The independent student newspaper of Goucher College


The Quindecim - page 2

The Quindecim has 141 articles published.

Cosplay Culture


By Trinity King ’24

Ever since I was a child, I have always been obsessed with TV shows, movies, and books. I loved fantasy in particular, because it allowed me to escape into realities unlike mine, and unicorns and dragons are just really cool. Growing up in a city with several conventions certainly didn’t help me leave all those stories and nerdy stuff behind. I don’t remember the exact first time I saw cosplay, but there are several conventions in my city, and one of them has a huge 2 ½ hour long parade with floats and cosplayers from all genres. It is completely free to the public, but in order to get good spots you have to get up super early. I remember going a couple times as a kid, and it was really cool to see everyone’s creativity and expertise on their costume pieces.

DragonCon 2018 PC:

The first year I went into the events for this convention, I borrowed a friend’s badge and my family, friends, and I walked around the hotels for hours looking at all the people, vendor’s halls, and events. I loved every minute of it, from meeting cool artists, freaking out meeting one of the My Little Pony comic artists, and getting a lot of fan art to plaster my walls with. Ever since, I have attended every annual running of this convention, called DragonCon.

Slowly, I dragged all of my friends along and it became a yearly weekend party with lots of chaos, makeup, and last-minute costume shopping. It was the highlight of my year; being able to goof off with my friends and strangers while fangirling and compulsively purchasing art. This year would have marked my fifth or sixth year attending, and part of what made it special was cosplay. Cosplay is personifying a character through embodying their personality and clothing.

My friends and I would meticulously plan for each day, scheduling who wanted to go to which panels, when to nerd out and meet celebrities, and what cosplays to wear that day. We would plan to wake up at dawn, inevitably wake up around 8:45 AM, and hurriedly eat food and throw makeup on in a blur to take a half-assed photoshoot before piling in the car like clowns and arriving at the convention spaces. Our group cosplays were always fun, especially the more people we persuaded into coming. We all got so many compliments, ran into other fans, and took photos with other people in cosplays from the same fandoms.

I love conventions because they give me an excuse to wear a Rapunzel costume with a matching set of ears and tail as a grown ass adult without getting too many strange looks. It is so liberating to be able to escape into the role of a character one admires. I get to stand out to others while still being a stranger, connect with unfamiliar faces just from a shared interest/hobby, and nerd out over other people’s creations. Some of my favorite creative cosplay moments I’ve seen was Beaker from the Muppets dressed in full war gear, the snow queen from Narnia taking badass photos, and a huge conga line of Deadpools jamming out to someone’s loudspeaker. Where else would you see that?

Interactions while in cosplay are just the coolest thing. I’ve seen many battles against sworn enemies, huge photoshoots between total strangers in the same genre costumes, and children’s faces lighting up as their idols walk up and greet them. Seeing how excited people get (including me) is a big part of why I enjoy it so much. I remember last year was my first-time dressing as Wonder Woman, and I was a little nervous because it was different from what I would normally wear. But as me and my friends rushed out of a hotel to head to the next panel, a man spotted me and asked if I could take a photo with two young children. They seemed excited to see me, and I wish I had the photo because it made them and myself so happy. I loved every minute of taking that photo because I knew it was special for the kids to see me dressed as such a strong, bold character.

Many people might have (and did) say that my cosplay was a little too revealing. And honestly, it got to me. But then I remembered why people cosplay. It is not for attention as some outsiders believe, but because I feel confident in being such a badass character. I dress the way I do because I feel confident in my body in that outfit; it empowers me to be someone who I respect. Cosplay is about having fun, being with other nerds, personifying characters I admire, and seeing other people enjoy what I’m doing.

Many people believe that cosplay is super weird, and it has no benefit. They’re not wrong that it is weird, but to me, weird is not always a bad characteristic to possess. I’m weird as hell, but in the words of Luna Lovegood, “I am just as sane as the rest of you, for the most part.” The cosplay community and conventions may be perceived as weird, unprofessional, and unnecessary, but they have a huge positive benefit for the participants, businesses, the local economy, and charities. Conventions generate thousands of dollars for charity every year and support the cities they are hosted in by boosting their economy. By paying for hotels, restaurants, travel, and merchandise, the guests spend loads of money on businesses big and small. In 2015, DragonCon added around $65 million dollars to the Atlanta economy. While smaller conventions don’t generate nearly as much revenue, they still make a direct impact by helping cities and charities. In 2019, FWA’s attendees raised $50,000 dollars to donate to the Animal Park at the Conservator’s center, a park that educates about and cares for endangered species. These cities, charities, and businesses rely on conventions in order to stay well-funded and open, especially the smaller ones.

Going to conventions and cosplaying also shouldn’t be perceived as unprofessional or strictly for older audiences. Both are hobbies that allow people like me to take a break from the stressors in my life while hanging out with friends and meeting new people. Everyone has hobbies, and both are just hobbies that allow me to be creative through making art and designing and wearing cosplays, all while enjoying the positive chaos of conventions.

Many conventions are child friendly, and heavily encourage younger audiences to attend. Going to conventions as a child is like going to Disney World on steroids. I got to meet several of my character idols in person, meet other people who nerded out over the same things, and see all sorts of amazing art. I am so grateful to have gone to conventions as a child, they were so magical and really boosted my confidence in myself. They assured me that there was nothing wrong with my hobbies, and to pursue what made me happy. Cosplay and conventions are such a huge part of my life because they inspire me to keep on pursuing what makes me passionate, while making strangers happy along the way.  

Adjusting to Goucher under Quarantine


By Nicholas Enoch ’24

Walking on Van Meter Highway and being told the stories of students walking into Mary Fisher Hall with large groups of friends at night and sitting outside the Big Lawn, it felt weird seeing an almost empty campus coming to Goucher for the first time.

