Category Archives: Viewpoints

Students Must Heal Through Parties

Ryan Johnston

 

As the Wooster students like to say, “We’re Back.” Parties are back and thriving on campus along with a community that has been missing from Wooster for one-and-a-half years. The freshmen get to go out and experience college for the first time, the sophomores get to actually meet their class, and the juniors and seniors  get to meet the other three-fourths of campus. Classes ‘22 and ‘23, now being the old dogs, barely got to experience something that we are now in charge of putting on. COVID may have derailed the Fighting Scots for a bit, but we are back and better than ever before.

On March 15th, 2020, Wooster students had just started spring break. When we left, we had nothing on our minds but to explore various beaches and attend social gatherings around the world. As the week went on, calls went out, flights were cancelled, and COVID had started hitting America hard. We were told we were going home for a two-week break, only for it to become six months. After months of zoom calls and learning to bake bread , we were finally able to come back to Wooster. Sadly, Wooster was not the same. What was once a place of sports matches, large parties, and trips to Mom’s had become a barren land of half-faced people and broken friendships. Students were left sad and alone in their dorms while professors became nothing but little squares on a screen. The community and culture of Wooster had vanished. 

This year, however, things are looking up. With sports in full effect, classes completely in person, and parties going full blast, I’m reminded of why I love Wooster. Nothing beats going outside and seeing every single one of your friends. Parties are a place to let loose, meet new people, and have fun. From bad music to people climbing on roofs, the only difference in the parties from before is that ours are bigger. The community that a party creates is unmatched. The ability to be walking to class on a Thursday and recognize students you met on Woo Wednesday is a core component of Wooster that was missing during the previous three semesters. The fact that it’s back is a reflection that campus is healing. The Wooster community is starting to thrive again because of the parties that their students are throwing and attending, and I could not be any happier. As swarms of hundreds of students flock to the lawns of houses to party once more, one thing can be said: 

Welcome back, Woo.

Ode to You: Thank You

Malachi Mungoshi

“We know that some of you are still scared. We know that some of you are still silent. Just because it’s better now doesn’t mean that it’s always good.”

David Levithan, Two Boys Kissing

 

I’ve often wondered what it feels like to be oneself. Unapologetically, and unequivocally, and all those other wonderful words that connote to strength and courage and all. I have often wondered about these things. I still do. Because from a young age, being myself was never an option – at least not a safe one. I look back now at the challenges I faced, the isolation I felt long before that of social distancing was even an imaginable reality…and I feel a pang in my heart for my old self, my younger self. 

And I look at the world today – I am not much older than I was ten years ago, but I am hopefully wiser. I hear words like “queer” used as self-expressive terms, not derogatory ones. I see the likes of the Class of 2025 wearing their many colors with pride, reveling in the beauty of living. And that just makes me think of myself – of many of my friends, especially those back home. I realize that the courage, the strength, the love and the fire that lies within those after us is as a result (in part) of the courage, the strength, the love and the fire that we had to muster in the darkest, most dire of times. 

And as David Levithan seamlessly writes in his novel ‘Two Boys Kissing’, it is true that some people do still live in fear, myself included. That sometimes silence is the best option, only because it is the safest. And that in as much as the status quo is improved, it is not quite “good.” But it is also heartwarming to see love embraced, love celebrated and love be. So to the Class of 2025: Hello, Welcome and Thank You.

 

Embrace the benefits of a liberal arts college

Laura Haley

Chief Copy Editor

 

Reflecting on my Wooster experience, there are a few bits of advice I wish I’d known three years ago. Please note that I am not qualified to give advice. However, I’ve been at Woo long enough to know what Cheesy Thursdays are, and I think that gives me some sense of credibility.

My first piece of advice is to enjoy the people. There will never be another time in your life where you are surrounded by so many unique individuals — use them! By this, I mean ask as many questions as possible. Pick your professors’ brains. Ask them their favorite books, their favorite places they’ve traveled and why they love what they do. Remember, they are experts! How cool is it that every day we get to be surrounded by people who know so much and are willing to not only share what they know but to set aside time just to chat?

This leads me to my second piece of advice. Try your hardest not to burn any bridges. It’s a small campus and avoiding folks in the dining hall is never possible. Remind yourself that people come to Wooster because of the community. In essence, this means that everyone is willing to chat and/or extend a hand to some degree. Use our campus community to your advantage and build that network. The next Michelle Obama could be sitting next to you in class but now you’ll never be invited to her garden parties because you were too afraid to say hello.

