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Possible Rise in First-Year Transfers

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When a high school senior commits to a college or university, they must be absolutely sure that the institution is their dream school, right?
It is as if there is a universal expectation for high school seniors to have this important next step in their education figured out. Most prospective freshmen apply to an institution with no doubt that they will be satisfied with their decision. However, after experiencing their first semester, some may discover that their school does not meet all of their needs. Two scenarios can happen after this stage: either the student solves their problems at their current school, or they decide to transfer to a school more capable of suiting their needs.

How many students within the Class of 2021 are contemplating transferring?

It cannot be accurately determined. For the Fall 2016 cohort, Goucher College maintained a decent first-year student retention rate. According to Goucher’s Office of Institutional Effectiveness, 78% of first-year students from the fall semester returned to Goucher to continue their education, and the remaining 22% did not return (2017 Student Profile). The amount of students who transferred is unknown. However, there are a number of current first-year students who are considering transferring. Two students came forward with their accounts, and both wish to be kept anonymous due to personal reasons.

This specific student has not yet decided whether they are transferring. However, they are in the process of thinking it over. Here is their story:

“Before I came to Goucher, I thought that I had chosen the right school. I thought that I would fit in and have a smooth first semester. From what I have experienced so far, that was not the case. In the beginning of the year, it felt like I was meant to be here. But the longer I stay here, the more I realize that it’s not the school for me. First, I think that I am paying too much money into investments that I believe the school does not need at the moment. Instead of expanding the first-year village so fast, more funding could go towards the educational buildings for academic resources. Also, my social experience hasn’t been so great. Sometimes I feel like an outsider in the Goucher community, and that’s not how you should feel at any school, especially while away from home. And when you feel like you don’t fit in, it takes a toll on your emotions. I have an amazing support system here but sometimes that’s not enough to keep me happy. I would rather have a positive connotation for the school that I’m attending than a negative one. Also, I will admit to having some bad experiences during my first semester which could be altering my opinion of the school as a whole. I will keep that in mind as I determine whether I will transfer or not.”

The next student believes that they will transfer after the Spring 2018 semester. This is their story:
“I loved Goucher during the first month of classes. Faculty, staff, and even my peers were so nice and supportive. But, as the semester dragged on, my opinion of the college began to change. Goucher has a very small community, and as a latino student, I feel that my culture is not represented well enough. The school advertises that they have a high ethnic diversity, yet the majority of the student population is white with a sprinkle of other races mixed within. My cultural identity is very important to me, and I feel detached from my home because of the lack of latino representation within the community. Also, the community does not act as close-knit as Goucher states. There are many cliques throughout the school who only interact with people who are similar to them. It’s as if after the first month, people settled on a certain friend group and did not want to branch out and make new friends. I had a hard time finding a consistent friend group, and because of this, my social anxiety rose. As for academics, my classes do not challenge me. I feel that I am paying way too much for a school that doesn’t challenge my mind. And, Goucher policies seem to change every year whether it be in academics, housing, etc., and this appears to me as being unstable. Despite all of this, I do believe that Goucher possesses many pros, however, I think that I could find the same pros at any other school I were to attend.”

There are two notable patterns between the students’ statements. Both believe that they do not belong in Goucher’s community, and although the school strives to strengthen community building, these individuals do not think that there will be a change in the way students interact toward each other. Both students also think that they are paying too much money for what they are receiving from the college. These appear to be the most relevant claims for the students’ decision to transfer. However, they may have a bias against the school from negative experiences encountered throughout their first semester.
Although these are only two accounts from the freshman class, there could be many more first-years who have similar beliefs. It is vital to discuss these issues in order to discover what can be done to change the campus for the better. Not only for current students, but for future students as well.

Works Cited
2017 Student Profile. (n.d.). Retrieved February 08, 2018, from http://www.goucher.edu/institutional-effectiveness/2017-student-profile

Single City: The Price of Living Alone

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Stimson Dorm in 2009.
Photo Credit: WordPress blog of Billie Weiss, ‘11

