Category Archives: Viewpoints

Navigating Wooster: A Runner’s Perspective

Geoffrey Allen

Viewpoints Co-Editor

 

The time is 7:30 am. You waited for this moment. Yesterday your friends were wondering why you couldn’t make it to the Friday party, but you told them because tomorrow is Saturday. You know every Saturday you have to go on a long run. You must venture where not many of your classmates have ventured before: the city of Wooster.

As a runner,  there are days that I am alone, allowing me to have time to reflect. But in Wooster, the experience is different from where I live. Unlike my perfect and privileged hometown, Wooster is a city that tells a story of beauty, ugliness, and many things in between. It’s easy to poke fun at the town life beyond our campus by using stereotypes such as “hillbillies” and “trumpies,” yet when I transport myself with my legs I see a more complicated story. Yet, most students at the College who have been here for at least a year in-person know of this, and so can anyone who simply Googles Wooster. Truthfully, I don’t think this newer part of town represents all of Wooster. 

I always find environmental clues to the other side of Wooster through the long runs on those early Saturdays. I find that Wooster, like many cities at one time, was a bustling industrial site for factory work. There, I traverse with my trainer shoes in what could appear to be a ghost town with abandoned tracks and run down buildings. I would consider such a trip an expedition through an abandoned site if it weren’t for the fact that it’s not entirely desolate. Still, new businesses have sprung in the area including the Wooster Brush company and Fritos not far behind the relics of the old. It just makes me wonder, will these buildings remain in use before they join the capitalist relics of old?

One route that also tells me more about the town of Wooster than my time studying is interestingly, not exactly in Wooster. In what is dubbed, the “Flatlands” is exactly what an non-Ohioan, such as myself, would come to expect the state to be —endless fields of grass and farms on the outskirts of the city. Venturing here offered me the sights of isolated farming homes, tall stalks of corn, the usual MAGA flags from the previous year’s election, and most interestingly – oil drilling and “fracking.” These terms are something alien to my East Coast perception of the midwest where the only place I heard of these terms is through cautious documentaries like “Gaslands”. On a long run, it’s just another piece of the landscape, despite the known environmental issues that it brings. Despite these odd observations, I still find beauty in the sun, and the endless fields of green out here which you don’t see in Wooster. It’s a quieter and more breathtaking space and experience.

So, how do adventures help give insight to the average student at the College of Wooster? I’d say first and foremost that we must turn our attention to the purpose of our college: being a liberal arts college. No, I don’t mean to wage a crusade against the conservative majority population. Instead, I ask to use our holistic skills and abilities and apply it to better understanding our city like we do our College. My two-and-a-half years here have shown me that I have more to learn about the place we live in beyond our protective shells of campus life. Sure, there are many obstacles to this such as placing safety first, the fear of catcalling, or even worse, but we can always try in our own ways. It’s what makes our ‘Woo.’

 

To Be On The Outside Always Looking In

Malachi Mungoshi

Viewpoints Co-Editor

 

As an international student, traveling during a pandemic was very difficult to do. I know that every individual’s experience is different, but there are certain commonalities to be found:  TSA checkpoints, immigration documents, visa interviews, being away from home, etc. This is a mammoth of a task, and to add onto all of that, we then have to assimilate to a brand new environment, sometimes even a new culture and ways of doing certain things and interacting with fellow students. The last thing anyone would need in this situation is to feel alienated in any way. So then why do we find ourselves having to apply for an Ohio State ID in order to be correctly identified to enter The Underground (the UG) for events? This feels like a form of discrimination, and an unfair and unnecessary process. All over the world, passports are seen as a much more trusted and valid form of documentation than state IDs. People fake IDs all the time. While I understand that the school is not deciding to enforce this of their own volition, the problem that I, among a variety of my friends have is that the school has not given us much support in terms of applying for these required forms of identification beyond a few steps in a document. Most students are not able to pay the required amount, or to get themselves to and from the desired locations off campus for this process to be undertaken.  The International Students Services (ISS),  should ideally be looking for ways to help students fill out these forms and get transport from the school, as it is no fault of our own that we do not have Ohio State IDs. We shouldn’t have to feel like we are alienated from the rest of the students and not able to enjoy something as simple as a Bingo Night or a dance event, regardless of whether or not alcohol is being served. The school has to do better in how they treat their students in general, but it is very hard to feel like an outsider and be treated as one too. 

