College Administration and Board of Trustees Respond to Outsourcing Petition

Samuel Boudreau

News Editor

 

 

 

Bolton and Staley defend the College’s decision-making process and outsourcing.

After an anticipative week, President Sarah Bolton and Sally Staley, Chair of The College of Wooster’s board of trustees, responded to the “Statement Against Outsourcing at the College of Wooster, April 19, 2022,” a petition started by Laura Burch and a group of faculty. First, Bolton and Staley addressed the petition’s clause which  states that the administration made the decision to outsource their services without mission-based rationale.” “As shared with the community over the last four months, the decision to work with outside partners to lead dining and custodial services was entirely mission-based,” wrote Bolton and Staley. Bolton and Staley cite food preparation along with “caring for spaces and health” as central to their mission-based reasoning for outsourcing, stating that “…the College has been really struggling to provide these crucial services, and facing increasing difficulties in doing so over multiple years (including before the pandemic),” In a January interview with the Wooster Voice, Bolton cited COVID-19 and the College’s “Connect, Create, Discover” strategic plan for reasons to outsource. “[O]ne of the pieces of  [the strategic plan] is that  we would carefully think about whether there were any places where the college should think about working with outside partners or contractors,” Bolton said in January. 

Staley and Bolton then took on the petition’s claim that the outsourcing decision did not use“precise data.” Our due diligence, involving interviews with people from many campuses, was thorough. While Bolton and Staley did not specifically name these “people from many campuses,” Jim Prince, Vice President of Finance and Business at the College, had experience working at institutions that outsourced their dining services. “My role was to bring to the president some thoughts on [outsourcing],” said Prince in January. “Part of that was due to the fact that I worked at other institutions where we have outsourced so I brought to her my background in both the positive and negative aspects of outsourcing.” One of those institutions was Kalamazoo College, where Prince served as a Vice President for Business and Finance from 2009 to 2019, who also partnered with Creative Dining Services. 

A contradiction emerged from the response and previous statements made by Bolton, as Bolton told the Voice in January that outsourcing dining and custodial services “Once we understood that we really felt we needed to go this direction, we certainly included other people on campus, like Marjorie Shamp and Mike Taylor in our conversation, but the decision is mine and I want to be super clear that that shouldn’t lean on somebody else.” 

While Bolton told the Voice in January that outsourcing was an administrative decision, Staley and Bolton’s response to the petition frame the outsourcing decision as “the Board’s decision. “Once we understood that we really felt we needed to go this direction,” Bolton said in January, “we certainly included other people on campus, like Marjorie Shamp and Mike Taylor in our conversation, but the decision is mine and I want to be super clear that that shouldn’t lean on somebody else.” 

“The last thing I would say is that we did share with the board that we were leaning in this direction but again this is not a board-level decision, it is an administrative decision,” Bolton also told the Voice in January. Staley and Bolton’s response to the petition appear to contradict Bolton’s January remarks, as the response states, “The Statement Against Outsourcing states there is no clear-mission based reason for the Board’s decisions to outsource dining and custodial services.”

One of the petition’s major concerns was  staff benefits, including tuition exchange and sick time. Bolton and Staley assured the community that tuition benefits will continue for dining and custodial staff members. Other benefits, however, are under CDS’ administration. “Partner companies may well have benefits that differ in some ways from ours – perhaps being stronger in some areas and less strong in others.” Several staff members expressed concerns over sick time, as the College will pay out 10% of an employee’s sick time by June 30, 2022, and CDS will honor unused sick time until June 20, 2024, forcing some staff members to spend all their sick time in a limited time frame. “It is unlikely that I can use 960 hours off [sic] sick time in two years,” said one dining employee. 

One of the petition’s main points was “shared governance,” which “refers to the joint responsibility of faculty, administrations, and governing boards to govern colleges and universities.” 

While Bolton and Staley said they “value” the concept, they stood behind the exclusive decision to outsource their services. “The responsibility for effective campus business operations, including the safety and well-being of all members of the Wooster community in support of our mission, lies with the administration and the board.” 

Regarding the petition’s demands, Bolton and Staley wrote that “We cannot responsibly allow the difficult situation with these critical operations to continue when it is clear that outside companies provide the support we need.” 

The College will hold an in-person meeting to discuss this topic on Tuesday, May 3, from 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. As of April 26, the College has not announced a location for the meeting. 

In Loving Memory of the Chicken Wings That Never Got a Chance

Munesu Kuzanga

Contributing Writer

 

 

 

When I woke up on April 10, I must admit that I could barely open my eyes. My mind was still trying to recover from the night before, and my body was experiencing the type of pain one would after working out for the first time in 10 years for 10 minutes. I thought I hadn’t been dancing that hard the night before until I tried to climb out of bed and my hips said otherwise. I was embarrassed – appalled. How did I end up like this? I did not know. However, I didn’t even want to think about the details from that night because all I wanted to think about was you: my chicken wings.