Starting in the Fall 2018 term, Residential Life has predicted that there will be around 90 new singles on campus. This would effectively convert every double room in Stimson into a single. While Stimson isn’t known as a glamorous place to live on campus, the prospect of getting to live alone in a double room might outweigh the lack of air conditioning and abundance of mice. With 90 more people potentially being able to live alone on campus next year, anyone looking to get a single should know the cost.
Goucher’s single room rate per semester is $4,081 compared to the double room rate of $3,750 per semester. This is a difference of $642 per year and while that may seem like quite a lot of money to spend on top of the Goucher tuition, compared to other small private liberal arts schools, it’s not horrible. In comparison with three other similarly sized private colleges, Barnard, Allegheny, and St. Olaf, Goucher students pay the second lowest amount to live alone. Out of the four schools, it is the cheapest to live alone if you go to Allegheny College, where students only need to pay an extra $345 per year for a single. On the other end of the spectrum, Barnard College charges students an extra $1,528 per year to live in a single room. St. Olaf College sits with another horrendous rate of charging students $1,000 more to live alone. While no one wants to pay any more than they already are for their education, the extra $642 per year might be worth double the space, depending on who you are.

“Will the addition of more students in singles create a more isolated student body?”
Photo Credit: Goucher Virtual Tour

How will an all singles dorm, or single city, affect the overall student body? Will the addition of more students in singles create a more isolated student body as singles have the tendency to isolate those who live in them? Single city raises other questions about who should be prioritized to get these new singles. Should more senior students be prioritized over students who need singles for health reasons? And even with this addition will there be enough single rooms for all the people who need them? Right now Stimson is not very accessible to those with physical disabilities as only a small portion of it is wheelchair friendly. Will the student body see any effort to make Stimson more accessible or will it remain as is to prioritize the creation of new buildings? There are many things to consider while watching the progress of student housing in the next few years. While this is subject to change, Stimson’s single city looks to be a relatively cheap solution for students who need or want to live alone.

Smoke-Free Campus Committee Student Member Gives Insight into Process

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Map of Designated Smoking Areas Photo Credit: Goucher College

Last year, Goucher’s administration announced that smoking on campus would be banned entirely by the Fall 2018 semester. Now designated smoking areas have been set up to phase in the Smoke-Free Campus Initiative.

The decision to  become a smoke-free campus was made  last November as a reaction to three students with severe asthma being sent to the hospital, as well as complaints from parents of prospective students.

The initiative’s rollout was confusing to some students, who were unsure of the new rules or how the ban was initiated, due to the survey released last semester that gave students the impression that the initiative was simply a possibility, and that they would have a say in this decision.

Below is the transcript of an interview with a student member of the Smoke-Free Initiative Committee, who requested anonymity. This interview will hopefully give Goucher students a window into the decision process and what is to come. The transcript is lightly edited for clarity.

Q: Let’s start with some background on how you got involved with the Smoking Initiative Committee or Group.

Anonymous Student (A): “I was taken to the hospital for a severe asthma attack from secondhand smoke freshman year. Then I was told by Brian Coker that Andrew Wu had put together an initiative to go 100% tobacco free, but he needed student input to do it. So Andrew Wu put together this group. It was already decided by Jose Bowen that ‘yes this is going to happen’.

Q: So Andrew Wu is the one that spearheaded it?

A: Yes. I definitely give him the credit. He put together a group and it was very clear that this was happening.

Q:  So there wasn’t a lot of debate involving students, professors, or staff about whether the initiative was going to happen or not?

A: No. There was no debate about it happening. But the debate is the most humane way to have it happen, and the best way to make it so no student feels left behind.

Q: And what was the concern with the “most humane” way to do it?

AS: The concern is that if we take away all tobacco automatically people are addicted to it. If you’re addicted to something like that you’re going to have severe withdrawal symptoms. So we came up with the idea of what if we limit it to certain spaces on campus. But since the 25 ft rule is very unenforceable, we figured out 7 different spots on campus that are accessible, but not in the way of students who don’t want to be around it. So we sat down with a map of campus and those spots were not only decided based on lower traffic, but to also deter people. Because one of the things we noticed in the group, which I think is a pretty big deal, is that according to the survey, a lot of students start when they come here. And if we want to have a healthy campus we shouldn’t have our socializing focus around sitting in a circle smoking cigarettes.

Q: So the goal was to decrease visibility of smokers?

A: Yes. And to help people figure out a different way to become friends. Sitting in a circle smoking is not the best way to build a friend group. And we want to make it less appealing socially.

Q: I’m aware of the health center’s offering of free smoking cessation materials; are you guys expanding on this at all?

A: Yes, we are compiling a list of free, immediate treatment websites to help professors and students quit.

