Category Archives: Viewpoints

College quarantine plan chaotic & stressful

Megan Fisher

Contributing Writer

 

Over the weekend, my entire house was quarantined at the Best Western for possible exposure to a COVID-19 case. I feel that the College portrays this as a smooth and well-planned process, but that was not my personal experience. It all began when I received a message through Microsoft Teams indicating that I, as well as the rest of my house, would have to go into quarantine from a staff member in the Dean of Students office. While one or two members of my house got on brief calls with this point of contact, we received very little information about next steps or why it was even necessary for us to go into quarantine. It was Friday afternoon, so we were all dealing with going to class, but still left to wonder just exactly what was going on. I missed classes in the time that our house was on Teams calls with the Dean of Students office staff, packing and moving into the Best Western. Our house was released from quarantine around 45 hours later after our isolated house member got a negative test result. 

The entire weekend was filled with inconsistencies. We first wondered why we could not stay in our own house on campus to quarantine if the College considered us already exposed. Our point of contact explained that it was because the shared bathrooms and poor ventilation in our house could lead to further exposure. However, while in isolation, our house member was isolated in the same house as another person who was a possible positive case. For meals, the College delivered lunch and dinner to the doors of the hotel rooms of everyone in quarantine. Then, for breakfast, we were instructed to go down to the lobby, sit with other quarantined students and eat with our masks off — with no to-go option available — then return to our rooms. While this was comforting because it reminded me of meeting friends for what we all know is the best meal of the day, Lowry breakfast, I do not think this behavior is what the CDC would define as “quarantine.” In fact, we ate breakfast with another quarantined house. Eating meals together is something my house has avoided all semester, meaning that sharing breakfast in the hotel not only exposed us to each other more than usual, but also to an entire extra group of students with whom we normally would not share meals. I cannot imagine that the shared ventilation in our house could be a higher risk factor than eating meals together in close proximity — without masks on, of course. 

Another major factor in this experience that I feel the College vastly overlooked was the mental and emotional toll of the process. When asked how this would be handled, our point of contact in the Dean of Students office seemed to have no reply. They said we could continue to see a counselor if we had one already in place on campus, or they could direct us to outside resources. My mental health began to deteriorate very quickly in quarantine, but since I am not already on the counseling rotation, I had no access to professional help, unless you count binge watching the new season of “Schitt’s Creek.”

I acknowledge that I have been very critical in this article. I am by no means a public health expert or even fully aware of how the school came to these decisions and procedures, so I want to recognize that this is purely my experience and opinion based on my limited knowledge. While at the time I believed the move to be an overreaction, I do want to commend the school for keeping their student body safe up until this point.

My recommendations to improve this process are  to work with the Best Western to have breakfast delivered to the rooms of quarantined students, allocate mental health services directly to people in quarantine, isolate possible cases in completely separate buildings and have a more rigorous review process of these quarantine procedures. Again, I acknowledge that I have no knowledge of the school’s budget for this matter or many other things going on in the background. However, this process is disrupting students’ lives physically, mentally and emotionally. For students, my recommendation is if you find out a friend is in quarantine, reach out to them. While I was in quarantine, some friends did not realize how stressful this process was; therefore, they didn’t reach out. While this is not their fault, it still just added confusion and anxiety to the whole process. This process was way more stressful than I imagined, and would’ve been even worse without the support of friends.

Debate fails to inform voters

Elyse Evans

Contributing Writer

 

Picture this: It’s a Tuesday night in late September, and you sit down with your roommates to watch the first 2020 presidential debate between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden. If you were one of the unlucky people who had to experience this exact scenario, I am so sorry. Additionally, if you somehow forced yourself to watch the entire thing, then you truly have my deepest condolences. I assume that you, like myself, have now entered a prolonged state of mourning. There is a long list of takeaways from this debate, very few of which  have anything to do with policy. Now, I find myself focusing on two primary questions: “How did we get here?” and “What does this mean for voters?”

