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The CDO’s Etiquette Dinner


Do you like food, learning, and networking? If your answer is yes, which I am sure it is, the Career Development Office’s annual Etiquette Dinner is just the right event for you.

Every fall semester, the CDO, with generous support from the Goucher Student Government, coordinates the Etiquette Dinner. The purpose of this dinner is to teach students the fine art of dining while in a professional setting. The CDO invites an etiquette specialist from the International School of Protocol to guide students into gaining confidence in their ability to successfully navigate a professional cocktail, lunch, or dinner experience. Over a three-course meal, the dining instructor covers both American and Continental dining methods to allow for diverse knowledge of dining etiquette, including the proper use of chopsticks. This is especially beneficial to Goucher students pursuing an international career focus and for those who may be studying abroad in the future.

The event is open to the Goucher student community, with priority given to juniors and seniors, since those are the years that students are most commonly focusing on networking, seeking employment, and other formal opportunities. The event can host around 40-45 students, with room for the alumnae/i table hosts. By inviting Goucher alums, from a variety of educational and industry backgrounds, to serve as table hosts, the students who attend are allowed an opportunity to practice their networking skills first hand and learn tips from these alums to apply as they finish their college career.

The dinner provides an opportunity for students to learn about and practice business dining etiquette, as well as professional networking. In today’s job market, these skills are incredibly helpful for students to learn as they build their contacts and make a strong impression with employers. Registration opened Oct. 23rd through the CDO website and runs until Nov. 1:


Staying In-Style With Aubin

Photo Credit: Aubin Niragira

Who: Aubin Niragira, ’20, from Jersey City, NY

Q: What are you wearing today, Aubin?

A: I’m wearing this sweater that’s not thick enough. And then these pants are from my dad, from like the 90s. It’s a little bit big on me but close enough. I actually waited quite some time to be able to wear his clothes. You can tell when clothes are pretty old and I kind of like that, but [my dad] prefers that I wear new clothes.

Q: Do you thrift?

A: Sometimes… it’s not as cheap as what you would think it would be because it’s become a trend, so now it’s more expensive. The other day I went to [a thrift store] in New York called L Train Vintage. I was expecting it to be cheap, but it was extremely expensive, so I got absolutely nothing.

Q: How have you been been dressing for these fluctuating temperatures?

A: I try to start the day off with more layers than I need. I try to stack up on layers and then slowly take them off. But I don’t always do that. Like I didn’t today. I do have this denim jacket that I could honestly wear every single day. It works with most things, and even if it’s hot out it still works. It’s pretty versatile.

Q: What inspires your fashion?

A: I get a lot of inspiration from Instagram. I feel like Instagram is somewhat about showing off, you know? Also just the way people pair things together is something I see on Instagram.

Q: Do you use Instagram to capture your own style?

A: It used to be about just picking up on fashion but now I’m using it to show off my style. It’s kind of stressful, actually, because then I hold myself up to a high standard – but I’m trying to do that less. I follow some random, really upscale brands like Versace. Like I could never buy their stuff, but the silhouette of things and the way that they pair things could apply to regular streetwear.

Q: If you could describe your style in one word, what would it be?

A: I would say, like lately, it would be pretty… simple or minimalistic, ’cause I’ve been wearing a lot of black and white. Which is different to what I used to wear because I used to wear a lot of bright colors. I didn’t notice that I was making the change until recently when I looked in my closet and thought I was just really good at matching, but then realized that I just had black and white clothes.

Q: Tell me about that fur coat that you wore at Gala last year.

A: I got it my Sophomore year of high school. It was actually just a joke at first. I went thrift shopping with my friends and it was around the time that Macklemore’s song came out. Then it ended up being very warm. I actually had kind of a scare ’cause I was smoking a cig and some ash got on it and it’s very flammable, but it ended up being fine. It’s not real fur – I got that question a lot.

Poses with Penguins- Yoga at the Zoo

Yoga at the Zoo has become a twice monthly event at the Baltimore Zoo. Photo Credit: Maryland Zoo

More and more people gather in front of the gates of the Baltimore Zoo. It’s 7:45, and the zoo won’t open to the public until 10. It’s mostly women in groups of two to three. There are a few stragglers who awkwardly stare at phone screens and yawn as they wait for the gates to open. There are two or three men in the whole ensemble, one of whom seems to be the father of a family that came to practice together.  As the clock moves closer to 8, more and more people arrive.

At about 8:05, Baltimore Zoo staff open the gates and usher the crowd of about forty people into the park. The sun is brilliant when they arrive to their destination: the zoo’s Penguin Pavilion. People walk towards the open space and place their mats on the concrete. There are large speakers set up around the area, and a woman right at the front of the penguin enclosure speaks:

“Hi, everyone! Welcome to Yoga at the Zoo! We’ll get started soon.”

Yoga at the Zoo has become a twice monthly event at the Baltimore Zoo. The event consists of a hour-long Vinyasa flow class open to all skill levels.  Occurring before the zoo opens for regular operations, the practice takes place outdoors by the zoo’s penguin enclosures. Yoga at the Zoo is still a relatively new event, only having been started this year.