Q:  One of the issues around this is the issue of banning smoking on a campus where professors and staff smoke; can you elaborate on this?

A: From what I’ve heard a lot of professors have wanted this for a long time.

Q: Ok, were there any roadblocks you guys experienced?

A: One of the hardest things was figuring out where to put  [the smoking areas], and Goucher knows there will be pushback from students. We aren’t trying to get rid of smokers; we’re trying to get rid of the habit. We just want to make sure the students with this addiction are helped.

Q: In your opinion, has this been successful in not making smokers feel excluded or unwanted on campus?

A: I don’t think we received any direct pushback, although it’s pretty clear that students were against it. They aren’t thinking about the health side of it, only the social side, which is hard. Because when you think about the health side of it, yes this is the obvious answer. So yes, there was pushback, but it didn’t stop us from continuing. We tried to make it very clear that this was predetermined. And that’s what students had a hard time understanding. They thought this was up for debate. It wasn’t. It was predetermined, not a choice.

Q: Do you think that the survey distributed last year contributed to students thinking that this was debateable?

A: I do think the survey was a little confusing and made students think “oh this matters,” when the decision was already made. So yes, I do think the survey was not very well-worded. It should have included more “what can we do for you, how can we get you to quit,” however I was not part of making the survey. I think it was an attempt to work with students and get input. But I think the way it was done was counterproductive.

Q: Would students having a firm idea that this was predetermined without their input make them more receptive or accepting of it?

A: I can’t speak for them, but I think my hypothesis would be that they would still be just as upset because they feel like their voice isn’t heard. Our argument is that their voice is being heard, but at the end of the day the administration has to do what is right for the campus. It’s safety first, fun second.

Q: Going back to your point about students who pushback or disagree with it, what do you think the Smoking Initiative Group and Goucher can do to improve the initiative’s appeal to students?

A: I think everyone knows it’s a health issue, but when you’re addicted to something, and you’ve made a social life out of it, you won’t think about how it hurts people. So I think it’s an addiction and they can’t fathom the idea of quitting. But I also think that when you come to Goucher, if you see a group of people sitting smoking and laughing you’re going to want to join in and the way to do that is to start smoking. It’s just a really unhealthy path.

Q: Do you feel that the initiative has been successful so far and having the effect that you wanted?

A: I think for the most part it’s doing well. To me it seems like it works better during the day, but at night it seems that students start to ignore it and I think that they try to be sneakier about it, but we’re working on resolving that with more patrolling public safety officers.

Q: How do you catch smokers?

A: So now we have more officers patrolling, and if you’re a student and see someone smoking, call public safety.

Q: Ok, so next year this will extend to campus becoming fully tobacco free…

A: Yes, tobacco, vaping, e-cigarettes, everything.

Q: Why vaping and e-cigarettes?

A: Well it’s a health hazard, and we can’t give them a loophole. If you give students a loophole they’ll take it. These also have second hand effects.

Q: What do you think will happen once it’s banned? Because obviously you personally want a 100% smoke free campus, but realistically there will always be those who just choose to leave to smoke, or violate the rule. So do you feel that it’ll just become a bigger pain for smokers instead of actually getting them to quit?

A: That was our goal with smoking destinations, as you see they’re not meant to be comfortable, they’re meant to be a hassle. We purposefully made them uncomfortable to make it clear that this was not permanent. These are a way to help you realize that you have to start leaving campus, or you can take the other option and quit.

Q: Do you think that in effect you’re just forcing adults to quit smoking?

A: If it’s an addiction I would argue someone would go to those lengths to do it. I don’t think that people would be logical; if you’re addicted and it feels good in the moment you’ll do it anyways. We aren’t forcing them, but we’re highly encouraging them to quit.

Q: How is this not strong arming students into quitting, if only because of how isolated Goucher’s campus is?

A: That’s fair, but the other colleges that have done this have been successful.

Q: What would your counter be to the argument that this is a further attempt by Goucher to insulate students? Smokers exist in the outside world after all and you can’t isolate yourself entirely from smokers.

A: I think that when it comes to health of the general campus, Goucher needs to take health into account very seriously. Now in the real world I can choose to avoid that. Here it’s really hard, there’s no roundabout I can take. In my neighborhood it’s looked down upon. So I know that when I go home I don’t have to worry about it. I can walk a few blocks and not worry about it.

Q: I’m assuming you’re from a city?

