The independent student newspaper of Goucher College

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Fiona Rutgers

Fiona Rutgers has 5 articles published.

Fiona Rutgers is a junior Economics major and professional writing minor. She is a member of Goucher beekeeping, Nerdfighters, salsa club, and more! When not running between classes and clubs, she enjoys baking.

Club Chat – Economic Education Club

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Naked economics by Charles Wheelan. Photo Credit: Google Images

Even at a small school like Goucher, there can be dozens of clubs active at any given time. Every semester, organizations are created and disbanded in the blink of an eye. How is someone supposed to keep track of it all?
I’m here to help! Club Chat is an issue by issue profile of an active club on campus. From long established to newcomers, Club Chat will give you an in-depth glimpse into an organization so you can figure out if it’s the right fit for you.
This week we will look at Economic Education club, formed this semester. I spoke with club President Surbhi (‘19) for more details.

Q: What is your Club’s general purpose?
A: We go to Goucher, and it’s very politically liberal. And there are a lot of things brought up in economic classes that aren’t brought up in the liberal community. It’s little things, like, what is bitcoin? Or talking about the new tax law–what is good about it? What is bad about it? Trade treaties–are they good? Are they bad? What I want to do is start a conversation and have an educated seminar; this is why they [tax laws, trade treaties] might be hated, but they aren’t the worst things in the world. There is a middle ground, and a lot of the things you enjoy are because of these capitalist things that you might not realize.

Q: How does your club work structurally? Do you have meetings? Are you more event based?
A: More of an event based club. I attended a conference with the Foundation for Economic Education while I was interning for the Charles Koch Foundation and it was very good! I did the entrepreneurial track, and we learned so much about how to do your taxes, how to have a passive income…
We learned a lot of these things that I wished was talked about more by Goucher students. I have contacts through this organization for people who can come talk. We’ll sort of do a weekly meeting, where we will have a webinar where someone can talk to us online. We’ll also have actual events, and sometime at the end of the semester we would like to have a debate.

Q: What gave you the idea to start the club?
A: Basically I just wanted to do a few events, like talking about bitcoin. I’ve had bitcoin since it was like ten dollars, I’ve made about two to three thousand dollars on it, and I have a lot of bitcoin left: I paid tuition with what I gained from bitcoin. That’s what I wanted to do. There are options that you might not know about: investment banking, which checking account or banking account is best for you…

Q: Why should people participate in your club out of all the other options out there?
A: For their own development. All of these things that I’ve learned in classes in seminars I thought were very valuable things. Basic financial empowerment, knowing what’s happening with tax laws and economics outside of the college can be so helpful when you’re going out into the job market. These are things that might not necessarily be taught at the college, but they can be helpful when deciding what job to get or how to progress in their jobs.

Q: Anything else people should know?
A: This is not a propaganda club—free market or otherwise. A lot of things we’ll talk about are things like why is Planned Parenthood good economically, or why immigration is good economically. I’m definitely going to have a speaker come in to talk about how amazing immigration is. Those are liberal issues – so it’s not a partisan club like “you love free markets or you don’t show up”. These are things in economics and they aren’t black and white—so let’s explore it. It’s purely educational, there’s no motive to turn people to capitalists or republicans.

Interested in having your organization featured in the next issue of the Q? Email me at firut001@mail.goucher.edu for your chance to be in the next edition of club chat.

Charles Blow: Musings on Modern activism

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On November 1st, visual op-ed columnist for the New York Times, political commentator, and best-selling author, Charles M. Blow, was invited to lecture in Meyerhoff. Addressing the Goucher and wider Towson community, Blow framed his discussion within the context of relationships, resilience, and reflection; a motto adopted by Goucher to describe the ideal outcomes students would gain from their education. While the three Rs were originally meant for usage in an academic setting, Blow applied them to his philosophy behind the fight for equity in an unjust society.

