Category Archives: Viewpoints

Please Say Please, Thanks for Saying Thanks

Tali Lansing

Contributing Writer 

 

Working in Lowry is not an easy job. Sometimes it looks like the employees are standing around while we grab food, but there is so much more that goes on in the background. Feeding over 2,000 people who each have their own dietary restrictions, preferences and opinions is a challenge and it is made more impossible when students are not appreciative of their efforts. Furthermore, I have seen students be blatantly rude to Lowry employees. 

Unlike us, they do not get a fall break. They do not get to wake up at 7:50a.m. for an 8:00a.m. class. They do not get to be done with classes by 4:00p.m. These workers are up before the sun, and are supplying us with food until midnight every single day. It is important for us to do everything we can to make their jobs easier because being mad at an employee who can not change what happens does not help anyone. Most of the time, employees there have had very long and difficult days and would love for you to smile and say “hi”. 

 I have to admit, there are days where I am rushing up to Lowry to fill my to-gobox and leave quickly. On those days, it’s hard for me to remember that everyone is doing their best with a difficult scenario. The stairs are burdensome, the long line at Basics makes me impatient and the food options make it difficult for me to find a healthy meal. The lack of vegetarian options frustrates me enough not to smile and greet them. I often forget to thank the workers behind the food lines for their hard work. 

 Do you remember when you were little and an adult would ask you, “What’s the magic word?” To this day, please and thank you are still magical words. I don’t mean that they are going to fix the food situation at Wooster, but saying them makes everyone feel appreciated. The employees preparing your dinner are people too. They have days that are stressful and long, just like we all do. There is no reason to treat them as if they are not there. 

 Sometimes, talking to the person making my scrambled eggs or preparing my veggie burger completely turns my day around. The people that work at Lowry are some of the kindest and most selfless people I have ever met. They spend their days making sure we are taken care of and fed the same way they would care for and feed their own families. Even though they have a million and ten things to do at once, they do their best to improve the Lowry situation for our benefit. After all, they’re eating the food they prepare as well. 

 I promise you that saying “thank you” to the person refilling the chipotle mayo will not harm you in any way, but it might turn their day around. I completely understand why we are fighting for the food situation to change, but the person that is serving breadsticks would really love it if you would say “please” before asking for 50 of them.

BIPOC PAA Releases List of Demands

BIPOC Performing Arts Alliance Demands of Theatre/Dance and Music Departments:

  1. The resignation of Shirley Huston-Findley from department chair until further substantial equality education is reached and the DEI plan is completed. 
  2. A public and formal apology for inflicted harm and racism against our BIPOC students on behalf of Huston-Findley.
  3. The hiring of a Black Theatre AND Music professor (with equitable pay) before the graduation of the Board in 2023.
  4. The substantial and outside training of Huston-Findley in not only racial issues and equity, but also in Directing and in teaching holistically in order to better direct and educate BIPOC students in her courses and productions. This demand will bar Huston-Findley from direction until this education is complete and audited thoroughly. 
  5. The transparency of investigations of racial and incident bias reports and their outcomes for any staff members from these departments.
  6. The completion of the BIPOC and revised Theatre library before the start of the Spring Term.
  7. The proper introduction of BIPOC curriculum in all Theatre History courses with a variety of artists that are not tokenized or misrepresentations of their cultures/racial groups. 
  8. At least one department play yearly that is BIPOC written or starring a BIPOC student (this student should not be the only BIPOC student in the cast) in one of its leading roles. This can also be fulfilled by student productions that are treated like main stage productions. The department must show a vested interest in BIPOC work.
  9. Continued and perpetual auditing of the education and resulting conduct of the faculty and staff in each department.

College Democrats Call for Admin Action

(College Democrats)

Contributing Writers

 

Tuesday, Nov. 2, was election day. Across the country, people voted to fill offices ranging from governor to mayor, as well as local down-ballot seats. Here in Wooster, voters elected new school board and city council members as well as enacted a tax levy. It was also an election with historic firsts—for instance, Michelle Wu became Boston’s first elected woman mayor while Aftab Pureval became the first Asian-American mayor of Cincinnati. 

Unfortunately, off-year elections like this one receive less attention and lower voter turnout. College Democrats, in conjunction with other civic and service engagement organizations, organize voter registration each semester. Over the years, we have noticed that voter registration numbers dip in non-general election years. That also occurred this year, which, while disappointing, was not necessarily surprising. 

What was surprising, however, was the College’s lack of support in helping the campus community vote. We understand that admin and staff are very busy and that responsibilities have changed hands due to turnover. We should also note that after the College Democrats executive board members brought certain voting related issues to the administration’s attention, they were very receptive to improving this process for the future. Yet, it is unacceptable that information about voting did not get sent out until the afternoon before election day, and that there was no assistance from administration in conducting voter registration. Furthermore, the utility bills sent out last-minute were difficult to access and often incorrect, jeopardizing students’ ability to vote. If College Democrats’ executive board did not make voter registration a priority and then recruited volunteers from our club, Wooster’s NAACP, the Leftists of Wooster and College Republicans, it is likely there would have been no voter registration drive at all. If our executive board and volunteers did not keep track of forms and information by lugging a bag of supplies around campus to set up at random tables in Lowry, drive completed forms down to the Board of Elections or provide essential information to students, there would be fewer people on this campus registered to vote. 