All residential students are living in Welsh Hall, with the option of getting one suite to themselves or having a roommate. For the first five days all residential students were on campus, everyone was required to be quarantined in their rooms, which means no leaving campus for any reason, and the only things we were allowed to do were walking around campus with no interactions. With meals being delivered and no roommates in my suite, I felt lost, alone, and totally up a creek. While the meals were exceptional, I had little to no motivation to go outside longer than 15 or 20 minutes because of my sluggish energy during the first five days on campus.

Van Meter Highway without students. PC: Nicholas Enoch ’24

When the day came, we finally got our test results back, it felt like the campus was lifted from all of our shoulders. With six-foot guidelines in effect for all on Welsh Hall and campus hotspots like the Mary Fisher Dining Hall, Athenaeum, and common rooms. After nearly a week of seeing no one and feeling separated from people, it was a refreshing surprise to be able to see people, eating outside Mary Fisher Hall, having conversations, and getting to know each other.

Two weeks later we all got retested for COVID, just to make sure that all the students did not develop symptoms once restrictions were lifted. All the tests came back negative, and so far, as I know, no students who are living on campus have COVID-19. Things felt like they went back to normal; my RA made a socially-distanced ice cream social with the residents on my floor, I got to have dinner with some students, and I felt like I was finally getting that Goucher Community feel, but I wanted to be able to get involved in clubs, get myself out there.

Thanks to events hosted by Goucher’s Office of Student Engagement, from the open houses, social hours, and the Student Involvement Fair, I have been able to meet and interact with clubs and organizations that sparked my interests. From engaging in the Involvement Fair, I have joined four organizations, from becoming a member of the Student Engagement Team, Secretary for the Goucher Eye, part of the Editorial Board for the Preface, and becoming the Foreign Language Editor for the Quindecim

After being on campus for the past five or six weeks, I think Goucher has done a good job of keeping the CDC guidelines and enforcing them. From only allowing certain people to come on campus to only having certain numbers of people allowed to be in the laundry room or being in a common room, these restrictions have helped keep COVID off campus or have people develop symptoms on campus. While I do wish we could have more on-campus engagement for the residential students who currently live on campus, I feel like Goucher Residential Life Staff and Public Safety are doing a good job of containing COVID on-campus.

While at the beginning, coming in as a transfer student, it was challenging to adjust to a new environment, but being willing to put myself out there and getting involved I have grown to find my community, friends, and happy to call Goucher my home away from home.

A Deserted First-Year Village. PC: Nicholas Enoch ’24

The Alternative to an Antiquated Response


By Sam Anderson ’21

In the years since 1918, Goucher College and the world have experienced many changes. The two most notable of which for the small, liberal arts college in Maryland were moving from a campus in the heart of Baltimore City to a expansive, wooded campus in Baltimore County, and a shift in the late 1980’s from serving only female students to being a coeducational institution. Looking outwards from Goucher, the world has advanced technologically and medically to the point where a computer, which did not exist as we know them in 1918, fits in the palm of one’s hand and where a vaccine can be developed for a novel virus, not in a number of decades, but instead in less than two years. 

As this progress has been made in the last century, successful institutions have adapted in innovative ways to the many changes, or faced the consequences of not having done so. Our beloved college has time and time again adjusted, including in the two situations noted above, for the same reasons. Financial exigencies and other changing dynamics forced former Presidents of Goucher College, now regarded very favorably, to make numerous risky decisions. Specifically, Otto Kraushaar and Rhoda Dorsey left their mark on the college not by toeing the line, but by remaking the institution for the better, and leaving the college stronger than they found it. The trustees serving the institution in partnership with those Presidents supported those difficult decisions in defense of the institution which many of them had attended and to which all of them had sworn to be fiduciarily responsible.

During the 1918-1920 influenza pandemic, the college responded by temporarily halting instruction on orders from the Health Commissioner of Baltimore and by expanding its infirmary from its location on one floor in a downtown building to occupying that entire building. According to Anna Huebeck Knipp, in her historical account of the college published in 1938, “In view of the extent and severity of the pandemic, it was considered fortunate that the number of deaths did not exceed two” (Knipp & Thomas). Two deaths may have been a “fortunate” outcome for a college in 1918, but nowadays the risk of even one death from a novel virus ought to be too heavy for a college to carry. The quarantine ward or expanded infirmary, a necessary evil of the 1918-1920 influenza pandemic, should be left in the past and not brought to Goucher’s campus this fall. 

So, what is the alternative? This is an opportunity for the college to advance toward its vision statement of becoming, 

{T]he model for accessible transformational education that integrates curricular and co-curricular learning to deliver graduates who can solve complex problems together with people who are not like themselves” (Vision).

The college should provide the same educational options to all of it’s students, especially those already facing barriers to their education because they are international students and/or students who are immunocompromised, and those facing other circumstances that would make the redesigned residential experience more challenging. 

The successful innovations of Kraushaar and Dorsey did not come from imposing limits on the college or its students. They came from expansion. Expansion in physical space by moving from Baltimore to Towson, or expansion in who could attend the college. A temporary pivot online is the most expansive solution to this complex problem. Within the statement of “Who We Are,” found within Goucher’s Community Principles, the importance of our contributions to, and enrichment by, our home communities is noted (Community Principles). Moving online temporarily would allow students to renew this commitment to the communities we live in outside of the Goucher community. There will be ample opportunities to provide service during the coming year in our home communities, whether that be through volunteering or helping family members in this difficult time. The Office of Community Based Learning (CBL) and faculty who teach courses with a CBL focus could encourage and support students in making a positive difference at home. Students have already started this work in the time they have been home since mid-March and have even been featured on national news media for doing so. 

Through careful communication, the college can amplify the work of students while making a compelling case to prospective students as to why choosing such an innovative college is the right decision for them. Differentiation of experience is crucial for small liberal arts colleges given the uncertainty that institutions of higher education face in the near future. We should not restrict ourselves by the physical limitations of returning to campus this fall. Instead, let’s recommit to our community principles, from a distance, and leave Goucher College stronger than it was before.