Every Tuesday at 7 p.m. in Kittredge, I would be one of the first people in line for you. My friends always laughed at my commitment to you, but I did not care because I looked forward to having you in my stomach every week. They did not approve of our relationship and it was shown in how they would constantly tease me about how you were always undercooked and lacked flavor. I never listened because they never understood that all you needed was a little bit of salt and appreciation in your life. They did not understand that even when I knew you weren’t good for me, I could not resist you as I would often dream of you in my sleep. 

My addiction for you was one that would go down in history as a forbidden passion for I have climbed hills of snow and sweaty athletes just to take you home. You were worth the judgmental stares and fist fights (that I often lost) and not because you were just a meal swipe. It was because you were two. I was a selfish lover, I must admit, but only because I had your best interest in heart.

So, as you can see, despite what the haters said about us, I was going to walk across campus for you no matter the weather or cost. You were a reason to wake up on a Tuesday morning, and before that terrible incident on April 10, you were the best reason to wake up on a Sunday morning following a chaotic night.

When I woke up that Sunday morning, I dragged myself to the kitchen for you even though you were way past your edible time frame. But I honestly didn’t care because I was sick enough to get sicker with your warm embrace in my stomach. I was ready to gamble with my life, just as long as I took a bite of you.

So, as you can imagine how I felt when… I found you… lying there. EVERYWHERE!

Your little bones were scattered on the floor. One of the to-go boxes was open, and the other was dismantled as if the thieves were trying to eat that too. You were cleaned, sucked and devoured by an evil greater than an 8 a.m. class in winter. You were in shambles, and you were disrespected by a heinous group of what could have been a gang of shameful lowlife rats who walk around campus as faceless humans. I was disrespected in ways that sent me into orbit.

I am just so sorry that I did not lock you up in a separate fridge during the party. I just thought that monsters only existed in children’s books. I just thought that people had the type of etiquette one learned at the age of two days old but turns out I missed the training course during new student orientation where we were taught to open fridges in other people’s homes.  If I had known that we were inviting thieves to the party, then I would have at least tried to eat you two days earlier to avoid such a tragic death. But just the thought of another stranger’s touch on you makes me squeal. I just wished that the culprits could’ve at least thrown you in the bin… but no. They wanted me to find you scattered all over the kitchen floor. It was a crime scene. I almost called Security — until I saw one of your remains on the bathroom floor. At that moment, I knew that this criminality was beyond the power of law enforcement. If I was not a prayerful woman before, that morning changed my life. I just knew that I had to get the pope, the Avengers and my therapist on this one too.

The thieves did not care about you or me. And thinking about what could have happened to you, eats away at me. I walk past strangers everyday who smile at me. I have my suspicions about who could have eaten you, but I am never certain so I smile back at these people. But I can never trust again. So, although it has been weeks since you passed, I just want to say one last thing to you, my beautiful chicken wings: I hope you gave those monsters salmonella.

Make it Blue! Make it Pink!: How and Why Hydrangeas Change Colors

Haley Huett

A&E Editor

 

 

 

As we enter the days of balmy spring weather, we can expect to see many of our favorite flowers once more. Daffodils that come in the early days of the season or honeysuckle in the hot days of summer are some classic staples, but perhaps the most anticipated floral debut is that of the hydrangea macrophylla, or the big-leafed hydrangea. 

A common sight in many gardens, the plant is known for its large, spherical blooms comprised of what appear to be smaller flowers. In shades of blue, pink, red or purple, the hydrangea is appreciated throughout for its beauty and vibrance. However, something else makes this plant stand apart. The hydrangea is a backyard pH test!

A hydrangea’s hue indicates the pH level of the soil in which it grows. Blue blooms mean that the shrub is growing in acidic soil that has a pH less than seven. When the blooms turn red or pink, one can expect the plant to be growing in neutral or basic soil, where the pH is greater than six. 

This process occurs because the color of hydrangeas is determined by the availability of aluminum ions in the soil. The presence of aluminum in the hydrangea is responsible for changing the color. In acidic soil, aluminum ions can easily be absorbed by the flower, and there are plenty of ions available to interact with, turning the blooms blue. In neutral or basic soil, on the other hand, aluminum ions combine with hydroxide ions, which, when absorbed by the plant, keep the blooms red. 

Typically, aluminum is taken in through the roots, which changes the color. However, scientists are experimenting with new ways to change the hydrangea’s color without changing the soil. The plant will still change from red to blue if the aluminum is taken in through the petals, although this method is not effective in changing the blooms from blue to red.