Voters also had to contend with limited transportation to the polls. In years past, shuttles to and from voting locations were available, and we have heard from students that the lack of shuttles this year led to their inability to vote. Even though we registered sixty new voters on campus, those students still may not have been able to cast their vote due to lack of access to the polls. 

Students cannot be solely responsible for voter education on campus. When we graduate, who will take it over? College Democrats are more than happy to volunteer our time for voter registration, but we need institutional support. In an election of small margins (this year’s tax levy passed by only nine votes!), every vote counts and local elections are critical to determining policy that impacts this campus. Voting is not some fun club activity, but something that affects every student. While other colleges like Oberlin and Otterbein University are considered Voter-Friendly Campuses in Ohio, Wooster is not on that list — and without a concerted effort from the College to help students vote, it’s not hard to see why. 

Wooster prides itself on being a civically engaged campus and frequently encourages students to use their voices. Going forward, we hope that means the admin will do better to help students vote during every election.

Leveling With the Board

Saralee Renick

Contributing Writer

 

As a senior who used to serve on student government, I have attended many Board of Trustees Student Development meetings. For those not familiar, this is a specific committee that is tasked with meeting with students twice a year to listen and respond to our concerns. Despite no longer being required to attend this meeting as part of Scot Council, I still decided to go on Friday, Oct. 29. 

Interestingly, it was open to all students. While in the past, these meetings have only been open to students who were speaking to the Trustees or those on student government. This open admittance is integral because all students deserve access to the ultimate power on campus. I was thrilled to see students pack Lean Lecture Hall. I was impressed by my peers who asked questions and helped student speakers expand on their points when the Trustees fell silent. It would be a shame for the Student Development meeting to ever be closed again.

Shockingly, there were actually trustees there. In the past, these meetings have been held in the Alley (RIP) around a couple of tables pushed together. As a rough estimate, I would say there were only ever 5-10 Trustees there. Not even all the Trustees on the Student Development Committee would bother to show up, which I think says a lot. However, on Friday, there were 20-30 Trustees in the room. While most did not ask questions after student speeches, they were there. It may not have been the engagement students wanted, but at least Trustees were there to listen.

Also, the student speakers were phenomenal. It was no surprise that my peers spoke eloquently and passionately about student concerns, wellbeing and livelihood on campus. They left no room for the Trustees to undercut their statements and demands. The message was clear: students, especially Black students, deserve better. The student speakers challenged the Trustees and called them out, which has been sorely needed at past Student Development meetings. In one instance, a speaker demanded to know an outcome from a past meeting. After a bit of scrambling, the trustees were able to provide several examples. While they were few and far between and did not appear to particularly sway student opinions of the Board of Trustees, I appreciated that there were any. As I move towards graduation, I know that there are younger student leaders on this campus that will continue to challenge the Trustees and fight for student rights. The student speakers on Friday proved that and, for me, outshone past speeches.

There will be another Student Development meeting in the spring and then many more after that. I encourage every student to go. Not to antagonize the Trustees, who we often blame for everything that we dislike on campus, but to advocate for yourself and your peers. And if not to speak, to listen to and support other students. Continue to demand that the Trustees come to the Student Development meeting, listen, respond and then act. 

Board of Trustees Dismisses Lowry’s Predatory Behavior

Maggie Dougherty

Contributing Writer

 

Last April, I researched and wrote an article for the Voice about Howard Lowry, titled “The complicated legacy of President Howard Lowry: As our values evolve, do our heroes change as well?” Apparently, according to the Wooster Board of Trustees and their major donors, the answer is a resounding no.

The article outlined a pattern of predatory sexual harassment from a much older Lowry towards a great number of young female graduates. What I described was Lowry’s pattern of using his position of authority to impress himself on much younger Wooster alumni through promises of recommendation letters and leveraging of academic connections on their behalf. 

The article was explicitly published with a content warning for sexual harassment and predatory behavior. The article did not, however, allege sexual assault, illegal activity or relationships with students. Nevertheless, these are still the goalposts that the board has set for evaluating Lowry’s actions. Apparently, anything falling short of this does not constitute a problem for them.

I do not want to rehash the history of Lowry’s behavior here when I have already written extensively on that topic; I have had multiple conversations directly with the board and have shared my evidence with them. However, in the time since publishing the first piece, I have spoken with another alumna from Lowry’s tenure, who described being similarly pursued by the President in the pattern established by the women interviewed for the original article. She recalled Lowry’s secretary leaving a message at her campus dorm, inviting her to dinner with the President—something she also shared with the board in their investigation. She was a student at the time.

The board asserts that “When Dr. Lowry was made aware that his romantic advances were unwelcome, he ended them.” This completely misses the power differential involved in his relationships. The alumna I recently met explained that as a student receiving that invitation, “I did not have the option of saying no to dinner with him, as the President of the College. I know that.” It is easy enough to say in theory, “they could have just told him no if they weren’t interested,” but that is not often the reality for young professionals, desperate for new opportunities, when someone so influential pursues you with enticing professional connections.

