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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.

Goucher Abuzz With Recent Honey Extraction

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The Beekeeping Club extracted more than 20 pound of honey earlier this semester. Photo credit: Mitchell Moran-Kaplan

It’s not every day you see a swarm of bodies, swaddled in what look to be white fencing suits, huddled outside your campus library. These bodies move quietly, slowly; thick gloves cover their hands and large screened masks hide their faces like fencers prepared to compete. But they aren’t fencers, they’re beekeepers. Their gloved hands work delicately to inspect their hives. Clumps of honeycomb stick to the frames of the hive boxes where masses of bees swirl. The beekeepers lift these frames out of the decoratively blue and yellow painted boxes for a clear inspection of the hive’s health.

This is Goucher College’s Beekeeping Club. Co-presidents Olivia Baud and Virginia Turpin started the club in 2015 with the help of English faculty member, Marjorie Pryse. “We have been very lucky because the administration is very supportive of us and allows us to have them [the bees]. Not all colleges are down with bees,” Turpin explained.

The club started off this academic year strong with its first ever honey extraction. The campus was abuzz with the news as honey-craving students, staff, and faculty members reached out to get their hands on a jar. “They delivered the first jars to President Bowen, Vice President Coker, Professor Kicklighter, and Matt Harmin – all of whom had been very supportive of the club in one way or another,” Pryse explained.

The club currently has four hives. At the beginning of this past summer, they added special honey storage boxes, called honey supers, to the two healthiest hives that would be most likely to produce an excess of honey. The excess honey would be stored in the honey super, which could then be removed from the hive box to extract the honey while still leaving enough for the hive to survive. During an inspection in late summer, the club leaders determined that there was enough honey collected in one honey super for an extraction to take place.

“So what we do is we take out the frames with honey. We take a really big knife – looks like a butter knife – and we cut the top of the comb to let the honey flow out,” Fiona Rutgers, the club’s treasurer, explained. “We then put it in an extractor, which is like a centrifuge that can fit frames, and we run that which lets the honey flow out, which we collect at the bottom of the extractor. We put the honey through a filter, and voila! The finished product!”

The extraction took place at Marjorie’s house, about fifteen minutes away from campus. The honey super, which is separate from the rest of the hive containing larvae, was removed from the hive and transported to Marjorie’s garage without disturbing or transporting any bees. The extraction needed to take place off campus due to the current campus construction that limits the  calm and spacious atmosphere necessary for an extraction. The club leaders, along with one active club member, were able to join Marjorie for the extraction. The process was live-streamed in a Facebook video for the rest of the club members and Goucher’s community to experience.

“We did the extraction, and that was very exciting because that was kind of the goal, the objective Virginia and I had from the start.” Baud said. “It was like, if we get to do an extraction, that will mean we have succeeded in some ways in establishing and maintaining this club. So that was a really momentous event for us.”

Baud, Turpin, and Pryse first bonded over their interest in beekeeping in the fall of 2015. “One of my objectives, coming into Goucher, was actually starting a beekeeping club.” Baud explains, “It was my sophomore or junior year of high school that I read a book by Sue Monk Kidd called The Secret Life of Bees. And the way it portrayed beekeeping and bees in the book really enchanted me.” Her interest connected with Turpin’s when they met in a biology class at Goucher. Their biology professor, Dr. Cynthia Kicklighter, then got them in touch with Marjorie Pryse.

“The Club…benefits from an energetic board of officers. They have generated significant response among students, always ‘sell out’ hive inspection opportunities, and have been very creative in expanding the kinds of activities the Club generates for its members.” Pryse said.

Pryse, Baud, and Turpin spent the 2015-2016 academic year meeting with campus members from Facilities, Public Safety, and the Office of Finance. They needed to decide where to place the hives on campus. “We wanted a site that would both benefit the bees and also – even more importantly – protect students and the general public,” Pryse explained. Furthermore, the club needed to find a space that could provide ample sun; access to forage, which consists of plants and wildflowers that produce pollen and nectar; and proximity to water. “We eventually chose the current site-outside the wall of the Athenaeum that faces the rain garden and loop road- because it met all our requirements. In addition, the apiary stands close to the Co-op Garden, and it is ideal to have synergy between bees and vegetable gardens.”

By spring 2016, the first two hives were established and the Beekeeping Club gained momentum. “We had an event with club members…we wanted to make it a kind of Goucher pride type of event so we painted the boxes blue and yellow.” Baud said. That first semester the club had over 80 people signed up for its email list, and a growing number of students wanting to take part in hive inspections.

