Category Archives: Uncategorized

Students studying off campus adjust to a new normal

Sam Boudreau

Senior News Writer

 

For Marloes Krabbe ‘21, an anthropology and art history double major, Art History & Museum Studies club meetings are usually a normal part of her routine. However, since studying remotely due to COVID-19, this meeting has taken a turn she never expected. As Krabbe was preparing to start the meeting online, a commuter bus slammed into a nearby powerline, knocking out the power for her whole street in a town right outside of Detroit, Mich.. “It’s like if I lose power at home, and I don’t have any way of contacting my professors, it feels like I just disappear.” This is just one of the many obstacles facing remote students this semester.

For many, living in different time zones has been an issue. Across the Pacific Ocean, sophomore Kaylee Liu ‘23 lives in Singapore, where the time zone is 12 hours ahead of Wooster. “All of my classes are recorded, so I watch them asynchronously, and then meet with my professors once a week. I am really grateful for how much professors have helped me this semester,” Liu said. “While professors have worked around the time zones, group work appears to be a major challenge. “I can’t really ask [about] problems in the group chat since nobody is awake.” Liu serves as an editor for The Wooster Voice and is a member of Pi Kappa, where she has been able to communicate with members.

While some clubs and organizations have been able to thrive remotely, others have struggled to adjust.

Kennedy Pope ’23, a psychology and women’s, gender and sexuality studies (WGSS) double major, is studying remotely from Atlanta, Ga. and the distance has hurt her ability to contribute to clubs on campus. “It has definitely been rough to adjust to clubs remotely,” said Pope. “The clubs that I’m an active participant in are all focused on creating safe spaces and community for Black people on campus. A large part of creating that atmosphere has always been having events and meetings face-to-face and present with one another, so that people know they are seen and  appreciated. Sadly, going completely virtual has made it harder to recruit and be known to the first-years on campus. I am optimistic that everyone’s efforts will allow us to get over this hurdle.”

Pope noted that “the last time it was election year on campus, it was not the safest or healthiest environment for people of color in Wooster, so I hope that all cultural clubs will still be effective resources for students in need.”

This remote semester has helped Pope learn more about herself, she tells The Voice. “I had never realized how much I relied on the positive peer pressure from my friends to study … It is a lot easier to do your work and study when everyone around you is doing the same thing as well,” she expressed. “If you’re the only person in your environment who is in school, it is extremely easy to not feel any sense of urgency to complete assignments.”

Like Pope, many other students have focused on how to make a difference in an election year. Alec Monnie ’21, a political science major currently studying from Meadville, Pa. is serving as an advisor for Joe Biden’s rural coalition in Pennsylvania and working at a local deli. “Socially, it has been pretty hard to be at home pretty much all the time,” Monnie reflected.“I have been working in a deli at home two days a week, and recently started a position on the Biden campaign, so I’ve been working a lot more than I normally do on campus, and even with my I.S. and classes, I still have considerably more free time than I do when I’m at school.”

When asked how professors have made their courses accessible, Monnie has been very impressed as “professors have been wonderful at being accessible in light of the circumstances this semester.”

Halen Gifford ‘21, a communication studies major from New Albany, Ind., agrees. “All of my professors have been extremely accommodating,” she told The Voice. Due to health concerns, Gifford decided to study from home. While she misses her dorm, she admits that “it is nice having a real kitchen [as] it has been great to wash dishes in a real sink and make toast whenever I want.”

Chris Roche ’23, a sophomore studying remotely, agrees. “Not to throw shade on Lowry food, but having home cooking every day is a plus to studying remotely. Another plus is being around my family a lot more and being able to walk my dog when it’s nice out,” Roche noted.

For many, the Independent Study (I.S.) experience defines senior year, as Gifford pointed out that “this is not the I.S. experience I expected … but I have enjoyed it so far.” While working on her I.S., which “is a genre study of horror cinema,” Gifford credits her mom as a great support. “One nice thing [is that] my mom has watched all the films I’ve looked at for my literature review with me which has been very wholesome. Virtual learning, as we all know, is a challenge. However, I have gotten pretty used to it.”

“Working successfully on an I.S. from home sounded intimidating at the start of the semester, but I think it has gone well so far,” said Carlos Owusu-Ansah ’21, a math and physics double major. “The  hype around I.S. is not felt as strongly from [home]. That is a bit sad because I was hoping to put my best effort into the project.”

Many students miss the resources that the College of Wooster offers, especially during I.S. “For books and articles that I need for I.S., I want to critically read them, but without the printing capabilities offered on campus, that has been hard,” said Marloes. “There’s just this weird duality with being at school and home.You have to keep up with your friends, attend classes and be there for your parents. It’s something that I’ve never had to deal with before.”