When the Staff is Judge, Jury, and Executioner

Marc Dehoorne

Contributing Writer

 

Content Warning: mentions of sexual assault.

I have massive respect for faculty and administrative staff involved with Student Life. Some jobs are innately more difficult than others, and college students can be rather difficult to deal with at times. Staff like Carly Jones and Marjorie Shamp have incredibly difficult jobs and very little assistance to effectively assume the full responsibilities of their stations. That being said, my experience with [one member of staff] from the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities was ostracizing and has permanently changed my perspective of how staff see their student body. 

I was cited for violating quiet hours, neglecting to discourage underage and dangerous drinking behavior and hosting an unregistered event on the night of Sept. 8. My fellow housemates and I admitted to the violations and accepted all consequences that were to come our way. At the end of our meeting, [the staff member in question] verbally asserted that based on our meeting, [they] did not think it necessary for any member of our house to enroll in an alcohol safety and responsibilities course. It seemed as if we had nothing to fear. Two days after our hearing, I was the sole member of my house to be issued any formal punishment. While I fully anticipated having consequences for my involvement in the merrymaking, I did not expect to be singled-out by the school. To be clear, I am not the only member of my house who is over 21. During our hearing, [the staff member] articulated an Ohio state law which pertains to alcohol-related social events. The law states that the owners of any property become responsible for all individuals consuming alcohol on said property. By issuing me exclusive punishment for the actions of my house, [they] implied that I am the owner of the estate. I never thought I would have to say this, but I do not own any property at The College of Wooster. I pay for room and board to use a room in a program house. Eight other people live in my program house, and they reside in Lewis House on their own volition. I was not responsible for their choice of residence and should not be held responsible for their actions. I am not a parent; I am a student.

 Some of the residents of Lewis House are members of the lacrosse team. During our interview, [the staff member] commented on the involvement of my housemates on the team stating, “You are some upstanding individuals!” This comment, coupled with my exclusive punishment, made me feel that the actions of [this staff member] were nothing but personal. [Their] behavior was unprofessional. I will not be held solely responsible for the actions of an entire house. I submitted an appeal to this decision. What is strange is that the rest of my housemates received their punishments (which were equal to mine in every facet) only after my appeal; that is, my housemates received their punishments a full 96 hours after I was issued mine. The original case presented involved the entirety of Lewis House, specifically, “The gentlemen of Lewis House.” The names of all the Lewis House residents (save one) were involved in the same case, and somehow we still received unclear signals from the administration. [The staff member’s] inability to handle a single case properly should be an indicator of [their] ineptitude for handling [their] professional responsibilities in this role.

During my conduct hearing, [the staff member] highlighted statements within a security report filed by the officer that shut down our party at Lewis House. Major details within the report (specifically pertaining to party population and our response to the Campus Safety Officer) were identified by the members of my house to be demonstrably false. The report specifically states that the officer saw about 150 people at the property upon arrival, and when he told people to leave, only five students did so. In truth, no more than 80 students came to Lewis House during the course of the entire night. Additionally, before the Campus Safety Officer stepped out of their vehicle, about half of the students at Lewis House who were attending the party fled the scene. Even though I was inebriated at this point in the party, watching five people leave a party is considerably different than the mass exodus of people I witnessed leave the property of Lewis House. It is impossible even for an inebriated individual to mistake around 40 people for five. When this was pointed out during our conduct hearing, zero consideration was given to our account of the events. It seemed to me that [the staff member] took the security report as gospel and predetermined our guilt before our hearing. There is a greater issue here involving how Campus Safety is regulated when reporting their interactions with students, but the fact that there are zero consequences for Safety Officers making false claims as a result of stretching the truth is incredibly dangerous to us students. Their word is gospel to some people in administrative positions, and we the students directly suffer consequences from the malpractice of our authority figures. We, as the student body of Wooster, should not have to defend the basis of fact. I am fortunate that I am a straight, white male. I cannot imagine what might have occurred to me if I was a member of the LGBTQ+, QTPOC or ethnic minority demographics on campus.  

