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Goucher Poll Fall 2017

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According to the poll, 75 percent of Maryland Republicans approve of President Trump’s work in office. Photo Credit: WBalTV 11

The first iteration of the bi-annual Goucher Poll concluded last week and the results were released over the course of the last several days. The poll, which is conducted out of the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center by Dr. Mileah Kromer, asked Maryland residents for their opinions on a variety of statewide and national issues, from September 14th-18th. As the poll of record in Maryland, the results were picked up by most local news outlets, as well as national ones, including the Washington Post.

This rendition of the poll asked many of its typical questions, such as the approval ratings of President Trump, Governor Hogan as well as other elected officials in the state, and inquiring about resident’s opinions on the direction of the state. Unsurprisingly, President Trump still has an extremely poor approval rating in the heavily Democratic state; only twenty-five percent of residents approve of the job he is doing, while 71 percent disapprove. This is not to suggest that the President does not still have the support of his base, which appears immune to most if not all of the controversy surrounding him; 73 percent of Republicans in the state approve of how the President is handling the job. Governor Larry Hogan still enjoys a great deal of support from Marylanders across the political spectrum with his 62 percent approval rating, which breaks down into 82 percent approval from Republicans and 59 percent among Democrats. His continued support from all areas of the state, combined with the fact that 47 percent of Marylanders see him has a moderate and 57 percent currently hold a positive view of the economic situation in the state, suggest that Governor Hogan has a strong chance of re-election in next year’s gubernatorial race.

Residents were also asked other more controversial questions pertaining to their views on several hot-button issues. Marylanders tend to believe that there is racial discrimination against minorities on the job or at work; 64 percent of respondents said they agree with this claim. However, when broken down along racial lines, the numbers tell a somewhat different story. Only 55 percent of whites agree with this statement, while a more substantial 79 percent of African-Americans said they agreed. When asked about the most recent polarizing topic, removal of Confederate statues and monuments, 49 percent of the state thought they should be removed from public spaces. When answers were examined across race however, the difference was stark; 70 percent of African-Americans believe they should be removed, compared to only 38 percent of whites who feel the same way. One of the more surprising and perhaps unfortunate statewide developments, is that only 38 percent of Marylanders believe people of all races in their communities receive equal treatment by police. This is an 11-point drop in the belief that everyone is treated equally by police since the question was last asked on the poll in February of 2016.

Additionally, Marylanders were surveyed on their opinions about DACA and climate change, issues which they find themselves in strong agreement on. 75 percent of residents support DACA as a policy, and 94 percent believe that climate change is real—59 percent think that it is the result of human activity.

The Goucher Poll, which is administered by student callers and operates using only funding from Goucher College, continues to do the vital work of representing public opinion in Maryland and brings a great deal of positive publicity to our school. The full results of the poll, as well as previous polls can all be found on Goucher’s main website.

DogFest

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Pip the Corgi smiles for the camera. Credit: Paige Harris

Every September, the Baltimore Humane Society hosts DogFest, their biggest annual fundraiser. People bring their dogs to participate in a dog walk and other festival activities, such as the Biggest Dog Contest, Best Dressed Contest, and more.

Goucher’s Community Based Learning animal welfare program is partnered with the BHS, and they help out every year at DogFest and other events they hold.

Kathryn Vajda, ‘19, who has attended DogFest for the past two years, says, “It’s a great way for volunteers to learn more about the Humane Society before working with the animals there. It’s been an amazing way for myself and other students to learn about the different pieces that go into supporting animal welfare groups and non-profit organizations.”

Every year, the volunteers are different. One such first-timer, Rachel Haslett, ‘19, comments, “This has probably been the best day I’ve had thus far this semester. There were so many dogs. I got to pet so many dogs I lost count.”

Dogs of every shape and size were spotted at DogFest. Java, an Irish Wolfhound, was an immediate favorite among her canine companions. She and her owner sat on a bench close to the Walk-a-Thon volunteer table, allowing everyone who came through a pat. Later on, Java was spotted making friends with a golden labradoodle named Chelsea.

“Java is one of the biggest dogs I’ve ever seen in my life, but my favorites will always be the Huskies and Samoyeds. I love seeing my favorite breeds and can’t wait to own one myself someday,” said Haslett.

Other than contests, there were a variety of activities for dogs to take part in. There was a pool where dogs could swim in, fit with lifejackets and a handler in the pool to help with dogs who couldn’t swim well. There was also a tetherball available for the dogs.

“There was a bulldog who was ready to chase that ball until she collapsed. The owner kept trying to get her to leave but she was having too much fun. Eventually the owner had to carry her away,” says Paige Harris, ‘19, who also attended the event the first time this semester.

In addition, there was a ball throwing station, where owners could play fetch with their pets. There were also a multitude of vendors at DogFest, including a German Shepherd rescue group, artists, and dog-treat makers. One booth also sported a small blue-grey kitten who drew attention from many festival goers. Another non-canine guest that garnered a lot of attention was Darwin the tortoise. He arrived early to the festival in his own trailer, wearing a purple bandana to match the black and purple trailer.

Another interesting aspect of the festival is its costume contest. Though there were many beautifully dressed dogs, some of the most memorable costumes were the black lab dressed as Superman, a cream-colored dog dressed as Supergirl, the gaggle of pugs wearing tiaras, and a mutt dressed as a sailor.

“I’m definitely going next year,” says Haslett. “It was so much fun. I love being able to see so many dogs and pet them. It was definitely the best day I’ve had in a long time.”

Though DogFest has come and gone, there are still plenty of BHS events to go to this year.

