The independent student newspaper of Goucher College

Category archive

Goucher - page 3

Goucher Identity Survey and the Process Behind It

by

The purpose of Peace Studies 220 is to study the nature of organizing for social change. Throughout the class, we examined social movements, identifying a movement’s origin story, structure, strategies, how to keep the movement sustainable, and also how to assess the impact of a social movement. We studied organizing tactics on the left and the right, including a field trip to seeing Bread and Puppet Theater, a theatrical, transgressive mode of resistance. Each person in this class came from a different background and expectation of the class, but the one commonality among us was the motivation to learn how to mobilize for social change.

One of the course requirements is a practicum to apply what we learned. We had the option between two routes for the practicum: to individually join an already existing movement in Baltimore and learn by attending meetings and actions, or to work together as a class and create our own mobilization force among us. After debate and deliberation, from which Professor Seble was often absent from the room, the majority of our class chose to organize as a collective. Overall our class felt it would be too much of a lost opportunity of growth as organizers and activists if we did not organize together on the college campus where we all have a sphere of influence.

The second part of this decision was deciding what we wanted to do at Goucher. Our initial brainstorms included ideas regarding environmental sustainability, accessibility for people with disabilities, Facilities Management Services, and Bon Appetit workers issues. All of these fit under the umbrella of another idea one of our classmates came up with, and that is the issue of how Goucher spends its money. We identified this issue to be the nexus of all further questions regarding the extent to which we commit to environmental sustainability, our workers, or accessibility. This question of Goucher’s resources and spending, we also felt, was an interesting one in the midst of our physically (but also maybe emotionally) massive and obstructive construction projects.

Once we agreed to this topic, more and more questions arose. Who makes the decisions? Why don’t students stay at Goucher? What even is Goucher’s identity as a school? What does our budget look like? And why don’t we know the answers to these questions? If we didn’t know the answers to these questions, did other Goucher students?

These led to more questions about the Undaunted campaign’s intention for the future of our campus, and our collective stake in this institution’s future. So, we banded together to answer questions about Goucher’s identity, which seemed to be in contention as different student groups have felt slighted or unheard. Our organizing involved research, in which we conducted interviews with several administrators and one board member to learn about Goucher’s Capital and Operating Budget, about Board meetings, and about our retention rate. We created the student survey that circulated around campus, yielding the incredible number of 255 responses, a 17.2% response rate. Our objectives as a group were to gauge student experience, educate the student body on Goucher’s budget, and to catalyze community-wide dialogue. The survey was a way of collecting data from Goucher’s student population about their expectations of Goucher versus their reality and locating sources of these discrepancies, and about student perceptions of Goucher’s identity as a school and how our spending as an institution aligns with this vision.

Our community talk-back was Wednesday, May 9th during Common Hour in the Welsh Piano Room, a public space accessible by all members of the Goucher Community (see Open Letter on pg. 14). Additionally, we took the information we gathered from our student body and provided it to the Board of Trustees by handing out leaflets to them during their May meeting.
Our hope is that the information passed on from the student body to the Board inspires questions and topics of discussion for Board members, and injects our student voices into the conversations of the most crucial decision making body of Goucher College. We know that we could not tackle this issue alone within just a semester, but we joined the student body in hopes that we might inform our peers and empower them to further advocate for their interests.

RACHEL LUCE ON BEHALF OF PEACE STUDIES 220

Featured Image: Goucher Identity Survey Results. Credit: Peace Studies 220

Political Science Capstone Investigates Ideological Diversity at Goucher

by

The Goucher Political Science Capstone has spent the entire semester focusing on issues of college campus ideological diversity, campus speaker protests, and the overarching issues of free speech on campus. We examined this issue because of the importance institutions of higher education have in American life, as well as the growing political and cultural dissatisfaction with academia, particularly on the right. According to a Pew poll conducted in June 2017, 58% of Republican leaning Independents say colleges and universities are having a negative effect on the way things are going in the country, a 21-percentage point increase in this attitude from the same group two years prior. This development may suggest that funding for higher learning could very well become a political football in our polarized electorate—if it is not already.
The first half of the semester was spent trying to understand if this so-called “campus free speech crisis” even existed and if so, what its roots were and what could or should be done to address it.

We looked into issues of faculty ideology across the country: The professoriate is about 30 percentage points more liberal than the rest of the country—about 19 percentage points more liberal than it was in 1990. We examined campus speaker protests: According to FIRE’s (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education) campus speaker protest database, there have been 368 instances of campus speaker protests across the country since 2000, at public, private-religious, and private-secular institutions alike. Of these instances, 31% have been from the right side of the ideological spectrum and 69% have been from the left. This dynamic of protest from the left has become more pronounced in recent years—since 2014 there have been 121 instances of speaker protest, 18% of which have been from the right and 82% of which have been from the left. Of the 121 total instances of speaker protest since 2014, 45% have resulted in the dis-invitation of the speaker. In short: Protests of speakers on campus are rapidly becoming more frequent, they are being conducted in large part by students on the left, and nearly half of the time, colleges are rewarding these protests with the dis-invitation of the speaker.