“It started with a test date back in the spring,” says Jane Ballentine, Director of Public Relations at the Baltimore Zoo.

“I think there were about sixty people that decided it was going to be a fun thing to do, and they loved it so much that the Event Department decided, ‘well, let’s make a series out of it, and do it over the summer, and see how it goes.’ And people liked it so much and it was selling out that they decided to extend it into the fall.”

“Since [April] we’ve added two classes a month, and we’re going to do two classes a month through December, and then we’ll announce the new classes for the next year,” says Steve Rosenfeld, Assistant Vice President of Institutional Advancement at the Zoo.

“It’s been a really really popular event. Throughout the summer most of the classes have been sold out. So it’s been really popular; people seem to really respond to it,” says Kate Rosenfeld, who taught the class.

Yoga at the Zoo started as somewhat of a personal project for zoo event officials. It was actually Steve Rosenfeld’s wife who inspired the project. “His wife got into yoga a few years ago, and during just random discussions of the zoo, looking for something new, something different to do, somebody suggested ‘Well, why don’t we do yoga,’ ” says Jane Ballentine. “It was like, ‘no, how’s that gonna work? It seems kind of silly, no one is going to want to come here,’ then he actually started talking to his wife, and some of her colleagues that she does yoga with and they were like, ‘We should give this a try! We’ll test it out.’ ”

The class costs ten dollars for zoo members, and 20 dollars for non-members. Aside from the class, purchasers also receive a full day pass for the zoo and a complimentary drink from event sponsor Truly Spiked & Sparkling (only for participants 21+ with valid ID). Also, after the practice, zoo-goers can meet an official Penguin Ambassador (a penguin trained to take photos with zoo-goers). “It’s 19 dollars to get into the zoo already. So it’s only an extra dollar to take a yoga class and spend a day at the zoo,” Steve Rosenfeld emphasizes.

After the practice, many participants seem energetic. Several rush to take pictures with the Penguin Ambassador that is brought out, some rush to the beverages while chatting about the heat. Many groups talk about what enclosures they want to go see first.

“I enjoyed it a lot. It’s the second time I’ve came. Very relaxing, I like it,” says Lisa Brunsinski, who came with a co-worker.

“It’s actually my birthday tomorrow, and my boyfriend bought tickets for it,” says Jackie Deworth. “It was a fun event, and it was a really great practice.”

There are some concerns about the seasonal nature of the event, however.  The class occurs on one of the viewing platforms near the penguin enclosure, and so far, cold weather plans haven’t had a chance to be fully tested. “It will be different once it’s colder out, because right now you can do it outside. Although there’s always a rain plan to move into the Penguin Education Center, which is a great space, [though] it’s not as large as this and it’s a little broken up,” says Ballentine.  “It won’t be the same experience, but it will still be really cool. And the penguins swim by as you’re doing it, ‘cause it has underwater viewing. So it will still be a fun experience.”

Goucher Pets: Pringle

The cutest cat! Photo Credit: Hannah Brogan

Cats are one of the most common pets at Goucher, and for good reason. Unlike dogs, they don’t have to be taken outside. If they have not been approved for college housing, they can easily be kept inside of a dorm room. Pringle, though, is legal. Owned by Hannah Brogan, ’19, and Ali Tomasevich, ’19, she is an orange and white tabby of about three years.

“We’re not sure of her age because she’s a rescue,” said Hannah. “In fact, we found her just outside of the SRC.”

Hannah and Ali found Pringle on April 11, 2017. They tried to contact Pringle’s owner via Facebook, but when that proved unsuccessful, Hannah ended up keeping her. She’s been at Goucher ever since.

“It’s been great having her. We love her so much, and she definitely helps keep us from being emotional train wrecks,” Hannah said.

Cats are more likely to become stray than dogs since many people believe that a cat will be able to survive better outdoors. However, this is not true. While cats retain a hunting drive that has been more easily bred out of dogs, a stray cat won’t easily survive if it has been raised indoors. Hunting takes practice, after all, and if a cat has never been able to practice, it’s not going to catch anything. According to, the number of stray cats found and taken by humane societies in 2016 was 2,108, as opposed to stray dogs, who numbered 1,175. Cats were also more likely to be relinquished by their owners last year, the number totaling 867 versus 599 for dogs. Because of the mistaken belief that cats are more predisposed to living in the wild, owners who no longer want their cats may lock them out of the house or abandon them in a secluded, wooded area. Luckily for Pringle, she found her way onto Goucher’s campus.

Perhaps the biggest challenge for cat owners on campus – or for that matter, owners of any animal at Goucher – is the fire drills. So far this semester, fire drills have mostly been during the day and not in the middle of the night. Still, students often don’t know which fire alarms are drills and which ones are real. For pet owners, fire drills can be quite stress-inducing as many animals don’t like or get frightened by the noise.

