Category Archives: Viewpoints

A letter to my younger self: it will be alright

Maggie Dougherty

Editor in Chief 

 

Dear  Maggie,

I am just writing a brief note to let you know that everything will turn out okay. When you came to Wooster, you were totally undecided on what you wanted to study; not S.T.E.M. — that’s your sister’s vibe — but something to do with people, maybe? International relations, language? You wanted to study abroad, but you didn’t know where. Someplace far away, someplace very different. You came to Wooster to be brand new, to get away from Charlottesville — you couldn’t stand the thought of going to one of the same three state schools where everyone else went; you needed to get away from those people. 

You definitely made mistakes along the way. That semester when you overloaded way too much while editing News for the Voice, and found yourself suffocated by anxiety and depression for the first time in your life? You were doing classes you normally would have loved, but just barely finding the motivation to complete assignments because that meant getting out of bed. You realized you weren’t immortal, and you had to unlearn internalized stigmas you had regarding mental illness — it can happen to anyone. 

You found people who supported you, and found ways to establish boundaries with others who couldn’t. You applied to the first study abroad program that felt right, and never looked back. You hopped on a plane to Amman and you made sure not to miss a single opportunity when you were there. You learned to be more go-with-the-flow, to take every shot you could. 

You are used to being successful, and I think if I told you that you’d be leaving college without a job, without a plan for grad school, with only a vague idea of where you’ll end up, that you might have had a panic attack. You might have thought yourself a failure. 

But I am telling you now, it’s okay that you don’t know. Even if you haven’t found a job or a concrete life plan during your time at Wooster, you have all the skills you need to land on your feet. You’ve done work you’re proud of and you’re more confident for it. Wooster isn’t perfect by a long shot, but it’s given you the space to critique it and grow, and it was the right place for you to find yourself. I can tell you now that you have succeeded, ironically, precisely because you aren’t afraid now of the uncertain path lying before you. Take care of yourself, and try not to worry too much what others think along the way. It’s all going to be just fine.

Surround yourself with different opinions

Olivia Proe

Chief Copy Editor

 

As my time at Wooster comes to a close, though certainly not in the way I thought it would, I hope to pass on a few words of wisdom to those who still have a few more years here. I remember arriving to campus my first year filled with optimism and energy. Despite the fact that I was excited for college, however, I found my first few weeks exceptionally hard. I had struggled with mental health and painful relationships in high school that made me nervous to dive into a new social scene. There were a lot of tears behind closed doors despite the cheery façade I put on while in public.

Things gradually got better over time as I dipped my toes into new activities on campus. Despite the anxiety I felt speaking to new people, I did my best to be the outgoing one and reach out to others first — and I was pleasantly surprised when I found that I could be that person who was sociable and a leader. Though I lost my first two elections in Model UN and student government, eventually becoming president of both would have been beyond my wildest freshman dreams.

All of this is to say that you are capable of more than you think. Be the one to reach out first. Try the new thing you’ve always wanted to try. Even if you’ve never thought of yourself as a leader, everyone has the ability to become one. So much of the growing that you’ll do comes from challenging yourself. There’s nothing wrong with staying in your comfort zone as you get your bearings, but you’ll miss out on a lot if you don’t take those risks. 

Though I had always hoped my college experience would take the path of a hero’s journey, there has been a lot of growth and subsequent regression. Challenges have come up unexpectedly with mental illness, relationships, friends and major world events. Be patient with yourself as you come across those stumbling blocks. While there is a lot that’s in your control, some things aren’t, and you can use those moments as time for reflection. Hitting lows at unexpected times has taught me just as much as my accomplishments here. This past year especially has allowed me to strengthen relationships with my loved ones and re-evaluate the relationship I have with myself. While there is no sugarcoating the harm this year has caused so many, I have learned that self-compassion is one of the most valuable assets you can develop during this phase of life.

Whether this has been your first year at Wooster or you’re coming up on your last, it’s never too late to change the direction of your college career to get to that version of yourself you want to be. Undergrad will never go the way you expect it will, but that’s the beauty of it.

 

In the end, fans won

Jonathan Logan

Science & Environment Editor

 

On Sunday April 18, the world’s 20 richest soccer clubs unilaterally decided to form their own league. A league completely inaccessible to the rest of the world. A league you could not be relegated from. A competition driven purely by money and television deals that pitted only the highest paid and most talented players against one another. On the surface, this seems harmless and perhaps even normal. The decision was made by the rich owners of some of the most storied and infamous clubs ever: Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool, Real Madrid and AC Milan, just to name a few.