Where The Money Goes: A Budget Update

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On Wednesday, April 5th, the Goucher Student Government (GSG) held a Budget Update in an attempt to inform students about the college’s budget and where their money is going. Both GSG and the administration have been making efforts to increase transparency and communication between students and the administration.

Goucher has two budgets: an Operating budget and a Capital budget. Photo credit: Google images

In July 2016, Goucher College hired Malcolm Green-Haynes as Director of Budget and Financial Planning, creating a position that did not previously exist. While Goucher had, more or less, been financially operating  on a “one-day-at-a-time” framework, Green-Haynes is now looking a year ahead, planning next year’s budget. Part of his job involves looking at more long-term strategies for the college’s financial stability and success. Green-Haynes also serves a strategic role as a point person between the Vice Presidents and Senior staff who make budget decisions, and the functional units of the college, such as academic departments, athletics, co-curricular centers, the library, etc. Green-Haynes communicates with each area to see what sort of funding they have had in the past and what they will need in the future. While this type of communication has existed in previous years, it may not have been happening in the same “holistic” and “systematic fashion” said Green-Haynes.
Green-Haynes is very open to talking to students about the budget and hopes to clear up any misconceptions there might be.
“Let’s do a little Budget 101,” he said, when interviewed for this article.

Budget 101
Goucher currently has two budgets–an operating budget and a capital budget. The Operating Budget, at about $65 million, goes toward the day-to-day operating costs that keep the college running: paying for electricity, people to cut the grass, microscopes for the biology department, uniforms for the lacrosse team, etc. The money for the operating budget comes from tuition, room and board, as well as some state assistance and miscellaneous business activities (for example, renting out Kraushaar Auditorium to outside groups). The administration is trying to increase these miscellaneous business activities in the coming years, in order to increase the operating budget but avoid increasing the cost of tuition, or room and board. Freezing the tuition this year was already a big step, a demonstration, Green-Haynes said, that “this administration is committed to accessibility and affordability.” However, the administration was unable to hold the line on room and board “because that would’ve meant pretty significant reductions in expenses, all in the same year,” said Green-Haynes.
Goucher’s other budget, the Capital Budget, goes toward large expenses and fixed assets: buildings, land, large equipment, IT infrastructure, etc. This budget, at about $36.1 million for the upcoming year, is financed by debt and philanthropic support. The Capital Budget currently funds the construction projects. Revenue for these projects comes largely from specific campaigns for alumni donations with the stated purpose of generating money for construction projects. Alumni support for the Capital Budget will not roll over to the operating budget once construction projects are finished, because the fundraising campaigns focus on construction.
“The fundraising base is fairly limited, so once that’s over, it’s over,” said Green-Haynes. However, he also states that there is an alumni support base in the operating budget, consisting of about $2 million.
There have been no major changes in the budget that will directly affect students, faculty, or staff. In fact, the budget for faculty is growing significantly, due in part to the creation of the new centers and the need for new faculty to teach particular classes.
The college also has an endowment of about $200 million. However, rather than dipping into the endowment for large projects, it makes more sense, financially, for Goucher to secure more debt.
“Debt is part of the business portfolio,” said Green-Haynes. “It is necessary to finance these projects to make Goucher more attractive and more modern, for prospective students, and current students.”

For more information
Members of faculty and staff managing expenses are able to view the budget in real time. The budget is not available to the wider Goucher community, most likely for “proprietary reasons,” said Green-Haynes.
“If you google ‘Bard college budget,’ ‘Johns Hopkins college budget,’ you aren’t going to find anything, and that is probably by design,” he said. Green-Haynes wants to make clear that the reason the budget was not on the website was not due to a lack of transparency, but rather, because the college has not yet figured out a way to make the budget visible to students without it being shared outside the community.
Last year, GSG put together a finance committee, with members of GSG Senate, to meet with Malcolm Green-Haynes. These students then passed on what they learned to the student body in the budget update. This year, the committee will be open to the entire student body, not just students from the senate.
“It is a good opportunity to learn about budgeting and finance, and it looks good on a resume,” said Lilith Saylor (‘20), of her involvement in the GSG Finance committee.
To view audited financial statements put together by the Accounting department, from 2007 through 2015, search “Goucher college financial statements” in Google. Malcolm Green-Haynes also welcomes any students interested in the budget or who have more questions to email him at malcolm.greenhaynes@goucher.edu.

Center for the Advancement of Scholarship and Teaching (CAST)

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C.A.S.T is here to support students. Photo Credit: CAST’s Facebook page

All students have complained about a professor or an assignment or a particularly bad incident in a classroom at least once in their lives. Maybe you’ve written these complaints in an end-of-course reflection or approached a professor directly about the issue. But how do faculty know the best ways to resolve these issues and navigate the feedback they receive? What can they change in order to make the next renditions of their courses more successful?
As of last year, Dr. Robin Cresiski at the brand new Center for the Advancement of Scholarship and Teaching (CAST) is that support system, which will “provide resources to faculty to help them be the best teachers and scholars they can be.”