“If pet owners could know about fire drills in advance so we could prepare that would be really helpful,” said Hannah. “Pringle isn’t a big fan of the great outdoors, so it can be stressful for us when we have to rush out of the building.”

A typical day for Pringle includes a lot of napping, usually in the closet. Her favorite food is chicken cat food, and she loves playing.

“Her playing sometimes involves scratching, which is more fun for her than it is for us, but she doesn’t mean to hurt us,” said Hannah.

Overall, though, Pringle is doing well and has adjusted to her new home.

Pringle loves chicken cat food and playing. Photo Credit: Hannah Brogan

The Roots of Change: Students Learn to Mobilize


About four weeks ago, on Tuesday, September 5th, the Trump administration announced that it would end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (also known as DACA). The program granted work permits and deferrals from deportation, renewable every two years, for immigrants brought into the US as children or teenagers before mid-2007. The political move to end DACA soon took the internet by storm, with DACA recipients (also known as DREAMers) and proponents pressuring political figures on the left and right to respond to what they deemed to be a discriminatory act. I was browsing through my Facebook feed that Tuesday afternoon when a particular video alerted me to the political unrest: student-led walkouts at Denver high-schools were occurring in real-time in my home state of Colorado. Little did I know that only a few buildings away, other Goucher students were viewing the same video. “I didn’t know much about DACA. It was a Tuesday afternoon and I was sitting with all of my friends at Alice’s and then all of my friends were talking about the walk-out in Denver,” said Sarojini Schutt ‘18, a Peace Studies major. After researching DACA and the Trump administration’s decision, Schutt and her friends were inspired to act.

In response to threats to DACA, students took matters into their own hands, tabling on Van Meter and urging other students to call their representatives. Photo Credit: Usha Kaul

First, her friend Sabrina Nayar ‘18 sent out an informal invitation through the Facebook class pages to meet at Alice’s patio. “It started out with just 7 people but then people walked in,” Schutt said of the meeting. At first, students were calling for a walk-out the following day, but this particular method of mobilization was put into question by a few individuals at the table. Eventually, the group decided to call Robert Ferrell, a Goucher Communications staff member, regarded as a campus mentor and activist, for advice. “Rob brought out the point that if we do walk out now, people are going to associate it with Black Lives Matter (BLM),” Schutt told me. In 2015, in addition to leading a walk-out, Goucher students had led a die-in in front of academic buildings. Goucher had changed the listing of its address from “Baltimore” to “Towson” shortly after the Baltimore uprisings began, an act which many black students on campus saw as an affront to the BLM cause. The die-in made an impression on both administration and students alike. Pro-DACA mobilizers began to realized the importance of historical context when choosing appropriate methods of protest.

Goucher students led a die-in in front of academic buildings in 2015, in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Photo Credit: Rob Ferrell

Students gathered together that afternoon realized that they themselves were not DREAMers, and that fighting for the program as allies carried different implications. “It was almost like [by walking-out] we would be appropriating [DREAMers]’ protest,” Schutt said. Important questions such as, “what is the proper way to respond to this event?,” “what is the most effective way of protesting?,” and “what message do we want to send?” had to be discussed. “We talked about intent vs impact, and the implications of our actions–like what [DREAMers] actually need and what that looks like,” Schutt told me. After more than three hours of conversation, Goucher students, cycling in and out of the meeting space, conceptualized a new plan for mobilization. “Our plan was to table and kind of disrupt the flow of Van Meter Highway,” Schutt told me.

Sabrina Nayer, ‘18, encourages her fellow students to take some time to learn about DACA. Photo Credit: Usha Kaul

In the next few days, volunteers tabled in front of the main entrance of the Athenaeum, urging students to call their representatives. The way in which these students had decided to take matters into their own hands impressed me, and it reminded me of similar instances of student-led mobilization on campus. Over the course of my three years at Goucher, I had already witnessed students pushing for new student work policy reform. The semester before my first year, students led protests in response to police brutality against black Americans like Freddie Gray. Goucher has a legacy of students coming together on their own to stand up for what is important to them.

Yet, while I admired the ways my peers had organized the pro-DACA tabling all on their own, I noticed that many students avoid eye contact with the protesters and hastily walk past, which led me to question the success of the movement. Were they achieving the goals that they had set out to achieve? Brett Rapbaum, ‘20, while a pro-DACA student mobilizer herself, noticed some faux-pas in the way the movement attempted to create change. “It was like 10 people at the table at once, and it was a lot of first years who weren’t even aware of what DACA was,” she told me. While fruitful reflection and discussion had set the stage for the movement, it had been carried out by a decentralized group of people. Since no leadership structure existed, there was no system of accountability for misinformation, or consensus on proper tabling methods. “I heard lot of mega-phony type stuff, just like, ‘You can’t spare 2 minutes? Really?’,” Rapbaum said. As a Student Leader for Civic Action, Rapbaum has learned to avoid blaming people for not knowing something that they’ve never been taught. What she saw in some of the pro-DACA tabling was intimidation, not only of busy students who “wanted to be involved but couldn’t be in that moment,” but also of people who could have been informed about DACA and its importance. “It created enemies where they didn’t have to exist,” she explained. While she noted that the tabling did attract and motivate many students to action, she saw the movement’s tactics as effective in the short term but not so much in the long term. “This is an issue that’s going to be present for several months, and it’s dangerous to have something that’s sparked right away and then fizzles out,” she told me. “This is a long haul marathon, not a sprint.”