Hive inspections are limited by the amount of protective gear the club has. “We used to have only six suits. But we just got some new equipment!” Baud explained. “We base it [hive inspections] around the protective equipment because we absolutely cannot let people go in without some sort of protection. That’s just legally smart to do that.” Each member of an inspection needs to be completely covered with a suit, gloves, and a veil. There are even elastic bands that tighten around the suit’s pant legs to securely protect the entire body.

Inspections are done every two weeks or so, depending on the season. The hives are largely left alone in the winter months to avoid disturbing the bees in the cold weather. When inspections do take place, Baud explained, “the first thing you want to look for is disease, and usually that’s pretty noticeable.” The beekeepers also look at general hive wellbeing involving the larvae and honey production.

Club members take turns inspecting the hive. Photo credit: Mitchell Moran-Kaplan

Turpin said, “We do need at least one person with some amount of expert knowledge to lead the sessions. For us, that’s Marjorie Pryse. It would be very hard to do this without her help.”

Baud explained, “Marjorie, she’s so modest…but she’s been a huge help for the club. And in all honesty I don’t know if we would’ve come this far if it weren’t for her support.”

Pryse became a beekeeper before she came to Goucher in Fall 2015. “I kept bees in Ithaca, New York, for about six years under the mentorship of a local master beekeeper and working with an area beekeeping club.” From her past experiences, Pryse was able to provide some of the preliminary equipment when the club first started at Goucher, and furthermore has continued to offer her knowledge and guidance to the club members.

“I have never before had as much fun keeping bees as I do now, keeping bees with student beekeepers. It is such a delight to watch the Club introduce newbies to bees and to watch the more experienced members become increasingly comfortable and knowledgeable working with these insects that so many people unfortunately have learned to fear,” Pryse said.

Goucher’s Beekeeping Club is a member of the Maryland Beekeeper’s Association, through which the club was able to purchase some of its hives and connect to a larger beekeeping community. According to Bee Culture Magazine, most colleges and universities that keep bees tend to be larger state schools where the bees are kept in various entomology departments or research labs. The University of Maryland’s Department of Entomology has a Honey Bee Lab, through which they can conduct apiculture research.

Baud explained, “I think there is something to be said about how disconnected we are from nature and from things like honeybees because we aren’t used to being exposed them in our present, modern world.” Goucher’s campus is unique with its spacious greenery. It also has a community of administrators, staff, and students who support, or at the very least tolerate, beekeepers promoting awareness of bees by actually maintaining hives on campus. With the recent honey extraction, the community has even more of a reason to support the bees and their dedicated keepers.

“The Club…extracted more than 20 pounds of honey,” Pryse said. 20 pounds didn’t meet the demand on campus, so club leaders designed a raffle system for the distribution process.

“A big concern for the club was finding a way to distribute honey in the most equitable way,” Rutgers said. “The raffle was a way for us to give everyone a chance to buy.” Community members had the opportunity to email the club to enter their names into the raffle. From there, the club used an algorithmic-based website to randomly select the winners. There were 22 jars in total that were sold through this process, at ten dollars a jar.

Before the jars were ready for distribution, labels had to be made. “We decided to open up a label-drawing contest and decided that the winner would receive a jar of honey,” Baud said. She, Turpin, and Rutgers all privately ranked their top three choices of the submissions they received. Luckily, they all agreed on their final choice, a design created by student, Erin Ertunga. The honey distribution just took place this week.

With the club’s success over its first two years, Baud has long-term visions for the club’s role on campus, including providing awareness to campus members that honeybees should not be feared. “My hope is that people who don’t feel comfortable around bees, that we’ll be able to reach out to those people, and they don’t even have to participate, but get them to witness a hive inspection. Because I think even just getting to witness one can really help dissipate the irrational fear of honeybees.”

The Roots of Change: Students Learn to Mobilize

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About four weeks ago, on Tuesday, September 5th, the Trump administration announced that it would end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (also known as DACA). The program granted work permits and deferrals from deportation, renewable every two years, for immigrants brought into the US as children or teenagers before mid-2007. The political move to end DACA soon took the internet by storm, with DACA recipients (also known as DREAMers) and proponents pressuring political figures on the left and right to respond to what they deemed to be a discriminatory act. I was browsing through my Facebook feed that Tuesday afternoon when a particular video alerted me to the political unrest: student-led walkouts at Denver high-schools were occurring in real-time in my home state of Colorado. Little did I know that only a few buildings away, other Goucher students were viewing the same video. “I didn’t know much about DACA. It was a Tuesday afternoon and I was sitting with all of my friends at Alice’s and then all of my friends were talking about the walk-out in Denver,” said Sarojini Schutt ‘18, a Peace Studies major. After researching DACA and the Trump administration’s decision, Schutt and her friends were inspired to act.