Cresiski will help faculty integrate the latest research in effective teaching in their classrooms, promote undergraduate research, and cultivate student success. “Making faculty happier without increasing student performance is a failure,” according to Cresiski.
There is a variety of ways she is and will be undertaking this role. Faculty workshops and Lunch & Learns about a variety of topics are one route. The topics are selected from a survey Cresiski administered to faculty at the beginning of the semester to gauge the ones that are most in demand among Goucher’s faculty. Topics include “best practices for week 1,” “transparent assignment design,” and a variety of topics surrounding inclusivity and accessibility. While attendance is optional and some professors’ schedules may conflict with such workshops, Cresiski is working on a website where recordings of all the workshops will be available for faculty to consult if they could not attend.
She is also available for individual consultations to help faculty revise areas of their curriculum where students are falling asleep, to discussing ways to address a classroom incident, to anything else faculty made need support for. Faculty research is another area Cresiski will help with, such as thinking about research design and organizing research into a publication plan. Faculty may reach out to her or may be referred to CAST by another faculty member, administrator, or department chair. When faculty wish it, Cresiski will also observe their classes.
“The administration was very forthright with me about various issues on campus before I came forward,” says Cresiski, “[such as] the change in curriculum and the video from students about their experience as diverse students on campus. I am absolutely going to be a resource for faculty to make their classrooms more inclusive.”
In an effort to confront these issues, Cresiski has already started collaborating with the Academic Center for Excellence in order to help faculty reinforce the messages that ACE tells students and the Center for Race, Equity, and Identity about not only the Phoenix Program, but also what kinds of faculty programming CAST and CREI can collaborate on.
“Several of the workshops will revolve around helping faculty make their content and curriculum and lessons accessible and engaging for all students,” Cresiski promises. “There have been limited opportunities for faculty to learn how they might do that up to this point.” She cites the transparent assignment design workshop as an example of how she will empower faculty to be more inclusive. “Faculty that make just two of their assignments more transparent have smaller equity gaps between white and non-white students and between continuing and first generation students.” She also knows that addressing the issue of inclusivity and accessibility will require deeper work, more self-reflection and confrontation of the implicit bias one has when regarding examples used in class, hiring students for research or teaching assistant positions, and orchestrating class discussions.
Cresiski’s previous experience has definitely prepared her for this new role at Goucher. After completing a PhD in Immunology and serving as a visiting biology professor at Mt. Holyoke College (she will also teach biology at Goucher), she was hired at a small start-up college in Nevada where more than 50% of the student body were students of color, 67% were first generation, and almost all were low-income. Cresiski helped build a biology program and an undergraduate research program before becoming an administrator. As an administrator, she oversaw faculty development because she had become “very interested in developing faculty practices, especially in relationship with students who are very different than themselves and their experiences.”
In order to best serve the faculty, Cresiski is trying to figure out the best way to get feedback from students about their experiences with faculty at Goucher: “I’m a nice neutral resource…I’m nobody’s boss. So if students would love to see something happen differently in a classroom, I’m a place where they can come talk to me and they’re not getting anyone in trouble.” She’s hoping to figure out how students can compare and contrast their experiences and point out trends that they see, which students currently don’t have the opportunity to do in end-of-course reflections. Other colleges have advisory committees or pizza hours, which Cresiski has considered. In the meantime, she has been in conversation with ten students from a variety of disciplines that Dylan Margolis from GSG put her in contact with. She intends to form a working group including these students to think about the new center pair exploration courses—curriculum development being another aspect of faculty support that CAST will be a large part of.
In the meantime, students are welcome to email Robin.Cresiski@goucher.edu their ideas about how things could be better. She’s also welcoming students to tell her about really positive experiences they’ve had with faculty so that she can highlight such great teaching in her faculty newsletter.
“I’m really excited to be here!” Cresiski says, not only because her great-grandmother was a Goucher alumna, but also because she is “so inspired by [President Bowen’s and Provost Lewis’s] dedication to building Goucher into an accessible, transformative liberal arts institution.” Their dedication to accessibility is very important to her and she’s excited to contribute to the process of implementing the changes that will ultimately achieve this vision.

Class of 2015 Employment Data

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On March 6th, 2017, the Office of Institutional Effectiveness sent an email to Faculty and Staff concerning employment and continuing education data for the class of 2015 graduates. The Q staff, finding this information relevant to the current student body, received permission to publish the email.

Dear Faculty and Staff:

For years, the value of a college degree has been measured by significant outcomes of a college education. One of the most evident outcomes is the job and graduate school placement of bachelor degree recipients. Goucher has been systematically tracking and reporting our career outcomes data. This issue of the data brief focuses on employment and continuing education information for the Class of 2015 graduates.

Methodology

The Class of 2015 outcome data was collected from multiple sources. First, we administered the Graduate Follow-up Survey to the Class of 2015 graduates one year after graduation. Survey reminders were sent to non-respondents. A total of 128 out of 308 graduates responded to this survey, yielding a survey response rate of 42 percent. Second, in order to increase our knowledge rate, we collaborated with HEPdata, a reputable national company that offers student career tracking to enhance outcomes reporting. Third, we tracked post-graduation data, via the National Student Clearinghouse. Fourth, we solicited information from student affairs directors who had remained in contact with these students after graduation. Data collected through these four sources were merged together to form a final follow-up data file for the Class of 2015 graduates. Information for a total of 267 out of 308 graduates was included in the file, yielding an overall knowledge rate of 87 percent.

Results

We are delighted to share the excellent news of our graduates with you: within one year of graduation, 93 percent of the Class of 2015 were employed; 31 percent were pursuing graduate education, and 99 percent were employed and/or pursuing graduate education. In addition, for the first time with this survey, we asked the recent graduates when they obtained their first job after graduation, and how satisfied they were with Goucher’s role in their career preparation. The survey results indicated that 93 percent of respondents found their first job within six months of graduation and 91 percent of graduates reported that Goucher prepared them for their first job. These results speak volumes about the quality of a Goucher education and the effectiveness of all the work you do each day helping our students pursue lives of meaning and purpose. At Goucher, we change lives—one student at a time.

In addition, the results suggest that Goucher’s extraordinary liberal arts education has led to professional opportunities in a variety of fields. Here is an overall breakdown of employment by industry

Further, each graduate’s major was retrieved and merged with its respective academic center, allowing us to summarize the employers and graduate schools by this new affiliation.