This is an endemic problem at Goucher. Student mobilization on campus often carries huge shock value and can spark very specific, short-term changes, but when it comes to long-term change, Goucher movements are faced with a variety of problems. About a year ago, students mobilized against a ‘New Student Work Policy’ announced in June – with great success. Yet the reason for its success was precisely predicated on its short-term goal: to revoke a policy that would restrict salaries for many students, particularly those who were international and/or of low-income. Ahmed Ibrahim ‘19 was one of the leaders of the movement. “I was very worried about what was going to happen with me staying on campus and working to meet the amount I needed to get my education. I knew people who worked on-campus and off-campus. This policy is going to screw them over. So what can we do about it?” Just like the pro-DACA mobilizers, Ibrahim met with other students working on campus over the summer who would be affected by the new policy. Some, like James Williams ‘19, had past experience affecting change, and they formed a core group of leaders. Williams helped the group form an incremental plan where their grievances would be expressed in increasingly visible and confrontational ways until the policy was revoked.

The group established some ground rules for their movement, such as complete transparency with students and administration. Most of the developments had occurred over the summer, so many students, particularly the incoming class, were out of the loop. Ibrahim informed students about the new policy by confronting people on Van Meter or in common rooms. Then, he and the rest of the group met with staff such as Karen Sykes and Luz Burgos-López.“[Their] summary was like yeah I hear you, but we can’t do anything about it because it was a joint decision by Goucher admin.” They took the next step. Williams sent out emails to administrators like Brian Coker and even José Bowen. “They responded. They were like, ‘yeah, we should have a discussion about it.’ Then it was a back and forth, like bargaining about it,” Ibrahim said. They pushed harder, directly confronting administrators like Leslie Lewis, LaJerne Cornish, and Emily Pearl during Student Employment Day. Administrators responded by suggesting an appeals process and encouraging student input.

Subsequently, the group used Facebook and tabling on Van Meter to collect signatures from students, staff, and faculty. Around 600 to 700 people signed their petition. The group then told administration that they would be meeting in the Athenaeum to engage in a more involved discussion about the policy with their peers. “I remember there were 7 us and then 35 people who joined,” Ibrahim told me. “We made a list of grievances on a board and took a picture, and we reflected on an appropriate course of action.” Here his story began to echo Schutt’s description of organizing the Pro-DACA movement. What was clearly different about Ibrahim’s account, however, was that an identifiable structure existed throughout the process. He and the rest of the core group leading the movement were able to convince administrators to convene with 10 to 12 students at a town hall meeting. “The agreement was ‘yes, we’re going to repeal the policy, but we’re also going to work with administration on a new policy’,” Ibrahim stated. Over the course of the next semester, student workers were able to create the more equitable work policy that exists today.

To be sure, the pro-DACA movement had its own successes. Schutt, Rapbaum, and a number of other mobilizers were able to identify key resources on campus that helped them inform and empower a large number of Goucher students. For example, they knew to go to CREI (Center for Race, Equity, and Identity), which supplied them with many of the flyers and print-outs that they handed out. They also coordinated with OSE (Office of Student Engagement), which provided additional information on DACA during common hour. Finally, they were able to identify key spaces for organizing and mobilizing more students. “We met in the P-Selz lobby, which is just like a really accessible space. It’s big, and there’s a projector that all students can use. We were able to send out mass emails, and also we were able to post on the Facebook pages about stuff,” Rapbaum told me. Some mobilizers even convinced a professor to bring their class to the DACA information table.

The Emergency Trump Task Force (ETTF), which formed out of the pro-DACA movement, created a Hurricane Relief Fund for victims of the recent hurricanes. Photo Credit: Usha Kaul

Yet, just as quickly as it had appeared, the pro-DACA movement melted away. As was seen with the movement against the New Student Work Policy, students from disparate groups tend to coalesce around certain issues, but not for long. Had the New Student Work Policy movement sought to change an economic policy beyond Goucher’s campus, it would have encountered many of the same problems that the pro-DACA movement faced. Goucher students thus lack the structure necessary to make the long-term changes they seek. Some, like Williams, have taken notice of this missing puzzle piece. “Ideally, we should have gotten more of a campus conversation about [mobilizing], because student activism stuff seems to pop up and go away really quickly,” he told me. The Goucher Leadership Council, a group of nominated student leaders, could have assumed the role of shaping a student network, but as Williams pointed out to me, it became more of an important ‘therapy space’ for leaders who are stretched thin. Having helped found the Radical Student Union (RSU), Williams hopes to achieve radical change on campus, but acknowledges the difficulties in doing so. “Some people start out and really start to spread agency of who’s going to do [the organizing]. But what ends up happening is, there’s so many people that have people in their pockets and nobody really knows who’s in charge, so the movement dissipates,” he explained. RSU members hold different views of what constitutes ‘radical change’, so the group hasn’t been able to agree on an effective system for student mobilization. That being said, the group has been working on building community. “Student mobilization needs to look like something where students come together – and clubs are dying, or if not dying, living in a silent-ish way,” Williams said.