“Community Principles.” Goucher College,

Knipp, Anna H. and Thaddeus P. Thomas. The History of Goucher College. Baltimore, Goucher College, 1938, p. 243.

“Vision.” Goucher College,

A Tale of Two Presidents: A Suggestion for the Fall Semester


By Sam Anderson ’21

Our former President, José Bowen, and current President, Kent Devereaux, have both made their way into the pages of major publications covering higher education’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The differences between their published comments thus far could not be more stark. 

In a recent article published in Inside Higher Ed on May 19 called “Is Higher Ed Asking the Wrong Questions?,” José writes, “sometimes it is better to accept that you will make mistakes and still act with urgency (and honesty that you do not know the future) and then iterate.” He follows with, “In the current circumstances, universities should vastly accelerate their capacity to be nimble.” His argument is that with so much uncertainty and ambiguity, it isn’t smart to replicate the residential learning community we had last fall, this time with new strict social protocols, rebranded as a “new normal.” Instead he says we should, “embrace a greater tolerance for ambiguity and uncertainty.” Contrast that notion with this quote that current President Kent Devereaux gave The Chronicle of Higher Education just over a month ago in an article written by Lee Gardner called “How College Leaders Are Planning for the Fall” and you’ll see just how disparate Jose and Kent’s thinking has been. “‘Don’t make any decision until you have to,’ he says. The longer you wait, the better your information will be. But when you make your decision, he adds, ‘be decisive and be clear, and make sure you’ve got your plans.’” Kent calls for decisiveness and clarity; José for ambiguity and uncertainty. In these circumstances, as a leader in higher education, you would want to make sure you get that ideological choice right. Probably, the answer lies somewhere between the two. If I have learned anything at Goucher, it’s that the world is too complex for binary choices like that one.

Kent’s quote leaves open the door to innovation. Later in the Chronicle article he goes on to stress the importance of planning ahead so that you always have, “a plan B in your pocket.” However, I would ask the reader to consider if they have seen anything so far that suggests an innovative response is forthcoming. The crisis management coming out of the Dorsey Center appears to be expressly focused on a “commitment to a residential experience” that seems more and more unrealistic with each passing day despite the best efforts of well-meaning staff and administrators. The associated health risks of returning to campus this fall are not worth the purported benefits of doing so. Goucher College’s decision makers should try their hand at adaptive leadership and consider what unexplored possibilities exist in this pandemic. 

If the college is truly committed to a residential experience, the necessary social distancing measures with strict enforcement will not provide that. Instead, the college ought to focus on making a semester or year spent online feel as “residential” as possible. First and foremost, the college must ensure that all students have a computer and ready access to the internet. Second, the college must ensure that all students have a safe place to stay. A few dorm rooms should be maintained on campus as was the case this semester for some international students who were unable to return to their homes. 

The college can become even more accessible than it ever has been before. Going online eliminates many physical barriers and if ACE and the Office of Accessibility Services are brought in now, the challenges of online learning that students have experienced this semester can be accommodated for. 

Student leaders should be trained on facilitating virtual spaces, as should all student-facing staff, and the Office of Student Engagement should continue their effective virtual outreach through office hours and special events. Zoom common rooms can host dinners and game nights while Zoom study rooms provide a quiet place to work with friends. If and when professional sports return, a virtual P-Selz lobby could host a watch party. RAs can check in with their “residents” online and host virtual versions of the events they would host on campus while First Year Mentors build virtual communities and ensure we retain the future residents of 1021 Dulaney Valley Road long enough for them to get there safely. 

As much as possible, the college should seek ways to transition staff and student employment into this new online campus, even if it means transforming one’s role. Students who rely on work study in order to attend Goucher might be forced into a precarious choice between health and education if campus opens in the fall. Those students might be more inclined to come back not because they feel it best to return but because they need the money offered in on-campus employment to continue their studies. New opportunities for employment will likely emerge in a truly innovative online environment and these roles should be offered to students who qualify for federal work study first. 

Finally, the main hallmarks of the college would not have to be sacrificed in a temporary shift online. Global education could remain a focus for the college over this next semester or year. What provides more global access than the internet? Let’s invite the universities we partner with internationally for study abroad to collaborate on spaces for virtual learning open to students of both institutions.

No solution anyone comes up with for next semester will be perfect. I am absolutely not suggesting we make a shift online permanently. I am asking that before we commit too heavily to physically showing up in late August, we imagine what is possible if our community comes together in the best way we can right now. This fall, let’s live and learn together while remaining apart, and let’s create some more equity in higher ed in the process.


Bowen, José A. “Is Higher Ed Asking the Wrong Questions?” Inside Higher Ed. May 19, 2020.

Gardner, Lee. “How College Leaders Are Planning for the Fall.” The Chronicle of Higher Education. April 17, 2020.

The Place of Student Voices and Data in Decision Making at Goucher


By Cecile Adrian ’20

Decision making power at Goucher is concentrated in the upper levels of the administration. Decisions which are ultimately made by the board and upper level staff are informed by qualitative information given committees as well as quantitative metrics. Over the past three years Goucher students have widely critiqued our own exclusion from these decisions. If administrators are not listening to us, what information and which data are informing their decisions? The story of ACE shows how student knowledge and wisdom, even when it takes the legitimate shape of quantitative research, is overlooked by decision-makers in Goucher’s administration. 

In November 2019 Peejo Sehr and Kay Beard, ACE’s assistant director, were laid off, along with dozens of other staff members as part of the administrative restructuring (Levinson). Sehr and Beard are both alums. The administration said administrative restructuring was necessary to balance the college’s budget (Levinson). But it was more difficult to defend their closed decision making process. This amputated version of ACE now falls under the leadership of “Director of Academic Advising and Support.” Students widely expressed their disagreement with the administration’s decision. Our sentiments were aptly captured by Emma Kristjanson-Gural in her open letter to the president published in The Quindecim, where she wrote: “There cannot and will not be an Academic Center for Excellence that offers the same level of care and support to students without Peejo Sehr and Kay Beard.” 