Our ability to socialize with our peers has certainly been mitigated. While we have plenty of opportunity to interact with our peers in-class, we are more than students. We are multidimensional individuals whose aggregate experiences create beautifully complex individuals that constitute the student body of The College of Wooster. That is what KEPT me at this school – my peers are the reason I have stayed and why I love this school. It’s just ironic to see the administration advertise this place as a utopia for “Independents Minds Working Together” and then expect us to be reduced to academic machines. I know people here, like me, love to learn, but most of our learning happens outside the classroom. There are no books about how to be an adult. We have to learn through experience, our successes and our failures. Socialization is the primary catalyst to understanding our peers. Infringing on our opportunities to socialize results in a disconnected student body. The College of Wooster is supposed to be a place for safe learning and the sharing of ideas, but that can’t happen effectively when student-to-student interactions are limited exclusively to the classroom. I would very much love to see this campus hate-free, but reducing our social opportunities directly mitigates our ability to understand our fellow students.  

There is a more sinister issue here, however. As part of [their] professional responsibilities in this role, [the staff member] is also responsible for hearing cases of sexual assault on campus. Obviously, our safety as students around alcohol is important, but so is the safety of students around other students. It is disgusting to see majority of [this staff member’s] resources be allocated toward cracking down on alcohol consumption when there are still so many cases of sexual assault occurring on campus. Last time I checked, it was not illegal for people to party. Why, then, is partying met with more resistance and punishment than the literal crime of rape? Having to be in the same geographic location (or even classroom) as one’s rapist is an incredibly stressful and unhealthy predicament. In events like this, students will never feel safe and certainly will not continue to go to a school that doesn’t implement consequences for literal criminals.  [The staff member] certainly pushes [their] personal agenda onto the student body without regard to the visceral trauma caused during events of sexual assault. I personally believe major changes are required considering the station of [this staff member] in such an important role within our campus community

 

Left-Handed Woes at Woo

Mae Koger

 

Chairs with built-in desks at the College are the bane of my existence. They are low and tiny and, worst of all, right-handed. I think I have seen maybe four individual desks in classrooms at Wooster that are left-handed. What makes it more aggravating is when you finally find a lefty desk, there’s usually someone sitting in it. At that point, do you just take a right-handed desk, or do you ask that person if they’re left-handed?

The desks we have in our dorm rooms are right-handed. They have storage on the right side so that when you put the desk against the wall, you don’t bruise your elbow when you try to write. 

While this is an issue unique to my experience as a lefty on campus, there are other difficulties that go with being left-handed in a world designed by righties that are not limited to my experience here at Wooster. Spiral notebooks and composition notebooks are challenging to write in, with the ring imprints and the ink residue that show up all over our hands. Another issue is that everything is upside down: tape measures, pens, and pencils. 

Something I really struggle with is scissors. I have grown up using my right hand to cut things, but now that I know that left-handed scissors exist, I can’t use them because they are completely new to me. Imagine being told that you can’t use your right hand to write for all your life, so you adapt and only practice with your left, but when you are told later in life that you are allowed to use your right hand, you are terrible at it. 

Kitchen utensils are the worst. Wooden spoons are for righties, and I get to use the metric units instead of imperial whenever I want to use a measuring cup. Knives are always uncomfortable to use because of their curve designed to fit comfortably in the right hand. 

The Pit only had a few left-handed chairs, too. You know, the ones with the desks that swivel? I really enjoyed sitting and working in those left-handed chairs before they were taken away. Hopefully, in the new student center, there will be more left-handed chairs to work at. 

In conclusion, the right-handed world is annoying to those who are left-handed. Even though only ten percent of us are left-handed, it really is unfair when we are unable or uncomfortable using something because it was designed for an individual who uses a different hand than us. 

C.O.W.’s Selective Housing Accommodations

Morgan Hunter

 

Housing Accommodations. They are more than just requesting a roommate and a certain dorm. As a first-year student, I am aware there is a world of applications and paperwork I cannot even begin to comprehend. That being said, through meeting, talking, and complaining to  new peers in my life, there is a world of pain I discovered that is a very commonplace.

