Category Archives: Viewpoints

Decisions are made by those who show up

Oria Daugherty

Contributing Writer

Over the last year, the College has started to undergo a lot of changes in a lot of different areas — we have begun the Master Planning process to plan for the next decade of Wooster’s future, the planning for the Lowry renovation has begun in full force and the College is in the process of moving from two student governing bodies to one. These are big changes, and the entire student body should make their voices heard in these processes, yet most do not.

There are countless meetings, planning sessions and Q&A sessions about these issues. The Oversight Committee planned several sessions to hear about what the student body wanted the new student governance to look like, and yet the meetings were almost exclusively attended by students who had participated in one of the two existing bodies in the last several years — very few students outside of student government came. Similarly, something like a half-dozen sessions have been held to field suggestions, questions and comments about the Lowry renovation, and yet at the most recent presentation, I was the only person in a sea of chairs set up in the Pit when the meeting was set to start at 5 p.m. I know that students are busy — I know practice, rehearsal and study groups prevent some students from attending these meetings. But to have one student available out of 2,000 feels unlikely. (I will say that other students showed up shortly after, though the group never exceeded 10.)

I believe it is the responsibility of the administration, the student government or whatever group plans these sessions to ensure there is variety in timing, so that different parts of the student body can attend different sessions. It is also important to send out the information about the meeting time and place sooner rather than later, and that is something that has been done poorly in several instances. However, it is not the responsibility of those planning the meeting to beg students to attend and give feedback (which they essentially are — trust me, being the only student in a large, empty space with President Bolton presenting directly to you from a large projector clearly set up for a crowd is less than a comfortable experience). The student body should care enough about the future of the College and the future students that will attend to show up to at least a few of these meetings. While it can be hard to invest time into something like the Lowry renovation, which most of us will never see as students, we should care enough about the improvement of the College to show up.

I decided to write this not only because I saw how poorly attended these events are, but because I catch my peers, my friends and myself making regular complaints about how things are on campus. Students complain about a lack of representation in student government bodies, but do not attend meetings about government. Students complain about the design of Lowry, the dining services available and the dysfunctionality of the Alley, but do not attend Lowry renovation meetings. Feel free to complain. We all do; I do. But my request is this: when given the opportunity, direct those complaints productively, to someone who is looking for student opinions. You might just be able to prevent a couple complaints for the classes that come after you.

When will Wooster take student concerns over tuition seriously?

Zoe Kopp-Weber

Contributing Writer

C.O.W. tuition increased 4.6 percent in 2013. This was my junior year and I was anxious. The sticker price of our education exceeded $50,000 before additional expenses, and I was also shouldering bills for my family at the time. I advocated for tuition transparency alongside the Wooster Student Union (WSU), but the administration met us with apathy, bemusement and ridicule. We didn’t ask for a tuition freeze; we just wanted to know where our (loan) money was going. We questioned the sitting president’s salary — Grant Cornwell’s base compensation was over $300,000 — and emphasized that solutions proposed by the financial office didn’t address our problem; in some cases such solutions even failed to assist international students. The odds were stacked against us. After a year of organizing, the movement dissolved when the majority of WSU graduated.

 I graduated from C.O.W. six years ago and have only recently secured my first salaried job upon completing my Master’s, and 70 grand of student debt looms over my head. It felt like fate when, during my research at said job, I stumbled across a current C.O.W. student — Maggie Dougherty ’21 — advocating for a tuition lock. This isn’t the first or second time a student has taken to the Voice regarding tuition; in 2014, Jai Ranchod ’15 estimated that by 2024 tuition would reach $73,000, and in 2017, Evan White ’18 wrote a viewpoint expressing continued frustration with the lack of transparency accompanying tuition hikes. Do students really have to keep addressing this? What will it take for C.O.W. to seriously evaluate the cost-benefit of a liberal arts education, especially taking into account that a Bachelor of Arts isn’t what it was ten years ago?