Sehr’s holistic coaching model expanded understandings of “students” and “learning.” At ACE, students were not defined by our study habits or their grades and did not need to check their emotions, spirituality, race or mental health at the door. Sehr wanted to create “a valid space for the emotional, spiritual, social components of learning.” Sehr said when a student walked into ACE she wanted them to understand: “You are home, you belong here, you are loved, you matter.” Sehr described her work as “nonlinear” and as “love in action.” The office was grounded in the belief that “every student comes with their own inherent wisdom.” Sehr was one of the few adults and members of the staff, faculty and administration to name the care she had for students as “love.” This radical love makes ACE one of the few spaces at Goucher where students are not faced with adultism, or branded as overly emotional or incompetent. Most radical was Sehr’s acknowledgment of students’ wisdom and her willingness to let it inform her decisions.

When Sehr and Beard were laid off the Goucher community rallied to express the importance of the student support that these two leaders had in student support. Town Halls, online, in The Quindecim and in hundreds of comments on an online petition entitled “Save ACE” which racked up over 2,000 signatures from students, families, alums and faculty. The sentiment that ACE is vital for students at Goucher is also expressed in the data sets at Goucher. 

Data, the recording of information with symbols, is used all over Goucher. In allowing us to organize and synthesize information, data is supposed to lead to knowledge and wisdom. Knowledge and wisdom are also achieved by other means. At Goucher, decision-making power is held by a very narrow segment of the upper administration who rely on various sources of information including data (namely admission and retention rates). In general the role of college administrators is to keep their institution afloat and manage the school’s finances, while students and faculty are more entrenched in education. With different roles and goals different groups at universities conceptualize retention and student differently. Some data sets at Goucher, like the feedback data ACE collected, are given less importance over others by administrators. 

The data about ACE indicates that it is a widely used resource. 62% of Goucher undergraduates used ACE in 2017 (“ACE: Academic Center for Excellence”). In the feedback survey taken by 254 students from fall of 2017 to Spring 2020 indicates that students across all years use ACE services. 83.3% of respondents to the survey rated their session with ACE as “excellent” while the remaining 16.3% rated their session as “very good” or “good”. 95% of the respondents said they would return to ACE and 56% said ACE played an important role in their decision to stay at Goucher. While the data is not perfect because it is a voluntary response sample it still paints quite a strong image of an office that was widely utilized and highly appreciated by students (Moore and Notz 22). Students’ demonstrated their need for ACE to continue in it’s integral form through informal means such as the “Save ACE” survey and social media posts. Even though students demonstrated their need for ACE (as it stood before restructuring) through the official avenue of the feedback survey, this input was ignored when senior staff was evaluating how to restructure offices and staff positions. 

So, which data sets are more valued as the administrators deal with the difficult task of lessening Goucher’s deficit? Admission, retention and graduation rates are used by the administration to help make decisions. However, it is very difficult for students to access precise and up to date information about our retention and graduation rates. The most important metrics are graduation and term to term retention rates, but they serve different purposes. Four, five and six year graduation rates tell us what percentage of the freshman class eventually graduates from Goucher College, indicating “student success”. Term-to-term rates are used by administrations to make projections for the budget. High first year enrollment, coupled with high retention and graduation rates mean a college has a larger operating budget (more money!). The metrics of “student success” are thus an integral part of a university’s bank account, but do not meaningfully display how students are doing as whole human beings, what we’re learning or how useful the skills we’re gaining are. 

Currently Goucher is exploring another use of data, pioneered by Georgia State called predictive analytics, to ameliorate our financial situation. Sara Lipka defines predictive analysis as the ability to track students data points such as “demographic factors, grades, even student-ID swipes” in order to “identify broad patterns and individual needs” (19). Lipka writes, “Developing the capacity to collect, analyze, and apply student data is fundamental to improving student success” (14). Predictive analytics raises many ethical dilemmas in a college setting. Who will write the code for these data scraping softwares and what biases will be introduced in the process? Are demographic factors, grades and student-ID swipes a good way to measure “student success”? It is unethical to ask students to sign away our privacy when using our school’s apps and onecard systems. Not to mention, buying the software to implement predictive analytics would probably cost a fortune. Another way of measuring student success is possible. 

We need to reframe retention and graduation rates solely as financial measurements. If students, staff and faculty were to redefine “student success” we might follow Sehr’s holistic route and examine measures of student emotional, mental, physical and spiritual well-being, avoiding the compartmentalizing these different parts of ourselves into “Academic advising” and a “Wellness Center.” Perhaps students could design cheap and ethical ways to gather information about our success. We might suggest  implementing self-collection of data so that we could have agency over their data points. Student success might also be measured by how challenged students are academically or how useful our degree is after we graduate. The same way Sehr insisted on addressing academic issues at their root cause, students might seek to identify the root causes of low retention rates. Students could save the college money by creating alternatives to pricey predictive analytic softwares like Navigate. A redefinition of student success and recalibration of which data sets inform decisions, administrators, students, faculty and staff could reach our respective goals of financial stability, quality education and student wellbeing. Perhaps the value of programs like ACE, whose importance is reflected through data and student voices, would be acknowledged by those with decision making power. 

Works Cited

Academic Center for Excellence (ACE) Feedback Form. 

“ACE: Academic Center for Excellence” Goucher College.

Baud, Olivia. “Underlying Issues Identified as Student Organizers Engage With Administration.” The Quindecim. 28 September 2018.

Block, Noah. “Re: GSG Election Results+Gardaworld Ballot Referendum.” Received by Cecile Adrian, 2 December 2019. 