In response to threats to DACA, students took matters into their own hands, tabling on Van Meter and urging other students to call their representatives. Photo Credit: Usha Kaul

First, her friend Sabrina Nayar ‘18 sent out an informal invitation through the Facebook class pages to meet at Alice’s patio. “It started out with just 7 people but then people walked in,” Schutt said of the meeting. At first, students were calling for a walk-out the following day, but this particular method of mobilization was put into question by a few individuals at the table. Eventually, the group decided to call Robert Ferrell, a Goucher Communications staff member, regarded as a campus mentor and activist, for advice. “Rob brought out the point that if we do walk out now, people are going to associate it with Black Lives Matter (BLM),” Schutt told me. In 2015, in addition to leading a walk-out, Goucher students had led a die-in in front of academic buildings. Goucher had changed the listing of its address from “Baltimore” to “Towson” shortly after the Baltimore uprisings began, an act which many black students on campus saw as an affront to the BLM cause. The die-in made an impression on both administration and students alike. Pro-DACA mobilizers began to realized the importance of historical context when choosing appropriate methods of protest.

Goucher students led a die-in in front of academic buildings in 2015, in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Photo Credit: Rob Ferrell

Students gathered together that afternoon realized that they themselves were not DREAMers, and that fighting for the program as allies carried different implications. “It was almost like [by walking-out] we would be appropriating [DREAMers]’ protest,” Schutt said. Important questions such as, “what is the proper way to respond to this event?,” “what is the most effective way of protesting?,” and “what message do we want to send?” had to be discussed. “We talked about intent vs impact, and the implications of our actions–like what [DREAMers] actually need and what that looks like,” Schutt told me. After more than three hours of conversation, Goucher students, cycling in and out of the meeting space, conceptualized a new plan for mobilization. “Our plan was to table and kind of disrupt the flow of Van Meter Highway,” Schutt told me.

Sabrina Nayer, ‘18, encourages her fellow students to take some time to learn about DACA. Photo Credit: Usha Kaul

In the next few days, volunteers tabled in front of the main entrance of the Athenaeum, urging students to call their representatives. The way in which these students had decided to take matters into their own hands impressed me, and it reminded me of similar instances of student-led mobilization on campus. Over the course of my three years at Goucher, I had already witnessed students pushing for new student work policy reform. The semester before my first year, students led protests in response to police brutality against black Americans like Freddie Gray. Goucher has a legacy of students coming together on their own to stand up for what is important to them.

Yet, while I admired the ways my peers had organized the pro-DACA tabling all on their own, I noticed that many students avoid eye contact with the protesters and hastily walk past, which led me to question the success of the movement. Were they achieving the goals that they had set out to achieve? Brett Rapbaum, ‘20, while a pro-DACA student mobilizer herself, noticed some faux-pas in the way the movement attempted to create change. “It was like 10 people at the table at once, and it was a lot of first years who weren’t even aware of what DACA was,” she told me. While fruitful reflection and discussion had set the stage for the movement, it had been carried out by a decentralized group of people. Since no leadership structure existed, there was no system of accountability for misinformation, or consensus on proper tabling methods. “I heard lot of mega-phony type stuff, just like, ‘You can’t spare 2 minutes? Really?’,” Rapbaum said. As a Student Leader for Civic Action, Rapbaum has learned to avoid blaming people for not knowing something that they’ve never been taught. What she saw in some of the pro-DACA tabling was intimidation, not only of busy students who “wanted to be involved but couldn’t be in that moment,” but also of people who could have been informed about DACA and its importance. “It created enemies where they didn’t have to exist,” she explained. While she noted that the tabling did attract and motivate many students to action, she saw the movement’s tactics as effective in the short term but not so much in the long term. “This is an issue that’s going to be present for several months, and it’s dangerous to have something that’s sparked right away and then fizzles out,” she told me. “This is a long haul marathon, not a sprint.”