 The fact is that the current cost of a four-year education at C.O.W. is $267,000. I’m sure the Financial Office, President Bolton, four vice presidents and roughly sixteen deans/associates will take the usual stance: students may apply for more loans or need-based aid. But with the burgeoning student debt crisis, the struggle for living wages and healthcare, the widening gap between upper-income households and middle- and lower-income households; is it worth it anymore?

 I’m sure there are alumni who are living sustainable, happy lives, who aren’t working multiple jobs in order to make ends meet. Even still, I hope that C.O.W. takes into consideration what students like Maggie Doughtery, Jai Ranchod, Evan White and I have said. Even if C.O.W. is falling in line with every other college, these hikes make education a privilege few can afford and continues to marginalize students who are trying to do what we are told in order to succeed.

 Close to the end of WSU’s campaign, President Cornwell approached me and two other members outside of Andrews Library and said point-blank, “You think I should take a pay cut.” It was an egregious flex in which he failed to consider that he was making a yearly salary worth more than a cumulative four years at Wooster for one student. I find it troublesome that those with money continue to try and convince those without that somehow we are unreasonable for believing that education — a stepping stone towards a better quality of life, as they say — should be affordable.

 The global pandemic has further deepened the cracks between the upper-class and everyone outside of it. What direction is Wooster going?

How the Wooster Class of 2020 pulled the wool over everyone’s eyes (by accident)

Claire Montgomery
Senior News Writer

I am here today to tell you why almost every senior snickers when a professor discusses plagiarism, saying something along the lines of, “You all signed the Wooster Ethic, so you should be committed to not plagiarizing.”

Picture this: sometime during first-year orientation, at one of the many events in McGaw Chapel, there is a ceremony where each new student receives a shiny new pen and uses it to sign the Wooster Ethic, a statement that affirms your commitment to uphold “academic and personal integrity,” among other things. Hurrah! You have signed! You are now officially part of the Wooster community.

Now, picture this: August 2016. Otherwise known as orientation week for the current senior class, the Class of 2020. We were given speeches about the Wooster Ethic, telling us why it was important and to truly think about our commitment before we signed. It was really important that we actually consider what we were dedicating our academic pursuits to. In fact, we were told that we were going to be given extra time to think about what it would mean if we attached our name to the document. There would be so much time given to us that we would not be having a signing ceremony, and instead, at some point in the future, the Wooster Ethic would be placed in several prominent locations on campus and we could sign at our own leisure. The sentiment was great. The reality was not.

I never found the Wooster Ethic, and soon forgot that it was a commitment that I was supposed to have affirmed. I therefore never signed the Wooster Ethic. Several of my friends and acquaintances also never found the Wooster Ethic and as a result did not sign either. I have not spoken to a single person who signed the Wooster Ethic from my class who are not transfer students or who took a year off between their first and subsequent years of college. I’ve heard from the grapevine that some people did find it and signed, but I know the vast majority did not. The result is clear: most of the Class of 2020 never got a cool pen.

I think at some point the administration recognized that the lack of ceremony did not yield a result in the way they had previously hoped, because to my knowledge, all subsequent years have had a signing ceremony. It was very quietly acknowledged that the Class of 2020 did not sign the Wooster Ethic because the model that we followed was not repeated; however, the oversight was not corrected. Like the other classes, I had to sit through hours of orientation on the cold, wooden pews of McGaw, but I got nary a pen as a reward.

To the seniors: congratulations. We made it through I.S. while never making a “commitment to the Wooster Ethic.” We took an average of eight semesters of classes plus wrote an entire I.S.! However, I think we have an opportunity here. The Class of 2020 should be given a chance to retroactively sign the Wooster Ethic. At this point, does it really matter that I haven’t signed? No. However, my pencil cup has a suspicious lack of a ceremonial pen.

Economics doesn’t hold all the answers

Ian Ricoy

In American academia, there is a tendency to move many social sciences towards quantitative analysis. It started with economics, originally a branch of philosophy, trying to rebrand itself as a hard science and has been spilling into political science for almost 30 years. Economists really want to be mathematicians; political scientists really want to be economists. I could tell you how bad of a leader Trump is (granted, I could define “bad” without using philosophy), but why he is bad, or how to fix him? Yeah, sorry, no-can-dosville baby-doll. I was trained as a political scientist, notapolitician. Economists claim to have all the answers because society loves how they combine statistics with money theory.