A special thank you to each one of you who helped solicit these data. We are extremely grateful for your efforts. We are also beginning to collect data for the Class of 2016. You can continue to help us by sharing the post-graduation status of Goucher students who have finalized their plans for employment and/or graduate school.

If you have any questions or suggestion about career outcome information, please feel free to contact any of our Career Outcome group members: Harry Bielas, Bill Leimbach, Shuang Liu (co-chair), Traci Martin (co-chair), Janet Shope, or Corky Surbeck.

Sincerely,

Shuang Liu, Ph.D.

Senior Director of Institutional Effectiveness

Traci Martin, Director of Career Development

Smoke-Free Initiative Builds Steam, Encounters Roadblocks

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In October of 2016, President Jose Bowen and “Senior Leadership Team” announced an initiative for Goucher to become 100% smokefree in order to uphold “a bold history of innovation.” The administration made this decision in late November as a response to three separate incidents when extremely asthmatic students had to be rushed to the hospital from second-hand smoke inhalation.

Andrew Wu, Associate Dean of Students, said that he has received emails from the parents of prospective students claiming that they couldn’t see the school “through the smoke.” President Jose Bowen, Andrew Wu, and Dean Bryan Coker also revealed that antismoking sentiment has been present at Goucher for the past ten years.

The Goucher administration has received results from many students and student-led groups over the years who distributed surveys, conducted senior research projects, and applied course work towards the possibility of Goucher going smoke-free. “We’re rife with data and we have been for a while,” said Wu. However, he also stated that “the quality of the data is questionable.” Instead of using this data as the basis for a smoke-free campus argument, he cited recommendations from the American College Health Association that schools treat smoking on campus as a public health issue.

To help the administration come up with a concrete plan, an unnamed committee has been tasked to “develop and recommend a plan and timeline for becoming a smoke-free campus.” For the first few months, the committee seems to have struggled to represent the student body. The committee, comprised of faculty, staff, and students, appeared to be comprised of eager anti-smokers, failing to include students who smoke.

“While we have heard from many non-smokers who are interested in this initiative, we would like to involve current smokers as well,” wrote Dean Coker. Wu claims that until 2005, students were allowed to smoke inside academic and residence buildings on campus. He also acknowledges

To help the administration come up with a concrete plan, an unnamed committee has been tasked to “develop and recommend a plan and timeline for becoming a smoke-free campus.” For the first few months, the committee seems to have struggled to represent the student body. The committee, comprised of faculty, staff, and students, appeared to be comprised of eager anti-smokers, failing to include students who smoke. “While we have heard from many non-smokers who are interested in this initiative, we would like to involve current smokers as well,” wrote Dean Coker. Wu claims that until 2005, students were allowed to smoke inside academic and residence buildings on campus. He also acknowledges

Wu claims that until 2005, students were allowed to smoke inside academic and residence buildings on campus. He also acknowledges that some students have even taken up smoking at Goucher. For those students trying to quit, some have found it difficult to be on campus, and if they do leave, often these students resume smoking when they return. Although the Health Center offers free smoking secession materials, including nicotine gum, Wu feels that it is not enough and wants to create “an environment that doesn’t encourage smoking.”

One of the biggest concerns about the Initiative is the number of students who would be affected by a Smoke-Free Goucher College. Wu said in an interview that Freidman-Wheeler and the committee had information on the exact number of smokers on campus, but, “I would venture to say that at most small liberal arts schools, like Goucher, the perception of smoking is much higher than the reality.”

Although according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), smoking in America has been declining, a 2015 study found that 13% of American adults aged from 18-24 are smokers. A Harvard School of Public Health study in 2016 found that as many as a third–33%–of college students are smokers. On the other hand, the American College Health Association found that 9% of college students have asthma, and a 2014 CDC study found that 24.6% of adults between 18-44 have select respiratory diseases. Goucher currently has a total enrollment of 2,148 students, according to the US News and World Report. Therefore, taking these statistics into consideration, within Goucher’s population there would be an estimated population of between 280 and 710 students who smoke and an estimated 200 to 537 students with respiratory diseases.

The interests of faculty and staff who smoke are another obstacle in transitioning Goucher to a smoke-free environment. Wu acknowledged a union presence on the committee, designed to preserve faculty and staff interests: “we have a union rep on the committee, so hopefully that’s going to help… [but once the campus goes completely smoke-free,] we’re going to have possibly even bigger issues… It’ll be very difficult to tell people, especially for people who don’t drive to work, … to say, [to staff who smoke] ‘you have to leave campus [if you want a cigarette.’]” Wu was not sure if the smoking secession materials are currently available for Bon Appetit workers. “I would say yes, but we haven’t specifically spoken about Bon Appetit workers,” Wu said.

The Goucher administration is hopeful about the success of the Smoke-Free Initiative and said that a lot of schools and universities are going smoke-free. Wu said,“Towson went smoke-free, which, to me, is kind of surprising because their campus is so big… but they did it successfully.”

Martin, a senior I.T. major at Towson University is also a smoker and he reported that he faces little difficulty in navigating a smoke-free campus. When he wants to smoke, he said, “I have to listen to music or distract myself” until he can find someplace to smoke. However, Martin also stated that he “is not addicted,” so the smoke-free policy might not have affected him as much as others. Martin also stated that “there are still places on campus where you can smoke.” Although their campus is big, especially in comparison to Goucher’s, Martin is still careful about where he smokes because “It’s not worth the risk.”

The committee, along with Goucher administration, are working on the timeline of the Initiative–when and how it will be implemented. Wu claimed that he and the committee are in favor of “phases.” He speculated that initially there will be seven or eight zones where people can smoke that are easily accessible from buildings, “so people don’t have to walk long distances… but we want to avoid high traffic areas.” He also reported that the committee is considering waiting a couple years before beginning the transition, in order to allow current smokers to graduate, and recruit new students with the condition that they know that Goucher has a plan to become completely smoke-free.