A: I’m from Washington D.C. and a better well off area, so it is looked down upon because everyone there is very well educated.

Q: Do you feel that you achieved your goal?

A: I feel like my goal hasn’t fully be achieved. Because while I would like people to understand the other side of it, like I understand if you’re addicted to it, I think my goal would be to work with the students who feel left behind, because I want them to have a more positive outlook on this. We want to help make you a healthier you, one that can focus on academics and get further in life than having to worry about your health.

Q: Is the amount of criticism stemming from students feeling their freedoms are being taken away?

A: Honestly I don’t understand why people start [smoking] here. I understand if you come here from a place that has put you into that but I don’t understand if you’re here and you’re highly educated why you would do it.

Q: What was the smoking initiative group comprised of in terms of demographics?

A: There were four or five students (all of whom were quitting or had quit) and four smokers who don’t want to quit, but I don’t like using that phrase because I don’t think they necessarily don’t want to quit, they just aren’t ready yet. They’re future non-smokers.

Chick-fil-A Delivers Curbside

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As a fast food chain it’s not surprising that Chick-fil-A is constantly looking for ways to reach new customers by improving speed and convenience. Unfortunately, in Maryland, Chick-fil-A is not on every other block as they are in other regions. The nearest drive-thru locations are in Hunt Valley and Parkville, making getting to Chick-fil-A time consuming or impossible without a car. Luckily for Goucher students who love Chick-fil-A, there is a location in Towson Town Center’s food court that has just announced it is offering curbside delivery and shortening the wait time for your chicken nuggets.

Curbside delivery offers the convenience of a drive-thru a minute’s drive from Goucher’s campus. This means no more fighting for parking at the mall or driving fifteen to twenty minutes for a chicken sandwich.  The delivery system works a bit differently than a drive-thru. Customers are able to place their orders by downloading the Chick-fil-A One app, selecting what they want from the menu, and selecting the curbside delivery option.
“We have always wanted to find a way to reach out to more guests and meet the demand for a drive thru service in Towson. Many times, we hear people choose to not dine with us because of the wait or the hassle of parking at the mall. This new service offers a way to skip the line and wait comfortably in your car while we prepare and deliver your food,” says owner and Maryland native Natalie Martz of the new delivery service.

Luckily for Goucher students who love Chick-fil-A, there is a location in Towson Town Center’s food court that has just announced it is offering curbside delivery and shortening the wait time for your chicken nuggets.

Need catering for a club or other Goucher event? The delivery parking spots can also be used to pick up catering orders if they are placed ahead of time, making last minute event planning a bit easier.
After ordering via the app, just park in one of the two designated parking spots for Chick-fil-A curbside delivery. The curbside delivery includes Chick-fil-A’s full menu, including new features such as mac-and-cheese and brownies.

High Number of Goucher Grads Teach for America

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Rae Walker ‘17 is is currently teaching at Dr. Carter G. Woodson Elementary/Middle School (PK-8th). Photo Credit: TFA Baltimore