Third, use the career center. As students, we hear about APEX a lot, and this is for good reason. I am convinced the career center folks are superheroes and I can’t thank them enough for the input and new perspectives they have provided me. Our Wooster experience does a great job of preparing us for the real world to do real work and the career center is there to help fine-tune our skills and put our best foot forward. When you’re an underclassman, the word ‘career’ is a far-fetched and scary term. However, if I had taken the time to have a 30-minute career coaching meeting once a week three years ago I can’t comprehend the opportunities I would have found and the alumni I would have been able to meet.

Just know you’re not alone. There are so many people who are right there with you and would love to be your cheerleader. Breathe, find a flex-momma and enjoy what’s to come.

Recontextualizing H. Lowry

Hannah Eastman

Contributing Writer

 

Content warning for mentions of sexual harassment and assault 

In the wake of #MeToo, reexamining and recontextualizing societal norms has proved a continuous challenge. The reporting of the Voice over the past few weeks has been groundbreaking in that attempting to look back through Wooster’s own history and acknowledge faults is something that is likely to open more wounds. While the actions of Howard Lowry occurred in the “past,” his legacy has shaped all of our experiences on this campus, and the way the school addresses Lowry’s actions will be important to the future of the institution. 

It’s a shame that — in my own experience — the #MeToo movement has gone from a solemn recognition of a wider societal culture that continues to prey upon women to something yet again “taboo,” or something to be ashamed to admit. In reality, no matter how many times you are told that your truth matters, sometimes the situation is so delicate that the one person telling you that you are at fault can crumble your view of a situation entirely. I have so much respect for the women who came forward to discuss Howard Lowry, and maybe the reason it was so off-putting for me is because I’d seen a part of myself in their voices that I had wanted so long to dismiss. 

When I first got the email from the school explaining an investigation would be launched —  I’m not going to shy away from it — I totally shrugged it off. It wasn’t something I wanted to see talked about here. It sounds awful, and it was. More than anything else, I thought about myself in the position of a woman who has come forward with that information about such a well-respected and powerful man so central to our interpretations of The College of Wooster. And I thought that if I had that information, the shame would just eat me whole and spit me back out. That’s why I truly admire the bravery and strength of the women who came out, who stood their ground and let an intimate detail of their lives be publicized so we can all readjust our understanding of what it means to be a part of the community that makes up the College of Wooster. 

My reaction to this situation was so abrasive and defensive that it sent me into a tiny spiral of wondering how I could call myself a woman and advocate for victims of any kind of sexual harassment or assault when I bristled at the mention of actions like this occurring in a place I respect. I had the kind of realization that you can only have when you confront a dark part of yourself that doesn’t want to let your hurt out. That it scared me so much because I had come again to see the actions the women described as normalized. Even after doing what I thought was some decent work to see how widespread sexual harassment and assault occurs, to address it in how I viewed the world around me — I was still scared at the end of the day to admit that it had reached me before, it was reaching me when I opened up the Voice, and it is going to continue to reach me in my life. 

I’d like to end this piece by encouraging everyone to have a similar conversation with themselves. It’s hard, it’ll mess you up for a bit, but it truly is worth it, because I don’t want to look at someone brave enough to speak their truth again and ignore it for my own personal comfort in the status quo ever again. 

Quarantined and saved, but at what cost?

Maud Bulman

Contributing Writer

 

It is no secret that being quarantined on campus is a stressful situation. Being suddenly uprooted from your living space, having your routine disturbed, spending ten days in isolation and being anxious over testing positive can leave any student feeling vulnerable and unsettled. In addition, students are sometimes mistreated while they are in this fragile condition, having to cope with a lack of communication with those who are supposed to be tending to their welfare and with insufficient resources available to see them through the quarantine.

I would like to add a small disclaimer about the treatment my friends and I received while in quarantine. A few professors and staff proved enormously helpful and assisted us in any way they could. They listened to our frustrations and assisted us when those who were supposed to be taking care of us did nothing. My support person who was assigned to me was one of those caring people who listened patiently to me and my friends, and stuck by our sides in our most desperate times. My aim in publishing these concerns in the Voice is not to submit an angry account of my experience, but to make the campus more aware of how the quarantining of students could be handled more humanely.

For those of you who do not know me well, I am a rather level-headed person who tries to approach every situation with a cool head and an open mind. However, I can say without a doubt that during my time in isolation I hit both a new low for my mental health and a peak of anger. It started with my experience with the Director of Emergency Management, who had set up a Teams meeting with me to discuss contact tracing. During the meeting he mentioned that I lived in a campus house. The girls in Corner House are not a wild group of people and we have gone to great lengths all year to be safe. The Director, however, refused to believe so even after I explained that my house members and I wore masks around each other, communicated mostly over virtual platforms, and only gathered for an in-person meeting once a week on our screened porch. He repeatedly asked me the same questions, like a police interrogator determined to catch me in a lie: “How do you and your housemates act around each other?” was followed with a skeptical “Truthfully, how do you and your housemates act around each other?” His constant refusal to believe my answers to his questions was deeply offensive. I was told that my friends, too, some of whom were in quarantine because of me, went through similarly unpleasant interviews with the Director. He seemed not to realize that he was no longer working as the Chief of the Wooster Police Department, but rather as Head of Security on a college campus with students who are not out to break the rules and give him a hard time. As Wooster students, we are taught that honesty, respect and trust are qualities we should assume in one another. How are we supposed to uphold these values when we are treated with suspicion and disbelief by the head of Security?