Administration and the committee also face the question of how this policy will be enforced. “One of the biggest things since I’ve been here, has been a lack of enforcement of smoking policies,” said Wu. “It’s been difficult to enforce [these policies].

Part of the reason for that, in my opinion… has been a lack of a system of accountability.” The current policy is that smokers must be 25 feet from buildings, but, as Wu said, “Public Safety can’t cover the perimeter of all buildings. That’s kind of silly.”

The committee has yet to come to a conclusion regarding consequences for violating non-smoking regulations. Wu proposes that infringements could be handled by Public Safety in a “parking-ticket type of way.” However, he also said, “I don’t realistically think the entire campus is going to stop smoking on campus when we go to smoke-free. It’s the same thing when we say you can’t have marijuana on campus, but people still do… it’s something we need to commit to in our policy… We can enforce sanctions that are reasonable… if you show repeated behavior that suggest that you’re just not willing to follow the rules of the community, that’s when it’s a big deal for me.” However, no concrete consequences for violating the policy of the new initiative have been accepted.

Wu believes that the Smoke-Free Initiative is beneficial to the health of Goucher students and needs to happen: “I am positive, in my personal opinion, that this would never happen if it wasn’t a top down thing because there’s too much disagreement [and there are] people who are passionate about smoking… [and] have very loud voices, probably louder than people who don’t want to be around smoke. Especially when you start this conversation like, ‘Hey, we’re going to take your cigarettes away’ those voices are loud.”

Goucher Poll Results Are In

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Drew Phillips, Staff Writer

March 5th, 2017

This academic year’s second rendition of the semi-annual Goucher Poll released its full results Monday. The poll, which operates out of the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center, surveys a random sample of Maryland residents about their political opinions by having trained Goucher students call landlines and cell phones in the state, over the course of five days. Dr. Mileah Kromer has directed the poll since its conception five years ago, and in that time has taken it from non-existent to the most highly regarded poll in Maryland. She describes the goal of the poll as attempting to continue to be a very solid statewide poll, while also “asking questions of a national interest.”

The poll was scheduled to be conducted from February 18th—22nd, but higher response levels than anticipated allowed calling to conclude on the 21st, having surveyed 776 Maryland adults. The results were not particularly shocking. President Donald Trump is exceedingly unpopular, with a 29 percent approval rating in heavily Democratic Maryland, however it should not go unnoted that he has a 71 percent approval rating among Republicans in the state. Republican Governor Larry Hogan remains popular with Marylanders, boasting a 63 percent approval rating; a 7 percent drop in support from last September, but a number which is still quite impressive. Additionally, Maryland’s congressional representatives Benjamin Cardin (D) and newly elected Chris Van Hollen (D) hold approval ratings of 45 and 44 percent, respectively. Congress continues to sit in the approval ratings cellar, only 21 percent of Maryland residents approve of the job they are doing.

Among questions about their representatives, Marylanders were also asked about a range of political topics facing the state. Among the most interesting and relevant topics, 60 percent of Maryland residents support raising the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour, 58 percent support legalizing recreational marijuana, and 70 percent of the residents in the heavily gerrymandered state support having their congressional and legislative districts drawn by an independent commission rather than by the state’s elected officials. As usual, the poll has garnered a large deal of attention in the state, and even some national outlets such as The Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post and reporting the results. Fortunately, I was able to talk to Dr. Kromer for a bit so she could give The Q some insight into the Goucher Poll.

DP: First, I want to ask about polling in general. There was a lot of backlash against polling on the right and left following Hillary Clinton’s loss to Donald Trump in the general election this fall—do critics of polls have a point, or was there more of a misreading of the polls than the polls themselves being inaccurate?

MK: I think it was certainly more of a misreading of polls. The issue is, we have all these different individuals giving predictions and they all assign their own probability of an outcome—people really focused on the idea that Hillary Clinton had a 75 or 80, sometimes even 90 percent chance of winning. When you start to break it down and look at individual polls, what you see is that a lot of them were within the margin of error. For example, polls that were tracking Hillary Clinton nationally were correct, she did win the national popular vote. There were some polls that were off in states like Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, they were a little bit outside the margin of error—Florida had issues with this as well. However, by and large most of these polls were within the margin of error. Keep in mind that there’s a plus or minus [with each poll] and if it’s at three percent or four percent and the poll has somebody up 49-48 over the other, that person is not up, they’re statistically indistinguishable from each other.

DP: And the Goucher Poll margin of error is usually at about 3.5, right?

MK: Right, we usually end up with between 600 and 700 or so interviews which puts us around a 3.5 percent margin of error.

DP: So in terms of the Goucher Poll, do you have any big takeaways from this round?

MK: Sure, so what I think is really interesting is that Governor Hogan’s approval ratings are back to what they were last year, exactly. In September of 2016, they reached a really high level—I think in a lot of ways an unsustainable level. It’s impossible for any politician, much less a Republican in a blue state to maintain a 70 percent approval rating. Now they’re back down to 63 percent, which is still really good.

DP: And that kind of has to do with my next question. Having read the press release I know that you don’t really think this dip in approval rating has to do with any sort of “Trump Effect,” so I guess your take on it is that this is sort of a regression to the mean?

