The independent student newspaper at Goucher College

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Amita Chatterjee

Amita Chatterjee has 6 articles published.

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Amita (they/she) is the Editor-in-Chief of the Quindecim. They are a senior majoring in Communication and Media Studies and minoring in Religion and Justice. She is also a captain of Goucher's varsity field hockey team. Amita is from Silver Spring, Maryland and a graduate of Wheaton High School. In their free time, Amita enjoys reading, tending to their plants, foraging, and watching TV.

We Should be Using Zoom to Our Advantage (Opinion) 

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Thanksgiving break posts a tricky question for students who live on campus: when should we head home? 

It lasts from Wednesday through Sunday the week of Thanksgiving, which feels more like a long weekend than a break. On the Monday and Tuesday before, some students have all their classes, some have all theirs canceled, and some have a mixture.

I found myself in the latter situation, as I do not have any Friday classes, and both my Monday classes did not meet, but I still had one class on Tuesday. It seemed pointless to stay on campus for five extra days just for that one class (which I so far had not been absent from). 

Goucher boasts about having students from an array of states and countries (currently 43 states and 28 countries, according to the website home page) but does not do much to support students traveling long distances to get home for breaks. 

SGA has stepped in by offering students financial assistance for transport to the airport or Amtrak stations, but again, there has been no help from higher levels of administration. 

Making the Monday and Tuesday before Thanksgiving break virtual would give students from out-of-state more time to get home and be with their loved ones. 

For many, spending four or five days at home is not worth the hassle of traveling, especially with expensive Thanksgiving fares. Depending on where you are from, a substantial chunk of your break may be spent just traveling. 

Zoom classes would give students the option to head home the weekend prior to Thanksgiving, allowing for a full week of time away from campus while not disrupting the academic calendar. Residence halls could remain open until Wednesday as usual, but students would not have to stay that long if they did not want to. 

I did some digging on Kayak, and flights from BWI to JFK tend to be around $100 cheaper when you fly out the Friday before Thanksgiving rather than the Tuesday before. Expedia reported that their data found flights the Monday before Thanksgiving to be 15% cheaper than Wednesday departures. 

The finance company NerdWallet advised that a longer stay at your destination is one of the cheaper ways to spend Thanksgiving, since it allows the avoidance of peak travel days. 

One can imagine that if we have snow or other inclement weather days this year, professors will be advised to hold classes on Zoom rather than canceling. But holding virtual classes is not considered when they would be convenient for students. 

Thanksgiving break is the first time some get to see their families since moving in if they are able to travel home. It also falls right around the point in the semester where everyone’s final essay or project deadlines and exams are approaching.

A more accommodating break would help alleviate burnout students face during this busy time, as well as reduce the financial burden on those who need to take a plane, bus or train home.       

I sat down for my first virtual class of the semester the Thursday before break, and honestly, I was really excited for it. 

While many people, myself included, feel that an in-person college experience is the most effective and preferable mode of learning, the occasional virtual class can be a welcome change to the everyday, mundane course schedule. 

It is nice to be able to learn from the comfort of my own room and not have to walk to class facing cold wind gusts. I can move around and fidget more freely, which helps me focus. During breaks, I can make a cup of tea or coffee. 

As a student who still wears my mask everywhere, it is nice that virtual classes allow me to learn without wearing one and see all my classmates and professors’ faces. I find it comforting to not worry about catching Covid, the Flu or “Goucher plague” in cramped, mostly unmasked classrooms.

Of course, there’s the argument that students have their cameras off and do not participate, but this happened after being virtual nonstop for over a year. Now that we are in the repetitive cycle of in person classes every day, I’ve noticed a decline in attendance and participation among my peers, as well as an increase in tardiness.

If Goucher truly cares about its students’ mental health and wellbeing, our administration should find ways to make Thanksgiving break a more fulfilling time of rest and innovative solutions to larger burnout problems. Using virtual learning to our advantage is one easy, logical way to do that.