Commentators took to television and “damned” the owners and their criminal pet project, coined the European Super League. Fans and players of these clubs made it clear that they would never again support their club if they joined the Super League. National soccer associations told players that if they played for any of these Super League clubs (the best in the world) they would be banned from ever representing their countries at the World Cup. This is something nobody could have ever even dreamt of. The rich have come for soccer under the guise of reform to the way our clubs compete.

This is war on soccer. War on the fans. War on the history and war on the blood and tears we pour into our clubs. I say we because I have been to Europe and I have experienced the full force of a city living and breathing their club. I have always had a hard time explaining to fellow Americans that there is a major difference between a franchise and a club. A franchise (like in the NFL) makes money and can be moved willy-nilly from city to city with no regard for the fans. Soccer is different. We have clubs. Clubs are cities. They are the bones of European cities and culture.

In Europe, and even here in the U.S., soccer is based on something known as the pyramid scheme. At its core, this allows lower league teams to rise up and play the titans of world soccer in the top leagues like England’s Premier League, or Spain’s La Liga. This is the lifeblood of soccer. We thrive on the little guy taking down the big guy, David beating Goliath, wee Iceland upsetting the multi-million dollar machine of England in the Euros in 2016.

You create a Super League, you kill everything we hold dear as fans. Imagine the four richest NFL teams or four richest NCAC schools broke off and formed their own little elitist bubble competition. They have the means to buy the best players, BUT, those best players never play against the average players or average teams. We soccer fans stand for an even playing field where average teams and bad teams can topple the best any day of the week. We love to see Leicester City win the Premier League against all odds. We want our sons and daughters and brothers and sisters to be able to play for the small, hometown club and rise to glory. This is impossible when the richest take the talent and monopolize it.

 For the record, each of the owners of these big European Super League clubs would have gotten $4.5 billion in television deals alone just for joining the league. The owners have since backed down and retracted their letters of intent for joining the Super League. However, this is a warning. This was the Cuban missile crisis of soccer. In a pandemic world with no fans, this rich lot wanted to give the middle finger to us all. Make no mistake, this was not some Freudian argument about the responsibility of leaders to their shareholders, this was not communism, this was greed.

In the end, soccer won. Fans won. History won. I am reminded of a Columbus Crew game I attended two years ago when the owners of the Crew were trying to move our Ohio team to Austin, TX. The chant that day was you fight for us, we fight for you, together we save the Crew. We need more of that. We’re clubs, not franchises — and not businesses.

Admin doesn’t show up for FGLI students

Annelisea Brand

Contributing Writer 

 

In the fifth year of existence for the national Alliance for the Low-Income and First-Generation Narrative (AL1GN) conference, The College of Wooster had the honor to earn the bid to host this academic year. Over sixty colleges and universities have participated in the first four years of its existence by sending students, faculty and staff to the conference at the host institutions. However, this year, when Wooster was hosting the conference, only three non-students showed up to the events to support the First-Generation Limited Income (FGLI) organizers who had worked so hard to organize it.

The weekend is solely dedicated to building community, sharing resources and collaborating with other institutions to present what is happening around the nation for first-generation and limited income (FGLI) students. I have attended every year while at Wooster, but only with other Wooster students. My sophomore year I had an informal discussion with a faculty member who stated that they would love to bring the AL1GN conference to Wooster, and that this was an eventual goal. I am a person with drive and motivation. I brought the conference to Wooster, thinking there would be this internal support immediately. The process was nearly a year long, including the intense and extensive application process, as well as discussions and emails with deans and other people that Savannah Sima ’23 and myself put together starting in May 2020. This was supposed to be, or at least I hoped it would be, the big break for FGLI students at Wooster. A national conference would secure us more resources, more visibility on the webpage, stable initiatives and, more importantly, a person that was dedicated to FGLI issues and students in contract and in person. This was wishful thinking.

Within four years at Wooster, I can count two things specifically meant for FGLI students that have been started by someone other than a student and that occurred more than once or were more permanent: the living learning suite in Luce [Hall] with Housing Coordinator Carly Jones and Dean of Students Shadra Smith’s help and then the First-Generation Fridays hosted by Dean Smith that happened during the 2018-19 academic year. This space helped students make friends, share snacks, work on homework and build community before other school events, such as athletic games. That is it to my knowledge, and as Scot Council’s First-Generation Limited Income Student Representative, I have a very vast knowledge about resources and programs on this campus for FGLI students. Does this mean I could possibly be leaving something out? Of course! However, I would seriously need to know why I have not heard of it by now and then probably assume it was not advertised well.