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention some of the more humorous aspects of the debate and, more specifically, the public reactions to them. If you didn’t watch the debate or have yet to hear anything about it, let me draw you in with this statement made by CNN’s Jake Tapper: “That was a hot mess inside a dumpster fire inside a train wreck.” A variety of commentators echoed similar sentiments, including the following statement made by Lisa Lerer of the New York Times: “I can tell you the loser of this debate: the voters.” In terms of the actual content, a variety of wild moments occurred, including when Biden told President Trump to “shut up” when Trump made a declaration about Democrats wanting to “take out the cows” and the many unintelligible moments where the candidates and the moderator were all talking at once in an unseemly chorus of chaos. Sounds like a party, right? Sure, there is humor to be found in this ludicrous display, but much of that is overshadowed by the real sense of concern we should all feel.

Whether or not you pay close attention to politics, I think it’s fair to say that we are all aware of the importance of the November election. If the debate conveyed any message, it is that this is a moment in our country unlike any we have seen before. I know we have all heard this statement thrown around plenty of times, especially during 2020, but this is truly the case. This debate was so disastrous that there is real consideration of giving the moderator the ability to mute candidates. We, as a population, are divided and scared. Sure, this fear manifests itself in different ways surrounding a variety of sources, but the fact remains that the anxiety and uncertainty of this year have overtaken our lives. Fear has power. This is my best answer for how we got here. But we are not yet doomed to stay here. This brings me to the question — what will this mean for voters? 

It is now becoming abundantly clear that the candidates are not going to do the work for us. It seems very unlikely that voters will be able to learn about the positions and policies of each candidate from debates. Therefore, the responsibility to stay informed falls even more heavily on the shoulders of each voter. If we truly want our country to not be ruled by ignorance and fear, we must, as individuals, hold ourselves accountable. We have seen the ridiculous outcomes of refusing to listen to or respect other human beings, and how it turns the democratic process into a laughingstock. To reclaim democracy, we must channel the energy we spend talking over one another into informing ourselves and voting.

Despite debate, Trump is still the best option

Katie Fields

Contributing Writer

 

For those who watched the debate, there is a general consensus that it was, at best, borderline chaotic. Although Trump made multiple firm arguments throughout the debate, such as Biden’s inability to draw large crowds to his rallies, many would agree that his constant interruptions were unnecessary, as Biden needs no help digging his own grave. Though many view his snarky one-liners as good material for political attack ads, others feel that a professional approach would have been better. While nobody expects Trump to be overly articulate, his lack of professionalism during debates and speeches may cause uncertainty among those who are not yet sure who they intend to vote for.

The focus of the debate, however, lies not with Trump’s attitude; those who like his brusque personality will still vote for him, and those that hate him will continue to do so. The majority of voters already accept that for better or worse, it is a part of a packaged deal when it comes to President Trump. Luckily, we have Pence to balance out Trump’s more vibrant personality with his own serious flair. Instead, the focus of the debate should have been exposing Biden for what he truly is: a radical hypocrite and incoherent puppet of the extreme left. Biden cannot seem to hold a single stance that, during his half a century in office, has not either been self-contradicted or would do irrevocable harm to the country. Case in point: the economy. Coronavirus has undoubtedly hindered the economy, however, barring a catastrophic black swan event such as the pandemic, the average middle-class income under the Trump Administration has risen $5,000 due to his tax cuts. Conversely, Biden has proposed not only reversing these tax cuts, but then raising taxes by $4 trillion over ten years, according to Forbes.

A far more pertinent and pivotal point of the debate, however, was Trump’s resolute answer to Chris Wallace’s first question regarding the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to fill the seat of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. He appropriately justified that it is well within his constitutional authority and obligation to fill the seat, just as former President Barack Obama attempted to do in February of 2016, following the death of Justice Scalia. To highlight his point of executive commitment, President Trump used, for credibility, the words of Justice RBG, “The president is elected for four years, not three years, so the power he has in year three continues into year four,” thus providing support for his case that filling the seat is the exact reason for which any president is elected: to represent the people and make executive decisions on their behalf.

