Spring athletes struggle with loss of season

Chloe Burdette

Managing Editor

As the College of Wooster Class of 2020 had their last in-person class on March 6, the Friday before spring break, the hardworking seniors were unaware that this would be their last class on the College’s campus, ever. Due to the ramifications of COVID-19, a virus that has turned into a global pandemic, almost all colleges in the United States had no choice but to shut their doors for the rest of the spring semester. On Tuesday, March 27, President Sarah Bolton sent a campus-wide email stating that the College would finish the semester online and students would not return. 

In particular, the College’s spring athletes were faced with the unimaginable — their season had come to a sudden end. For senior athletes, they had stepped on the field, court or track as a Fighting Scot for the last time, without any kind of warning. Many athletes heard the heartbreaking news on their spring break trips with their teams, making the news even more gut-wrenching. 

When I found about my season ending far ahead of our normal schedule, I was in Hilton Head Island, S.C. with the rest of my team on our annual spring trip,” women’s golf player Emily Stoehr ’20 said. “I was devastated to see my collegiate career end so suddenly …  it hurts especially as a senior, as these last moments of college are so profound.” 

Wooster track and field senior Miki Rae ’20 was dumbfounded when he heard the news on his team’s trip to Myrtle Beach, S.C. “Several schools in our conference started pulling their sports teams out of competitions for the rest of the season, and since it was so early on in the pandemic, many of us thought administrations were blowing the situation out of proportion,” Rae said. “But as time passed, news started rolling out, more schools started pulling their athletes out of competitions for the year, it became clear that it was becoming a really serious crisis.”

 Waverly Hart ’20 said that losing her track season so abruptly was more heartbreaking than missing out on all other Wooster senior-based activities. “I think the worst part was not realizing that the last race I ran in was indeed my last race ever,” Hart said. “I’m really going to miss the running community and family that my team is.”

The Wooster baseball team knew their time playing together was limited, so they focused on enjoying each other’s company as much as they could on their trip. “Honestly, it’s been tough dealing with it,” Harry Whitwer-Dukes ’20 stated. “Obviously we didn’t want to go out like that and I think we are all sad that we’ll never get to play together again, but at the end of the day, I think we all tried to enjoy each other as much as possible.”

Although their time at The College of Wooster was cut short, athletes do not fault the school for the actions they took to prevent the spread of the disease. “I thought the school handled the situation as best as they could,” Witwer-Dukes added. “As a senior, it really felt like they were compassionate toward us about the whole situation as it was obviously a very tough spot for everyone.” Stoehr agreed, adding that students will need to be there for one another during these times of uncertainty. “This is new territory for everyone and there are no previous experiences to base mandates off of in this country, so we have to do our best to trust what’s been asked of us and hope that it pays off,” she said. “Wooster is such a strong community and I think we need to stick together as one in this trying time.”

As athletes mourn the loss of their seasons, they have had the opportunity to learn valuable lessons through these chaotic times. “I hope that we all recognize the impact we have on each other, regardless of if we personally know each other,” Stoehr said. Rae added, “One thing that we can definitely take from it is that we can’t take any of our relationships or our privileges for granted. Be intentional in the love and appreciation you show for others– especially now– but also take care of yourselves.”

As for Hart, she knows one thing — “right now, I’m just happy my family and friends are healthy and safe. If they stay healthy, I can get through anything.”

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.

COVID-19 updates following student meeting with administration

Claire Montgomery
Senior News Writer

A meeting was held at 3:30 p.m. on March 12 to update students about the College’s decision to close campus until at least April 5 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. President Sarah Bolton hosted the meeting, with several other administration in attendance.Bolton spent the first part of the meeting giving an update on the situation, saying that theCollege is getting new information hourly and that they are hosting this event and future conversations because they want students to be aware of what is going on. She reiterated that the College is following guidance from organizations leading the response against COVID-19 such as the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), and public health experts at the county, state and national level. Bolton stated that the Ohio Health Department confirmed that there are five cases of COVID-19 in Ohio, including three in Cleveland and one in Canton. Moreover, the illness is likely circulating in the larger regional community, and once the illness is circulating, will probably circulate for a while.

On Tuesday, March 10, Governor Mike DeWine of Ohio held a conference call with all the presidents of the universities and colleges in Ohio and discussed the role that colleges play in transmitting diseases. DeWine took the seemingly drastic actions of recommending that all universities and colleges in Ohio go to remote classrooms and to remove students from dorm room housing because people on campuses live and work particularly close which will make the disease more easily spread. This is also needed because people are contagious before they show symptoms.