“Blow’s stance on the necessity of open expression is one that has been interpreted by some as a critique of ‘sheltered spaces’ often associated with liberal arts colleges like Goucher.” Photo Credit: John Patterson (via Charles Blow’s Instagram)

Goucher prides itself on its sense of community. In reference to this, Blow began his remarks on with his own thoughts about communities. He pointed out the need for communities that stretch across identity. These types of communities don’t occur as naturally as would be hoped, which Blow explained was the result of an age old idea that “sameness is safety”. As humans, Blow stated, we are attracted to people who are similar to us, and congregate in such groups. He argued that these groups rob us of something important: growth and empathy towards others.
‘Privilege’ and ‘oppression’ were two frequent terms that Blow used. In his remarks, Blow borrowed the words of Toni Morrison to describe racism as “a robbery”. Blow expanded the use of the word to encapsulate all kinds of oppression and to capture a core idea of why these oppressions must be fought against. Discrimination robs us of time, energy, motivation and other personal facets that could have been used in a more productive way, he argued. In this sense, it hurts the whole of society, not just the individuals specifically targeted by it. It must be actively combatted. “Inaction is a choice,” he stated. “If you are not totally against oppression, you are for it.”
Blow regarded the recent election “backlash” as nothing new. He cited it as a pattern that has always been a part of American history. He described the battle for equity as “messy” and a necessary process where “feelings will be hurt.” Blow’s stance on the necessity of open expression is one that has been interpreted by some as a critique of “sheltered spaces” often associated with liberal arts colleges like Goucher. Blow emphasized that the emotional pain associated with open discussions must be felt in order for real progress to be made. “Fragility cannot be the frame for these discussions,” he said. Though he did not state it explicitly, he seemed critical of the concepts that drive ideas like safe spaces and affinity meetings. He argued that fragility made discussion untruthful by leading people to lie to try and make others comfortable. “You have to be hurt,” he emphasized.
Blow also made a few humorous remarks on politics. “You may have heard, I have a few thoughts on that,” Blow joked when he first brought up the topic. Blow commented on politics when he began answering audience questions.  Blow discussed the role of media coverage in politics, particularly during an administration in which the president is an avid tweeter. Blow felt he had an obligation as a journalist to cover Trump’s tweets, yet he made it clear that the president’s behavior, especially toward his disabled colleague Serge Kovaleski, was completely inappropriate.
Another topic brought up through audience questions was the current state of news and media organizations, something which Blow had surprisingly left out of his initial remarks. Blow was particularly critical of news organizations preventing minority reporters from covering stories within their communities. He explained that by assuming minority reporters are “biased” towards other minorities, news organizations are simultaneously claiming that being white, cis, male, Christian, etc. is a “neutral” position. He also criticized the trend toward “snap news”, which is characterized by shorter and shorter segments and “Yelling, yelling, yelling,” as he described.
As his final comments for the evening, Blow reflected on what the end result of advocacy for social justice would look like; What would an equitable world look like? “Liberation looks like the truth,” he finally said.

Poses with Penguins- Yoga at the Zoo

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Yoga at the Zoo has become a twice monthly event at the Baltimore Zoo. Photo Credit: Maryland Zoo

More and more people gather in front of the gates of the Baltimore Zoo. It’s 7:45, and the zoo won’t open to the public until 10. It’s mostly women in groups of two to three. There are a few stragglers who awkwardly stare at phone screens and yawn as they wait for the gates to open. There are two or three men in the whole ensemble, one of whom seems to be the father of a family that came to practice together.  As the clock moves closer to 8, more and more people arrive.

At about 8:05, Baltimore Zoo staff open the gates and usher the crowd of about forty people into the park. The sun is brilliant when they arrive to their destination: the zoo’s Penguin Pavilion. People walk towards the open space and place their mats on the concrete. There are large speakers set up around the area, and a woman right at the front of the penguin enclosure speaks:

“Hi, everyone! Welcome to Yoga at the Zoo! We’ll get started soon.”

Yoga at the Zoo has become a twice monthly event at the Baltimore Zoo. The event consists of a hour-long Vinyasa flow class open to all skill levels.  Occurring before the zoo opens for regular operations, the practice takes place outdoors by the zoo’s penguin enclosures. Yoga at the Zoo is still a relatively new event, only having been started this year.

“It started with a test date back in the spring,” says Jane Ballentine, Director of Public Relations at the Baltimore Zoo.

“I think there were about sixty people that decided it was going to be a fun thing to do, and they loved it so much that the Event Department decided, ‘well, let’s make a series out of it, and do it over the summer, and see how it goes.’ And people liked it so much and it was selling out that they decided to extend it into the fall.”

