Category Archives: Our View

Darn you, mailbox!

Allie Miraldi

After suffering for three long years, I have finally decided to launch a formal complaint to the mail gods of Lowry. I am a five-foot eight and three-quarters inch tall female. I do not consider myself a giant by any means, but I am significantly taller than the average American female (at least that’s what some rando told me once). Why, oh, why was I assigned to a mailbox that is located on the lowest shelf? I have pleaded, nay, begged with friends to check my mail for me. Moreover, I have attempted to seduce strangers to check my mail countless times with the false promise of reward, thereby jeopardizing my name as an honest individual. All of this I have done for the sake of my weak knees and ankles. What truly rattles my cage is the fact that I have repeatedly spotted short humans having to struggle to reach their top-shelf mailboxes. I do not stake out and wait to report on such instances; they happen merely by chance, which makes this all the worse! How many Wooster students must suffer before the flaws of the mailbox system are put to light?

I propose a new system that bases the owner’s mailbox location on his or her height. Upon entering The College of Wooster, each student is required to take a photo for his or her COW Card (the exception being those of you out there who sent in glam photos before you realized your mistake… we know who you are). During this process, students either sit on a stool or stand up against a wall. I suggest that during this marvelous photo op, students have their height measured. For those of you who are insecure about your height, worry not — the results of the brief, albeit mystical, experience will not be revealed to the general public. If implemented, I believe this system could alter the negative experience many patrons have when checking their mail. The defeat of not receiving a heavily anticipated package or a weekly letter from Aunt Sandy will appear miniscule if the process of checking mail becomes less physically tiresome. Therefore, College of Wooster students, stand by me as we link arm-in-arm, hand-in-hand and participate in a march toward the Lowry mailroom. Ride with me and protest the insufferable ways of the bourgeois mail elite!

Kate’s tips for Woo success

Kate Schiller

Having gathered four years of experience at Wooster, here is a list of things I am glad I did here and/or  suggest other people try.

1. Get commitments. While there is nothing unpleasant about having the freedom to watch Netflix every day of the week, I learned a lot from getting involved in student government, judicial board, Peanuts, Woo 91 and The Wooster Voice. I don’t think of myself as a person who likes activities, and it can be rough to balance all the time you have to put in, but organizations here are so easy to join and very worth it.

2. Love your major/classes. Ultimately, Wooster is a place where you pay a lot of money to go to classes. I’ve switched majors, and I think I’ve only had one semester where I didn’t make a schedule change within the first week. It is definitely easier to fill out that pink sheet than to get up for that 8 a.m. class you find impossible to maintain interest in.

3. Be nice to others. While one should be nice to other people all the time and everywhere, your treatment of others on Wooster’s campus will never be isolated incidents involving only one moment and one person. The Wooster community is tight-knit and you will be here for four years-anyone you hurt in an off moment is a good friend of a friend who you will interact with again.

4. Fall in love with people. Although having a  serious boyfriend was explicitly not in my college plans, I certainly don’t regret   my relationship over the last four years. And I certainly don’t regret falling in love with five other ladies who have provided just as much support and fun as any romantic relationship ever could. Although close relationships take work, they are worth it.

5. Talk with other students about your most important values and beliefs. Like many students here, I came from a place where most people I grew up with shared my religious, political and moral values. I came in with a lot of stereotypes that have been challenged wonderfully by those rare and often slightly awkward conversations with beloved friends who respectfully disagree with me. It can be hard to ask a friend if they are a creationist, but I’ve found that the answer is often enlightening. Whether somebody’s beliefs are different than yours is less important than how well you enjoy their company. And it is really cool to find out all the different ways your friends think, and you won’t find out until you bring it up.

In summation, the best advice I could give to a Wooster student is to join clubs, take classes you like, give somebody you think is cute a chance and attempt to talk religion over Lowry.

The imminent decline of dating

A good friend overnighted with me as a prospective student last weekend. Being young and male, it was not surprising that one of his first questions was “So, is Wooster the kind of place where I can find girls to hook up with tonight?” Evidently, one of his missions for the visit was just to get some real college action. My answer, following just a few seconds of deliberation, was a resounding “Yes.”