I know the game. I understand the sentiments of letting students speak and writing down concerns. I understand bureaucracy, legality and pivoting comments to make something be less direct when there is a critique. It has happened to me more times than I can count while being a student leader, especially while trying to advocate for FGLI students. I think what some people fail to realize is that it is super hard to do so when there is a not a community. I do not hold this against students, but against the institution. How can you expect there to be a community when there are not more than two institutional structures in place for FGLI students? These students are, statistically speaking, more often than not non-white, working more than one job, involved with a million things, figuring out college without mentors and potentially worrying about home. Yet, this work falls on students to create community. The theme of the danger of a single story at the conference was not used to emphasize a case by case basis, but rather that the institution needs to already be accounting for these nuances and intersectional identities in the FGLI umbrella by itself so people do not need to recount their trauma to prove that they are poor and need help. I figured more people would understand this as they attended AL1GN over April 9-11, a conference that has been in the works for nearly a year and involved support from people that are not exclusively students. However, only three people at Wooster who were not students showed up to even one session while FGLI students were hosting a nationally-known conference. The entire conference team was hurt, embarrassed and had low morale for the future of FGLI students on this campus. This conference was strategically planned for almost a year with intense marketing and efforts. However, things that were promised to us were never delivered and done last minute when the student team was finished with our end of promises. 

My closing note on this is that if anyone reading this feels that they need to tell someone why they were busy and chose to not come … ask yourself why. Have you done enough for FGLI students BEYOND this conference? If so, we know it. This does not apply to you. If you have championed FGLI students and gone out of your way to help the community at large, we know it. The people who need to justify why they did not come, especially when a reason was not asked for, I want them to think about why they are stating it, especially if they are able to work from home with stable employment and income in a pandemic. I do not need to hear your personal reasons, the same way I do not want to constantly share my trauma. It is yours and not mine. Most FGLI students do not have that, and we needed people that weekend. We showed up. Students with dysfunctional families, with limited incomes, without stable housing and who are overworked and overtired of being let down still showed up for a community. Yet when we were asked, “Where is your administration? Your faculty? Your staff?” there was no one. We were embarrassed, discouraged and let down as the conference hosts because we did not realize that we needed to invite people who bonded with us over them also being FGLI when they went to undergrad to come to a national conference for FGLI students that was planned for almost a year.

Genocide denial is not anti-imperialist

Gabe Melmed

Contributing Writer

 

I can’t believe that this this has to be said, but there is a small but frighteningly large community of leftists on the internet who have taken to actively denying a cultural genocide that’s happening in China. Since 2018, a steadily growing body of evidence has revealed that the Chinese government is instituting a viole nt crackdown on its mostly Muslim Uyghur minority in Xinjiang province. Upwards of one million Uyghurs and other minorities have been systematically surveilled, intimidated, separated from their families and detained in camps without trial or justification. There are more recent reports of systematic torture, sterilization without consent and forced labor. Earlier this year, the U.S. and several allies officially declared the Xinjiang crackdown to be a genocide.

As reports of these atrocities first surfaced, the governing Chinese Communist Party (CCP) denied the existence of any camps, but, as evidence grew, the CCP changed its strategy from denial to a combination of denial and spin. Since late 2018, the Party has not denied the existence of these camps, but has vehemently denied any human rights abuses, instead arguing that the camps provide vocational training.

The CCP has found an unusual ally to assist with its denial campaign: online tankies. There is a growing chorus of online leftists who believe that the Xinjiang genocide is a lie disseminated by the American empire to sabotage its greatest rival and manufacture consent for an eventual war with China. Mostly found on Twitter and TikTok, these people will look for inconsistencies in survivor testimonies, parrot the CCP line that the camps are benevolent and call the whole thing a giant CIA psyop.

At first it can seem like the Xinjiang denialists have solid ground to stand on. They’ll point out that the U.S. has fabricated stories about human rights violations by governments it doesn’t like (see the Nayirah testimony) and is capable of doing so again. They’ll also point out that many of the most extreme allegations come from Adrian Zenz, a German anthropologist and Christian fundamentalist who’s been quoted as saying he’s on a ‘mission from god’ against China.