“Since [April] we’ve added two classes a month, and we’re going to do two classes a month through December, and then we’ll announce the new classes for the next year,” says Steve Rosenfeld, Assistant Vice President of Institutional Advancement at the Zoo.

“It’s been a really really popular event. Throughout the summer most of the classes have been sold out. So it’s been really popular; people seem to really respond to it,” says Kate Rosenfeld, who taught the class.

Yoga at the Zoo started as somewhat of a personal project for zoo event officials. It was actually Steve Rosenfeld’s wife who inspired the project. “His wife got into yoga a few years ago, and during just random discussions of the zoo, looking for something new, something different to do, somebody suggested ‘Well, why don’t we do yoga,’ ” says Jane Ballentine. “It was like, ‘no, how’s that gonna work? It seems kind of silly, no one is going to want to come here,’ then he actually started talking to his wife, and some of her colleagues that she does yoga with and they were like, ‘We should give this a try! We’ll test it out.’ ”

The class costs ten dollars for zoo members, and 20 dollars for non-members. Aside from the class, purchasers also receive a full day pass for the zoo and a complimentary drink from event sponsor Truly Spiked & Sparkling (only for participants 21+ with valid ID). Also, after the practice, zoo-goers can meet an official Penguin Ambassador (a penguin trained to take photos with zoo-goers). “It’s 19 dollars to get into the zoo already. So it’s only an extra dollar to take a yoga class and spend a day at the zoo,” Steve Rosenfeld emphasizes.

After the practice, many participants seem energetic. Several rush to take pictures with the Penguin Ambassador that is brought out, some rush to the beverages while chatting about the heat. Many groups talk about what enclosures they want to go see first.

“I enjoyed it a lot. It’s the second time I’ve came. Very relaxing, I like it,” says Lisa Brunsinski, who came with a co-worker.

“It’s actually my birthday tomorrow, and my boyfriend bought tickets for it,” says Jackie Deworth. “It was a fun event, and it was a really great practice.”

There are some concerns about the seasonal nature of the event, however.  The class occurs on one of the viewing platforms near the penguin enclosure, and so far, cold weather plans haven’t had a chance to be fully tested. “It will be different once it’s colder out, because right now you can do it outside. Although there’s always a rain plan to move into the Penguin Education Center, which is a great space, [though] it’s not as large as this and it’s a little broken up,” says Ballentine.  “It won’t be the same experience, but it will still be really cool. And the penguins swim by as you’re doing it, ‘cause it has underwater viewing. So it will still be a fun experience.”

The Show Will Go On— Changes in this Year’s “Rocky Horror”

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At the Towson Town Center! Photo Credit: Goucher College Events Page

The Rocky Horror Picture Show is a highly anticipated event every year at Goucher college. The raunchy show is part film, part theater, and makes for a unique experience that changes every year. In spite of its beloved place in Goucher’s campus culture, things are changing for this year’s showing. Gone is the show’s traditional closed off setting of Merrick Lecture hall; instead, say hello to one of the center points of campus: the Hyman Forum.

“This year Rocky will be performed in the Hyman Forum,” says Sophie Mezebish, assistant director. “Typically Rocky has always been performed in Merrick, which is a much smaller, more intimate space. The Ath will change things up dramatically as it’ll be vastly larger, accommodating for a larger audience as well as a larger cast and lots of audience interaction.”

“A lot of people have been confused by the move,” says Abigaile Bates, this year’s director of Rocky. “When I selected my cast, they were the first to know. Some of the actors had issues, given that the forum is a much more public space. Still, we are trying to take control of the space as best we can.”

The Rocky Horror Picture Show started out as a musical in the early 70s. The show gained traction and was adapted to film in 1975. The film gained a cult following, and inspired a set of viewing traditions that persist into today. Since then, organizations across the US have presented their own versions of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, playing the film while having actors lip sync the lines and music on stage below. Productions are especially popular on college campuses, and Goucher is no exception. The show has become a staple of Goucher campus culture.

The first time I saw Rocky was at Goucher my freshman year- I absolutely fell in love, and for the past two years, I’ve been a huge fan.” says Jasmine Hubara, a member of the ensemble this year.

This year’s Rocky Horror will be presented one night only, as the larger space of the Hyman forum ensures that just about anyone who wants to see it, can. But why the location change?