MK: I guess my take on it is this: I think if there was a “Trump Effect” in the numbers, one, when we asked about whether Hogan is spending too much, too little, or the right amount of time addressing Trump related issues, if there was a true Trump effect you would see in the responses more people saying “too little time,” that number would have been very elevated. Secondly, when you actually run an analysis looking at Hogan’s approval ratings crosstabbed against Trump’s, 51 percent of those who disapprove of the way Trump is handling his job as President, approve of the way Larry Hogan is handling his job. So there isn’t a natural overlap of one pulling the other one down. Finally, when we asked people who disapproved of the job Larry Hogan was doing, we asked people why, and only 12 percent of those individuals said they disapproved of Hogan because of Donald Trump. So we’re talking about a very small percentage of people within a very small percentage, and to me that just does not show a significant “Trump effect.”

DP: So when you started the poll five years ago, what were your aspirations for it?

MK: I think five years ago, my aspirations were to just get it off the ground. Then, I would have told you I would be completely satisfied to produce two methodologically rigorous and appropriate polls a year. Now, we’re starting to enter into a stage where we’re looking to the future. The Goucher Poll is certainly interested in expanding our offerings to maybe doing focus groups, and perhaps increasing the number of polls we do per year. Those are all things we’re thinking about for the future. We’ve really established ourselves as a poll of record in Maryland; we’re the go to poll, and so I think it’s really important that we start to now build on that reputation. I spent the first five years trying to build a very solid reputation for the poll, now it’s time to advance on that.

A Letter From President Bowen

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A few weeks ago our Sports editor, Michael Layer, reached out to several people on Goucher’s campus regarding the controversial photo of some Goucher lacrosse players. (You can read Layer’s article on the incident here).

Goucher’s president was among the few that got back to Layer. With President José Bowen’s permission, we wanted to publish the letter he wrote to The Quindecim‘s editors.

Dear Editors,

Thank you for your thoughtful letter regarding the College’s response to the men’s lacrosse incident last fall. I share your serious concern about the incident, especially in light of the current national climate. Here is what I can share.

As you know, Bryan Coker and I issued a joint statement immediately following the picture being posted, expressing our serious concern, and condemning the behavior. The men’s lacrosse team took prompt internal action with the responsible team members as well as the overall team membership. The matter was also referred to the Bias Education Response Team (BERT), which reviewed the matter and recommended educational measures. Since that time, our Title IX Coordinator has conducted educational sessions with the team as has the Assistant Dean of Students. The coach has been a model of responsiveness and the players have taken this very seriously.

While suspension from the team or public shaming might seem to offer a quick and strong response, such a sanction seriously diminishes opportunities for student learning and growth. We are an educational institution.  We invite students on to our campus to learn from their mistakes. Our approach to this incident has been – and will continue to be – learning-oriented. We probably should have provided some follow-up communication regarding these efforts before now, but I also think that what the public needs to know has to be weighed against the potential for real educational gains.

I have also attached my remarks from our Opening Convocation in January as they may also be informative of my position.  We are in a highly polarized moment in American history. When there is not much listening, there is not much learning and little chance for new communal understanding to emerge across thickly drawn lines of opinion. In my remarks in January, I asked student to expand their empathy this semester. I still think that is key. We need to have higher standards for dialogue and disagreement, but we also need to make sure we are having real dialogue–and that means some tolerance for failure. Exile is typically reserved for offences for which there is no chance of reconciliation. If we as a College cannot find some tolerance for failure in each other, then we will not be preparing you to be potential listeners, builders, creators, and healers in the wider world where you will soon find yourselves. There are very few places in the U.S. right now where such a diverse collection of people are living together and trying truly to get along. We are a long way from perfect. I am proud of our ambitious goals and high ideals, and I also know that brings more pain, misunderstanding and hurt along the way. We have chosen to confront the reality of our society. This is not the safe path and if we are to make progress we must both have higher standards for dialogue AND all be brave and willing to support each other in the effort.

BERT will soon be releasing an overview of cases they have considered over the past year, which will show all that is being done to address bias-related behaviors in our community. We are thankful to now have BERT, and hope to expand the opportunities for effective and educationally-based options for responses to bias incidents.

I am committed to learning, growth, and development as the ultimate outcome for this incident.

Sincerely,

José Antonio Bowen

Goucher’s Response to Men’s Lax Photo

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Michael Layer, Sports Editor

February 25th, 2017

In the first issue of this semester, the professors in the Center for Geographies of Justice and Cultures published an open letter addressed to President Jose Bowen. The letter urged Goucher College to take further action to address a racially insensitive photograph taken by members of the Goucher men’s lacrosse team on November 8, 2016.

The team was celebrating the end of their fall pre-season with a scrimmage organized by the captains on the team. The scrimmage took place on one of the practice fields behind the Eline von Borries pool nearly a week after Halloween. The team dressed up in costumes, which included various fuzzy animals, an assortment of characters from video games, and a policeman. The team seemed to enjoy their costumes, most of which seemed to be hooded onesie pajamas on top of their lacrosse gear, and posted their collection of pictures on Facebook and Instagram.

One student dressed up in a Donald Trump shirt, khaki shorts, American Flag suspenders, and a Make America Great Again hat. He posed for a picture with two other white students in style ponchos and sombreros, suggesting to be Mexicans, and posted the photo on Instagram. The post was saved as a screenshot and shared on Facebook by a student who identified the photo as an example of cultural appropriation. Other students and alumni on Facebook shared the post and the photo quickly became public knowledge within the Goucher community.

In the following hours, Goucher College sent out an email and Facebook post titled, “An Important Message to our Community,” which was signed by President Jose Bowen and Dean Bryan Coker. At the time, certain members of the Goucher community were assuaged by the Goucher administration’s response. The open letter from the Center for Geographies of Justice and Cultures represents a community patience that has been tested one too many times.

