What’s Changed, What Hasn’t, and How Goucher Students Have Banded Together Through It All.
It has never been a more eventful time to be a Goucher College student. When the class of 2023 entered in late August 2019, no one could have expected what the next four years would entail for them. Beginning alongside them was current President Kent Deveraux, who began his work on the first of July 2019.
Throughout this time, the only consistency has been inconsistency. A sense of security has been lost, not just for Goucher, but for the world. There is a constant lingering anxiety that permeates day-to-day interactions, work life, and perceptions of the future. Through all the hardship however, values have been reinforced, positive transitions have arisen, and students have banded closer together to support each other. No matter if you are a first-year student or a soon to be graduate, all of us have contributed to making Goucher a better place.
The Fall 2019 semester started rather smoothly in comparison to all that came after it. The class of 2023 entered in normal fashion. Of the main concerns at the time were fluxes in hours coming to the library, Mary Fisher Dining Hall, and Alice’s Café. Concerns also arose over Pagliaro Selz (P. Selz for short) Hall, the First-Year Village building which opened during the Fall 2016 semester after it was found that the family had made contributions to anti-vax organizations. Though a town hall was held by the President to hear concerns about continuing to display the name at the College and a petition was created by students to change the name to Florence B. Seibert Hall, to this day in 2023, the Pagilaro Selz can still be found displayed on plaques across Goucher’s largest First-Year Village Building.
That fall semester was the catalyst for many of Goucher’s hottest topics still being discussed to this day. Numerous spending cuts prohibited hiring and eliminated positions, as well as began the transition from in-house campus safety to private contractors such as the infamous Gardaworld. These vacated positions are still in the process of being taken now. Entire departments, such as the Office of Student Engagement, are composed completely of staff that have been at Goucher no earlier than the Spring 2022 semester. The Office of the Registrar is another prominent example, as overwhelming staff shortages have made it difficult for students to resolve class conflicts in a timely fashion. Meanwhile, Goucher’s security has been a hot-button topic, especially in the current Spring 2023 semester.
The obvious large event of the Spring 2020 semester was the Global Pandemic Outbreak. Though students experienced normal, in-person learning for the first half of the semester, the Spring Break quickly became a permanent stay home, then requiring students and staff alike to quickly transition to an all-online format. Friends were pushed apart, studies were difficult to tend to, and isolation was rampant without a clear end in sight.
The time at home was still filled with its fair share of dramatic Goucher events. Students were greeted with two emails extending the closure of Goucher College through the Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 semesters. During this time, the late Gopher App was the home of many heated debates between the president and the student body. Its sudden erasure further divided the administration and students who had a clear and quick line of communication through the app. There was a failed attempt at implementing a replacement, as the app’s vacancy has led to students simply communicating through other means. Rather than sending messages through the application, students now must resort to public gatherings to make their perspective recognized.
When students did eventually return to campus, most of them doing so in the Fall 2021 semester, they were greeted with numerous changes upon their arrival. It was the first semester to welcome two classes who had not yet attended Goucher physically, the classes of 2024 and 2025.
Not only did half of Goucher’ students have to become acclimated to college life, but everyone also had to adjust to learning in the age of the pandemic. The campus was plastered with signs, arrows directing which way to walk down the hallway, and reminders to wear masks were found on nearly every window, door, and floor that could hold them. The transition back from virtual learning was not an easy one. Masking mandates continued to be enforced, events and gatherings faced limitations, and students and faculty alike had to recall how to operate in the classroom.
Though there was palpable excitement upon returning, anxiety quickly engulfed much of student life. The rise of two highly infectious variants made students weary of engaging in many of the activities that define the lives of college students. The once bustling Van Meter highway that was home to impromptu conversation, students gathered outside of the dining hall, and a view of the populated great lawn was reduced to a mere vessel to take you to class. Once sporadic livelihood became noticeably more prescribed and transactional.
Not only was this an incredibly difficult time to be a college student, but faculty faced their share of difficulties as well. Professors needed to accommodate multimodal learning through teaching in a classroom and through Zoom simultaneously. Lessons that were changed to accommodate online learning now had to be applied across in-person and online modes.
Many Goucher programs and defining features were also put on hiatus. The Goucher Quindecim went without a new publication for half a year. The once large Student Engagement Team was cut to a third of its size. Even Alice’s Café was closed for an extended time following the pandemic shutdown.
The entrance into Goucher even went under an overhaul during the 2022 J-Term. Gates were added in requiring Goucher members to scan their OneCards to take their vehicles on campus, while guests would request entrance through a button-pressed intercom. The reference to Goucher as a “bubble” became even more applicable following this change, as Goucher continues to be sectioned off from the surrounding Towson community. Though with the increasing rates of crime in the area, this may not be entirely a negative change.
The entirety of the 2021 to 2022 school year was largely spent getting Goucher back to what it was in early 2020. There were multiple failed attempts at removing the mask mandate in Spring 2022 into the proceeding Fall semester. There was a lack of a consistent protocol that would shift with the ebbs and flows of cases found on campus.
Though these past few years have been incredibly taxing, there is a bright future in store for Goucher students. The Quindecim has since seen a dramatic increase in involvement since the Fall 2022 semester. This is all due to the wonderful work of Amita Chatterjee and Dom McKinney, whose passion has allowed the integral publication to return in top form. In another example of students joining for a cause they are passionate about, the Quindecim being back in print has signified Goucher’s recovery from the ramifications of the pandemic. The Student Engagement Team hosted Gala for the first time since 2019, with an Enchanted Forest theme. GPEP celebrated their tenth anniversary during the Fall 2022 semester, marking a decade of providing education to incarcerated individuals in Maryland.
Many of us may reflect on the four years that we spent at Goucher in disappointment because of the circumstances we will forever associate with the time that we spent in college. However, Goucher students should be proud of themselves for making the best of the hand that they were given. In a time where it would have been so easy to dissipate and isolate, Goucher students instead came closer together, fought for positive change, and gave each other grace to make it through even the most difficult of times. This time may not have been ideal, but it brought out the best in every student. As some of us are ready to depart, we should ensure we bring the same compassion, perseverance, and determination into all the future brings to us.
By Christopher Longo ’23
Feature image of Goucher students participating in a Student Engagement Team (SET) door decorating event courtesy of Christopher Longo.