Devereaux, Kent. “Re: Administrative Restructuring.” Received by Cecile Adrian, 18 Nov. 2019.

Emma Kristjanson-Gural. “Letter About ACE.” The Quindecim. 18 November 2019.

Foucher, Sarah. Interview with Peejo Sehr. “Transcending Boundaries” 

Levinson, Neve. “Staffing Cuts Across College Go Into Effect.” The Quindecim. 13 November 2019.   

Lipka, Sara. “The Truth About Student Success.” The Chronicle for Higher Education. January 2019. 

Moore, David S. and William I. Notz. Statistics Concepts and Controversies. W.H. Freeman and Company, 2017. “Save ACE.”

Abroad Students’ Experiences of Waiting, Watching, and Wondering


By Sam Anderson

In my recent article for The Quindecim called, “Waiting, Watching, and Wondering: A Response to Kent’s Leadership in the COVID-19 Pandemic,” I wrote that I had heard my sentiments about the lack of decision making and thoroughness of Goucher’s COVID-19 response reflected by my peers studying abroad around the world. After The Quindecim published my article, I decided to reach out to peers through social media and ask for testimonials of their experiences and thoughts. Here is what they had to say. [Editor’s note: names of individuals within the body of testimonials have been replaced by their position title(s).]

Parker Taggard (Sevilla, Spain)

My biggest gripe with the handling of study abroad was the size/content of information coming from Goucher. I actually preferred them holding off on the decision because it would have been disappointing to be withdrawn from the program if things didn’t become as intense as they did. Overall however, the information that was provided was sparse and inadequate, especially with the physical distance that study abroad students had from Towson.

Marissa Hamby (Costa Rica)

Watching COVID spread across the globe without any communication from Goucher caused so much anxiety, both for my friends in the countries in far worse conditions, and myself in a country seemingly safer than going home. Their email of making our own personal decisions to go home or stay abroad (before they sent everyone home to save their asses) felt very hands-off and irresponsible and unworried about our education, safety, and financial situations. I think everyone understood that the future was completely unpredictable, especially for each country, but Goucher was by no means a resource for support.

Anonymous (London, England)

I was abroad at the University of Roehampton in London. All my friends around me who were from American institutions were receiving constant emails with updates from their abroad programs. I felt left in the dust and stranded not receiving emails from Goucher updating me on potential returns. Additionally, I felt the final email urging me to come home was short, dry, and unsympathetic. That was incredibly hard to hear being alone, in a different country, during a global pandemic.

Marie Mokuba (Paris, France)

I studied in Paris this semester. Goucher’s communication concerning the COVID-19 outbreak and how it would impact students abroad was late compared to other institutions of higher education. This caused a lot of anxiety and uncertainty and I wasn’t sure if I would be getting financial assistance for my return.

Rachal Murray (Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia)

The day Goucher students studying at USC in Australia found out that we had to come home was the same day many of the other US students studying abroad were leaving. While students from other countries and the US received the email to return home, we waited for communication from Goucher which left us in panic to find flights after finally receiving it. While staff at OIS were good about replying to our endless questions about classes and tuition after receiving communication to come home, they could not give us answers because they had none. I missed 3 weeks of classes before I finally found that I would be able to continue taking them. In the end I found it best for me to withdraw from the university because information got to me too late. 

Eliza Cahill (Berlin, Germany)

As my fellow students at my program in Berlin were being sent home daily in the weeks leading up to Trump’s European travel restrictions by their home institutions, I was left in the dark, unsure if I would be sent home too. After the restrictions were announced, it was hours still until I heard from Goucher. This was a time of great stress and uncertainty for me, made worse by the delayed reactions of Goucher.

Lalissie Eteffa (London, England)

When I think back to that weekend (packing quickly, contacting my family, and trying to find a way home) I don’t know what about the process I’m most angry about. The fact that Goucher, compared to the other universities represented in my program, seemed the most unsure about what to do with their students? Or how I was receiving emails from Goucher telling me it’s my choice to come home but at the same time my program directors (who had decided to send all of their students back) were telling me that they already talked to Goucher about sending me back and my academic credits meaning that the decision was already made and Goucher didn’t contact me personally about my transition back? Where the hell do I begin?

Mikayla Hinnant (Costa Rica)

I studied in Costa Rica for the Spring 2020 Semester. My parents reached out to Goucher & we were told that despite the new cases in Costa Rica they were in constant communication with Cdc & our program coordinators. My parents ignored Goucher & booked my flight asap. When I arrived in the states Goucher sent an email on March 14 urging all study abroad students to return asap. The lack of communication & information given to us is what frustrated me the most.

Claire Corliss (Athens, Greece)

Goucher never really reached out to us. My program was updating us daily and even when the official call was made and we were called home. Goucher never reached out. I only felt like I was supported by my program in Athens.

Noah Block (South Africa)

It was incredibly frustrating that the Office of Global Education sent us no program specific information despite students from other colleges having received consistent updates and in some cases had already pulled their programs. Only after the South African government began revoking and cancelling visas did Goucher directly communicate with our program, recommending that we depart as soon as possible.

Juliana Block (London, England)

I was a bit frustrated with how slowly us students abroad were receiving information. While Goucher had already decided to go online, it felt as if we were a second thought. This was especially frustrating because the severity of cases in the UK kept rising, making me have to decide on my own to return home.

Waiting, Watching, and Wondering: A Response to Kent’s Leadership in the COVID-19 Pandemic


By Sam Anderson

A few weeks ago in an article published to The Chronicle of Higher Education on April 16, 2020 entitled, “How College Leaders Are Planning for the Fall,” Kent Devereaux, President of Goucher College, was quoted speaking about Goucher’s planned response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The article quoted President Devereaux as saying, “‘A good mentor of mine always instilled in me: Don’t make any decision until you have to,’ the longer you wait, the better your information will be. But when you make your decision ‘be decisive and be clear, and make sure you’ve got your plans.’” In the last two months, President Devereaux’s strategy of waiting for more and more information to make a decision meant leaving students, studying abroad to fulfill graduation requirements, in the dark for too long.