Recap of the 2022 SGA Presidential Ticket Debate

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Jeff Castro ’24 and Hope Kamal ’24 took to the Hyman Forum stage for the SGA presidential ticket debate earlier today. The Quindecim attended the debate, and put together the following summary of where each candidate stands on major issues brought up. SGA elections will be held Friday, November 18.

Issues discussed from questions asked by moderator Elizabeth Bobo ’23, SGA Director of Student Organizations:

Background on each ticket:

Jeff is a junior double majoring in Economics and Political Science. He is the current SGA Treasurer and a goalkeeper on the men’s soccer team. His running mates are Olivia Reichardt ’25, Vice President, and Andrea Casique ’23, treasurer.

Hope is a junior majoring in Neuroscience with a pre-med concentration and double minoring in Creative Writing and Music. They are currently SGA Chief-of-Staff. Her running mate is Siham Mohamed ’24, Vice President.

Main goal during their administration, if elected:

Hope: Making Goucher more inclusive by upgrading accessibility services on campus and making minority groups included. Fix overall negative sentiments with how issues on campus are being handled.

Jeff: End the disconnect between various administrative offices on campus and the student body by assigning SGA officers to be liaisons to certain offices. Decrease response times for various services (i.e. FMS work orders).

Issues they view as most pressing to Goucher students:

Jeff: Equity and inclusion being implemented on campus. Marginalized groups have felt ignored by President Devereaux in his recent emails addressing antisemitism since issues against Black and Brown communities do not get as much attention from him. He said that these issues should be acknowledged.

Hope: The lack of accessibility should be tackled immediately. Mental health is a big issue that there is lots of talk but little action around. They aim to work with the Wellness Center, Counseling Center, and Office of Accessibility to limit burnout and fatigue among students, as well as allow excused absences for mental health reasons.

SGA President responsibilities, in their view:

Hope: Being president is a responsibility, not a power, and representing every member of the Goucher community is important. The president should be a link between students and administration, echoing students thoughts and needs and taking action when needed.

Jeff: The president is the “chief student representative,” acting as the middle person between students and administration. Being president is a privilege, and they need to know how students feel and be able to understand multiple perspectives.

The lack of school spirit and pride:

Hope: Students do not feel represented and that is why they do not feel pride. A culture of inclusivity needs to be cultivated. If elected, Hope would do this by having their door open to every student to voice their opinion and inviting alums for events, specifically people of color.

Jeff: School pride comes from traditions and events happening on campus, such as Soul Food Friday, the Winter Gala, and No Swipe Wednesday in the dining hall for commuters. If elected, Jeff would bring back old traditions such as these, and implement new traditions.

Experience working with current and former administration members:

Hope: They have held various jobs at Goucher, including SGA Chief-of-Staff, an SI, and Goucher Guide. Following controversy on the Gopher App, they hosted a community conversation attended by the college President and Rabbi. As an international student, they have worked with administrators in the international offices.

Jeff: His position as SGA treasurer has connected him with the Office of Student Engagement and various administration members. He has made SGA recognized within those offices.

How they would cultivate a cohesive environment where Goucher students of all backgrounds feel heard:

Jeff: Diversity at Goucher is what makes us Goucher and is one of the reasons he chose the school. In order to do their job, the president needs to know how people feel and provide a platform for every student’s voice to be heard.

Hope: Diversity is important and makes us stronger. Unity can come from normalizing cultural expression, such as showing up to class in one’s cultural dress or speaking non-English first languages in common spaces. Events where people share their cultural traditions with the community can unite people.

Being visible to students as SGA President:

Jeff: He is a commuter, but spends 12-14 hours a day on campus due to various commitments. Despite not having a meal plan and having to go without food at times, he loves being on campus and will be visible to students.