Ridwan Ladwal, ‘20, behind the table for the Hurricane Relief Fund, organized by ETTF. Photo Credit: Usha Kaul

One group that has emerged out of Goucher’s past activism may be planting the seeds for the kind of consolidation Williams envisions. The Emergency Trump Task Force (ETTF) formed out of the pro-DACA movement when Usha Kaul ‘17 and seven other students decided that DACA’s revocation was only one of many Trump administration decisions that needed to be confronted. Zahir Mammadzada ‘21, one of the seven, questioned the effectiveness of shock-value protests. “Protests are effective to some point. Pressuring government bodies is more effective because shutting your mind off doesn’t really legally change anything.” Kaul chimed in, “often times I feel like people don’t understand the issue completely when protesting. They often just join the mass.” To Mammadzada and Kaul, ETTF serves as a pre-existing support structure of activists who will help table and inform when mobilized. When Kaul decided to create the Hurricane Relief Fund, she knew where to go. “We’re really pushing the whole ‘education and understanding the issue’ concept. We know that we can’t fix world problems 100%, but in order to move forward we need to educate people about the issues we’re facing,” she told me. Mammadzada added, “You’ve got to start somewhere!” Admittedly, ETTF’s political objectives are unlikely to draw in all of the Goucher student body. However, the group serves as a starting model for pulling the campus together, a process which, if ever completed, would empower students more than ever before.


Goucher Pets: Bean the Sugar Glider

Bean the sugar glider. Bonding is essential. Photo credit: Grey Cubbage

There are a variety of pets owned by Goucher students, and Bean the sugar glider is definitely one of the more exotic ones. Owned by Grey Cubbage ’19, Bean is a male sugar glider of the gray-faced variety, gray being the most standard coloration. He’s a little older than two years old and, according to Grey, has been “out of the pouch” since June, 2015. They have owned Bean and his counterpart, Spyder, since their first year.

“Bean is an emotional support animal. He’s trained to help me manage my anxiety, depression, and panic attacks,” Grey says. “I have a ton of trouble internalizing any self-care. Taking care of Bean helps me keep my whole life in check. Putting another life’s care in my hands helps me prioritize taking care of both of us.”

As an exotic species, sugar gliders are often considered ‘fad pets.’ Often, they are mill-bred through seedy companies that will sell sick, inbred animals to people who don’t expect them to be hard to take care of. “Bean is from a specialized, reputable breeder. His companion, Spyder, lost his colony to sickness, and because sugar gliders can’t be kept alone and Bean had finished his bonding training, they were paired together.”

Bonding is essential for sugar gliders, and makes them feel safe, relaxed, and happy. Though the process can be lengthy, once a sugar glider is bonded with their owner they are highly affectionate animals.

“I got Bean for company and for the special way sugar gliders behave with their bonded person,” says Grey. “They come to associate one person as ‘mom/safe/home base’ and bond closely with that person. I needed an animal that could keep me company when coming down from panic attacks, and Bean happened to be the right animal to suit my needs.”

As cute as these marsupials are, though, they are by no means easy to take care of. “Sugar gliders are a lot of work. I have to make their nectar mix made of baby food, honey, wheat germ, et cetera over twelve days, since I also have to freeze it in ice cube trays. There’s no commercially viable food that covers all their needs, so I have to keep fresh fruit, dried bugs, and special food at hand at all times,” says Grey. “Bean’s cage is really large – about the size of my Goucher dresser. It can be hard to move back and forth during semesters. By nature of being an exotic species, he’s hard to take care of.”

Of the many varieties of food he eats, Bean’s favorites are mango, cantaloupe, raspberries, spinach, meal worms, and nectar cubes. “Despite ‘sugar’ being in their name, it’s important to keep their sugar intake low. He gets unseasoned boiled chicken, eggs, tofu, fruit, and vegetables. I rotate the menu as much as I can so it doesn’t get boring.”

When Grey’s heart rate or stress level is up, Bean sticks close to them. On weekends or when he’s not with Grey, he’ll sleep all day, curled into one of his many soft bags and pouches with Spyder. In the evening, it’s playtime, and he’ll run around in a hamster ball. When Grey is at work, he’ll snuggle with them in one of the bonding pouches.

“Bean loves his wheel the most. It’s a special extra-large wheel without a center bar so his long tail won’t get stuck in it,” says Grey. “He’ll often run for hours in the middle of the night because he’s nocturnal, but thankfully I’ve learned to sleep through it. He also loves to forage for toys and plastic Easter eggs with dried fruits and snacks hidden inside them.”