Data collected regarding perception of faculty ideology. Credit: Political Science Capstone

We debated, at great length, the meaning of these statistics and actions, their validity, what consequences there should be for them, and Goucher’s place in this story. Implicit in someone’s understanding of freedom of speech at the university is their conception of what the purpose of the university itself is. Generally speaking, people fell into two camps on this matter: Either the fundamental purpose of the university is to pursue truth through questioning and learning at the risk of offending others, or the fundamental purpose is to more or less create an open community where risk of offense to all groups is mitigated at the expense of open expression for all groups. There was also a middle ground on this issue, where people found themselves agreeing with portions of both purposes of the university—a tricky stance to hold once concrete policy details are considered.

 

The second section of the class was built around assessing the Goucher community’s attitudes on these topics. We sought to address questions like: What is the ideological breakdown of the student body? How do students perceive the ideological orientations of their professors? What would student’s reactions be to a controversial speaker coming here? These were only some of the dozens of questions we wanted empirically supported answers to. To achieve this, we designed a survey and focus group protocol over the course of several weeks, sent the survey to the field and subsequently carried out our focus groups, and then analyzed our results. We procured some very interesting results, however, the most important findings (from my perspective, I do not speak for the class—we will have an executive report detailing our findings) are in part, what wasn’t there—conservative viewpoints.

The survey, which was sent out to every single student email on campus, was completed by 257 students; a representative sample large enough to make statistically significant statements about the campus population. Of those 257 students, 3% identified as conservative, 22% identified as moderate, and 60% identified as progressive or liberal. This is not only a low number of conservatives compared to the country’s general population, but it is so small as to make it impossible to make any generalizable statements about the group. To remedy this, in our analysis we had to combine conservatives and moderates into a single category to compare against progressives/liberals. The combination of conservatives and moderates has significant implications for analysis because we do not know what someone means when they self-identify as a moderate—whether they consider themselves center-left, center-right, or legitimately middle of the road—and comparisons between these two groupings (conservatives/moderates and progressives/liberals) should be looked at with that caveat in mind. However, even noting this, the largest differences of opinion in our results were still between ideological groups, rather than between other factors such as race, gender, age, religiosity, etc.

Many of our questions yielded little difference in opinion, but several highlighted distinct differences among students of differing ideology. When asked to pick between two options of “Which it was most important for colleges to do” either “(1) create a positive learning environment for all students by prohibiting certain speech or expression of viewpoints that are offensive or biased against certain groups of people” or “(2) create an open learning environment, where students are exposed to all types of speech and viewpoints, even if it means allowing speech that is offensive or biased against certain groups of people?” the majority of respondents (60%) chose the second, more free expression oriented option, but a sizeable minority (25%) chose the first. Among ideological groups, 77% of moderates/conservatives chose the second statement (9% chose the first) as opposed to liberals/progressives, of whom 53% chose the second statement and 29% chose the first.

When asked if “Students in your classes are willing to share and discuss different ideas and beliefs,” nearly a quarter of respondents disagreed with this assertion, and when broken down by ideology, conservatives/moderates disagreed at an even higher rate of 36%, while only 20% of liberals/progressives disagreed. Additionally, when asked to agree or disagree with the statement “Students should be allowed to express their opinions in class, even if those opinions are offensive to other students” 27% of students disagreed—22% of conservatives/moderates and 31% of progressives/liberals doing so.

Students also answered questions pertaining to what they perceived the ideological makeup of Goucher’s faculty to be. When asked to think about the personal politics of the Goucher faculty they have interacted with and whether they were conservative, moderate, or liberal, 97% of students of all ideologies said that “a third or less” were conservative, 73% said that “a third or less were moderate”, and nearly half said that “two thirds” were liberal (see chart to the right). Despite this ideologically monolithic perception of Goucher faculty, students are still more likely to conceal their particular political viewpoints from peers out of fear of consequences than they are to conceal them from faculty and administration—33 percent of respondents noted concealing political opinions from peers, while only 15 percent concealed opinions from faculty.

These numbers suggest a narrative that Goucher College could consider both a warning sign and an opportunity. Conservative students are in a tiny minority on this campus, likely less than 5% of the population; many students of any political persuasion have concealed their political opinions due to fear of repercussions from peers; and the entire student body agrees that the faculty are composed of not only less than 5% conservatives but are at least somewhere between 60-80% liberal.

Additionally, out of the 63 students that answered our open-end question concerning other “thoughts, comments, or perspectives” they had on viewpoint diversity, free speech, and campus speakers, 16 specifically noted a desire for more diversity of opinion on campus, while 10 specifically noted groups or individuals they did not support having at campus under any circumstances (all traditionally associated with the right, perceived or actually), and most everyone else was conflicted. This suggests that Goucher has an opportunity to teach students how to grapple with unorthodox opinions, and in fact many of these students are not only willing to learn about diverse viewpoints, but some are even requesting such an introduction. Nearly a quarter of respondents noted that they were “not aware of Goucher’s policies” concerning free speech—this could be a good place for the administration to start.