Hope: Cultivated a friendly, opening environment with their mentees as a Goucher Guide, and would aim to do the same as president. She values hearing opinions and having an open-door policy. Hope said they are an open, friendly person which something innate, and they enjoy being approachable.

Continuation of current SGA initiatives (menstrual products in bathrooms, textbook assistance programs, etc.)

Hope: Plans on continuing these initiatives from President Ty’lor Schnella. In her role as Chief-of-Staff, she supervised other officers and stepped into help when they were struggling.

Jeff: Plans to continue these initiatives and admires President Schnella’s work on these. He will make changes to existing services if needed and plans to offer more “wrap-around” services to eliminate financial barriers to student success (i.e. parking passes). He hopes to continue the textbook assistance program but require professors release syllabi prior to course registration to allow students enough time to apply for the program before classes start.

Each candidate was asked one specific question geared toward their previous extracurricular background.

Hope- What specifically was required in your previous role as Chief-of-Staff?

They supervised other positions, gaining knowledge on how various SGA offices function. She did scheduling for President Schnella, completed refills for the Flo (menstrual product) project, filled in for other offices when needed, and kept people on track with their responsibilities.

Jeff- How would you bridge the divide between athletes and non-athletes?

He believes the divide is unnecessary. As a member of the soccer team, he does not think being an athlete makes one student different from another. Having more campus-wide events would bring people together and unite the Goucher community.

Questions from the audience:

How do you plan on increasing communication between SGA and students?

Jeff: Revamping SGA’s social media and using it to raise awareness of events to better connect with students.

Hope: Remembering SGA is part of the student body as well, and being more honest and upfront with students. The president should be open to being approached on campus with questions and/or critiques.

In what specific ways do you plan on making the campus more accessible?

Jeff: Working with FMS to make sure spaces are better accommodating people with physical and/or mental disabilities (i.e. the new post office location).

Hope: Connect with people who need accessibility improvements and using their input to take action. Hold administrative offices accountable for solving issues of accessibility.

What are your plans to help commuters on Goucher’s campus?

Jeff: Fixing the commuter lounge, which is sometimes locked and does not have adequate seating arrangements. He said that being a commuter is very hard on this campus and he wants to offer more “wrap-around” services to help commuters access food while on campus.

Hope: They found commuting their sophomore year very difficult and wants to work with administration to solve this problem. She said that having temporary private rooms for commuters to nap or potentially stay over for one night would be beneficial, as well as offering more accommodating dining hall services for commuters.

There were no microphones at the debate due to technical difficulties, and as a result the Quindecim’s audio recording did not pick up the voices of those speaking. Therefore, we are unable to provide direct quotes, but the following article was put together with notes diligently taken by our Editor-in-Chief as the candidates were speaking. If either ticket feels they are misrepresented by these paraphrased statements, please contact us at quin@mail.goucher.edu.

New Service Provides Goucher Students Access to Free Emergency Contraceptives

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The Baltimore Abortion Fund (BAF), a grassroots non-profit organization servicing Maryland, launched a new Emergency Contraceptive Kit (ECK) drop-off service on Tuesday, November 1. 

Operating in Baltimore County, the program will be accessible to Goucher students who live on campus or in the surrounding area. Baltimore City and Montgomery County are also in the service’s jurisdiction. 

“This service is one we have been hoping to offer for some time, and we are excited to be able to serve our community in this new way,” said Erin Case, BAF’s Practical Support Manager, “Emergency contraceptives, pregnancy tests, and condoms are all expenses that may be out of reach for folks who need them… We want to ensure that people in our community can get what they need, when they need it.”

Widely referred to as the “morning after pill”, emergency contraceptives (EC), are used within five days after sex to prevent a pregnancy before it starts. Most brands, such as Plan B One Step, are available over the counter at drug stores and health centers. 

“Access to emergency contraception is crucial because it allows people another option to prevent pregnancy,” Case said. 