In the article, the faculty published four recommendations for constructive action in response to the photo, which included individual suspension, a public update from Goucher’s Administration, and that “the entire Goucher men’s lacrosse team participate in cultural literacy training.” Before the article was published, President Jose Bowen and Andrew Wu addressed these concerns with The Quindecim in a personal email and a follow up interview.

On February 14, 2017, President Bowen revealed that the team took “prompt internal action with the responsible team members, as well as the overall team membership.” Head Coach Bryan Kelly reached out to Luz Burgos-Lopez, the assistant Dean of Students for Race, Equity, and Identity. According to Burgos-Lopez, “Coach Kelly was interested in having conversations with his team to address what happened, and was seeking guidance on the best approach to these discussions.”

Both Coach Kelly and Burgos-Lopez made the decision that the team should hold a workshop series conducted by Lucia Perfetti Clark, Goucher’s Title XI Coordinator, and Luz Burgos-Lopez. These classes began in small groups of three or four students and then expanded to lecture style courses intended for the entire team.  Burgos-Lopez claims that “the workshops are not a punishment, nor an institutional response to what happened. They are the result of a partnership with Coach Kelly to try to build some greater capacity within the team.” According to President Bowen, “The coach has been a model of responsiveness and the players have taken this very seriously.”

President Bowen, as well as Luz Burgos-Lopez feel that these courses, not expulsion or suspension, are the best way to address the issue. Bowen remarked, “While suspension from the team or public shaming might seem to offer a quick and strong response, such a sanction seriously diminishes opportunities for student learning and growth.” For Bowen, making mistakes is an integral part of learning, and Goucher students would not feel safe enough to make mistakes if others are being suspended or expelled. Because he believes that these Goucher students are capable of learning from their mistakes, he feels that the educational workshops are the right course of action by saying, “Exile is typically reserved for offenses for which there is no chance of reconciliation.”

Luz Burgos-Lopez knows that systems of accountability haven’t been in place at Goucher for very long and, in her opinion, “people have the right to be upset and angry.” However, she is critical of a Goucher community that seeks to criticize the men’s lacrosse team or the Goucher administration. Burgos-Lopez claims that students were responsible for spreading misconceptions and that “people were having conversations that were toxic and out of fear.”

President Bowen commented on this issue, saying, “We probably should have provided some follow-up communication regarding these efforts before now, but I also think that what the public needs to know has to be weighed against the potential for real educational gains.” Burgos-Lopez agreed and is critical of The Quindecim even publishing this article: “Historically, students haven’t been able to handle sensitive information… who are the people you’re trying to hold accountable?”

Though there is significant student backlash on the men’s lacrosse team and the Goucher administration, Burgos-Lopez believes that the Goucher “doesn’t have the capacity to talk about race across the board, to really engage the community.” She claims that when certain students talk about issues of race on campus, they fail to consider other marginalized groups, and that certain issues become coded messages for avoiding social equity. “It’s elitist to claim that one has the capacity to know how to address this situation,” she says.

Racism both globally and within our campus won’t be resolved quickly. Burgos-Lopez stands behind the educational measures prescribed to the team: “No one changes overnight; the classes are supposed to bring about an awareness, but this is not a punishment.” Neither BERT, Goucher’s Bias Education and Response Team, nor CREI has any power of adjudication and cannot sanction any punishment on individuals or a team. BERT plans on emailing an official report of the incident outlining the school’s response before Spring Break.

President Bowen spoke in January for Goucher’s Opening Convocation and said, “we need to have higher standards for dialogue and disagreement, but we also need to make sure we are having a real dialogue – and that means some tolerance for failure… There are very few places in the U.S. right now where such a diverse collection of people are living together and truly trying to get along. We [at Goucher] are a long way from perfect… if we are to make progress, we must both have higher standards for dialogue and all be brave and willing to support each other in the effort.”

Goucher Professors Discuss the Evironmental Protection Agency

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Image courtesy of Google Images.

Madeline St. John, News Editor

February 25th, 2017

When the EPA came into existence in 1970, during Nixon’s administration, it was backed by relatively strong bipartisan support for environmental regulation, likely due to politicians recognizing and responding to real, visible environmental problems across the country. “It was an era in which rivers were catching on fire and people were dying from respiratory diseases related to air pollution,” said Robert Neff, a professor in the Environmental Studies (ES) department.

In the current political climate, the topics of environmental protection and climate change have become divisive ones. A Senate hearing was called to “modernize” the Endangered Species Act, with the argument that it prevents mining and the creation of jobs. Carbon dioxide may be removed from its classification as a pollutant, preventing the EPA from regulating it. Congress approved a resolution to overturn a Stream Protection Rule that prevented companies from dumping waste in local waterways. The U.S. will likely quit the Paris Climate Accords. The list goes on.

Already, the White House has frozen EPA grants and federal contracts, cut in half the number of EPA employees attending an environmental conference in Alaska, and, along with other federal agencies, ordered the EPA to halt their communication with outside organizations.

Scott Pruitt is the new head of the EPA. Pruitt has lobbied directly against EPA regulations. More specifically, Professor Neff cited Pruitt’s opposition to the EPA’s pollution regulations in the Chesapeake Bay. The EPA calculates the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) of the bay–the amount of pollution that the bay can handle each day–and divides these waste quantities among the surrounding states. These regulatory efforts for cleaner water have been proven effective. “The dead zone is shrinking, the oysters are coming back…Pruitt was opposed to this approach,” said Neff.

Pruitt’s “agenda would include providing new permits to drill oil and extract natural gas for energy production,” wrote Marko Salvaggio, a professor in Goucher’s ES department. “Not only will this increase carbon emissions, but [it also] threaten[s] our fresh water supplies and the health of the people who rely on this water.”