Bean eats a variety of foods, including tofu and mangoes. Photo credit: Grey Cubbage

Though the construction doesn’t bother Bean, fire alarms do. “He wasn’t happy at all when the fire alarms went off at 3am in Hooper last year,” Grey says. “As for construction, it makes it hard to get to outdoor dumpsters to dispose of pet waste, so some of the pet care side of our weekly routine has become a hassle thanks to the pet policies. In the past, though, Goucher has worked well with my gliders and I. I definitely see strides being made to make the program easier to work with though, which is awesome!”

Since Bean is one of the more exotic pets on campus, Grey will get shocked, funny looks sometimes, but they wouldn’t have it any other way.

Campus Resource Profile – ACE

Peejo Sehr(left) and India Perkins Credit: Goucher College ACE Facebook

When you ask students to describe the Academic Center for Excellence, or ACE as it’s more commonly referred to, there are a lot of common phrases that pop up. “Warm,” “comforting,” “friendly,” and referring to the center as “a second home” are typical.

While ACE’s full title might conjure up images of test prep and tutoring services, ACE offers so much more. Firstly, it allows students to meet with academic coaches who can assist them with various problems, ranging from issues in specific coursework to time management skills. Second, ACE is the home base for Goucher’s Supplemental Instruction (SI) program, where students can reach out for subject specific tutoring. Third, ACE offers special testing accommodations to students who require it. Finally, ACE also hosts numerous mindfulness activities: things like yoga and meditation sessions. A particularly famous member of ACE is Lucy, the center’s very own greeting dog.

ACE is considered by many to be a pillar of stability on a otherwise constantly changing campus. For those who are new to Goucher, however, the things that ACE does for students might not be readily apparent. I sat down with Peejo Sehr, the director of ACE, to ask her a few questions about the center and its various programs.

Q) What are the goals of ACE as an institution?

  • Really, the fundamental goal of ACE is to support students’ academic well-being. By that I mean that we want students to feel that they are heard, that they are seen, that they are valued, and that we are really here to help them reach their potential as students, academically.

Q)There are a lot of different services here, one that’s particularly notable is academic coaching. When should a student consider seeing an academic coach?

  • The model of academic coaching that we created here is based on the approach that the student doesn’t just take their intellectual selves to classes: you take your whole self to the classroom. Our coaching is very individualized. Even if you’re feeling like, “well, I think I’m not really struggling. I think I got this,” just stop by. Make an appointment to help you land and gather yourself so that, when you actually get into the thick of things, you are already working on some of those skills that we can help you develop: time management, organizing, really becoming more intentional… and really allowing yourself to set some academic and personal goals for yourself, learn about self care- and how that can affect how academically present you are in the classrooms. So the sooner the better!

Q) ACE offers a lot of other activities, such as yoga, meditation, and so on. They’re all things that might seem a little atypical if a student were thinking generally about college academic support centers. Why did you decide to pursue these kinds of activities?

  • A lot of my training as a teacher and an educator is in holistic approaches to student support: helping students really reach their potential. And often times when we begin to think about what stands in the way of students reaching their potential, it’s things that are happening outside of the classroom. So when we developed this program we really looked at the evidence around mind-body practices and contemplative practices, and ways that we can help students concentrations and ability to remain present to their tasks. There was such a natural link between these two things. When we first started nine years ago, and I first started talking about this, I think people were kind of like, “what?” I think there were some questions, some doubts, but now I think there is a whole movement really looking at this comprehensive idea that students’ ability to be present is crucial to student success.  

Q) Lucy is a very popular member of ACE. When did you get the idea to incorporate her into the center?

  • I was scared of dogs for a long time: I’ve been bitten three times. And my first year here there was a student, and she would meet with me weekly. And at the end of our meetings she would say, “I think ACE should have a dog. I miss my dog” – she was from New York- “ACE is such a warm and friendly place, and it feels like home to me, the only thing that’s missing is a dog. Peej you’ve got to get a dog!” And then I was watching television, and there was a very sad and tragic shooting at one of the schools up in New York. They had brought therapy dogs, and I saw the impact first hand of what therapy dogs were doing- creating community and really helping people coping- and it occurred to me that this might be a really good idea. So I did some investigating, and I found out that Yale had greeter dogs on campus- that many colleges were actually doing this. So we went with making sure we got a dog- she’s my personal dog- and making sure she’s hypoallergenic so there were no issues with allergies. We were very careful to get a dog that was well mannered, well balanced, not an alpha, very gentle. We got lucky with Lucy, and she’s been coming here since she was 8 weeks old. She’s been a greeter dog her whole life, and I’ve seen so many friendships form around her. Students have come daily for four years to see her. She’s been a really great way to connect people to each other as well, and been a real source of joy.   

Q) Do you think ACE is utilized as a resource as much as it should be?

