significant changes occurring at the College, and Karazsia says they have a full schedule the rest of the semester. Moving forward, Karazsia says EPC will be “studying and making recommendations on [tenure-track] faculty lines.”
During an all-staff January Residence Life meeting, Residential Assistants (RAs) were notified of the possibility of a new system which would require the RAs to input data regarding each of their residents into a spreadsheet intended for Residence Life. Commenting on the purpose of the intended data collection, the Director of Residence Life Na- than Fein stated, “The RAs are often the first employees of the College who know if a resident is in need of additional support.”
As of now, the data collection process will not be used by the Residence Life or the Dean of Students office although it raised questions from the current RAs. Regarding the potential invasion of privacy, an RA who requested anonymity stated, before the plan was called off, “We are all really unsure of what is happening with this data, but the RAs are essentially being forced to collect it.”
They continued, “We have to put data in about who our residents are friends with, what clubs they are a part of, how they engage with campus, etc.” Despite these comments of the data collection process having contained personal information, Fein affirmed, “We are looking at broad information about the student experience, such as does a student appear connected on campus, as opposed to specific information, such as who is a student friends with.”
When asked about where the motive for the data collection originated, Fein explained, “We have been working collaboratively, between the Dean of Students Office and Residence Life, to think about the best way to learn if our students are getting the most out of their residential experience.”
Commenting on if this data collection process was necessary, Dean of Students Scott Brown stated, “We are exploring how to be a resource more proactively, help check-in with students that may not necessarily be in a crisis, but could benefit from some help connecting the dots, reflect on what they are hoping to get out of their Wooster experience … the general questions, in whatever form that makes sense to RAs, are to help refine what they do already and make it easier for them to support their residents.” Fein added, “We already ask our RAs about the experience of their residents, but we are hoping to encourage them to ask more specific questions to make sure we are getting residents proper support. If we only ask how someone is doing, we get general answers … If we start being more specific with our questions, we can make sure that students have the best possible experience at the College.”
In terms of how the data would have been collected Brown stated, “It is not secret at all that we are doing all we can to best serve and support students.”
This new system will not be put into practice, but considering how it could benefit students, Brown stated, “RAs are asked and trained, to be able to answer the question — How are your residents? Any concerns? We find this pretty general check-in can often miss how the student is really doing — navigating loneliness, struggling in a class, managing a personal issue, not sure how to make friends, etc. … this [process] might help go beyond what would help just this individual resident, and think about how to best welcome and enhance our floor/building. RAs can help connect them with resources in an easier way. The ‘collection’ of information is simply what we do now informally.” Fein added, “Our goal is that students feel supported on campus, are connected to community, and have the resources they need to be successful at the College.”
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