“I went to OSE to reserve the space, and apparently there is going to be an outside concert from a Baltimore group that is going to be using Kraushaur, but they will be storing their instruments in Merrick,” says Bates. “That was only for Saturday night, but the only reason we do two nights in Merrick is that the space is so small, and we want everyone to be able to see it. I thought of the Hyman Forum but thought ‘no, that’s too public,’ but the more and more I thought about it— It’s certainly a creative challenge, but maybe Merick was booked for a reason.”

There are quite a few challenges to overcome with the new space. The openness of the forum makes the lighting and sound design of the show completely different from previous years.

“In addition to the new space being larger and much different than anything we’ve worked with, it is also not set up to hold theatrical performances. This means that we will have to bring in lighting and scenic elements to make the forum feel like the typical Rocky performance space. This is difficult because it’s very expensive to buy props, sets, and lighting implements to fill up the new space,” says Mezebish.
“We have the different levels we can work with, and we can hold a lot of people. For that reason, it’s going to be very loud,” says Bates. “Luckily I’ve been meeting with a technician to try and get the movie as loud as possible to override that. As for the spotlights we usually have, we are going to try using high-tech flashlights to try and have the same effect.”

The open nature of the ath is another concern. “I think that the major challenge with the new space is that it’s hard to practice there if we want to keep everything secret until opening night. And, of course, we won’t have complete control of the space like we did in Merrick,” says Hubara.

Aside from the location change, there are other problems facing this year’s production. Some of the show’s traditionally used props have gone missing.

“We have always had a box filled with Rocky supplies that lies in one of the rooms of the theater,” says Bates “We have special shorts that Columbia always wears, some corsets for ensemble members who can’t afford their own… and I went to the room and could not find anything! The only things I could find were the coffin, wheelchair, and gurney, and we wouldn’t be using two of those! And no one had any idea where anything was. It was extremely frustrating. And so we’ve had to extend our budget not just for the normal props that we have to rebuy every year, but also to get the things we thought we would already have. But the show must go on, and as someone who loves a challenge, I’m still pretty excited.”

And the show is still going on, thanks to the love and effort that’s been put into it. “There’s something about the Goucher community of the show that makes it so different from all the other Rocky shows I’ve seen. We’re not afraid to be vulnerable and wild for the show because we have this supportive and uplifting culture of our Goucher community— I know I decided to audition for the show because I trusted the community I would be so vulnerable in front of,“ says Hubara.

“For so many, Rocky Horror symbolizes transgressing cultural norms and truly feeling free to be one’s self. In a liberal arts sphere such as Goucher, we value acceptance of others despite their differences or what social norms may say about these differences. Rocky reminds us to set our judgements aside and celebrate not only sexuality, but everything that makes us unique,” says Mezebish.

“The funny thing about this year is that we will never run the show full out until the night of. So the first time the audience sees the full show will also be the first time the cast and I also see the full show. It’s frightening, but exciting at the same time” says Bates.

The performance will be Saturday, October 28th at 8 pm.

FIONA RUTGERS

Campus Resource Profile – ACE

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Peejo Sehr(left) and India Perkins Credit: Goucher College ACE Facebook

When you ask students to describe the Academic Center for Excellence, or ACE as it’s more commonly referred to, there are a lot of common phrases that pop up. “Warm,” “comforting,” “friendly,” and referring to the center as “a second home” are typical.

While ACE’s full title might conjure up images of test prep and tutoring services, ACE offers so much more. Firstly, it allows students to meet with academic coaches who can assist them with various problems, ranging from issues in specific coursework to time management skills. Second, ACE is the home base for Goucher’s Supplemental Instruction (SI) program, where students can reach out for subject specific tutoring. Third, ACE offers special testing accommodations to students who require it. Finally, ACE also hosts numerous mindfulness activities: things like yoga and meditation sessions. A particularly famous member of ACE is Lucy, the center’s very own greeting dog.

ACE is considered by many to be a pillar of stability on a otherwise constantly changing campus. For those who are new to Goucher, however, the things that ACE does for students might not be readily apparent. I sat down with Peejo Sehr, the director of ACE, to ask her a few questions about the center and its various programs.

Q) What are the goals of ACE as an institution?