  • When I first came here, ACE was in a tiny little space out in Froelicher. It was out of the way for a lot of students. So we have grown: last semester we saw about 59% of the student population. 75% are first year students- which is a good number. We are kind of at capacity right now, which is a good problem to have, but I would really like it so that we can get students in as soon as you request an appointment. Now it’s about a week’s wait to get in sometimes. I would like to be able to reach out to those students who are in a place of shame, who aren’t reaching out to get the support they need, and let them know that no one is judging them here. That we are a place of support, and the more you can show up the more we can help. So I’d like to reach out to the students who have never been to ACE before.

Q) While college is, naturally, a place of transition, there seems to be an exceptionally large amount of transition this year. With construction and curriculum changes, how would you recommend students go about facing this period of transition?

  • It requires us to ask for self compassion for themselves. A lot of students have mentioned similar issues. Identifying: “what are the things I can change?” and “what are the things I can’t change?” I often tell students to begin by breathing, to take a moment to pause, to begin to acknowledge that it’s hard, and find opportunities to seek solace and nature. We have a lot of beautiful trails and woods that haven’t been affected by construction, and I would invite student to seek those spaces during the day if they can. Because it is disruptive, but how do we work with the things we can’t change? It’s a lot of practice.

Q) If you could say anything to the new freshman class as they continue into their first year of college, what would it be?

  • Be gentle with yourself.

Bursting the Bubble: The Community-Based Learning Office

“When I see an SLCA on Van Meter now it’s just so wonderful. It feels more like a collective.” Photo Credit: Gary Pritchett

On the second floor of the Van Meter building, in a little space supplied with lots of food and coffee, Cass Freedland and Lindsay Johnson work together to run Goucher’s Community Based Learning (CBL) office. Santa Marie Wallace and Emily Abramson assist them, ensuring that the wheels run smoothly. In Cass’s words, as “a resource to the campus in helping bridge the campus and community with mutual respect, thoughtfulness, and an ethical perspective,” the office currently promotes 12 active programs, as well as CBL component courses engaging both federal work study students and volunteers.
“Goucher has always been on the cutting edge of community based practice. It used to be called service learning. There was a wonderful first director, Carol Weinberg, who, back in the 90s, said that it was something marvelous for Goucher and she brought together faculty and community partners to push forward with the work,” Cass recounts. In 2011, Goucher decided to focus more on that community-based work and to create a staff position under the academic provost. The new France-Merrick Director of Community Based Learning, Cass left Wagner College in Staten Island, New York to come to Goucher in the fall of 2012.
She joined Lindsay, ‘05, ‘13, already deeply involved in the office, who restructured CBL and conceptualized Student Leaders for Civic Action (SLCA)- students who lead each individual program and coordinate directly with their respective community partners. Four such students were David Hills,  ‘17, Deanna Galer, ‘17,  Lila Stenson,  ‘17, and Hadley Sternberg, ‘19. “When I see an SLCA on Van Meter now it’s just so wonderful. It feels more like a collective; you don’t feel as separated from the other programs,” David said of the group. Hadley had a similar description. “We’re really energized. There’s a lot of passion and compassion, feelings and empathy; [we’re] really grounded, like sincere I think, and positive, connected.” “I think it’s cool ‘cuz we’re all different people, but we’re all very committed to our programs so we have that common goal,” Lila Stenson added.
It is not uncommon for SLCAs to see the programs that they lead grow, morph, and change with time. Every spring, CBL staff sit down and analyze the programs to improve and reshape them. Deanna interned in the office. “Our student leaders put some of their character into [their programs] and help to shape and mold [them],” she explained. David Hills and Emma Minkoff’s formerly in-existence Be HERD (Helpful Expression and Responsible Development) program, while still based around theater, changed greatly from how they had conceptualized it. David elaborated, “It initially was about exploring emotion, but now is about being okay with being silly.”
New leadership and political, social, and economic changes in the community also affect the function and structure of each program. “A $1,000 cut per student was announced last week,” Deanna said when interviewed last semester. She and Hannah Painter co-directed Middle School Mentoring. “That takes away all of their resource curriculum. So we then use our program to best supplement what the community is already offering.”
“Flexibility, I think, is something that every SLCA has”, David explained. “And enthusiasm!” Deanna added. Laughing, she snapped her fingers. “Cuz you just gotta do it!”
Despite challenges and changes to the programs, SLCAs and CBL volunteers consistently form meaningful relationships with community partners and community members. David recalled, “One of the boys that I had for Read a Story Write a Story, when I was a sophomore, I was working at the Cinemark and he and his dad came in and he was like ‘Oh hey, how are you?’’’
“It’s really great to be able to interact with the kids, and be able to get to know them, and hear about things that are happening in their lives” Lila said. She and Emily Abramson were co-directors of the Armistead Gardens program. She admitted that forming relationships isn’t always easy, but said that “giving it time definitely helps. I think for the kids at Armistead, just that we were gonna be there every week, that we were remembering, that really means a lot to them.”
Even programs that don’t necessarily involve working with people can lead to unexpected community interactions. “Sometimes we see the old people hanging out. They like to watch us work,” Hadley highlights from her vine removal adventures near a retirement facility. Hadley co-directed the Environmental Initiative with Clara Feigelson.
CBL is hard work. Deanna described some of the challenges. “There’s a lot of moving parts. If a van is going down, if a person is sick, if materials don’t show…” In Hadley’s words, “It’s kind of chaotic if you think about it.” But the hard work pays off in big ways.
As Cass put it, CBL is as much an office as it is a way of living and thinking and engaging with the world. SLCAs learn “skills such as listening before necessarily responding, of learning what others are thinking, sort of humbly really thinking about what people are telling us, and then taking the next step to better understanding towards what they’re saying.” As a result, CBL teaches how to work with the community rather than working on it. For SLCAs, building symbiotic relationships outside of Goucher has allowed them to reflect on their own identities and their role as leaders in community outreach.
“I never felt like [the CBL community] was condescending. You’re allowed to make mistakes without feeling bad. Which is what I think a lot of Goucher students don’t know how to do,” David said. “I learned to recognize that my sexuality doesn’t negate my privilege. I grew up surrounded by so much whiteness, so it was easy for me to say, ‘well I’m a gay man surrounded by straight people.’” Deanna nodded her head and chimed in. “From the get-go it helped me learn a lot about Baltimore, especially how power and privilege work, especially in regards to race. We’re a predominantly white institution working with a predominantly black community. I was in a very charity based mindset in high school, and that has a purpose, but when dealing with power and privilege it can’t just be band-aid solution, it has to work at the roots.”
“I think just being able to get involved in a community off campus and making that commitment every week, just in terms of thinking about after college and what’s important to me… it’s made my Goucher experience much more meaningful, about something else rather than being just stuck at Goucher in my own academics and everything.” Lila said. Hadley similarly saw how CBL’s impact extends beyond its own staff. “A quote I like is that ‘everything is connected.’ We’re just like people and we all affect each-other. Social justice is a big component of our office, and so like, race and privilege and ability and sexuality, and just like all of those identifying intersectionalities of what makes us what we are,” she said “We’re just this little tiny office with coffee and cookies but at the end of the day, it is also so much more.”