I could drone on about the campus, the type of students that attend the school and the ways in which the atmosphere here seems weirdly conducive to random hooking up. Yet I think the phenomenon runs deeper than that. I’d rather take a step back and look at our society as a whole, and its degeneration into a hookup culture that characterizes the dating scene for 20-somethings. The truth is that dating has become, well, dated. And hooking up is here to stay.

There are a multitude of reasons for the decline in dating. There’s the average age of marriage, which has been steadily creeping up for decades. Many people don’t want to settle down early; for the sake of their freedom, or a career, or even the approval of peers who tend to judge those who tie the knot too soon.

“People now are more career-oriented and thinking about the economics in their lives in a way my generation didn’t even have to,” reasoned Joanne Lehman, a writing consultant at the Writing Center in Andrew Library.

And let’s be honest, even if you’re a stickler for tradition, who has the resources to dedicate to finding a victim, convincing him or her to go out to eat, and then paying for that food? Once in a while, perhaps, but unless you’re swiping the girl in to Lowry and calling it a hot date, you might find yourself with empty pockets pretty quickly.

Still, there are concerns about the rise of hooking up (a term that can encompass everything from making out to actual intercourse). Much of the stress of finding a companion, and deciding how to go about doing so, falls to girls. A great number of men are simply in it for the thrill of the ride, and are not stigmatizied for this lack of commitment. On the other hand, women are still viewed as “sexual gatekeepers,” who can either throw the gates wide open or lock them up in Maid Marian-esque fashion.

As a result of this, women are statistically more relationship-oriented, and therefore more likely to be hurt if encounters don’t result in a totally monogamous relationship. But hooking up takes so much of the ambiguity out of the equation. It makes it okay (expected, really) for both parties to remain uncommitted.

“In the casual dating category, some people think they’re headed for a long-term relationship, but there are also people who are only in it for sex. It basically brings ‘players’ and ‘non-players’ together. As a consequence, it raises the question of whether casual dating is a useful institution,” said University of Iowa sociologist Anthony Paik.

By these standards, it would seem that we have three choices. Either transparency is needed to make dating more satisfying for both parties, hook ups should be treated with more respect or we should scrap mating entirely and take full advantage of sperm banks for reproduction. In terms of hurt feelings, option number three seems the most logical, though it also sucks all the fun out of relationships.

Another, very legitimate concern is that a lifetime of casual quasi-relationships can hinder young people from actually committing in the long term. Falling too far into the hook up frame of mind could also disable people from recognizing the potential for a relationship, or being able to open up to emotionally to potential mates.

I believe in doing what you want, as long as it’s the right thing for you. I know plenty of people in solid, committed relationships that started with a casual sexual encounter. I’ve experienced it myself. The difference lies in the manner of the hook up. I’m willing to bet a fair amount of money that the “success rate” of hook ups that become relationships is driven up by premeditated hook ups with someone you know and like, versus completely random one-night stands.

In the end (in case you haven’t figured it out for yourself), it’s all about what you want out of these close encounters of the sexual kind. If you’re not looking for a love to go down in the annals of history, hooking up might be a good option. If something more comes out of it, then great! If not, it won’t be a soul-crushing thing to cry about to your friends. If, however, you are in the relationship frame of mind, for heaven’s sake don’t snag someone from the UG, show them a good time, then expect something to come of it.

For the record, my visiting friend did succeed in his “mission” that night. Case in point.

Kris Fronzak is the Editor in Chief for the Voice and can be reached for comment at HFronzak12@wooster.edu.

The ongoing evolution of censorship

Regrettably, too often we hear news reports outlining the stories of humans living under comprehensive censorship in authoritarian states. The Middle East recently experienced periods of government-mandated shutdown of the internet in attempts to suppress the insurrection of the Arab Spring. Stories of reporters whisked away after publishing opinionated editorials or investigative research keep Russia ranked dangerously low in terms of journalistic freedom. China’s paranoid methods in their attempt to control the web leads to what Chinese citizens call the “50 Cent Party,” whose members are paid by the government every time they remove dissident comments from message boards or post opinions that reinforce the infallibility of the communist party.