This past year, Goucher was among the top colleges and universities to contribute new members to the Teach For America 2017 corps. With six alumni joining, Goucher contributed significantly to a nationwide network. This past year was also the first year that students were able to apply early to the program–during their junior year of college. Two Goucher students did so and were accepted.
Teach for America (TFA) is a national organization that certifies recent graduates and others without teaching certification to work as teachers in low-income communities. Applicants fill out an online application and complete a group interview online or in-person. Once accepted, applicants fill out a form with their location preferences from a list of 53 different regions across the nation. TFA teachers commit to teaching for at least two years as full-time salaried employees of the school in which they are placed.
As an organization, TFA focuses on understanding and combating educational inequity, an angle that tends to appeal to Goucher graduates. For Rae Walker (‘17) this was one of the reasons he decided to apply. “[As a public school student], the quality of your education literally depends on your zipcode,” Walker said in an interview. “In Parkville they have iPads while in Cherry Hill, we’re struggling for paper. And that’s needed for the curriculum, because they [the school] don’t buy textbooks.”
Walker graduated from Goucher as an English major with a concentration in creative writing. He knew he wanted to be a teacher, but he dropped his major in education because he believed that focusing on his content area (English) was more important than learning theory.
Walker is currently teaching special education at Dr. Carter G. Woodson Elementary Middle School (PK-8th) in Cherry Hill, Baltimore. He is also working on his Masters in Education at Johns Hopkins and is on track to receive a doctorate in five years.
Walker was drawn to the field of special education because of its relationship to inequity, and the situation that results from the over-diagnosing of students, particularly poor black students. “For gen-ed teachers, [labelling students with an IEP or Individualized Educational Program] is like code for ‘I don’t want to teach you, so I’m going to put you in another class,’ and this can happen as early as 1st grade,” said Walker. Once students are labeled as in need of special education, the effects of that label are difficult to reverse. For Walker, one of the important aspects of teaching special education is advocating for his students.
Teaching in low-income communities requires teachers to be very committed and invested in their students. Lila Stenson (‘17) appreciates the connections she’s been able to make with her students, “learning about their lives and telling them about mine.” Stenson graduated with a degree in Sociology and Spanish and is currently teaching 7th and 8th grade Spanish in Memphis, Tennessee. “It’s really fun to see [my students] grow and get excited when they can say new things in Spanish,” said Stenson.
Walker has also certainly become invested in his students. The Saturday after this interview, he was planning on taking one of his students to the movies because it was their birthday. “I’m a black male figure [in this student’s life], so we’re going to the movies,” Walker said. “On Friday, we’re going to celebrate with a cake.”
Because his special education classes are self-contained, Walker spends all day with the same nine students, who range from 5th grade to 8th grade. According to Walker, it is actually illegal to have over three grade levels together in the same class, but it often happens in Baltimore public schools because of understaffing. TFA works to combat understaffing in schools, but it is not enough. As Stenson states, TFA “really isn’t a long term solution to ending the problems in education.”

Goucher was among the top colleges and universities to contribute new members to the Teach For America 2017 corps. Photo Credit: Teach for America

Stenson became interested in education in part because of her experience working at a summer camp called Breakthrough Collaborative that works with students from under-resourced urban schools. Stenson’s experiences working in local schools through the Office of Community-Based Learning (CBL) added to this interest.
Walker also mentioned one of CBL’s programs, Middle School Mentoring, when talking about what influenced his decision to stay in Baltimore and teach. Both Stenson and Walker highlighted the way in which Goucher encourages students to engage with equity and social justice.
One thing that TFA corps members seem to have in common is their passion for what they do. “I think it is really cool to have a lot of new energy in the teaching field, as a lot of teachers who have been teaching for a while are burnt out,” Stenson wrote in an email interview.
However, because many of the applicants for TFA are young and inexperienced, they also face extra challenges. Stenson has twenty-seven students, which she said is actually a pretty small number compared to some of her coworkers’ classes. She is fortunate to teach a subject (Spanish) that is not tested at the state level, because it comes with more freedom. On the flip side, however, there is also no pre-prepared curriculum for her to use. “I did not major in education and while TFA does pack a lot into their summer training institute, you are still pretty unprepared for teaching everyday on your own. Classroom management and behavior issues are something that I struggle a lot with,” Stenson wrote.
Eliezer (EC) Cartagena (‘18), who did study education and was one of the juniors who applied early to TFA last year, critiqued this aspect of TFA. “TFA tries to train teachers in the summer, which is literally impossible. A lot of people will be woefully unprepared,” said Cartagena.
Cartagena also critiqued the fact that many people use TFA as “a stepping stone,” and move on to other careers. Cartagena emphasizes that students need consistency. “Two years seems like an injustice,” he said.
While many TFA alums move on to other careers, there are also TFA alums who stay in the world of education. As Walker points out, some of the biggest changemakers in Baltimore public schools, the principals of “turnaround schools,” are TFA alums. Cartagena hopes to stay in the school system for at least four years, while Walker sees himself continuing to teach ten years from now.
One of the incentives for applying to TFA are the benefits that come with the program. In addition to offering the opportunity to become certified to teach, TFA offers a summer training institute, an extensive alumni network, affinity group networks with other TFA members, mentor partnerships, and online location guides. TFA also has partnerships with graduate schools. Regional programs either require or encourage TFA corps members to work towards a Masters in Education. Fellowships and awards are also available to help teachers get a financial boost. For Stenson, who was moving to an entirely new city, she appreciated having the support network that came with TFA. “Memphis is a new home, so it is nice to have other people who are new and trying to explore the city as well,” she said.
TFA tries to draw a diverse group of members, and they advertised that their 2017 corps was more diverse than ever. Cartagena highlighted that TFA considers diversity factors besides race, like gender identity and sexual orientation. Walker also mentioned the diversity of educational backgrounds of corps members: “you’ll meet people from across the gamut, from Harvard, Stanford, from your local community college.”
However, despite their diversity of backgrounds, many teachers will face the same challenges. “Teachers are overworked and undervalued, and you need to be really dedicated, because financially you won’t get much from it,” said Cartagena. “Only apply if you’re really passionate about making change happen in school systems.”
Stenson emphasized the importance of flexibility and adaptability. “Things will not run smoothly, materials will not be available, school schedules and student behavior are always unpredictable,” she said. “A lot of this experience is just trying to roll with things.” Walker seconded this. “If administration emails me tonight and says, ‘we’re teaching in the dark tomorrow,’ then I’ll say, ‘okay, I’ll bring a flashlight,’” he said. Walker suggested that teachers should have a “growth mindset”–not just believing that their students can grow, but that, as teachers, they can, too. “You can’t enter the classroom thinking about what happened yesterday,” he said.
Overall, Goucher’s recent graduates who are members of the TFA corps seem proud of the work they’re doing. “It’s a noble profession,” said Walker.
For the 2018-2019 school year, there are a number of TFA application deadlines approaching, through March 2018. If you are interested in applying, Cartagena, who asked several people to look over his application, advises other students not to be afraid to ask for help. “People think that they have to do things on their own, but that’s not true,” he said.
For assistance with the application, students can also take advantage of on-campus resources like the Career Development Office.