Goucher’s Health Center offers EC for $35, no appointment necessary. However, the Health Center is open 9-5 Monday-Friday– when many students may have class, practice, or other commitments. There is no way to access EC on campus over the weekend with the Health Center closed. 

Towson’s sparse public transportation creates difficulty getting off campus for students without cars. Walking to and from the closest CVS or Walgreens would take approximately an hour and using a ride-share service like Uber or Lyft could cost around $20 round-trip.  

BAF’s service operates seven days a week and both the kits and delivery are free. Each kit comes discreetly packaged and includes one pack of Plan B emergency contraceptive, two pregnancy tests, condoms, and information on how to use these items, according to Case. 

Students can order their kit online through BAF’s website. Case said that once the request is received, BAF will reach out for any additional information they need via text or email within 24 hours if the request comes in during the week or 48 hours if the request comes over the weekend. 

If a student lives off campus or in a place where the kit can be dropped off at the door, such as a house, BAF will drop it off to the provided delivery address. 

For on-campus students, who live in communal residence halls, alternative collection methods are possible. BAF will contact the student for them to coordinate a meeting place for the kit to be handed off or a time for the recipient to pick up the kit from BAF. 

At this time the ECK service is run by BAF staff members only, but Case said they are exploring ways to get volunteers involved. 

“I encourage students to join our newsletter and keep an eye on our website for any volunteer opportunities,” Case said, “Students who have cars can also get involved by joining the Baltimore Abortion Fund as Practical Support Volunteers and helping drive our clients to their appointments.” 

Additional services BAF offers include financial support for people seeking an abortion in Maryland, as well as aiding with transportation, lodging, and translation. These programs are predominantly volunteer and donation-supported. 

“Since the overturning of Roe v. Wade, we are receiving a higher volume of requests for funding and practical support than we have in the past,” Case said, “We are seeing people travel longer distances to access abortion care, and therefore people with higher support needs. For example, someone who is traveling from out of state may need help booking a hotel, paying for gas costs, purchasing food, etc.” 

Maryland’s wide scope of abortion access and proximity to the Midwest and South make it a haven for people from states where access is limited. The last few years have seen a dramatic increase in the number of abortion bans and restrictions in some states, particularly following the overturning of Roe v. Wade this past summer. 

“Despite the change in need, we will continue offering wraparound support to as many people as we are able to,” said Case.

The Spring House: Forgotten Treasure (Video)

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Discover the history of what is believed to be the oldest structure on Goucher’s campus- the Spring House. Built in the 18th century on the Epsom plantation, Amita Chatterjee ’23 and Prachi Ruina ’23 explore and explain the building’s history, as well as why it matters to Goucher’s community today.

End in Sight for Gopher Hole Construction

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The Gopher Hole, a student space located in the basement of Mary Fisher, is projected to be ready for student use by the end of winter break. It has been closed for approximately seven years and is currently under construction to repair a drainage issue. 

According to Andy Voytek, Director of Facilities Management Services (FMS), the space was taken “offline” in fall of 2018 when a leak in the foundation was discovered following the completion of the Mary Fisher addition. 

“Once the construction was completed, we discovered that we had a leak in the foundation on the exterior wall of the Gopher Hole,” Voytek said, “That leak was rather significant and causing a lot of issues.”

Evidence of leakage behind the bar where new paint and a bar shelf will be added. Photo by Amita Chatterjee

The Gopher Hole initially closed in 2016 due to the renovation of Mary Fisher, but the leak prevented it from being reopened in 2018 with the rest of the building. Voytek, who was not Director of FMS at the time, said they needed a full summer to properly assess the damage and decide further steps. 

During the summer of 2019, FMS identified an issue related to drainage and made the repairs the following school year. 

Voytek said they planned to take a full semester to ensure the repairs were successful, but the pandemic significantly delayed this process. He cites supply chain issues as a major factor in the delay and said that his team was like a “skeleton crew” working on campus during the period of virtual learning.  