Another problem my friends and I experienced stemmed from the lack of communication between us and the staff who are given responsibility for our welfare. Once Security quarantines or isolates a student, there is no exchange of information between the Wellness Center, the student’s support person, or the Director of Emergency Management. Information given by one dean’s office is contradicted by another. Students are burdened with having to re-explain their situation over and over again, which becomes very taxing. The students are also forced to untangle complications that arise from miscommunication, or no communication, between the various offices that are responsible for providing them with clear directives.

A further problem that students face in quarantine is the lack of adequate mental health resources. Days of isolation can cause students to experience a multitude of emotions that are really hard to deal with, and they may not know how to ask for help even if they want to. Since isolation can be such a dark place, it would be beneficial if counselors were on hand to reach out to quarantined students and offer them comfort and support. My friends and I were repeatedly told to attend a Let’s Talk session. A Let’s Talk session, however, provides scarcely enough time to even begin to explain one’s situation, much less receive any solace. Furthermore, the counselors in the Scots Telehealth program are not able to be genuinely helpful because they are located all around the country, they are totally unfamiliar with quarantining at Wooster. What the College really needs are local counselors who are familiar with the quarantining process at Wooster and who, instead of spending time simply trying to understand the students’ particular situation, would be able to focus on advising and guiding them through their days in isolation.

While I admit that the speed with which people were quarantined or isolated was highly effective, and I appreciate the College’s efforts to keep the spread of COVID to a minimum so that the campus could remain open, I hope to have shown here that the treatment of quarantined students and the resources that were offered (or not offered) to them could have been improved. Obviously the administration did what they thought was in the best interest of all students, but for those of us who endured periods of quarantine or isolation, it was not enough. When my friends and I brought up several of the problems we experienced to members of the administrative staff, most of those we spoke with were quick to rationalize the College’s actions but were not willing to discuss possible solutions. Having our concerns pushed aside, the accounts of our time in quarantine dismissed and our feelings disregarded, was both upsetting and disempowering. We did not need rationalizations. We needed to be listened to. And if by any chance quarantine becomes necessary next year, it needs to be changed.

Scot Council requires accountability

This Viewpoint was submitted anonymously following last week’s Scot Council Executive Call-in.

 

As a student of color who had the opportunity to attend the call-in last Sunday, I was very shocked and equally disappointed with what was being said in the meeting and the things that I learned. It was made very clear at the beginning that it wasn’t advertised well at all, and I can’t tell if that was done intentionally or not, because it was presented to the general public as an “executive board” event which probably could have discouraged individuals like me from coming, especially since I’m not even in Scot Council to begin with. 

Apart from that, there was also the fact that the concept of accountability wasn’t being valued, which was voiced as concerning by more than one individual of color who is an important member of Scot Council. The reason behind this was because it became very apparent that certain non-BIPOC individuals in Scot Council kept taking credit for hard work that was actually done by the BIPOC individuals in the organization, which was very alarming to me. Then there is also the huge gap between Scot Council and the general public of students because, a lot of times, students generally don’t know what it is or what its purpose is, which is to cater to the concerns of students on campus. The reason for this, which was also discussed in the call-in, was due to the lack of outreach from members, especially from the executive board to other student organizations, especially when it comes to attending other student organizations’ meetings. What made this issue more ridiculous was the fact that there’s actually a whole committee on Scot Council focused on outreach, yet even the bare minimum work can’t be shown here. 

Also, there was the political language being displayed throughout the meeting by certain members, which I found to come off as being very privileged and condescending, especially for an individual who never understood that type of language growing up nor is a political science major. This made it very clear to me that there is this politician personality being expressed by certain individuals (specifically by certain non-BIPOC members) on Scot Council and the problem is that politicians, as I’ve learned being from a marginalized community, like to vocalize empty promises with no intention to actually fulfill them at all. There’s also the problem of getting BIPOC individuals to even be willing to run for Scot Council and retaining seats as well, which I found to be very sad but not surprising considering my conversations with those on Scot Council and the toll it takes on them because they constantly have to do all the work in the marginalized communities on campus, which personally discouraged me from running for Scot Council this year. 

Despite all of this, I still have hope for Scot Council next year in the sense that once certain individuals can start owning up to their mistakes and biases, there can be room for change and transparency.