This is an endemic problem at Goucher. Student mobilization on campus often carries huge shock value and can spark very specific, short-term changes, but when it comes to long-term change, Goucher movements are faced with a variety of problems. About a year ago, students mobilized against a ‘New Student Work Policy’ announced in June – with great success. Yet the reason for its success was precisely predicated on its short-term goal: to revoke a policy that would restrict salaries for many students, particularly those who were international and/or of low-income. Ahmed Ibrahim ‘19 was one of the leaders of the movement. “I was very worried about what was going to happen with me staying on campus and working to meet the amount I needed to get my education. I knew people who worked on-campus and off-campus. This policy is going to screw them over. So what can we do about it?” Just like the pro-DACA mobilizers, Ibrahim met with other students working on campus over the summer who would be affected by the new policy. Some, like James Williams ‘19, had past experience affecting change, and they formed a core group of leaders. Williams helped the group form an incremental plan where their grievances would be expressed in increasingly visible and confrontational ways until the policy was revoked.

The group established some ground rules for their movement, such as complete transparency with students and administration. Most of the developments had occurred over the summer, so many students, particularly the incoming class, were out of the loop. Ibrahim informed students about the new policy by confronting people on Van Meter or in common rooms. Then, he and the rest of the group met with staff such as Karen Sykes and Luz Burgos-López.“[Their] summary was like yeah I hear you, but we can’t do anything about it because it was a joint decision by Goucher admin.” They took the next step. Williams sent out emails to administrators like Brian Coker and even José Bowen. “They responded. They were like, ‘yeah, we should have a discussion about it.’ Then it was a back and forth, like bargaining about it,” Ibrahim said. They pushed harder, directly confronting administrators like Leslie Lewis, LaJerne Cornish, and Emily Pearl during Student Employment Day. Administrators responded by suggesting an appeals process and encouraging student input.

Subsequently, the group used Facebook and tabling on Van Meter to collect signatures from students, staff, and faculty. Around 600 to 700 people signed their petition. The group then told administration that they would be meeting in the Athenaeum to engage in a more involved discussion about the policy with their peers. “I remember there were 7 us and then 35 people who joined,” Ibrahim told me. “We made a list of grievances on a board and took a picture, and we reflected on an appropriate course of action.” Here his story began to echo Schutt’s description of organizing the Pro-DACA movement. What was clearly different about Ibrahim’s account, however, was that an identifiable structure existed throughout the process. He and the rest of the core group leading the movement were able to convince administrators to convene with 10 to 12 students at a town hall meeting. “The agreement was ‘yes, we’re going to repeal the policy, but we’re also going to work with administration on a new policy’,” Ibrahim stated. Over the course of the next semester, student workers were able to create the more equitable work policy that exists today.

To be sure, the pro-DACA movement had its own successes. Schutt, Rapbaum, and a number of other mobilizers were able to identify key resources on campus that helped them inform and empower a large number of Goucher students. For example, they knew to go to CREI (Center for Race, Equity, and Identity), which supplied them with many of the flyers and print-outs that they handed out. They also coordinated with OSE (Office of Student Engagement), which provided additional information on DACA during common hour. Finally, they were able to identify key spaces for organizing and mobilizing more students. “We met in the P-Selz lobby, which is just like a really accessible space. It’s big, and there’s a projector that all students can use. We were able to send out mass emails, and also we were able to post on the Facebook pages about stuff,” Rapbaum told me. Some mobilizers even convinced a professor to bring their class to the DACA information table.

The Emergency Trump Task Force (ETTF), which formed out of the pro-DACA movement, created a Hurricane Relief Fund for victims of the recent hurricanes. Photo Credit: Usha Kaul

Yet, just as quickly as it had appeared, the pro-DACA movement melted away. As was seen with the movement against the New Student Work Policy, students from disparate groups tend to coalesce around certain issues, but not for long. Had the New Student Work Policy movement sought to change an economic policy beyond Goucher’s campus, it would have encountered many of the same problems that the pro-DACA movement faced. Goucher students thus lack the structure necessary to make the long-term changes they seek. Some, like Williams, have taken notice of this missing puzzle piece. “Ideally, we should have gotten more of a campus conversation about [mobilizing], because student activism stuff seems to pop up and go away really quickly,” he told me. The Goucher Leadership Council, a group of nominated student leaders, could have assumed the role of shaping a student network, but as Williams pointed out to me, it became more of an important ‘therapy space’ for leaders who are stretched thin. Having helped found the Radical Student Union (RSU), Williams hopes to achieve radical change on campus, but acknowledges the difficulties in doing so. “Some people start out and really start to spread agency of who’s going to do [the organizing]. But what ends up happening is, there’s so many people that have people in their pockets and nobody really knows who’s in charge, so the movement dissipates,” he explained. RSU members hold different views of what constitutes ‘radical change’, so the group hasn’t been able to agree on an effective system for student mobilization. That being said, the group has been working on building community. “Student mobilization needs to look like something where students come together – and clubs are dying, or if not dying, living in a silent-ish way,” Williams said.