Because the color of the flower is determined by the pH levels in the soil, many gardeners attempt to manipulate their blooms by adding different compounds to the soil. Dolomitic lime can be introduced to the soil to turn blue blooms pink, as well as phosphorus-based fertilizers. For a gardener who prefers blue, aluminum sulfate, as well as fertilizers with low levels of phosphorus and high levels of potassium, are sufficient in changing the color. Coffee grounds and compost can also be an effective way to lower the pH levels over time, leading to consistently blue hydrangeas. 

It is easiest to change a hydrangea’s color when it is planted in a pot, as opposed to open soil. Regardless of where it’s planted, it will likely take at least one growing season to see the full effects of the color change. The hydrangea is a beautiful addition to any garden, but it is so much more than just a pretty thing to look at. Next time you find yourself staring at a blue hydrangea, take a moment to consider exactly what that means!

Low Student Engagement Disrupts Campus

Bijeta Lamichhane

News Editor

 

 

 

On April 4, Scot Council announced executive board candidates for the 2022-23 academic year. With only one student running per position, the election was uncontested, raising questions about the government body’s election processes and the College’s student engagement.

Scot Council President, Emmy Todd ’22, detailed the election process, which Scot Council amended this year to ensure that only candidates with one year of experience were eligible for office. 

“Scot Council’s executive board election process started the week before spring break with us having a final vote on an amendment to our constitution and bylaws that changed eligibility for running for executive board from simply having to have served on Scot Council to having to have served on Scot Council for a full term,” Todd said, “meaning people who quit and first-year representatives are not eligible to run.”

Scot Council made the amendment “after a full semester of discussion, a vote on it passing the Constitution and Rules Committee, and then a vote passing Scot Council,” who unanimously approved the amendment. 

The current executive board encouraged eligible council members to run for the new board. Some students, however, criticized the election process, citing a lack of amendment coverage as well as candidates. Vice President of Scot Council Rishika Todi ’22 said some students personally reached out to the council about the process, leading to a council apology on the amendment. “We will from now have a larger social media presence and are even working on making meeting minutes more accessible to the campus body,” Todd said.

Todd supported the amendment, emphasizing the importance of committed council members to encourage retention and spark interest. “To increase student involvement on the Scot Council executive board, having dedicated and involved general council members is essential to ensure they want to continue their Scot Council work on to the executive board,” she said.

When asked about the lack of student interest for the Council, Todd said elections have been uncontested for “the past four years and beyond.” Todd also said students running for the executive board must be on-campus for the entire academic year, which eliminates those students who want to study off-campus. She concluded, “Finally, the executive board is an extremely demanding position and sometimes students wish to serve on other club’s executive boards and sometimes students will choose paid employment over the unpaid work of Scot Council.”

Although lack of student engagement has been apparent in student government for many years, faculty members have also recognized a decline in student participation and engagement in their classes. Associate Professor of Economics & Business Economics Amyaz Moledina, who has been a professor at the College for two decades, spoke of a shift in participation in his classes. “My classes used to be very well attended,” Moledina reflected. “However, I have seen average attendance decrease since the pandemic.” 

He continued, “Students have been getting sick or refraining from coming to class when they are unwell. It’s great when students inform me that they are unable to come to class. What worries me the most is the population of students I hear nothing from despite me reaching out to them. That population has also risen. Because we have such diverse populations, I hesitate to attribute this all to COVID or the catch-all ‘mental health’ crises.”

Moledina empathized with different situations that students may be facing. “Some of my students come from parts of the world that are suffering from conflict or their families are in economic hardship. Others come from families where they are the primary emotional and sometimes financial supporter.” He continued, “Going to school actually puts a double burden on such students. In some cases, ‘talking to your professor’ is a learned concept that not everyone is comfortable with. So attendance is down, yes, but I have to be careful to understand what is ailing each student — what’s coming in the way of coming to learn in the community. I cannot solve all their challenges but I can try to understand where they are coming from and let students know I am here for them.”

“At best, I have to leave my door open,” Moledina concluded.

WVN Launches The First Annual Weekend of Service

Ellen McAllister

Creative Editor

 

 

 

Wooster Volunteer Network (WVN) held its first Weekend of Service last Saturday, April 23 and Sunday, April 24. Students had the opportunity to volunteer at various locations in Wooster and  surrounding communities by participating in various service projects, including gardening, sorting clothes at Goodwill and trail maintenance at Wooster Memorial Park. WVN wanted to give Wooster students a chance to volunteer with their peers and to be outside, both of which make doing community service more fun. Since WVN typically hosts Rake-A-Difference in the fall, WVN wanted to host a larger spring event as well, something they have not done in years past. 