“The moment you need to act, it will seem ridiculous to do so,” Bolton stated. “[But] by the time more people start to become ill, it is too late to take those actions. That’s why governor is doing things that seem drastic.”

In Bolton’s initial email sent on March 12 she stated, “There will be no in-person classes between March 23 and April 3. We hope to resume in-person classes on April 6, if health conditions permit.” However, she said to expect the dates to continue to change as updates occur. When referencing the idea that some students wanted more certainty about the situation, Bolton stated, “I would love to be able to tell you that [we will be back by April 6], but the true answer is the health situation is changing daily.”

The CDC recommended that the College follow its recommendations, including reduce as much as possible the number of people living densely on campus as quickly as possible, limit travel and to limit gatherings of large groups. Bolton stated that any following update meetings would be remote in order to maintain such guidelines.Therefore, students are asked to be off campus until at least April 5. “This is a burden for everyone, and impossible for some people,” Bolton stated, referencing students who live abroad, do not have a safe place to go and can’t afford travel expenses. “If you absolutely need to be here, we will make it possible for you to be here. There will be food, there will be support.”

If students do not have the resources to leave campus, the College will work with the student to cover the cost. Students in such circumstances are to put that information in the student planning form that Bolton sent out in her March 12 email (a revised version was sent by Myrna Hernández later on March 12). When asked where the College is getting the money for students to travel home, Bolton stated, “I don’t know where that money is coming from. We are going to make it happen anyway. Period. I’m serious. My worry this week is not budget, my worry this week is taking care of students.”

Bolton also addressed the students who are counting on student jobs, saying that the College is working on it. Bolton acknowledged that there is not a full answer, but that the COVID-19 Task Force is trying to figure out what they can do to manage or makeup for that missing income. Regarding what will happen to hourly staff who may rely on their income from the College to sustain their livelihood, Bolton noted that hours would not be cut because those workers will still be needed for the students that remain on campus. Additionally, the College is dedicated to working with employees who may need to stay home with their children since Wooster public schools have closed for several weeks.

“No one is losing income because they have to stay home,” Bolton said.

A common worry from students was how the school would manage going to an online platform, especially for discussion, performance and lab-based classes. Bolton stated that they do not have a concrete plan in place, but that there are discussions in place for each department — led by the relevant faculty — and that information would be coming shortly with such details.Because the College is not the only school in the country facing such challenges, universities and colleges across the country are asking the same types of questions and starting to come up with solutions that will be shared among different institutions. For students who left course materials behind because they expected to be able to come back to campus after spring break, Bolton acknowledged that the College is aware of such circumstances and that faculty are trying to figure out how to work around that. Students who are in a position to come back to campus to collect personal and class materials will be allowed to do so. If something was left that a student needs, they are encouraged to fill out the student planning form or contact the Dean of Students’ Office.

Another common question concerned Independent Study. “If you’re here, feel free to turn in I.S.,” Bolton stated. The due date was moved from March 23 to March 25 to allow for a couple of buffer days, and that students who are not on campus should email their document to the registrar, which is tracking the sequencing so students will still know the order in which they turned in. Seniors are encouraged to follow the instructions emailed to them specifically on March 12. Bolton emphasized the everything will be done to make sure Wooster seniors will get some type of celebration for their accomplishments.

In responding to a question about the likelihood of a refund to students for room and board, Bolton said that there may be some kind of refund, but that it hasn’t been completely figured out because it depends on how long students are required to stay off of campus. Bolton reiterated that the College is concentrating on “health stuff first and that kind of stuff second,”but it is still an important discussion the Task Force and others are focusing on. For students who are remaining on campus, Bolton assured them that dining options would be available. “We are trying to make it as good as it can be while also as safe it can be,” she said.

International students raised questions about their visa status and whether or not they should stay on campus. “If your visa requires you to be in the U.S., we will make sure you can stay in Wooster,” Bolton said. International students with questions about visas or U.S. students who will return from an outside country should reach out to International Student Services (ISS) and those with questions about traveling to and from virus hotspots in the U.S. can reach out to the Dean of Students.

According to ISS staff, alumni, host families or willing students will not be encouraged to host students who do not want to stay on campus or travel home, but they will not be dissuaded from doing so. This will be at the discretion of the interested parties and will not be officially facilitated by the College.