Reading this quote was disappointing given my experience as a student who was abroad and was eventually asked to return home because of the crisis. Goucher College emphasizes a commitment to global education and was among the first colleges to require all students to study abroad. So, as a second semester junior, I traveled to Israel in February for a semester at the International School at the University of Haifa. Everything was off to a smooth start until the COVID-19 outbreak moved into everyone’s focus. I lived in a dorm of six men, including myself, with four of them coming from different institutions of higher education in California and one being a native Israeli. As the crisis evolved, we discussed and compared the response of our home institutions with the Israeli institution we were calling home. What was clear through these conversations and many others I had with peers in Israel from institutions throughout the United States was that Goucher’s communication was delayed and less detailed than any other school’s response. This issue of communication that I experienced is what made reading President Devereaux’s approach on waiting to make decisions so frustrating. 

Being abroad as an undergraduate during this crisis and eventually coming home meant a lot of fear and uncertainty for me. While I awaited decisions from Goucher’s administration, other institutions were bringing their students home, or at least letting them know they were thinking about it. The experience of my fellow Goucher students studying abroad was similar. I heard from students in South America, Europe, Asia, and Africa that their peers studying with them from other United States institutions of higher education consistently received more detailed communication more quickly than we heard from Goucher, if we heard anything at all. A friend studying in Berlin, Germany was the last person in her program to hear an update after President Trump’s European travel restrictions were announced in mid-March. I would suggest that in a complicated, unprecedented crisis like the one we are facing now, a slow reticent approach leaves students in a dangerous position and neglects the institution’s commitment to in loco parentis. Sometimes a responsible party has to act without all the information that would enable them to know right from wrong because waiting to act could make things worse and potentially dangerous. 

If you studied abroad in Spring 2020 and you’d like to share your experience of COVID-19 please email us at

Life in the Age of Coronavirus


By Monica Valdez Ramos

COVID-19, a virus that changed my life rapidly. Hearing “coronavirus” on repeat whenever I open social media, when I wake up hearing my mom tell me the new cases that are in my state, from news alerts and hearing my neighbors talk about it as well. This is the new normal. “Wash your hands for 20 seconds!”, “Don’t touch your face!”, “Keep six feet distance with other people!!” and “Stay home!!” The amount of times I’ve heard these phrases is unbearable.

When the first few cases of coronavirus started, I was not concerned at all. I thought that it was going to stay in China and not even touch North America. When it did reach the U.S and more information came out about who exactly the virus was deadly to (people who are of ages 60 and over, people with compromised immune systems, and people with other underlying health conditions) then I thought, “It’s not even going affect me, I can still go about my life” More cases started emerging all around the country rapidly and when Goucher canceled in-person classes for the rest of the semester, that’s when I finally woke up.

The confusion concerning the virus and including the panic that the media is inducing and brings up anxiety for me. And I’m not the only one. “It’s really draining seeing nothing else on the news and I know it’s important to gain information on this virus but at the same time it’s incredibly anxiety-inducing.”, my good friend Habab Ibrahim said this to me when I was asking her how she feels about coronavirus. On top of her feelings of anxiety, she also lives with high-risk parents, “I’m more concerned for their safety,” she notes.

In my house, I live with two people who are high-risk and since my siblings and I are low-risk, we’re the ones going out to get groceries. When any of us go out to do so and come back into the house we have to leave our shoes outside, not hug anyone when we come inside, wipe our phones with disinfectant wipes, put our masks in bags and wash our hands for 20 seconds. When we order something and it’s dropped off at our house, we have to wipe it down, wash our hands again and whatever the package came in we have to leave it outside.

I decided to have a group phone call with a few more of my friends, to see how they feel about everything happening. One of my friends, Kenya Alvarado, said this to me when I asked her, “It’s been hell, cause I’m one of the people at high risk with my health and it’s making me paranoid.” She suffers from Diabetes and also lives in a house where her loved ones could be severely affected. My other friend answered this when asked the same question, “…it still doesn’t feel real, [however] I’ve felt more productive.” While this quarantine has benefitted her in the sense of getting things done, she does face challenges in living with people whose health is high-risk. “I’m just nervous for how bad this all could potentially get.”

 On March 31st, Governor Larry Hogan issued a stay at home order in hopes of reducing the spread of the virus. To sum this order up, you can only leave your house for essential errands (like doctor appointments, getting groceries, or going to work for example) and you can leave the house to take a walk, walk your pet(s), or exercise. My sister expressed how she had plans to spend her birthday in Miami, Florida in June but now she can’t anymore because of this lockdown potentially going through June, “I’m just upset, I’ve been looking forward to celebrating my 21st somewhere other than my house.” Recently I’ve just celebrated my brother’s birthday, we bought him a cake and had a lowkey celebration. He also told me he had other birthday plans to go to a concert with friends but was devastated when he realized he couldn’t, “I just miss my friends so much.”

Currently, there are about 27,117 cases in Maryland and 3,430 of those are in my county. In a Baltimore Sun article written by journalist Lillian Reed, scientists from the University of Washington have estimated that the total number of deaths in Maryland could increase to over 2,000 by August 4th. Maryland health officials have stated that our state is currently “reaching the peak.”

Why the Current Higher Education System is Flawed


By Edward Jancuk

Recent generations are facing rising costs of attending college, an increase in job market competition, and more dilemmas facing our society that require new perspectives. The purpose of going to college has been muddled with the need to pay off student loans directly after earning a degree. Therefore, prospective students who choose to attend expensive four-year universities limit their horizons to specializations that they think will give them they most immediate high paying job. This financial burden prevents students from finding their passion and discourages them from pursuing careers that will benefit society.