While the Weekend of Service occurred in April, planning for the event began back in January. The board members formed small groups and were tasked with finding a community partner that they were interested in volunteering with. Some members in charge of coordinating transportation to and from the volunteer locations as well as purchasing snacks. Excited about the new event, a few organizations reached out to WVN after they heard about the Weekend of Service, allowing more students to participate and engage with the greater Wooster community.

The first stop of the weekend took students to Buckeye Street Garden. At the site, they pulled weeds, tilled dirt and chatted with community members about the importance of gardening. The Buckeye Street Garden is open to residents to plant whatever they’d like, whether that be veggies or flowers. Buckeye Street gardeners only have to pay for the plants and regularly tend to their garden box — everything else is taken care of for them. Berry bushes line the back wall of the garden, which the director remarked, brings about a battle of the berries between the children who live on the street and the birds. 

A closer look reveals the garden does more than bring the community together, but it promotes sustainable living. The gardens provide substantial food for the neighborhood all year round. Not only can the vegetables be eaten fresh, they can also be preserved for later use. Additionally, rainwater is caught from the house next to the garden and is there for all to use. 

Lily Anderson ’23, Vice President of WVN, stated that “all the organizations we worked with over our Weekend of Service were welcoming, and our student volunteers brought so much enthusiasm to each event.” She was happy to give students the chance to do good in the area in addition to having fun with their fellow classmates outside of an academic setting. Rachel Semel ’22, the outgoing president of WVN, wants to give a “big thanks to everyone who attended this weekend.” She added, “our community partners were so grateful, and we had a lot of fun!” Semel said that it was rewarding to leave the locations and reflect upon the group accomplishments and how many people it would benefit.

Local organizations appreciate having passionate college students lend a hand bridging the distance between students and the town. Anderson says, “Opportunities like this help bridge the gap between the college community and the greater Wooster community with a common goal of helping others.”

If a student wants to do more volunteering or get involved with WVN, they should email wvn@wooster.edu or follow them on Instagram @wooster_volunteer_network. Local organizations are always looking for regular volunteers as well, so don’t hesitate to reach out to one!

Track and Field Women Win Gold at Kenyon Invitational

Miles Rochester

Sports Editor

 

 

 

The Scots rose to the occasion and performed phenomenally all around this past Saturday as Wooster’s women and men traveled to Gambier, Ohio to compete in the Kenyon Invitational. A victory-seeking fire burnt in their hearts as both teams competed to the best of their abilities amidst Saturday’s blistering heat. The men impressed placing second of six, beaten only by Mount Vernon Nazarene University while the women destroyed the competition to obtain the highest podium position and the women’s first golden finish since 2019.

To deliver defeat to many conference rivals, such as hosts Kenyon, alongside Denison and Wittenberg, Wooster’s competitors needed to push their own limits and many of them did. Will McMichael was one athlete who accomplished this, then he decided to take it one step further to push alum Reggie Ray’s 22-year-old 400m record of 48.70 aside and replace it with his own time of 48.47. McMichael’s time not only crushed the hopes of his rivals and earned him an event win, but it also placed the Scot senior in the nation’s top 20. 

More records were itching to be amended and Dylan Garretson ’24 was feeling good, in the mood to edit his week-old record in outdoor pole vault. Until Saturday, only eight Division III athletes had reached the height of 15 feet 10 inches in pole vault, after Garretson was done vaulting, that number rose to nine. Additionally, Garretson’s personal win tally increased while pushing the Wooster men towards the top in their pursuit of a victory in Gambier.

Athena Tharenos ’24 got in on the fun and had herself a fantastic day bringing in first in the open 800m, as well as anchoring the winning 4×400 alongside Maia Doesher ’25, Haley Bloom ’23 and Inga Mendez ’25.

Following in the current winning trend of the Scots, sophomore Ainsley Wiesner’s 97-foot 11-inch huck of a javelin secured her right to gold, while her male javelin throwing counterpart, Troy Baughman, beat his own personal best, as well as all his competitors, to grant Wooster’s javelineers two more wins on the day for the Scots and two personal victories worth being proud about.

Pride was plentiful on Saturday, and Isaiah Kidd ’25 earned his share when he leapt 44 feet and 8 inches in the triple jump to secure a first-place finish and an impressive 22 feet and 1 inch in the long jump to place second in that event.

Another personal best was set by Alex DeLong ’22 in his 800m victory as the senior ended his race with a time of 1:56.

Yet another victory came for the Scots when record breaking McMichael, Nick Scherson ’22, Joe Shilts ’23 and Davis Patterson ’24, dusted the competition in the men’s 4×400 to end the victory-filled invitational

All cylinders are firing for the Scots’ track and field program as they plan to carry on their positive momentum into their next meet: The Dennison Invitational, Friday, April 29.

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