Bolton emphasized that administrative offices remain open and that students and other concerned parties are encouraged to get in touch if they have questions. The Dean of Students office, CDI, the chaplain, the president’s office, ISS and the student affairs team all remain open and accessible. The Wellness Center will be open to calls starting Mach 13 for students who may be concerned they are exhibiting symptoms of the virus and the next steps that should be taken; they are also looking into providing counseling services for students whose mental health has taken a toll throughout these events. Even if it seems unnecessary, all students are able to fill out the student planning form. Additionally, the Student Government Association (SGA) will be providing shuttles before March 19 for those on campus who need to get to the airport and will provide updates regarding their status. The College has setup an email specific to the COVID-19 virus that people can contact: wooster-covid-19@wooster.edu.

Overall, Bolton emphasized that the administration is taking everything into account and students will be updated as soon as decision are made, most likely starting at the same time every day so students can look for an update at that time.

LCSA struggles to hire new staff member

Bijeta Lamichhane

News Editor

The search for a staff member to assist Lowry Center and Student Activities (LCSA) is ongoing. Although the College hired a part time staff member, Jean Graf, she left shortly after accepting the position.

LCSA’s struggle to hire employees is often reflected in both the results they produce and the role of the Director of LSCA Julia Zimmer as the only resource in resolving issues related to student activities. Dean of Students Scott Brown mentioned that Zimmer has “been doing essentially three jobs.” The lack of an adequate number of staff members in LCSA to address students’ issues caused concerns with organizations’ budgets last year. It also continues to make LCSA inaccessible to students due to lack of communication.

When asked about the reason behind the staff member leaving, Brown stated, “We were hiring for a part-time, temporary position, which means that if someone wished to find full-time employment, that would be more attractive. We were hoping we would be able to cover for the rest of the spring, but unfortunately we were not able to.”

Zimmer shared Brown’s reason- ing, explaining that temporary staff members often leave when they are provided with a permanent position. “The position was a temporary position to get us through the rest of the academic year,” Zimmer said. “In these cases, the person often times is given other opportunities that are better fits for them and provide them with a permanent position.”

However, the lack of an adequate number of staff members continues to conflict the communication between LCSA and the students. When Zimmer sent an email about budget trainings on Feb. 18 — with the first training happening the next day — organizations mentioned that they should have been told about the events earlier.

For their part, LCSA continues to search for a staff member to provide assistance in their activities. “We had hoped the temporary position would [suffice],” Brown stated. “[For now,] we will continue with our plans to hire a permanent full-time person — now we are in the prime season for student affairs hiring.”

Zimmer added, “We will be focusing on hiring the assistant director for student organizations, with the goal to have the person start [work- ing by] July 2020.”

In the meantime, LCSA has hired a student intern, Courtney Lockhart ’20, to help students during the bud- get process. Matt Mayes ’20, chair of Campus Council Budget Committee and Isaac Weiss ’20, a member of the committee, are also available to help organizations with questions related to budgeting.

PPR 2020 discusses the state of politics during annual retreat

Kidi Tafesse

Contributing Writer

This past weekend, students, staff and faculty joined to partake in the annual PossePlus Retreat (PPR). Situated in Salt Fork Park Lodge, a two-hour drive away from the College, this year’s participants were treated to the fun exercises and valuable activities that usually characterize PPR. This year’s theme was “PPR 2020: The State of Politics,” which couldn’t have come at a better time as the 2020 election approaches and it becomes increasingly impor- tant to engage in healthy and productive political discourse. Students, staff and faculty alike got the opportunity to engage in an informal setting and discuss both comfortable and uncomfortable topics.

“I learned about tools to use when having a political discussion: consider being wrong, attack the idea not the individual and just be an active listener,” said Delitza Nieves ’22, who attended the retreat. This can be seen in some of the activities the retreat involved: “One exercise that stood out to me the most was when we were presented with 11 or 12 different qualities posted around the room to make a productive conversation. We were then asked to stand next to the ones that we have the most difficulty with and the ones that we thought we had a good read on; just hearing people reflect on the things that they weren’t good at was nice to hear because it gave people a chance to think about why they were having difficulties in the first place and to think about what steps they can take to become good at it,” said Aryana Rhodes ’22, who was invited to the retreat by a Posse scholar.