College has shifted from exploring career options to a place where students study the subject they believe will pay the best. The distribution of majors has shifted from a diverse field of majors to a small pool of degrees related to business, criminal justice, and S.T.E.M. (Yassky). Daniel Yassky’s article in the Princeton student paper speculates this trend and how it hinders both students and society. Pursuing one specific, high-paying major may seem as if it will provide financial stability, but this prevents students from adapting to fluctuations in the job market. A broad liberal arts education will prepare scholars for the everchanging demands of the working world.

Receiving enough financial aid and scholarships have the potential to alleviate the constraints that finances hold over other student’s heads. Personally, this has given me the freedom to open myself to a greater array of responsibilities other than my major, such as being a student-athlete and working on campus within the first semester.

Going to a liberal arts college has allowed me to witness the importance of a diverse field of study as well. The importance of broad study is backed up by the origins of liberal arts education as a method of study. Ancient Nile Valley civilizations and Greek Theorists promoted liberal arts because they were believed to deepen one’s understanding of themselves and the world around them (Cook 684). This origin shows that studying with a more humanistic perspective allows students to discover who they truly are and what they want to do. This deeper connection to one’s studies will ultimately benefit society, rather than focus them on material possessions. Upon the further development of the higher education system, liberal arts are now seen as inferior to more specialized and rigorous studies (Cook 684). The erosion of broader studies was for materialistic and financial purposes, preventing scholars from finding their passion and instead focusing on making money. Individuals seek out the greater good in society when their focus is shifted away from money.

Without any personal experience of how an economic burden would have affected my choices in college so far, I searched for others who have had to face this sort of problem. One graduate from Rutgers, who had studied Marine Biology and minored in Environmental Protection, traveled to Florida and Barbados to work with sick or endangered creatures, and was offered a position training dolphins in Florida when he graduated. He now works as a supervisor for a “big-box retailer” (Nova). To give up years of hard study to go into a field of work with no correlation was a decision based off money. This 27-year-old would not have been able to make as much money as a trainer compared to the supervisor position he’s currently stuck in. Another figure from Nova’s article conveys the idea that 70% of college graduates face debt after they graduate. From this information a point can be made- this Rutgers graduate is not alone. If debt has the effect on students to make them “think their life is over” (Nova) and push graduates away from their field of study, why is the price tag on a degree so expensive? Higher education cannot allow for students to become depressed and lead unproductive lives in society when their major does not allow for an immediate high paying career.

College students did not always have to pay an arm and a leg to further their education. Since the competition and need for college was less prevalent, going to college was generally looked at as a benefit to civilization rather than one’s own life. There is now an increasing demand for a college education due to more jobs requiring specialization and achievement. While more students are attending university, since the 1980s the average price of higher learning has more than doubled (Hoffower). Undeniable growth in financial obligation added additional stressors to aspiring and current students. This increase in price correlates with the shift of major distributions. This all ties back into the fact that students’ choice of major is to pay off their debt and become financially stable. Despite all the effort students put into their education and the financial burden they may bring upon themselves, the degree they earn may not guarantee them a job. According to the Washington Post, only 27% of college graduates have a career that utilizes their field of study (Plumer). A system where students pay to earn a specialization which becomes unused is impractical. Since most students are in line with this outcome, the current higher education system is set up to have graduates be unhappy with their career.

Students would make more academic decisions based on personal and public interest if their credit was not at stake. According to research in the Journal of Public Economics, a prestigious university implemented a “no loan policy” (Rothstein 1). This policy eliminates students’ need to endanger themselves with a large sum of debt because expenses are covered by grants given to them. These grants are funded by donations given to schools. Student debt creates a vicious cycle where the students who assume debt are less likely to make donations to the college. With a smaller amount of donations, there are fewer grants for their successors. Not having to assume debt allows for students to feel less pressured into judgements guided by having a high paying career as the outcome. The results exemplified by Rothstein’s study show that students who do not acquire debt have a higher chance to assume “public interest” jobs (Rothstein 1). Even though these positions may not be high paying, they are what students want to do with their life. These public interest positions also give students the freedom to tackle problems that currently hold firm footing across the planet.

Individual wealth is increasingly important to people in our world while global problems and polarization are at an all-time high. Being so focused on the individual grind and success does not help solve problems we all face. The world needs doctors and lawyers, but it also needs thinkers, creatives, and educators who are willing to help reshape the way the world works for the common good. If higher education did not come with such a high price tag, students would focus more on finding their passion rather than finding a job to pay off their debt as quickly as possible. The common good is lost when individual safety is threatened first. Without the comfort of financial stability, students feel trapped in choosing something to gain a sense of security back. Society will advance when the shaping of young minds is placed before the profits of colleges and universities.

Works Cited

Cook, William S. “A Comparative Analysis Between the Nile Valley’s Liberal Arts Tradition and the Development of Western Education.” Journal of Black Studies, vol. 45, no. 8, 2014, pp. 683–707. Accessed 3 Mar. 2020.

Hoffower, Hillary. “9 Ways College Is Different for Millennials than It Was for Previous Generations.” Business Insider, 2018,

Jesse Rothstein, Cecilia Elena Rouse. “Constrained after college: Student loans and early-career occupational choices.” Journal of Public Economics, Volume 95, Issues 1–2,2011, Pages 149-163.

Nova, Annie. “How Student Loans Are Making Some People Abandon Their Dreams.” CNBC Investing, CNBC, 18 July 2018,

Plumer, Brad. “Only 27 Percent of College Grads Have a Job Related to Their Major.” The Washington Post, 2013,

Yassky, Daniel. “The Changing Purpose of College.” University Wire, Sep 27 2017, ProQuest. Web. 3 Mar. 2020.