“I think when you look at the calendar… you could easily say that the repairs have taken a tremendously long time,” Voytek said, “I think [the pandemic] makes it much more understandable.”

When campus fully reopened last fall, FMS hoped the Gopher Hole could too. But issues with the wall leakage persisted, and the space remains under construction. 

Rumors of there being asbestos in the Gopher Hole have circulated the student body, but Voytek said these rumors are false and that there is no asbestos in that area. 

Voytek is confident that the space will be available for programming by the time students come back from winter break. It will also be revamped with fresh paint, electronic upgrades, and a brand new bar shelf. 

What exactly the Gopher Hole is remains a mystery to Goucher’s current students. It was most recently a student hangout spot that hosted various events and served refreshments including alcohol, according to their Facebook page. Now, it is mostly used as a shortcut on the way to class or the dining hall if the door is not locked. 

Set to reopen seven years after its initial close, Goucher’s current student body has no connection to what the Gopher Hole has been, so the space could potentially take whatever form they desire. Programming for the Gopher Hole, nicknamed the “GoHo” in previous years, falls under the jurisdiction of the Office of Student Engagement (OSE).

The Gopher Hole has been flexible throughout its history. An article in The Baltimore Sun from 1999 hailed the space as a “creative solution” to curb student drinking levels when it operated as a non-alcoholic nightclub. In 2016, however, the Gopher Hole would host “Pub Nights” with $2 beer and $3 wine and cider. 

Given the ongoing pandemic, it would be beneficial to have more student hangout spaces on campus to deter students from going off-campus and potentially contracting Covid.  

The Quindecim reached out to Erica Gardner, Director of OSE, but they did not provide comment on plans for the Gopher Hole at this time.

The seating area of the Gopher Hole, which used to host open mic nights and game nights, now an empty shell. Photo by Amita Chatterjee

Invasive Spotted Lanternfly Finds a Home on Goucher’s Campus

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The spotted lanternfly, an invasive species spreading across the United States, has made its way onto Goucher’s campus. 

Native to east Asia, spotted lanternflies do not bite, sting, or pose any other venomous danger to humans or animals. The major threat comes from the insect feeding and excreting on plants, including agricultural crops such as grapes, apples, and stone fruits. According to the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA), lanternflies cause “stunted growth, localized damage, and reduced yields” to crops around the state.  

The first reported U.S. sighting of the spotted lanternfly occurred in Southeast Pennsylvania in 2014. Since then, the insect has spread along the East Coast and into the Midwest, according to the MDA. It is easily identified by the black dots on its beige and red wings.

Maryland’s first encounter with the insect occurred in 2018 in Cecil County, approximately thirty miles east of Goucher. Lanternflies now inhabit a total fifteen Maryland counties, including Baltimore County.

Daryn Carter ‘24 said she is used to seeing lanternflies in her hometown of Dover, Pennsylvania, but this fall is the first time she has noticed them on Goucher’s campus.

“I started noticing the lanternflies at the beginning of the semester as soon as we got back,” Carter said, “I hadn’t seen them before.”

Carter reported seeing spotted lanternflies outside of Welsh Hall, where she lives, and along Van Meter Highway. There have also been sightings at Beldon Field.

To contain the spread of this invasive species, the MDA and other experts encourage residents to destroy lanternflies by crushing them with a gloved hand or by stomping on them. Other methods of pest control include, but are not limited to, using insecticides, predatory bugs, or traps. 

Carter is in support of this guidance being implemented on Goucher’s campus. She said that “the best thing that we can do is kill them” due to the threat they pose to plant life. 

For more information or to report sightings of a spotted lanternfly, please visit https://mda.maryland.gov/plants-pests/pages/spotted-lantern-fly.aspx.

Feature photo: spotted lanternfly courtesy of Peter L. Coffey, University of Maryland Extension, Above: A crushed spotted lanternfly seen along Van Meter Highway. Photo by Dom McKinney for the Quindecim
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