Moreover, the retreat involved activities that engaged everyone in simulations of real-life issues so they could have a better understanding of the delicate balance between politics and issue resolution. For instance, one exercise involved a scenario in which a city was hit with an unexpected drought, and the members of the exercise acted as policy makers and had to decide which problems took priority and what the most effective wayof handling the situation was in a designated time frame. These exercises, of course, were not lacking in their production of diverse opinions. “The politics portion of the weekend reminded me of how everything in this country is politicized, and it seems as though you have to have an opinion on something,” added Posse Scholar Perry Worthey ’21. Although the focus of the retreat was embracing different beliefs and discussing difficult topics with an open mind and no judgement, PPR was definitely not short of fun, relaxing activities too. A no-talent talent contest and “warm and fuzzy” (an activity involving writing sticky notes to people to compliment them on their qualities) were just some of the numerous playful events everyone got to enjoy during the weekend.

There was also an emotional event as the last activity of the retreat. “Taps” involved sitting with your eyes closed and everyone taking turns to tap participants on the shoulder in response to prompts such as “tap someone who inspired you.”

“I’m usually sitting in a puddle of emotional tears by the end of it—it is a moving experience to be the recipient of these anonymous gestures of appreciation,”said Director of Campus Dining and Conference Services Marjorie Shamp.

Overall, this was yet another successful and well-rounded PPR and matched the expectations of the previous years. The wide range of events and topics from stimulating political issues to fun icebreakers and activities made the PPR experience one to remember.

New initiative works to highlight individuals on campus

Chloe Burdette

Managing Editor

Have you ever wanted to share your own unique story with others around you? Do you wonder if others in The College of Wooster community have shared a similar experience? Do you want to feel more unified with your classmates at the College? Wooster Threads was created with these exact ideas in mind.

Wooster Threads, an Instagram page created in the fall of 2019, is dedicated to giving individuals at the College a platform to share their personal stories to inspire others. The idea came to fruition through the efforts of campus photographer Matt Dilyard and Chief Communications and Marketing Officer Melissa Anderson. The idea is inspired by Humans of New York, a photography project created in 2010 by Brandon Stanton that highlighted the many stories of people who inhabited the city.

Anna Russell ’23 was a fan of the idea and decided to aid the creation of the page and make it her goal to feature Wooster students in their truest form. “I believe that everyone deserves a voice — an opportunity to share their story undisputedly,” Russell said. “The mission of Wooster Threads is really to highlight tidbits of individual students’ lives within the larger Wooster community and hopefully continue to unify the community.”

Each Instagram post focuses on one particular student or member of the campus com- munity. Interviewers consist of Russell, Kennedey Bell’21, Patrick Redrick ’21 and Yuta Nitanai’21.“I think the people I interview often surprise themselves with how much they are willing to speak about,” Russell said. “Life moves so fast and there is very little empha- sis on actively listening to others, but I think everyone just wants to be heard. If you ask people with genuine interest and show empathy, there’s very little they won’t share, even with a complete stranger.”

The project soon collaborat- ed with the Soft Power Project (SPP) to gain more traction. After hearing about Armel Lee ’19’s Independent Study — which focused on expanding cultural relationships on campus — SPP was conceptualized this past year. “Armel’s project inspired an entire organization dedicated to forming cross-cultural communication on campus with a desire to expand into the greater Wooster community as well,” Bell said.

The three branches of the SPP — WooStories, OpenTable and Wooster Threads — all aim at starting themed conversations between campus and community members to get a glimpse of peoples’ unique circumstances that may be different from their own. “[The SPP] hopes that people will begin to reach out to others who don’t come from the same racial, ethnic, religious, socio- economic, etc. background as they do,” Bell added.

The addition of Wooster Threads was a way for the SPP to have student stories become more individualized and allow students to learn more about people on campus even if they cannot make it to a panel or discussion. “We think interviewing gives a special look into peoples’ lives,” Bell stat- ed. “WooStories and OpenTable are both themed and require people to show up; with WoosterThreads, our inter- viewers go out and find people they may know well or not at all … with sharing on social media, viewers hear deep stories from people who they may never get to have class with or be in a club or in Greek Life together. Wooster students can take five minutes looking through the Wooster Threads page and connect with someone they may only see in Lowry.”

Wooster Threads has already made an impact on students at Wooster and has encouraged them to be vulnerable and share their stories. Liz Olsen ’22 is one student that is honored to have been featured on the page. “I was approached out of the blue and I didn’t really know what to expect or who would end up reading my story, so I had to be vulnerable,” Olsen said. “I’m glad now that I shared what I did; I think it’s a great way for people to tell as much as they want and allow others reading to relate and appreciate others’ differences.” Even those who work for the SPP have been influenced. “I believe that reading about and learning the complex lives of the people around us helps us grow and maintain empathy for each other, which ultimately makes us feel more connected to the community that surrounds us,” Redrick said.

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