The first presidential debate of 2020 was fraught with constant interruptions and unprofessionalism from the President, gaffs, contradictions and outright lies from the former Vice President and blatant and disgraceful bias from the moderator. Though President Trump’s rhetoric was distasteful, he did highlight one key component of Biden’s governmental and civil career: “The fact is, I did more in 47 months as president than Joe Biden did in 47 years.” Joe Biden has proposed and accomplished extraordinarily little throughout his half century in public office, and what he has accomplished, he adamantly disavows now. Love Trump or hate him, one thing is inarguable: “Promises Made, Promises Kept.”

Write an I.S. that matters to you

Olivia Proe

Chief Copy Editor

 

Content Warning: Suicide and mental health challenges 

 

For seniors, Independent Study (I.S.) is just as much a daunting paper as it is a passion project. To write an undergraduate thesis about something, you must truly care about it — which is why many of us choose topics that hit close to home. I personally battled with choosing to write my I.S. about suicide and suicide prevention strategies in New Zealand. After spending a semester abroad there and finding a home with the people I met, they confided in me that many of them had lost a friend to suicide or struggled with suicidal thoughts themselves. I was touched that they opened up to me. However, as more and more friends that I met shared similar stories, the sociologist in me woke up: this wasn’t an individual issue; it was a public health emergency.

Still, I was hesitant to write about New Zealand’s suicide crisis because of its personal relevance. My own struggles with mental health since my adolescence made me worry that I would be unable to handle reading about it every day until March. In some ways, I was right. There are times when I struggle to finish articles or have to step away from my work for an hour or two. I see my research everywhere now: in how casually we joke about suicide (myself included), in how alienated we feel from our own lives and even in popular New Zealand media (hello, Lorde’s “Melodrama.”) 

But in many ways, burying myself in books and articles about mental health has been enlightening. I have been able to understand myself better through reading about alienation and stigma. It has also given me a chance to understand small differences I can make within my own life. Though humor is one of my favorite coping mechanisms, I am trying to be more conscious about how flippantly I discuss suicide. I also have a greater understanding of how I conceptualize my own well-being, and what privileges I have had to seek treatment for my mental health.

The most challenging change I’ve made, but also the most rewarding one, is being completely honest about my own mental health. Within the last few months, I have been open for the first time about living with bipolar disorder. Despite it being the singularly most impactful factor in my college experience, it is something I never talked about until I began my research. Were it not for the myriad sources I’d found on how to break stigmas, I may have never been fully truthful about my experiences. Now, I understand the weight that personal testimony can have on others, and I intend to share my own so we can normalize seeking help.

If any non-seniors are reading this, I’m not trying to dissuade you from writing about heavy topics or personal ones either — quite the opposite. My own experiences fill me with passion to do research every day. It’s what drags me out of bed and to my carrel, even when I’m feeling particularly overwhelmed or unmotivated. I’d jump at the chance to tell anyone what I’m writing about because it’s something that’s deeply meaningful to me. At the end of my Wooster career, even if my I.S. is relegated to the stacks, I hope that the one person who might find it can find peace in my research, too.

 

 

The “climate clock” takes the wrong approach

Cambry Baker

Contributing Writer

 

From September 19-27, a temporary “Climate Clock” in Manhattan’s Union Square counted down the years, days, hours, minutes and seconds left until we are unable to avert climate disaster. You probably saw it — it’s hard to miss the large, glaring red numbers. My concern with the climate clock is not that I think the timeline is wrong, but that I worry the clock’s effect will be the opposite of what the artists intended. What happens when a human is confronted with such a threatening fact? Especially amidst racial injustices and a pandemic that are already taxing people’s emotional health?