While I do not have any disability accommodations, I do have first-hand experience in applying for All-Gender Housing. According to Wooster’s housing page, “Gender Inclusive housing means that anyone can live in a room with anyone else, regardless of their gender identity.” This living style is available in all upper-class halls and houses, however for first-year students, it is only available on the third floor of Andrews Hall. While the thirteen rooms provide a safe-haven for students uncomfortable on gendered floors, allowing them to live among others with shared experiences, not all have the luxury of making their way into this elite group. For example, numerous students have to make a decision between All-Gender housing and living in a single dorm. Single-living can be better for numerous people and their individual needs, yet there are only doubles on the floor. In addition to this, the third floor requirement can prevent some from partaking due to health and mobility issues. One student who originally applied for All-Gender, but after a mix-up, was put into a single with proper accommodations, explains how it ended up being for the best. “This room is more physically accessible to me since it’s on the first floor and some of my health conditions have been flaring up since I got here,” they said. Residence Life has proven that they can handle situations and in the end, help students live how they need to live. However living in a place like All-Gender housing can be crucial to some student’s mental wellbeing. Thus, the idea that sometimes one must choose between their physical and mental health on campus is something that needs to be reevaluated. 

In addition to this, another accommodation that I have found many experience pain and exhaustion pursuing is applying to bring along an Emotional Support Animal. According to the American Disability Act (ADA), “Emotional support animals provide companionship, relieve loneliness, and sometimes help with depression, anxiety, and certain phobias.” Wooster provides all the necessary paperwork for students to apply to bring their ESAs to campus; nevertheless, many express the long and difficult process this can often be. These applications require a lot of information from professional opinions, the lack thereof forcing students to apply over and over again. “The school’s process gives the student marginal agency in the process as the questionnaires, reports and review process are reliant on outside perceptions rather than a student’s accessibility needs,” one student recounts. By creating a process that is complex and strict, the College is able to properly monitor animals being brought to campus; however, simultaneously, they are creating red-tape obstacles that often stand in the way of students properly having the living accommodations necessary for fostering their academic success. 

Well into the beginning of the school year, an ongoing headache and stressor for students is making sure their living experience on campus is adequate. The fact that a student cannot confidently move onto campus, feeling sure that their living requirements and specific needs are going to be met is, in my opinion, utterly preposterous. Residence Life has proven that they do care about the students and work tirelessly to do what they can, yet I cannot help but be concerned for those slipping through the cracks.

Lowry: A Performance-Oriented Renovation

Kira Boyce

 

As a tour guide, I am fully aware that one of the most important parts of any college tour is the showroom. Knowing what dorm rooms look like on campus can make or break a family’s perception of the school. At The College of Wooster, our showroom is located in Babcock Hall. We are required to point out the dark wood furniture, amenities that students can add to enhance their living experience, as well as the air-conditioning system that we promise will be established in every residence hall in three-to-four years time (according to our ten year plan). To a visiting family, that AC unit is simply a facility that will ease the heat of summer through orientation weekend. For current students, the difference between living in appropriate conditions or living in inhospitable conditions is air conditioning.

Never in my life have I seen a college campus that is not consistently under construction. That is the nature of college: the environment changes with the student body. The College of Wooster is no exception, especially with the new Lowry renovation. I understand why we are renovating the Student Center. It is a central area to student life on campus; however, it almost seems pointless when campus is over capacity and students are being forced into less than ideal living situations. Half of the houses around campus are out of commission right now, the ceilings of Holden are caving in, and Compton has black mold. The fact that instead of solving our growing bat problem — the campus merely put signs in houses and dorm buildings about how to deal with the bats properly — we got a new Student Center says a lot about the priorities of the school. We, as a student body, can live without a renovated Lowry. We cannot be expected to live in spaces that do not pass standard safety checks from year to year. 

I pass the Lowry Student Center up to three times a day with different families on tour. One of the first questions that comes out of their mouth is usually in relation to the renovation for which I stand, smile, and speak to how excited I am to have the new space in 2022. I wish my enthusiasm was a little bit more honest, because every time I make a joke about telling dramatic tales of the old Lowry to scared first years, a part of me is always angry that the college’s push to prioritize student life is a grand ole facade.