College COVID plan is flawed and dangerous

Maggie Dougherty

Viewpoints Editor

 

As someone who dedicated my summer to working as a case investigator for my state health department and spent hours each day telling people how to stay healthy in the midst of a global pandemic, I really can’t stress enough how flawed our campus  testing strategy is.

Now that many of us have returned to campus, I have already seen students breaking the COVID-19 guidelines or only following  guidance partially. I get it — there is this perception on campus that we’ve all been tested and everybody is negative and we are a perfect little bubble, right? Now that we all have negative test results, we  can hug our friends and have little gatherings in our basements with less than ten people and take cute pictures with our friends, right? Actually, no.

Why not? The testing strategy that we used — test everyone and quarantine them while they wait for their test results — makes no  sense by public health standards because those tests are just a snapshot in time, and they may not capture the presence of the virus if you were exposed recently. According to Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines, the incubation period for the virus is two to 14 days, and on average is around four to six days. What does that mean? It means that if you were exposed two days before coming to campus, it wouldn’t necessarily show up on your test, because there  isn’t enough active virus to be detected. It means, on average, if you were exposed four days ago, it still might not show up on your test. A negative test result doesn’t mean you are free of COVID-19; it  means that there was not enough active virus built up in your system at the time of the test.

Now, if we knew that everybody had been able to fully self-quarantine for two weeks before coming to campus, and had no potential exposures during their travel here, this testing strategy would work. However, a lot of our students come from far away, some on airplanes or buses where they cannot necessarily control or limit their exposure to other people. And, as discussed above, those people who might have been exposed in the two days before coming back wouldn’t test positive, even if they might have caught the virus and will become infectious in a few days.

Of course, this isn’t the students’ fault; it’s a flaw in the institutional plan and a major failure in communication. Your roommate, or your best friend in the entire world who you trust and just know is following the rules, or your sports team, or the people you eat with in Lowry could all potentially be carrying the virus all while thinking that they’re negative and totally safe.

That’s why this testing strategy doesn’t make sense. We have told students that it’s okay and safe for them to eat in Lowry, with masks off, not socially distanced, all while knowing that there’s a high level of uncertainty as to whether students might be carrying the virus and knowing that talking and eating with masks off carries a high risk of transmission. If I’m being honest, Lowry is a public health hazard. I avoid it as much as possible, and primarily get my food to-go and take it back to my
room to eat during my Zoom meetings. I know that’s not convenient, but I would recommend that others
do the same when they have the ability to do so.

To act like it is the students’ fault if we have an outbreak would be wildly unfair when the conditions are set up so recklessly. The fact that we haven’t had an outbreak yet — between the way Lowry is functioning and the way our testing was implemented — is pure luck. We know campus is not a COVID-free bubble, so why are we treating Lowry as if social distancing and mask-wearing just stops being important while students are eating? It is an institutional decision that is not only flawed, but also dangerous.

We need another dining space open so that students can eat while socially distanced, or Lowry should have half the seating capacity with the rest as to-go only. In my opinion, we should all be tested again two weeks from the date that the last students arrived on campus. I know that won’t happen,
so, until then, I anxiously await the start of the satellite testing promised in the most recent email update from the administration.

In a time of change, animals provide unity

Megan Tunnerman
Managing Editor

“What is your favorite animal?” is one of the most common icebreaker questions, but actually has a lot of depth. Think about it — how many people have refused to answer that question in front of you? Likely very few. No matter how “cool” a person considers themselves to be — no matter what nationality, identity or socioeconomic class — the vast majority of people will be able to easily come up with an animal that they feel attached to for some reason or another. Animals bring us together.

Especially in a time like this, animals can provide us with so much. Fish and other college approved pets seem to be one of the best ways to combat loneliness in dorm rooms. Students are also spending more time than ever outside, so why not increase your enjoyment by watching the squirrels and sharing what you see? Change is constant, especially now, but there are happy moments to be found and animals
can help provide moments of reprieve for free. Sit and watch the same tree for a couple days in a row, and I bet you will begin to see the personalities of the squirrels that live there. (Also, bonus: there are some baby squirrels around campus.)

In times of environmental disaster, caring for animals brings
society together. What if we allowed ourselves to bond over animals all the time? If the squirrels
outside Lowry brought together groups of students who would never talk otherwise? While this is a bit of an exaggeration, the point is still valid: if animals have the power to bring us together in the worst of times, why can’t they bring us together all the time?