With a threat as large and scary as climate change, our brains are forced to find a way to cope. There are a few ways we humans do that: we either work to solve the problem or we cope emotionally through distancing, avoidance or denial of the problem. Both are valid responses to protecting our mental health. However, we need to take action. The problem with responding to climate change with action lies in the fact that individuals alone do not have the ability to solve climate change. Our brain, then, when it conceptualizes climate change within a “doomsday” framework like the climate clock employs, feels even more inadequate to face the problem head on.

Therefore, the clock likely either reinforces denial responses for individuals who have already been relying on that form of coping, or it may further induce climate anxiety upon those who already know we need to take climate action. Neither are conducive to change. In fact, environmental education research has proven doom and gloom messages to be ineffective at initiating long-term sustainable behaviors.

When I think about the types of messages and artist statements that will move the American public to action, I am more interested in the second, less well-known number the climate clock displayed: the percentage of our supply of energy that is already renewable. Showing people a future to hope for and highlighting the positive actions others are already taking to get there (like renewable energy) can help counteract feelings of overwhelm and anxiety.

If, like me, you have climate anxiety, it can be hard to not want to shake people and tell them they need to care “or else.” I suspect the “Climate Clock” artists felt this way too. But, if you are able, I challenge you in your daily life to notice when climate change communication is framed negatively. How does it feel to look at a climate countdown? If instead you shift the conversation to imagining what it would feel like and look like to live in a sustainable world, how others are currently working to get there and what realistic actions you can take to help, does that change how you feel? While the climate clock had good intentions, positive framing is more effective at giving people the resilience they need to face climate change head on and take action.

Letter from the Editors: Election Season

Maggie Dougherty

View Points Editor

Makeda Teklemichael

View Points Editor

Chloe Burdette

Editor in Chief

Samuel Casey

Editor in Chief

Megan Tuennerman

Managing Editor

 

Dear Scots,

As the 2020 presidential election draws closer, we recognize that political polarization is higher than usual. In an effort to ensure that members of our campus community treat one another with respect during this time, we have decided to institute a new Election Year policy to guide our publication decisions for the Viewpoints section. Our policy, as can be found on The Wooster Voice website, reads:

“We recognize that election years are a time of heightened polarization in which members of our community may feel especially strongly about certain issues. As always, The Wooster Voice is committed to protecting Freedom of Speech and Expression for our writers. That being said, in an effort to maintain goodwill amongst our campus community, we will be doing our best to balance speech and expression protections with respect for human dignity. As always, we will not print personal attacks against individuals or Viewpoints that disrespect the dignity of any group based on identity characteristics.”

Moreover, in Viewpoints, it is common to acknowledge that those who don’t agree with you may have a different opinion. You certainly do not have to agree with that opinion, but we also will not tolerate language which disparages the individuals who think differently than you as being less intelligent for their opinion. When writing Viewpoints, we encourage you to interrogate why those who disagree with you hold their opinions and to entertain the idea that there might be valid reasoning for them to feel a certain way, even if you do not. 

Finally, in recognition of recent developments in the Black Lives Matter movement, we want to underscore the sentiments expressed in a recent email from the Board of Trustees of the College, sent on Tuesday, Sept. 22 from Secretary of the College Angela Johnston. In their statement, the Trustees write, “We recognize that anti-Black violence and other disheartening examples of anti-Black racism are neither new nor isolated.  We also recognize that intentional racial discrimination, unconscious bias, and the legacies of slavery and white supremacy contribute to anti-Black violence and perpetuate gross racial disparities in education, housing, employment, healthcare, and other structures of contemporary society.” 

In accordance with the Trustees’ message, The Wooster Voice unequivocally recognizes that Black lives matter, and that Black people in the United States face racial discrimination in many forms. We will not publish a Viewpoint which argues that Black people do not face racism, as we believe this would bring harm to our community. We will not publish any Viewpoints which invalidate or undermine the experiences of other individuals, especially in regard to race.

Thank you for adhering to these guidelines to commit to kindness towards our campus community. 

 

Kindly, your editors:

Maggie Dougherty

Makeda Teklemichael

Chloe Burdette

Samuel Casey

Megan Tuennerman