  • Really, the fundamental goal of ACE is to support students’ academic well-being. By that I mean that we want students to feel that they are heard, that they are seen, that they are valued, and that we are really here to help them reach their potential as students, academically.

Q)There are a lot of different services here, one that’s particularly notable is academic coaching. When should a student consider seeing an academic coach?

  • The model of academic coaching that we created here is based on the approach that the student doesn’t just take their intellectual selves to classes: you take your whole self to the classroom. Our coaching is very individualized. Even if you’re feeling like, “well, I think I’m not really struggling. I think I got this,” just stop by. Make an appointment to help you land and gather yourself so that, when you actually get into the thick of things, you are already working on some of those skills that we can help you develop: time management, organizing, really becoming more intentional… and really allowing yourself to set some academic and personal goals for yourself, learn about self care- and how that can affect how academically present you are in the classrooms. So the sooner the better!

Q) ACE offers a lot of other activities, such as yoga, meditation, and so on. They’re all things that might seem a little atypical if a student were thinking generally about college academic support centers. Why did you decide to pursue these kinds of activities?

  • A lot of my training as a teacher and an educator is in holistic approaches to student support: helping students really reach their potential. And often times when we begin to think about what stands in the way of students reaching their potential, it’s things that are happening outside of the classroom. So when we developed this program we really looked at the evidence around mind-body practices and contemplative practices, and ways that we can help students concentrations and ability to remain present to their tasks. There was such a natural link between these two things. When we first started nine years ago, and I first started talking about this, I think people were kind of like, “what?” I think there were some questions, some doubts, but now I think there is a whole movement really looking at this comprehensive idea that students’ ability to be present is crucial to student success.  

Q) Lucy is a very popular member of ACE. When did you get the idea to incorporate her into the center?

  • I was scared of dogs for a long time: I’ve been bitten three times. And my first year here there was a student, and she would meet with me weekly. And at the end of our meetings she would say, “I think ACE should have a dog. I miss my dog” – she was from New York- “ACE is such a warm and friendly place, and it feels like home to me, the only thing that’s missing is a dog. Peej you’ve got to get a dog!” And then I was watching television, and there was a very sad and tragic shooting at one of the schools up in New York. They had brought therapy dogs, and I saw the impact first hand of what therapy dogs were doing- creating community and really helping people coping- and it occurred to me that this might be a really good idea. So I did some investigating, and I found out that Yale had greeter dogs on campus- that many colleges were actually doing this. So we went with making sure we got a dog- she’s my personal dog- and making sure she’s hypoallergenic so there were no issues with allergies. We were very careful to get a dog that was well mannered, well balanced, not an alpha, very gentle. We got lucky with Lucy, and she’s been coming here since she was 8 weeks old. She’s been a greeter dog her whole life, and I’ve seen so many friendships form around her. Students have come daily for four years to see her. She’s been a really great way to connect people to each other as well, and been a real source of joy.   

Q) Do you think ACE is utilized as a resource as much as it should be?

  • When I first came here, ACE was in a tiny little space out in Froelicher. It was out of the way for a lot of students. So we have grown: last semester we saw about 59% of the student population. 75% are first year students- which is a good number. We are kind of at capacity right now, which is a good problem to have, but I would really like it so that we can get students in as soon as you request an appointment. Now it’s about a week’s wait to get in sometimes. I would like to be able to reach out to those students who are in a place of shame, who aren’t reaching out to get the support they need, and let them know that no one is judging them here. That we are a place of support, and the more you can show up the more we can help. So I’d like to reach out to the students who have never been to ACE before.

Q) While college is, naturally, a place of transition, there seems to be an exceptionally large amount of transition this year. With construction and curriculum changes, how would you recommend students go about facing this period of transition?

  • It requires us to ask for self compassion for themselves. A lot of students have mentioned similar issues. Identifying: “what are the things I can change?” and “what are the things I can’t change?” I often tell students to begin by breathing, to take a moment to pause, to begin to acknowledge that it’s hard, and find opportunities to seek solace and nature. We have a lot of beautiful trails and woods that haven’t been affected by construction, and I would invite student to seek those spaces during the day if they can. Because it is disruptive, but how do we work with the things we can’t change? It’s a lot of practice.

Q) If you could say anything to the new freshman class as they continue into their first year of college, what would it be?

  • Be gentle with yourself.
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