People tend not to pay attention to shelter pets — until they see a dog in horribly sad conditions needing to be saved. Or to the issue of big-game hunting until they see a post where Jimmy John’s CEO, Jimmy John Liautaud, is posing with an endangered rhino that he just killed (sorry, sandwich lovers, there is still Subway or the Lowry sandwich station). But if people paid these animals attention all the time, not only would the lives of the animals improve, but there could be a real unity among peo-
ple working together on behalf of these causes. I know that this unity could be created because it already exists among wildlife and animal activists, rehabilitation centers, etc. I am not saying that everyone needs to devote their lives to saving animals, but I think that there is more happiness to be gained from watching animals than many realize. So next time you feel sad, watch a squirrel. Or a bee. Or a grasshopper. Maybe you’ll make a new friend.

Online Scot Spirit Day has challenges and victories

Emma Reiner

Senior Features Writer

 

Scot Spirit Day looked a lot different this year. In the past, it  consisted of a crowded outdoor event with student organizations tabling and encouraging students to join their groups while listening
to music from Woo 91 and the Scot band. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Wooster decided to hold Scot Spirit Day virtually via Microsoft Teams. Additionally, this event took place over three days instead of one afternoon. Each day had different time slots for dif-
ferent types of organizations including Greek Life, multi-ethnic, club sports, arts and special interest organizations.

When asked about how this year’s Scot Spirit Day compared to  those in the past, Louis Schwartz ’21 had a lot to say about the event. “The virtual setting made it a lot more challenging to connect and engage with people. I think it turned out the best way that it could, given the circumstances, but it does seem like most student orgs are going to see a massive drop in recruitment compared to last year.” Louis tabled for four organizations throughout the three day period: Common Grounds, Live Action RolePlay (LARP), Hillel and Queer Student Union (QSU). Louis added that QSU and Hillel had more students show up compared to LARP and Common Grounds, but “numbers were still down.”

Cesar Lopez ’21, had a different view of the event, “It would be hard  to compare this Scot Spirit Day weekend to years past because  they’re so different in nature.” Cesar is an intern for Lowry Center
and Student Activities and is the Sexuality and Gender Diversity representative for Scot Council. He added that while Scot Spirit Day was different from usual, it “was pretty successful in its own right.”

Allison Ringold ’23, a member of the Quidditch team, explained how Scot Spirit Day worked compared to last year. “My first year I went to Scot Spirit Day and just let whatever happened next happen. With Scot Spirit Day being online, their specific interests had to come  first. So, of course we had less people sign up.” She added that there is more of an emphasis this year on using social media to interest  people in their organization.

Morgan Kromer ’22, the president of the math club, said that they  “had [a] super low turnout.” She reasoned that it was because “people [were] being dissuaded by the name and no one chose to see what we were about unless they were directly looking for a
math club.” The organization usually plays card games, but it was difficult for them to inform students of that, making recruitment challenging.

Lilly Woerner, ’21, the secretary of After These Messages, an all-treble a cappella group, said that most people “just came for about 10 minutes to hear our summary of the group. They asked some questions, but nothing too personal about the members.” She added that because there were “multiple a capella groups, people switched around a lot between them.” After These Messages
also had fewer people show up than usual.

The Rugby Club also had a low turnout. Sarah Snider ’23, is the vice president of the organization and explained that the low turnout was not necessarily a bad thing.

“I believe the turnout could have been better. However, the people that came to our booth were very welcoming and stayed for a long time.” She added that because of the way Scot Spirit Day was held, she “think[s] the people who are going to join are more dedi-
cated and more likely to stick with it.”

COVID-19 has impacted many parts of our lives, including student  organizations. But, as Lopez said, “there will still be opportunities to safely build and be in community with one another.”

Bolton announces virtual commencement, senior celebrations during B&G Weekend

Waverly Hart

Editor in Chief

 On Friday, April 10, President Sarah Bolton announced that The College of Wooster would be holding a virtual graduation ceremony to celebrate the class of 2020’s accomplishments and time at the College.

Bolton announced this in an email sent to seniors. The virtual commencement ceremony will be held on Monday, May 11 at 1:00 p.m. EST, the same day as the in-person celebration would have been. There will be a virtual Baccalaureate ceremony on May 10 at 1:00 p.m. The email also stated that an in-person celebration for the class of 2020 would take place during Black and Gold Weekend which will be October 23-25. 

Bolton said that many of the missed senior spring events would be held during Black and Gold Weekend. “We plan to hold an I.S Monday parade, to recognize your academic accomplishments, and to host the Lavender Celebration and Multi-Cultural Stole Ceremony, including presenting students with their stoles,” Bolton stated in the email. 

However, some seniors were not happy with the revised commencement plans. Some took to social media to voice their concerns, the primary of which being a perceived lack of student input when making the decision .

To address this, Bolton said students will have input in planning Black and Gold Weekend. “Our plan had been to reach out to ask seniors what they would like to see happen for the weekend of celebrations in their honor, so that we could create a gathering that would be best for seniors and families,” Bolton said. Additionally, Bolton said that she is aware of student opinion.