 

Ridwan Ladwal, ‘20, behind the table for the Hurricane Relief Fund, organized by ETTF. Photo Credit: Usha Kaul

One group that has emerged out of Goucher’s past activism may be planting the seeds for the kind of consolidation Williams envisions. The Emergency Trump Task Force (ETTF) formed out of the pro-DACA movement when Usha Kaul ‘17 and seven other students decided that DACA’s revocation was only one of many Trump administration decisions that needed to be confronted. Zahir Mammadzada ‘21, one of the seven, questioned the effectiveness of shock-value protests. “Protests are effective to some point. Pressuring government bodies is more effective because shutting your mind off doesn’t really legally change anything.” Kaul chimed in, “often times I feel like people don’t understand the issue completely when protesting. They often just join the mass.” To Mammadzada and Kaul, ETTF serves as a pre-existing support structure of activists who will help table and inform when mobilized. When Kaul decided to create the Hurricane Relief Fund, she knew where to go. “We’re really pushing the whole ‘education and understanding the issue’ concept. We know that we can’t fix world problems 100%, but in order to move forward we need to educate people about the issues we’re facing,” she told me. Mammadzada added, “You’ve got to start somewhere!” Admittedly, ETTF’s political objectives are unlikely to draw in all of the Goucher student body. However, the group serves as a starting model for pulling the campus together, a process which, if ever completed, would empower students more than ever before.

 

S.E.T.: Winter Carnival and G.I.G Planning

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Katie Van Note, Staff Writer

February 15th, 2017

The Student Engagement Team set the bar high for events on campus this past weekend, with their Winter Carnival. Formerly know as Programming Board, S.E.T. is a group of Goucher students and professional staff members that meet once a week in the Office of Student Engagement (O.S.E). Their purpose is to create fun, entertaining, and enticing events on campus that the majority of the student body will enjoy.

In the past few years, S.E.T. has experienced a lack of participation at their events. They have held pop up events such as spin art, dance parties, and palm readings that haven’t always generated the participation they desired. In order to combat this, their new goal is to hold fewer, but higher quality events. Now, with more money going towards these events, they can generate more interest and student engagement!

The Winter Carnival on February 4th, 2017 is exactly the kind of event Goucher students have been waiting for. The Carnival was held in the the Hyman Forum of Goucher’s Atheneum and included a variety of activities, musical performances, and free food that attracted over two hundred Goucher students. S.E.T. gave priority to student bands, bringing to the stage two Goucher favorites: Mustang Riddle and Sharnell Huff (a recent Goucher graduate). Activities included bamboo planting, spray on tattoos, a photo booth, giant jenga and connect four, and inflatable twister. The favorite of the night, however, was the free food. Outside of the bottom doors of the Atheneum, students stood in the cold to receive their free Korean barbecue, crab tacos, gyro sandwiches, pulled pork, and cookies. Students sat on the steps of the Forum eating food and listening to music while others broke it down on the dance floor. There were activities on each floor of the Forum which kept students engaged after they finished their dinner. Ultimately, the program was well executed by S.E.T. and generated a large student attendance despite the lack of advertising.

S.E.T. will set their sights next on the highly anticipated Get Into Goucher day, (G.I.G), on April 7th. G.I.G. is Goucher’s annual outdoor festival where students get the day off (after 12:30pm) to enjoy festivities. The team is currently in the brainstorming stage for G.I.G. with potential ideas including free food (a crowd favorite), a beer garden, performances from local bands, and inflatable bounce houses. In the past, Goucher has hired outside performers such as Bosley and Khleo Thomas (the actor, Zero, from the 2003 movie, Holes). Currently S.E.T. is pushing for more student bands at events like G.I.G.

S.E.T. has meetings once a week that are open to Goucher students. If you’d like to see an event on campus or have additional ideas for an upcoming event like G.I.G., stop by the O.S.E. outside of Alice’s Cafe. Professional staff members include Aisha Rivers, Christine Krieger, Amber Barnett, and Kimberly Spicker.

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