The email from the board refers to some women who “found Lowry’s attention flattering or positive.” I do not begrudge them that: the women involved are allowed to feel however they want about their own relationships, and it is to be expected that there would be a range in how women reacted to his advances. 

However, the positive experiences of these women do not invalidate the negative experiences of the others. This should not be used to dismiss or disprove the experiences of women who felt uncomfortable about being pursued by the president of their college. To be honest, the use of those testimonies to undermine those of the brave women and their allies who came forward to share their stories is absolutely unforgivable in my eyes. 

For Irene, George and other unnamed women involved with the story and myself, this decision is a huge disappointment. More than that, it feels like a slap in the face—an utter rebuke of what these women experienced. On the day the decision was announced, Irene wrote in an email to President Bolton, “I and others thought C.O.W. was much better than this. Gut wrenching.”

However disappointing, I don’t think any of us were truly surprised. From day one, we knew where the decisions were coming from. We know that the student center renovations are being financed in large part by the $10 million donation of one singular alumnus: Richard Bell. Although the board would not speak to me during the investigation about the impacts of donor preferences on the renaming, it was the sentiment of some sources that the name would never change because Bell did not want it to. If this is indeed true, it seems to me that one man shall almost single-handedly determine the fate of the student center. 

To ask alumni how the school can support equity for current and future students (as was asked privately of Irene) while blatantly disregarding the concerns of those most affected… that is just downright inappropriate.

The board puts alumni and donor interests above the wellbeing of their students. As Irene described, “Depressing. An archaic decision to line their pockets for donor bricks and mortar instead of uplifting the quality of C.O.W. souls, particularly young women.” 

The other alumna I recently spoke with similarly expressed disappointment on behalf of future generations of students. She asked me, “what message does this send to incoming female students?” To me, the message is clear: Money talks. If it is not illegal, we will turn a blind eye. We will not protect you against the powerful. And, for the time being, there shall be no public acknowledgement for the wrongs of the past.

There are days that I am proud to be a Wooster alumna. This is certainly not one of them.

Dancing in the Dark

Munesu Kuzanga

Contributing Writer

 

Content Warning: Contains mentions of sexual assault.

It was 1 a.m. and, let’s be honest, you were too drunk or too unbothered (or were you?) to care about how to pronounce her ‘exotic’ name, which is why she ended up just going by “Amy” at the end of the night. However, you were not drunk enough to forget about her Afrocentric features. Her skin. Her hair. Her body. I know you precisely remember her image as that African woman you danced with so seductively in the dark, as you did a fine job trying to avoid her the next day when you two stood face to face in the light. 

If we had to be frank with one another, human to human, what really drew you towards her? It was her features and the extra confidence your red solo cup gave you. It drew you closer and closer towards me as the tempo of that overly- played rap song grew more robust. Yet still, my body did a good job to catching the beat before it even got the chance to drop. I want to assume that you were attracted to me at that very moment because I looked beautiful and unstoppable in my element. I want to believe you approached me from behind and clung to me all night because you were too afraid to let go of someone great, and not ‘something’ great. You even asked to dance, which I thought was respectful, but the nature of respect changed. You asked to dance but your grip tightened, and you forgot that you promised me to dance. But that dance hurt, and you called me a disgusting name when I pushed you away. 

“But it was a party. The dude was drunk, and why were you dancing like that in the first place?” Firstly, I was not dancing to be objectified. I was dancing with a body that you would not understand nor handle, which is why my ancestors passed it down to me. I was dancing like another girl at that party, having a good time. You saw it as provocative because of the combination of the color of my skin and my assets. You came behind me not because I was an attractive human but because I was a Black and African woman, and this was your time to experience something new. 

Secondly, making such comments are always two syllables away from justifying the rape culture and the objectification and sexualization that Black women experience regularly.

I suppose when I look back to that very moment, I am happy that you pretend like you do not recognize me from what you did and said to me that night. I want to believe that shame is behind your resentment or perturbation towards me. However, from the way you continuously glare at me and always mutter something to your boys that always look back at me as I am trying to mind my own business, I assume you are that type of guy who continues to make a girl’s life more socially anxious and objectifying because rejection annoys or angers you, especially when it causes you more sexual frustration. 

We are not strangers to the hookup culture on campus, but at times, as someone who finds herself occasionally in and out of it, I wish I was. The idea of being sexually liberated feels daring and risky, which makes the experience of discovering your body and of shaping your sexual preferences and limitations interesting. However, the feeling of regret seeps in quickly when the respect from the person you find yourself tangled with suddenly leaves the room, and you slowly realize that you are simply a vagina. And a slur for noticing it, but never a human. Some of us have forgotten that consent is a process, not a simple password that will allow you access to every inch of someone’s body. If you ask to dance with her, dance. A party is not the best place to go looking for love, and it definitely is not the best place to cure your sexual frustration because people will get traumatized by your lack of human decency and self-control. By the end of the night, a girl should not be asking her friends if it was expected that dancing was eventually supposed to lead to you choking her.