“We also are listening to the many seniors who wrote to us overnight, some of whom want an earlier celebration (August) and others who want something much later (May of ’21),” Bolton stated in an email.  “We are doing everything we can to create a celebration that is best for everyone, knowing that there are many different circumstances and needs in the class.”

Other students are afraid many won’t be able to return to campus for Black and Gold Weekend. Bolton said she is aware of this, and its part of what led to the decision to hold a virtual ceremony.

“Knowing that [travelling back to Wooster is difficult] was part of what made us want to make the virtual celebration on May 11th a little more than just the ‘official’ granting of degrees, so that those who may not be able to come back to Wooster at all in the coming year would still have something they could be a part of,” Bolton stated. 

Bolton said it was important that there was both a virtual ceremony as well as an in-person celebration. She affirmed the College’s commitment to holding this in-person celebration, emphasizing in a follow-up email on April 11, “We definitely will have a full, in-person commencement ceremony including all of the parts of the program—processions of students and faculty, bagpipers, honorary degrees, speakers and reading of individual names when we gather in person.”

Since announcing the decision, Bolton said she has heard a lot of feedback from seniors and said this is “all changing quickly as we speak … we understand that many seniors are not happy with this approach, understandably, and will think on it further to see what else could work.”

At the end of the initial email, Bolton confirmed how proud she was of the class of 2020.

“In this challenging season, please know how proud we are of all of you,” the email read.  “You were already a special class before COVID-19, and now you are learning, caring for others, persevering and making a difference in a historic time.  I am so looking forward to watching your futures unfold, and to seeing the positive impact you will make across the US and around the world.”

College Fails to Support Neurodiversity

Amber Rush

Picture yourself walking into a stranger’s office. Not a therapist, not a doctor but someone you don’t know. The stranger tells you to explain your mental ill- ness and why you need an accommodation for an emotional support animal. Your worst fears have been realized. No one believes that you need help for your mental illness. It feels like it’s all in your head (which, I guess, it is).
Despite having recommendations from two therapists and being on medication, the stranger dismisses you, apathetic to your calls for help. You begin to tear up. Because who wouldn’t? The stranger is impartial to your pleas for understanding. You tell them the situation is worsening your anxiety. Once again, they are apathetic, treating you as someone asking for an unnecessary accommodation.

Despite the exhausting process of talking to ResLife, seeing a therapist, compiling medical documents and having to repeatedly expose the most vulnerable parts of yourself because of mental illness, you are dismissed. This stranger is supposed to help you, to get you the accommodations you need for your illness. You leave the office with tears in your eyes and feeling more anxiety than when you went in.

I was diagnosed with severe anxiety and depression at 17 years old after struggling with mental illness for years. Reaching out to my doctors and my parents to tell them how much I had been struggling was one of the most difficult things I have ever had to do.

Although mental illness is as serious and as difficult as a physical illness, it is not treated as such. This has never been more apparent than when I attempted to get accommodations through The College of Wooster. I have been receiving treatment for my mental illness for years and yet I was told that it wasn’t enough. I suppose my crippling depression and anxiety wasn’t severe enough for their liking. My treatment wasn’t acceptable to someone who was entirely unfamiliar with my situation and asked me if I had tried other avenues to treat my anxiety.

You may be asking yourself: was this stranger a therapist? A psychologist? A doctor? No. This stranger is the person who was supposed to be helping accommodate my disability but instead they exacerbated it. It is not their job to judge me, but to accommodate my needs as determined by a therapist. I have had to expose myself to so many people in order to even begin this process. I feel humiliated, invalidated and anxious.

She told me that her goal was to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. She had no interest in helping me and no interest in expressing sympathy. I am being treated unfairly for my disability and I am not the first one.I expect more from a school that prides itself on its diversity. Diversity means more than just cultural or racial differences, but also neurodiversity and true acceptance of mentally ill people.

A couple weeks after this conversation, I received a vague email with the results of the accomodation hearing. I asked if I could be present for the discussion regarding my accommodation request but I was refused this request. It was a brief email. It read “the Housing/Dietary Accommodation Committee feels that an Emotional Support Animal is not an appropriate accommodation at the present time.” It felt that these people who were only distantly familiar with my situation had decided that they were more qualified to determine the treatment plan than my therapist.

The College claims they value their students’ mental health, but it has never been more apparent that their priorities lie elsewhere. I am not alone in experiencing this apathy and humiliation at the hands of ResLife. For so many students, they are living away from home for the first time and this is the first time they have felt they are in an environment where they can seek treatment for their mental health, or they are deal- ing with a variety of other painful issues that require accommodations. What does it say about the College that students are forced to suffer through an even more stressful situation during some of their most vulnerable times?

Call me crazy, but I don’t think human kindness is too much to ask for, especially for a college that claims to be supportive of its students.