Disclaimer: I’ve taken economics, stats and math courses here at the College, abroad, in high school and at The University of Michigan — the policy school most famous for its use of quantitative methods. My I.S. is all quantitative analysis. One of my favorite podcasts is “Freako- nomics.” I’m not saying we need to flush out math people and economists from policy circles or abolish the use of statistics in social science. I am not saying all economists and financiers think this way or are bad people either. I don’t even necessarily blame them for making normative claims. I blame the society (that we live in) for putting them on a pedestal. My main claims are that economics is overvalued in society and economists are given authority over areas that aren’t economics.

I find, in my experience, that economists feel that their status as the chief social scientists gives them authority over topics outside of economics, namely ethics. A basic example: the philosopher claims that the wage Foxconn pays its workers is too low to sustain a decent living and therefore, immoral. An economist would respond that the worker voluntarily agreed to the wage offered by Foxconn, both are mutually benefitting from this arrangement, it is irrational for Foxconn to pay higher than they need to and that an unskilled worker can only get so far in a saturated labor market. All of that is 100 percent true, but guess what? That has absolutely no bearing on the morality of the wage and living conditions of the worker. Efficiency does not equal moral permissibility nor is a system built on rationality and voluntary association infallible. Now, one must decide if they value efficiency or morality over the other. Just because some- thing exists or is rational or is optimal or is arrived at via a market system does not mean anything about the morality of that thing.

In my humble view, I think economics needs to look in the mirror and decide if it really wants to be like a hard science or take a step back towards its philosophical roots. If economics is a hard science, as it wishes to be, then its ability to make moral claims is very weak. But if it moves back to its roots in utilitarianism, then it has some ground to stand on. I think it’s high time economics goes back to its utilitarian roots or incorporates other philosophers like Marx into its canon. Marx, though not right about everything, pretty much predicted how capitalism would destroy our planet, divide our society and fail to serve the common people — but nobody wanted to listen to an economist who wasn’t a mathematician. Or perhaps it was because he was a wee bit radical. You decide.

So often, what is true is conflated with what is right, and that just ain’t it chief. When all you have are economists advising you, every problem starts to look like a matter of supply and demand. We will always need economics, and I think it’s a valuable discipline that I want to continue studying after undergrad. It’s like the famous economist Jim Burnell PhD. of America’s Premier College for Mentored Undergraduate Research often says, and I’m paraphrasing here, “Economics is theory. Theory is an abstraction. Theory is not truth.”

Take caution when dyeing your hair blonde

Dzifa Adjei

In my last year and a half here at The College of Wooster, I have begun to notice a trend. Everywhere I looked, edgy brunettes were slowly making their way to the much riskier side of the hair color spectrum: bleach-blonde. Now, I am going to start by saying that I ended up bleach-blonde on accident. I wanted to dye my hair purple, and asked my friend to help me lighten my hair, which did not go immediately as planned. When I tried to cover the patchy orange with a mix of purple dyes, it only got worse and it became clear that desperate times were going to call for desperate measures. So, I marched into Sally Beauty for the third time that week, bleached my hair a second time and used as much

Wella toner as I could fit onto my head (if it’s good enough for Sophie Turner, it’s good enough for me). The result was a pale grey-blonde, and it kind of slapped, if I do say so myself. I did dye my hair purple eventually, but it seemed that blonde was my hair’s final form, and who am I to argue with destiny.

The issue I’m seeing on campus is, that although we attend America’s Premier College for Mentored Undergraduate Research, our peers are failing to utilize those research skills when it comes to hair care and color. Though it could be said that blondes have more fun, stiff, lifeless, uneven and/or orange hair is less than enjoyable. For the wearer, yes, but also for my eyeballs. You don’t want to stand out because your hair is a trainwreck nobody can look away from, you want to stand out because your new ‘do looks shiny and cool, and because you clearly are an interesting person who takes risks with their life, evidenced by the risks you’ve taken with your head. I can’t guarantee that the latter is fully achievable, especially since I have gotten no more stylish or fascinating since I started chemically burning my scalp repeatedly, but at the very least the former could be avoidable.