“Recent reports have demonstrated the petroleum industry’s efforts to confuse the public about the impacts of climate science – in the same way the tobacco industry worked to obfuscate the links between smoking and cancer…these types of campaigns that are now promoted by Scott Pruitt in the EPA,” wrote Emily Billo, a professor of Environmental Studies.

There has also been discussion of subjecting the EPA to political review. Typically, scientific research undergoes rigorous peer review, which, at the EPA, is followed by additional EPA-led review. If the White House adds its own review process, Neff stated, “this will be a complete corruption of that [scientific] process…How do we know that findings haven’t been altered for political reasons?”

Under the current administration, scientific research in general is threatened. Scientists expect to receive cuts in funding, and some will likely lose their government jobs. Cuts in national government funding for science will lead to job loss. This will affect recent graduates looking for jobs, who will have to compete with more experienced workers who will be back to job-hunting. Funding cuts will also likely result in less funding for graduate students.

Cynthia Kicklighter, a professor in the Biology Department, worries that changes in government will particularly impact funding for basic research. Basic research–research to improve scientific theories and understanding rather than, say, “find the cure for cancer”–is the kind of research almost all Goucher faculty conduct, and is the kind of research often “deemed as wasting taxpayer money,” said Kicklighter. She cited the example of a study which put shrimp on treadmills, with the purpose of seeing the effect on shrimp of low oxygen concentrations, which are often caused by algal blooms, in, for example, the Chesapeake Bay. “It sounds ridiculous,” she said, “but there was a legitimate scientific basis. Basic research is often made fun of. It’s misunderstood…Across the country, there is a lot of disconnect, and a lot of people don’t value it.”

Republican senators confirmed Pruitt, knowing that, only a few days after his confirmation, he had been ordered to release the 3,000 emails and other documents of correspondence that his Oklahoma office exchanged with fossil fuel interests during his time as attorney general.

In response to Pruitt’s nomination, about 700 former EPA officials sent a letter to the U.S. Senate opposing the nomination. This letter was covered in over 150 news outlets, raising awareness of the strong opposition to new EPA leadership. Among these former EPA employees was Goucher professor Dan Engelberg, who recently retired from 15 years at the EPA.

“This isn’t a new thing,” said Engelberg, in an interview, referring to the obstacles that the EPA now faces. “All of this has happened before, with Reagan, Gingrich and Bush. When was EPA last in a truly comfortable position?” he added, in an email.

Part of the EPA’s mission is to enforce regulations related to the Clean Air Act of 1970 and Clean Water Act of 1972, as well as create and enforce other legislation related to pollution control standards. In 1986, the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act required that people know about toxic chemicals present in their communities. In the 2000s, the EPA’s role expanded to include climate change and the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions.

The EPA plays a big role in environmental protection, and has been very influential during the 47 years that it has been in existence. Engelberg, who worked there for years, was critical of the agency. He stated that “the old structure really wasn’t working as well as it should,” and that there are “chronic issues” in the agency that “are less urgent, but more important.”

“In the early days, the agency was being sued all the time, on both sides,” said Engelberg, meaning that environmentalists, as well as businesses and industry, took the EPA to court, holding them accountable to their own regulations. Certainly, with recent occurrences in Flint, Michigan, the EPA has come under fire, and Engelberg expects, and hopes, such attacks will continue.

However, according to Engelberg, 90% of the enforcement action of environmental regulation is conducted by states. Also, one-third of the EPA’s budget goes directly to states. Engelberg expressed his belief that changes in EPA administration will result more in a “shift to the right” than a “u-turn” or “sinking” of the metaphorical environmental protection “ship.”

“The EPA has roughly 15,000 employees,” said Engelberg. “The president can appoint about 80. That is less than one-half of 1 percent of the EPA’s employees.” He also emphasized that, in general, employees at the EPA “really believe in the mission,” a fact that will make it more difficult to run the organization in a way that goes against its stated purpose. “In a way, I’m optimistic,” said Engelberg.

All of the professors interviewed for this article stressed the importance of optimism, in conjunction with activism. “What makes Trump different [from previous presidents who opposed environmental regulation] is his manner,” Engelberg said. “He’s not intellectual; he’s not well-schooled. People are reacting to his language.” And Engelberg is hopeful that this can be a positive thing–that the pushback to Trump will “energize the public” and cause young people to “take a stand” and invest their time and energy in environmental issues.

Professors also commented on the importance of paying attention to marginalized communities. “[Native American] communities often rely on funding through EPA grants to monitor groundwater pollution, and without this support they are less likely to be able to halt projects that will have detrimental effects on their land and people,” wrote Billo. “Those who are protesting to protect their communities’ rights are also being investigated as criminals by the government, and in some cases forcibly and violently attacked.”

The options for counter-action are numerous. Kicklighter discussed the possibility of citizen science–citizens can volunteer to collect scientific data and make observations (cataloging when flowers bloom, for example), increasing the body of scientific knowledge, particularly in the area of climate change.

Alternatively, one can donate money to environmental organizations, or fundraise for money to donate. Volunteer to clean up streams. Vote, and vote for representatives that value the protection of the environment. Call representatives. Educate yourself on local issues. “There are daily occurrences of oil spills, water pollution, etc. that often go unreported or unnoticed,” wrote Billo. She cited the example of the Curtis Bay, Baltimore, where protesting high school students were able to prevent the installation of a high-polluting incinerator project in their area, where air quality is poorest in the city.

Write letters to your senators on issues related to the environment (for example, on the “modernization” of the Endangered Species Act). Plant trees. Decrease your personal environmental impact. Write an editorial. Take to the streets. Participate in the March for Science, on Earth Day, March 22nd, in Washington D.C.

“Persistent resistance,” said Neff. “Collectively, we’re terrifying.”

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