Students Mobilize to Defend DACA


Following the White House announcement to repeal the Deferred Action for Childhood Arivals Program (DACA), a group of Goucher students gathered outside the Athenaeum over the course of several days. They provided information about  ways to defend and support DACA, along with phone numbers and mailing addresses so that students could contact local representatives and express their support for DACA.

Photo Credit: Usha Kaul

Goucher Misses Kelly Brown Douglas

Dr. Kelly Douglas Photo Credit: Washington National Cathedral

Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas, Professor of Theology at Goucher College since 2000 has officially left the building and left people crying. Dr. Douglas is now the first African American woman to become Dean at an Episcopal Divinity School (EDS). EDS and Union Theological Seminary have signed a partnership “that will allow EDS to continue as an Episcopal seminary through a collaboration with Union at its campus in New York City beginning in the fall of 2018.” Dr. Douglas received her Pd.D. in systematic theology from Union and the institution is happy to welcome her home. Because the EDS-Union agreement happened fairly quickly, Dr. Douglas unfortunately was unable to have a proper send off or goodbye from the Goucher College community.
While Dr. Douglas will no doubt be an instrumental asset to EDS at Union and this is an incredible opportunity for her career, the people at Goucher–students, faculty, and staff–want to say that she will be missed, in addition to wishing her well in her endeavors.
For the first nine years she was at Goucher, Dr. Douglas ran the religion department single-handedly. Ann Duncan, the current Religion Program Director, Professor of Theology, and Head of the Center Geographies of Justice, said that Dr. Douglas essentially created the religion program and made it into what it is today. Professor Duncan and Dr. Douglas were partners for eight years, and while saddened by her departure, Professor Duncan says “I’m also very excited for her because I know with her recent book and a lot of the ways in which her research is speaking directly to this particular moment in history, the particular concerns, not only of the Christian church, but of the American society, has really been very remarkable to watch. And this I think provides a really wonderful opportunity for her to be able to continue her public speaking, but also to really directly shape the training of some of the future leaders of the Christian church. I am very happy for her.” Professor Duncan, who was well aware of Dr. Douglas’ impact on her students, has high hopes for her future.
Dr. Douglas was always supportive and understanding of her students. Having conducted an independent project with her, I will miss her deeply. Ever since my first class with her at 8am on my first day of college, she has inspired me to study theology. While she ran a busy life, she always had time to talk and check-in with her students and how they were doing. Sarojini Schutt ’18, who took Womanist Theology with Dr. Douglas, says she really admired her teaching style and wishes she had taken more classes with her. If she, Schutt, could say anything to Dr. Douglas at this moment, she would say, “Thank you! You are brilliant, inspiring, and bring so much light wherever you go.” Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas, Goucher College is going to miss you. Thank you so much for all that you have taught and all you have put into this school; you are phenomenal and there is no replacing you.

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