So in conclusion, I am including below a “Do’s and Don’ts” of going blonde (from painful experience). DO try to figure out what tone of blonde will look best with your skin tone. Cool blonde doesn’t look good on everyone, but — especially if you have very dark hair originally — the natural color your hair will go to after only being lightened is likely to be very yellow, or orange, and that doesn’t look good on anyone. DON’T try it without an experienced friend or hair colorist. Bleaching your hair is the “cutting your own bangs” of this decade: it seems like a great idea alone in your bathroom, but maybe not in the harsh light of Lowry. DO be willing to spend money. Even if you aren’t dropping stacks on a professional, please (and I mean please) Google the best lightener for what you’re trying to do, and be willing to invest in getting the correct developers for your lightener and toner (unlike with cereal, the matching name brand does actually make a difference). DON’T mistake blonde hair for a personality trait; you have to get at least one literary tattoo before you can rise above the pink- and blue-haired dream girls of the world. Lastly, DO be prepared for it to sting. Beauty may not necessarily be pain, but broadcasting that you listened to Halsey in high school definitely is.

Our priority is to defeat Trump

Samuel Casey

I don’t know about all of you, but I’ve been losing sleep — losing sleep over the start of primary (or caucus) season. It started when a number of candidates larger than my biggest political science class decided to run. The field started to narrow slightly when most of the ambitious white guys dropped out, but then two old white-guy billionaires jumped in the mix while the most promising candidates of color dropped out. Then the moderate old white guy front runner was replaced by the most liberal candidate who happened to be an older white guy. And all of this was before the lead-off Iowa Caucus which really put the “IA” in disaster. What is happening?

The Democratic Party and their candidates claim to have the same main goal: “Beat Donald Trump!” However, I can’t help but feel a total lack of cohesion. Sanders has (pretty much) won the first three states, so I think maybe that means he will drive people to the polls, but then I go on Twitter and see some of his supporters stoop to Trump-like levels of antagonization against other Democrats. Warren is fishing from the same pond as Bernie, and it seems like most of the fish are taking his bait. Buttigieg lacks support amongst minority voters, which is a major red flag. Biden does better in this department, but are voters really going to mobilize around him in November? His showing in early states has not been all that convincing. Klobuchar seems the most reasonable moderate in my eyes, but her national polling average is so low that a come- back seems unlikely. Don’t even get me started on Bloomberg. Every anti-Trump conservative newspaper columnist think he’s the best thing since New York sliced rye bread. Yeah, that’s what I want — to replace an old, white, racist billionaire with an old, white, racist billionaire. No thanks!

But this election isn’t about what I want, it’s about nominating the candidate who can beat Trump no matter their flaws, right? It would be less of a problem if I didn’t read an article everyday about how the Democratic Party is terrified of Sanders and how he must be stopped at all costs; or reading about how “Bernie Bros” will defect to Trump if their can- didate isn’t nominated. This is ridiculous. How the hell are we supposed to make a decision?!

As a straight, white, upper- middle-class 20-something male, my life doesn’t change that much based on who’s in office. There- fore, it is my responsibility to cast my vote for the lives that are affected the most and who cannot afford to face four more years of Trump in power. Tbh, this is how everyone should vote. But this year must be weighed differently because the incumbent has really gotta go. So far, that candidate seems to be Sanders, but if I’ve learned anything this election it’s that anything is on the table. All I want is the assurance marketed before this wacky situ- ation — whoever the Democratic nominee is must be supported.

Every candidate has flaws, but we cannot afford a repeat of 2016 where a voter refuses to vote for either. You may think both nominees are evil (boo corrupt U.S. politics), but the guy running for reelection will always be worse. The reason I’m losing sleep is because I feel the need to pick the right person; I’m not convinced that people and the Party will rally around the nominee. The solu- tion? Look at the bigger picture. Support the candidate who gives the most hope to voters and keep supporting them till November