The Indictments: A Briefing

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Paul Manafort (left), Rick Gates, and George Papadopoulos Photo Credit: The Yeshiva World

On Monday October 30th, Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s connections to Russia made its first indictments public. Paul Manafort, Rick Gates and George Papadopoulos were all indicted. These indictments were filed five months into the investigation, which began in May. The process has been  extraordinarily fast for a federal investigation.
Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, was hired in March 2016 and left in August 2016. Manafort has a long history of working with Ukrainian oligarchs since 2005. Manafort was hired to provide image consulting for a pro-Putin Russia-friendly Ukrainian party and he provided consulting services for former Ukrainian president Victor Yanukovych. Manafort lobbied on behalf of Yanukovych in D.C., and Yanukovych is currently in Russia, though he is wanted in Ukraine on charges of high treason. Manafort’s connections to the region and tendency to align with foreign leaders make his appointment as Trump’s campaign manager highly suspect. Manafort has been charged on 12 counts, including conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, unregistered agent of a foreign principle, and false and misleading US Foreign Agents Repetition Act statements, false statements, and seven counts of failure to file reports financial accounts. He pleaded not guilty on October 30th. He is currently in house confinement with a $10 million bond and must report daily to law enforcement by phone.
Gates is Manafort’s protege. He started working for the Trump campaign during Manafort’s time, and stayed on as deputy campaign manager. He helped form the pro-Trump non profit group America First Policies and was eventually removed from the organization due to his connection to Manafort. He faces the same charges as Manafort and has entered a not guilty plea. He is currently on home confinement with a $5 million bond. His and Manafort’s trial has been set for May 7th 2018.
Papadopoulos was a member of Trump’s foreign policy advisory panel, and according to his LinkedIn page, he is an oil, gas, and policy consultant. A Trump campaign official told CNN that Papadopoulos had a significant amount of contact with the Trump campaign during the 2016 election cycle. Alex Ward reported for Vox News that Papadopoulos was arrested on July 27th and pleaded guilty to charges on October 5th. Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about having contact with three individuals who he believed had contact with the Russian government. Two of those individuals were Russians. It is currently unclear whether these individuals were actually authorized by the Russian government to speak to the Trump campaign.
This is just the start of the Mueller investigation and there will most likely be more indictments. News sources have compared the process of the Mueller investigation to mob investigations, in that the investigation is using smaller, low level participants to take down larger members of the organization. Going forward, it has been widely speculated that Mueller’s next step will be to attempt to flip Manafort, to persuade him to become a cooperating witness and to give information about the connection between the Trump campaign and Russia. News sources have suspected that Mueller will use the same strategy to go after Trump that he used with Manafort: targeting his past potential financial crimes in order to gain his cooperation.