If allegations of atrocities only came from people like Zenz, there would be legitimate reason for doubt, but they don’t. There is a massive and growing collection of survivor testimonies, satellite images, leaked government documents, internal fertility statistics and painstakingly reported journalism — much of which are from sources that aren’t exactly known for being mouthpieces of the state department — that provides evidence for some of the worst suspicions about Xinjiang. Much remains unknown, but from all indications, we’re looking at the largest mass internment of a religious minority on Earth since the end of the Third Reich.

In addition to being completely detached from reality, Uyghur genocide denial is about the furthest thing from anti-imperialist. China is not the kind of small, poor nation that the U.S. can easily bully or invade. It’s the world’s second-largest economy and military and by many indications the second most influential country in the world. Also, think of what the Uyghur genocide is — it’s a large and powerful nation exerting control over a less powerful national group (and likely extracting that group’s labor) in order to expand its global economic influence. Sounds pretty imperialist to me.  

The sad part is that all the evidence in the world wouldn’t matter to these denialists. Like QAnon conspiracy theorists who believe to this day that Donald Trump won the 2020 election, Xinjiang truthers are a symptom of online echo chambers where people believe what they want to believe and have no need to think critically. They start with the premise that all governments who challenge the U.S. empire, especially those who call themselves socialists, are inherently noble and aren’t just as capable of committing human rights violations. They work backwards from there, casting all contrary information, however solid, as propaganda. All of this is reinforced by social media algorithms that turn misinformation into an addicting feedback loop. Xinjiang denial is a frightening symbol of political discourse in the social media age — people are curating a set of facts based on their beliefs. I like to think it used to be the other way around.

I want to conclude with a short disclaimer: it’s perfectly possible to believe that Sinophobia is a major factor behind recent anti-Asian hate crimes and that the Chinese government is committing atrocities in Xinjiang. It should be abundantly clear that virtually all Chinese people, in China and elsewhere, have nothing to do with these atrocities. Turning the blame toward them and not the CCP is both hateful and wrong.  This is a matter of human rights, and people in the U.S. who use these atrocities to fearmonger about Asians and grandstand about American superiority aren’t much better than the deniers.

 

(IS)olation goes on, even after I.S.

Olivia Azzarita

Contributing Writer

 

Like everyone, I’ve had to make sacrifices because of the pandemic, and I know I’m lucky in that regard — I certainly haven’t been the most impacted by any of this. But writing a thesis in a pandemic has taken its toll, and not just on the amount of sleep I get at night. Without structure, motivation or a sense of purpose, I fell into patterns that I don’t know if I can recover from in the short time I have left here at Wooster.

In the fall, my advisor told me that I.S. should be my first priority; that it was okay if I missed assignments for another class if it meant I could meet a deadline. I started missing things regularly, especially the nights before advisor meetings, and staying up late just to make sure enough got done on my I.S. so that I wouldn’t be embarrassed by it. I’d spend every minute of every Monday on finishing touches, up until the Microsoft Teams ringtone played, then afterward my brain would shut down. Tuesdays, when I happened not to have many classes or other obligations, became my recovery day, and I spent Wednesdays and Thursdays slowly regaining productivity. Then the weekend came, I was behind on I.S., and it was time to push myself past my limit to make up for it again. Wash, rinse, repeat. In a time when days ran into each other and nothing seemed to matter, this became my routine; I was either pushing myself to exhaustion or being exhausted. It was dysfunctional, but it got results.

That vicious cycle left no room for me to establish my own life outside of I.S., and neither did living under lockdown in a single. I lost touch with friends, even on campus, because I was always either too busy or too burnt out to fully maintain relationships. I never had the energy to participate the way I wanted to in any clubs or activities. And hobbies that I used to enjoy? Forget it. Now, I feel so out of touch that I wonder if some people remember I exist. Isolation and burnout were how I experienced the “new normal” during I.S., and now that it’s done, I worry that I don’t have enough time left to really reestablish those connections. In some cases, I’m not even sure where I would start.

I don’t think any of this has a real solution. Nor do I believe anything or anyone is to blame, except for COVID-19. And I know that to some extent, burnout, loneliness and less-than-ideal habits are par for the course with I.S. But in a normal year, there would at least be more contact with people. There would be moments of relief. There wouldn’t be the sense that I was alone in all of it. Maybe it wouldn’t even feel like there was so much lost time to make up for.