In light of this, score one for capitalist democracy. The freedom from persecution that U.S. citizens enjoy rivals that of most any industrialized state. Naturally, the system is not perfect and sometimes the government exercises questionable authority in monitoring and accusing citizens of illegal or questionable activity. The Patriot Act still operates in some manifestation, as last May Obama authorized four more years of roving wiretaps and access to library records.

Nevertheless, the good outweighs the bad, and private citizens and businesses regularly defend their rights to promote openness. Recently Google revealed that local law enforcement asked for the removal of YouTube videos (a Google subsidiary) which document the violence perpetrated by police officers in Oakland, Ca. last week. Video of tear gas thrown into Occupy Oakland protestors depicts a scene of pure chaos, resulting in many injuries against protestors, some critical. Google denied the removal request, citing their commitment to transparency.

It is calming to know that one doesn’t have to comb the underbelly of the web to find these videos. YouTube should proudly host amateur footage of protests, documentation of riots and violent confrontations between citizens and law enforcement. It is a testament to liberal democracy that a country can function without successfully suppressing the dispersal of eyewitness accounts in egregious actions done by employees of the state.

Moreover, even if Google caved and pulled the videos, they would not be lost. If the internet has proven anything it is its lasting power in retention of information. When Wikileaks was forcibly shut down through government intervention, mirrors of the site instantly popped up with the same data. Supposing whistleblower sites like Wikileaks and OpenLeaks fail, and the mirrors are suppressed effectively, individual bloggers could continue to publish the controversies, whether anonymously or not. And if those bloggers are threatened, groups like Anonymous itself will take action, and activists can communicate through IRC channels and PGP encrypted emails. In the present day, if you need to find something, you can find it.

The revolutions we witnessed this spring successfully utilized social networking in their organization against authoritarianism. Cell phones are quickly becoming powerful mobile computers, and have been used extensively in coordinating protestors in the Middle East. Hundreds of “Occupy X” videos crop up daily, alongside thousands of tweets and links to additional information. Instead of passing out pamphlets and nailing leaflets to trees, modern day protests rely on the vast communication network we take for granted every day. This revolutionary technology affects revolutionary activity so rapidly the possibilities for movement by the masses are now almost completely unpredictable. Whether countries like the U.S. continue to comply with the rights of freedom of speech and of the press, we live in a new era of global transparency and interaction. I agree with the chants of the Occupy Wall Street protestors when accosted by police: “The whole world is watching!”

John McGovern is a Viewpoints editor for the Voice and can be reached for comment at JMcGovern12@wooster.edu

Reslife and SPS are failing us

Since last week’s forum regarding the state of student life and the policies of the college, there has been an increasingly divisive atmosphere of mistrust towards our administration. This forum followed two significant trends this semester: the increase in reported campus drug abuse, and the increase of violence and harassment from citizens of the surrounding community, most notably several sex offenders who have found their way on campus.

These two problems show a massive gap between what the priorities of security are and what they ought to be. First of all, I must clarify that there is certainly a role for Security and Protective Services (SPS) in preventing students from abusing substances to the point of endangering themselves or others. The partial destruction of a wall outside of Westminster by an intoxicated student driving proves this. Nor can I claim that the increase in drug incidents is solely a product of increased enforcement, rather than changes in student activity. However, I find in my experience that the majority of times SPS cites students for drug and alcohol usage, they are not “protecting” them.

Banning drinking games and large containers of alcohol is a plainly stupid way of cutting down on alcohol abuse, as well as Residence Life’s asinine “Safe, Sober, Smart” program. College students will always get drunk, and they will always get high. Telling us that the only way to avoid problems with these substances is to abstain from them entirely recalls the failed policies of abstinence-only sex education that plague our high schools.

The program also shows how misinformed these departments are on the topic of substance abuse. I’m referring to the display on the art wall showing recent drug-related deaths of several college students. These included people who died largely from the abuse of prescription drugs and alcohol (both of which can be extremely dangerous), but four of these included the note “he was also found to have marijuana in his system.” The implication of causality here is reckless and ignorant fear mongering. Marijuana does not kill people. Period. It is not a health threat except for the long-term ingestion of tar and maybe eating too many Cheetos. The fact that these departments prioritize enforcing this failed and unnecessary law over keeping sex offenders off campus shows that they are not protecting us in the way they ought to be.