MASON BAGGETTE & TERRIN ROSEN

Building Options: A Construction Update

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Goucher College Construction Timeline Credit: Goucher College

It’s not only buildings that have been affected by construction plans; campus construction has physically divided the campus and impacted everything, from club and event spaces, to the general appearance of the campus itself. According to the discussion in the October Town Hall Meeting that took place on the 10th in the Hyman Forum, we will be getting more functional and useful spaces as Mary Fischer and the Freshman Village take shape. Organized by the Office of Student Engagement (OSE), the Town Hall meeting focused on providing updates and answering student questions relating to the construction of new campus spaces. Associate Director of FMS for Planning, Linda Barone, Senior Associate Director for Events and Conference Schedules, Angela McDonald, and Associate Dean of Students for Community Life, Stacy Cooper Patterson, were all present at the meeting.

To start, Linda Barone explained the current timeline for construction. While construction on campus will not be entirely complete until after 2021, all construction on Mary Fischer and the Freshman Village is expected to be completed by next Fall. Additionally, construction on the Interfaith Center will be beginning at some point within this semester and is also expected to be completed by next fall. Next fall, construction will begin on Stimson and continue until the fall of 2020. While there are no official plans drawn up yet for Stimson, it is possible that it will become upperclassman housing, offering more options for suites and on-campus apartments. There may still be housing in Stimson next year, but again, details regarding Stimson’s future are tentative. Lastly, there will be intermittent construction of various athletics spaces, such as the new tennis courts, and construction on the Science Research Center will begin in Fall of 2019, likely to not be finished until January 2021.

Each new building on campus will have air-conditioning and administration is trying to keep accessibility for  all Goucher students in mind. Barone, Cooper Patterson, and McDonald all stressed that the new buildings were planned with student community in mind. The new dining halls in Mary Fischer, for example, were set in the center of campus so that students can more easily access all-you-care-to-eat and grab-and-go options. Additionally, there will be more reservable and free spaces for students to use for club meetings, group projects, events, etc. Sit-down dining rooms on the bottom floor of Mary Fischer will turn into public space during its closed hours, but will also be reservable. Buildings 1B and 1C of the Freshman Village will have plenty of study spaces available. They will also offer reservable kitchens, and building 1C will have a dance studio. When the Passport Cafe at Heubeck is replaced by Mary Fischer dining, the space will become a multi-purpose room again, and also be available to reserve for meetings, events, rehearsals, etc.

At the Town Hall, students asked about the buildings and their accessibility or uses and raised concerns about dividing the campus the way construction has done in the past. Some students expressed how they felt their freshman year was improved by living on multi-class floors and worry that by creating the Freshman Village, freshmen will be disconnected from the rest of the campus. This is a phenomenon that many other upperclassmen have noted. The concern was noted, and Stacy Cooper Patterson mentioned that administration is currently housing some first year mentors on freshman floors to see if having upperclassmen besides RA’s on first year floors is potentially beneficial.

While studying and/or living on a campus with construction is not ideal, it appears that Goucher College will come out the other side a better campus. The worst of Mary Fischer and the Freshman Village’s construction is happening now, as foundations and overall structures of the buildings are being put in place. The worst of the construction should be done by next semester, leaving students to wait for new dining facilities, as well as a more accessible and functional campus.

What is up with Rohingya?

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Rohingya in crisis. Photo Credit: Google Images

In 2013, the United Nations described the Rohingya ethnic minority in Myanmar as one of the world’s most persecuted minorities. The majority Muslim ethnic group has lived in Myanmar for centuries. The population endures systematic oppression from the Myanmar government that has denied over a million Rohingya citizenship and displaced around 140,000 Rohingya Muslims. According to Human Rights Watch (HRW) the “Burmese authorities and members of Arakanese groups have committed crimes against humanity in a campaign of ethnic cleansing against Rohingya Muslims in Arakan State since June 2012.”
So, why is news of this large-scale human rights violation only now circulating around the news? Like the Nazi Party during World War II, the Burmese government is arguing that nothing wrong is happening, going so far as to blame the media for spreading false information. Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the National League for Democracy in Myanmar and Nobel Peace Prize recipient, told Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that Myanmar “know[s] very well, more than most, what it means to be deprived of human rights and democratic protection,” and that the government is making sure “all the people in our country are entitled to protection of their rights as well as, the right to, and not just political but social and humanitarian defense.” Researchers at Queen Mary University London argue that her silence on the issue and her inability to act amounts to “legitimizing genocide” and embeds “the persecution of the Rohingya minority” (Khan).
Many nations have spoken out against the Rohingya crisis. Bangladesh has called on the international community to intervene, as the country is now facing a large influx of Rohingya refugees. According to the HRW, international aid has been suspended which means “more than 250,000 Rohingya Muslims” are left “without medical care, food, and other vital humanitarian assistance.” The U.S. State Department announced their plans to allot around $32 million in aid to those oppressed in Myanmar’s Rakhine state. When the United Nations Human Rights Council approved an investigation of the persecution, the Myanmar government denied entry of the investigative group in June. Representatives were able to enter the country in July, though they were greeted with hostility. Other groups have been involved in helping the Rohingya Muslims, with India sending aircraft assistance to Bangladesh to help the refugees. Many Bangladeshi citizens are also helping by offering assistance and accommodation to many of the refugees. Let’s hope that the international community steps up and does more to help the Rohingya. Doing nothing makes the world a collaborator in their persecution and oppression.