Yes, Voting in a Blue State Still Matters


By Grace Reno

With the 2020 election less than a year away, there is nothing else in the United States that causes as much tension or is quite as polarized as American politics. I suspect that even my mentioning the word ‘politics’ has caused some strong opinions to come to mind. Coming from Atlanta, which is seen as the Democrats’ safe haven in the notoriously conservative state of Georgia, the importance of voting has long been instilled in me. It has always been the residents of Atlanta against the rest of the state, making it a largely polarized state. With the 2020 election fast approaching, it is more important than ever for individuals who ‘don’t care’ about voting or are not registered to take action. Moving from Atlanta to Goucher College, located outside of Baltimore, has only strengthened my belief that voting in elections is not only a privilege of being a U.S. citizen, but is necessary.

            One of our fundamental rights and ideals as a U.S. citizen is the right to vote for who we as a nation want to lead us. It is a right that is not available to individuals in numerous other countries (Powell). In the 1960’s and 70’s voting had a lot more enthusiasm connotated with it, whereas now a lot of people see it as less important, putting things such as errands above making sure they can vote a priority (Woodard). In 1964, sixty-four percent of Americans were voting in the presidential elections. However, by the 1988 election that percentage dropped to fifty-seven percent (American Voter…). The question is, what is to account for the decline in American voting? One popular theory is the “alienation” theory (Reinhold). Before the ‘64 election voter turnout was at an all time high.  This could be due to the fact that at that time, American citizens wholeheartedly believed in the democratic political system, and that it would yield the results that the people wanted. However, that all changed after “Vietnam and years of Watergate scandal and other political rot, the electorate is turned off, cynical, distrustful of government, uncertain that their votes make much difference” (Reinhold). Thus, the alienation theory. If the government can foster a more trusting relationship with the American public, instilling the belief that one’s individual vote does matter, then an increase in voter turnout may result.

Regardless of which state one lives in, if you waive your right to vote, you are waiving one of your most important rights as a citizen. Additionally, according to Gladu, since the 2016 election, Donald Trump has divided several groups of voters. Trump, as the perfect populist package, attempts to appeal to so many different voter pools, that his philosophies as a whole are never cohesive (Schneider). As Schneider says, “He’s conservative on social issues (immigration). Liberal on economic issues (trade). And isolationist on foreign policy (military intervention).” Thus, in recent elections many states became more ‘purple’ (a mix of democrat and republican) rather than strictly ‘red’ or ‘blue’ making it more important than ever to vote if one is voting blue. In addition, voter turnout in the United States is significantly lower than other developed countries, and the idea that if one lives in a blue state they don’t have to vote could be even more detrimental to United States voter turnout (Gladu).

A large percent of individuals living in notoriously blue states such as California and Washington state believe that their votes are simply a raindrop in the ocean, and that whether they vote or not, the outcome will not change. Woodard states that “the average chronic nonvoter is a married, nonreligious white woman between 56 and 73 who works full time but makes less than $50,000 a year. She is most likely to identify as a moderate, lean toward the Democratic Party, get her news from television and to have a very unfavorable impression of both political parties and President Donald Trump. She has a 77 percent chance of being registered to vote and says she doesn’t because she doesn’t like the candidates but claims to be certain she will vote in November.” Simply put, these people are not voting because they have the privilege not to need to. According to the LA Times,California has been a historically blue state since the 1992 election in which the state voted in favor of Bill Clinton. Ever since that 1992 election, the state has stayed blue, by a large margin, as 62% of the state voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election (PPIC). Therefore, why should one more democratic vote even matter?

It is extremely important for candidates to target these ‘chronic non-voters,’ as if one does motivate this group of people, they may have the power to swing the election. Which is how Trump was able to break through the “blue wall” in the eastern United States and win the election (Woodard). This is because he appealed to rural America, which is not typically done. This is also how Obama won the 2008 election, flipping North Carolina, Florida, and Indiana (Woodard). These blocs of people are going to be extremely important in the 2020 election, as they could be a deciding factor.

Additionally, throughout my time at Goucher thus far, I have met far more people than ever before who don’t see the importance in casting their ballots during election season. In my experience, the majority of people I’ve encountered at Goucher lean towards the more liberal side of politics, similar to those in the older (age) demographic mentioned previously, who are typically the non-voters. There are constantly events being organized by the school which relate to current societal and political issues, such as climate change walks and democratic debate watching parties. That being said, because many students enrolled at Goucher come from blue states, the importance of voting was never emphasized, as the odds were typically in their favor in the first place.

In summation, although one individual vote might not make the difference in an election, it is when this mentality takes over an entire population that it becomes dangerous. Because the idea that one vote doesn’t matter is so common in the United States, it has led to millions of people abstaining from voting, which does make a difference. Though voting democratic now is not guaranteed to yield a democratic president, there is still a cumulative impact, making the number of democrats higher and higher each year. It is important to recognize that voting is a building energy and more about the practice than the outcome, as, if more Americans continue to vote every year, the overall impact will be extremely beneficial. Furthermore, if Americans encourage and foster voter enthusiasm, similar to trends in the 1970s, voter turnout could skyrocket. Even in states like California, which has the largest number of electoral college votes, if the chronic non-voters of this country start casting their ballots, there is no telling what the outcome of the upcoming election could be.

Works Cited

“After Decades of Republican Victories, Here’s How California Became a Blue State Again.” Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Times,

“California’s Political Geography 2020.” Public Policy Institute of California,

Gladu, Alex. “Blue-State Voters Must Turn Out On Election Day.” Bustle, Bustle, 24 Oct. 2016,

Powell, G. Bingham. “American Voter Turnout in Comparative Perspective.” American Political Science Review, vol. 80, no. 1, 1986, pp. 17–43., doi:10.2307/1957082.

Reinhold, Robert. “Voter Turnout Has Been Declining Steadily Since 1960.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 26 Sept. 1976,

“What Democracy and Voting Rights Look Like Around the World.” Global Citizen,

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