Similarly, the Wired Scot has a bulletin board display attempting to dispel myths about the Judicial Board. Sure, it’s good to know that the system is based around the idea of “essential fairness,” but when you’re sent to a level two hearing just for being in the same room as a former student (true story), these words mean absolutely nothing. Just as the administration does with its “Global Citizenship” crap, we are being sold meaningless catchphrases about what our college experience ought to be by the offices that more often than not let us down.

This culture of misplaced paranoia comes through in our daily lives. I live in Stevenson, where there is an adjacent picnic table that friends and I sometimes go to enjoy a cigarette. I am sick of seeing the exact same security guard strolling by and accusing us of doing something illegal when we are doing absolutely nothing that is against the policies of the college. I am sick of seeing security escort former students off of this campus to go to jail, when they are not the criminals who are beating and harassing us, but rather our friends. I am sick of seeing them emptying hallways where every student is over 21, but Reslife has decided the decision of having a wet or dry lounge is not one that we can be entrusted with.

So, to Reslife and SPS, I say this: please realize that an increasing number of students on this campus do not think you are protecting us. If you want to protect us, how about you quit your ignorant approach to marijuana and drinking and investigate the prejudice, harassment, and violence that we are sick of?

 

Dan Hanson is a Viewpoints editor for the Voice and can be reached for comment at DHanson12@wooster.edu

 

 

The leak in the internet

The Internet is truly a beautiful thing. It has expanded into our daily lives to the point where one often has to clarify if a topic of conversation is internet-relevant in order to make sure one is understood. I look at this age of universal connectivity with pride, and I welcome the inevitable globalization that will eventually come about because of our constantly expanding connectedness. However, something has been happening lately that is really making me grind my teeth: the saturation of Internet meme references in everyday conversation and life.

The usage of memes in real life has been on the rise for years now, so much so that the phrase “the Internet is leaking” has become a meme itself. People have been saying various vocalized forms of “lol,” “pwn,” and other net-colloquialisms since the rise of AOL Instant Messenger. But it seems these days I can’t even walk up the steps to dinner without passing two posters featuring “The Most Interesting Man in the World” and “Rage Faces.”

You could say that I am fairly in-the-know when it comes to the internet as a community. Being socially awkward and fairly introverted, a good portion of my time is spent on websites like reddit.com and Fark.com. I’ve even connected with several people at Wooster because we are all reddit users, so I can understand one’s desire to make real-life connections using a popular form of humor that is rapidly becoming mainstream. Having said that, I want to scream every time someone uses “Win” or “Fail” as a one-word sentence.

Every week, a new joke, video or colloquialism goes viral and receives millions of hits. I laugh hysterically with everyone else, just like I laughed at David After Dentist, Antoine Dodson, Leeroy Jenkins, and so on all the way back to the Grape Lady. The thing is, the nature of this form of entertainment is that it’s spontaneous, easily accessible, and easily contributable. Something hilarious and unique hits the internet every hour; I should not have to be in Lowry clutching my temples while somebody across the room is screaming “Hide yo kids, hide yo wife!” I don’t even understand why nobody else is as frustrated as I am; we all lived through the Budweiser “Wassup!” fiasco that would not die. This is the exact same thing, but only now it’s missing vowels half of the time.

There is even a film about viral characters being produced by Andrew Fischer of NURV entitled “The Chronicles of Rick Roll.” If the title isn’t enough for you, the cast includes Antoine Dodson, Leeroy Jenkins, Boxxy, and the guys from Numa Numa, Double Rainbow, Boom Goes the Dynamite, Chad Vader, and World of Warcraft Freakout. I won’t even touch the trailer for fear of aneurysm, but it’s on Youtube, so you can venture forth at your own peril.

Don’t get me wrong: I love slipping a good, timely reference into a conversation. The key word here is “timely.” A stale internet joke draws as many groans as stupid Family Guy quotes and tired Monty Python references.

The point is that if you’re making a meme reference in everyday conversation, chances are that we’ve all seen it and thought it was hilarious. These references can be great for social interaction when applied correctly. However, as fast as a meme can be generated and popularized, so too does it age at the pace of a housefly.

Eric Batke is a Senior Staff Writer for the Voice and can be reached for comment at EBatke12@wooster.edu.