Works Cited
Burma: End ‘Ethnic Cleansing’ of Rohingya Muslims. Human Rights Watch, 3 Oct. 2017,
Khan, Shehab. “Burma’s Aung San Suu Kyi Accused of ‘Legitimising Genocide of Rohingya Muslims’.” The Independent, Independent Digital News and Media, 25 Nov. 2016,
Pirani, Fiza. “Who Are the Rohingya Muslims? 7 Things to Know about the ‘World’s Most Persecuted Minority.’” Ajc, Cox Media Group , 20 Sept. 2017,
Staff, Al Jazeera. “Myanmar: Who Are the Rohingya?” Myanmar: Who Are the Rohingya?, Al Jazeera, 28 Sept. 2017,
What’s Happening in Burma? United to End Genocide, endgenocide.org/conflict-areas/burma/.

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.

 

CERT: A Team That’s There To Help

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Join CERT to help prepare your community for emergencies. Credit: bosquecounty.us

After all the recent natural disasters, you might be wondering–what is Goucher doing to prepare for natural disasters and other emergencies? And what can I, here at Goucher, do to help?
One possible answer is CERT. CERT stands for Community Emergency Response Team. CERT is a group of trained volunteers who have the knowledge and equipment to assist at the scene of an emergency before professionals arrive. They can manage crowds, and perform basic search and rescue, triage/first aid, and fire suppression. In the case of a hurricane, for example, they would lead people to safe zones, assist Public Safety, and provide any other necessary assistance.
CERT members also have backpacks that are equipped with a variety of supplies, including first aid kits, helmets, gloves, goggles, flashlights, and other safety tools.
Nothing is a substitute for preparedness in the case of an emergency. Community members can prepare on an individual level. CERT president Sam Meir-Levi, ‘18, recommends having a backpack stocked with: a first aid kit, flashlights, batteries, filled water bottles, a blanket, non-perishable food, sanitation and personal hygiene supplies, and any necessary medications. An emergency backpack could also include rain gear, duct tape, scissors, whistle, plastic sheets, etc. When an emergency hits, “you shouldn’t be just thinking about these things for the first time,” said Duncan Miller, ‘19, the treasurer for CERT.
In addition to preparing supplies Goucher students, faculty and staff can ready themselves by being aware of their surroundings, and knowing where the nearest entrances and exits are in buildings on campus. This is especially important given the obstacles created by construction, which may limit access to entrances and exits.
The kind of community action that CERT organizes and supports is especially important because of the internal knowledge of the community that its members have. People within a community will have a better understanding of resources, needs, hazards, and strains, argues Kayhla Cornell, assistant registrar in the Graduate Programs in Education, who is also a member of CERT.
Cornell, who has an environmental justice perspective when it comes to disaster preparedness, also mentioned that the number and severity of natural disasters around the world is increasing. Rather than rely entirely on external aid, community members should work together to prepare for them. Cornell encourages involvement in organizations like CERT, that help people to be involved in the community, advocate for themselves, as well as be better prepared for emergencies. Cornell also hopes that, in the future, the Goucher program will work more closely with local organizations, and serve as a local flagship, encouraging other schools to become certified.
The more people who are trained and involved in CERT, the wider their range of communication, the more ground they will be able to cover, and the more people they will help. To get involved, reach out to David Heffer <David.Heffer@goucher.edu>, Sam Meir-Levi, or Duncan Miller. CERT will also be sending out emails and putting up fliers with information about upcoming trainings.

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