Dr. La Jerne Cornish Leaves Behind a Legacy

by

This year, the Goucher community must sadly say farewell to our Associate Provost of Undergraduate Studies, Dr. La Jerne Cornish, as she moves onward to her new position as Provost and Senior Vice President of Educational Affairs at Ithaca College. Dr. Cornish first came to Goucher as an undergraduate in 1979, and will leave behind a legacy of strength, integrity, and quality education.
The Quindecim spoke with Dr. La Jerne Cornish about her time here at Goucher College, what she will miss most about the community, and how she has seen the institution change and grow. The following interview has been lightly edited for clarity.

Q: What was the most rewarding aspect of working in the Goucher community?

Dr. Cornish: I adore the students. I love my colleagues. I have wonderful relationships with faculty and staff, but the highlight of my day, every day, is my relationships with the students.

Q: Do you have a favorite student story that’s particularly meaningful to you?

Dr. Cornish: Early on, there was a student who was a history major with a concentration in secondary education, and he was constantly getting in trouble for making poor decisions. I pulled him into my office one day, and he was about six feet tall, much taller than I. I looked at him and I said to him, “You are so much better than this, and it is time for you to start making informed decisions, and it’s time for you to start handling your business. Because if you don’t, things are not going to turn out the way you’d like them to turn out.” Fast forward 20 years and this young man is a history teacher par excellence. In a few years, he reached out and got in touch with me as he was coming through Baltimore. We went out and got lunch together, and I know that I made a difference in his life.  Things like that matter to me.
A few years ago, I took another student to South Africa on my ICA, and he was really struggling here and did not feel worthy. He did not feel like school was for him, or that he could make it. We went to South Africa and had this amazing experience. He taught math and English to students in middle grades (5,6,7) and found himself. He recognized the agency that he has. He too is a teacher today and is doing just great work.
Last story–a [Communications] major was graduating and did not know where to go to graduate school, and received an offer from Northwestern, which is a top com school. I was going to a conference in Chicago to present a paper, and I said, “you know what? Come with me. I’ll take you to Northwestern, and we’ll go look at it.” She flew out with me, I did my conference, and then we toured the school. Today this student is a well-regarded reporter for the New York Times. I’ve had a chance to really make a difference in the lives of our students.

Q: What about your South Africa ICA will you miss the most?
Dr. Cornish: Well, truth be told, I am going to talk with the folks in the Ed department at Ithaca to see if they can partner with Goucher, and if we can have an Ithaca/Goucher partnership, so that my ICA can continue with students from both schools.

Q: Can you tell me a little bit about your background after graduating from your undergrad at Goucher, and how you’ve seen Baltimore change as your home city over the past few decades?
Dr. Cornish: I started teaching in the Baltimore City public school system, so that was my first career. I was a teacher and an administrator in the school system that educated me. I received a quality education there, and the people with whom I worked were stellar teachers in the classroom. Over the years, I’ve seen our school system decline, because we had this period where people were going into teaching who weren’t certified to teach. They were taking alternative routes to education and sometimes that works. However, schools that need the most ability also need teachers who know how to teach, who are in this for the long haul, and not for the short term. That is one of the things that I’ve seen in the time that I’ve been here, is the school system struggle. Even as it gets smaller, we still have schools that are very successful and some schools that are under-performing horribly, and I struggle with that. What can we who are in the teacher/education business, if I could use that term, do to provide more quality teachers for Baltimore City public schools, and to make it a place where people want to work? Often people are afraid to work in the city, so how do we combat those negative stereotypes about the system and the city in particular?

Q: How do you see Goucher’s larger role in that environment?
Dr. Cornish: Goucher has always had a social justice focus, mission, understanding, and commitment, so we have been very active in the schools, through community based learning and through our education department. We have three or four professional development schools within the Baltimore City public school system and we are committed to doing that work.

Q: What do you think you’ll miss the most professionally about working at Goucher?
Dr. Cornish: I loved this position most of all, the one that I currently have. I really enjoyed being the Associate Provost for Undergraduate Studies. It gave me a chance to support my colleagues on the faculty and staff. It gave me an opportunity to work with colleagues across different divisions of the college. It gave me the opportunity to be a student advocate, and that’s what I love most of all. Students knew if they needed help that they should come here. I appreciated the fact that they trusted me with their joys, with their sorrows, with their disappointments, and with their challenges. I got a chance to bring all of me to this position, and so that’s what I’m going to miss here, but also what I look forward to doing at Ithaca.

Q: Do you have any favorite Goucher events?
Dr. Cornish: I love new student convocation, because we are welcoming new students into the academy and we get a chance for them to see our traditions. That’s a new tradition that started with President Bowen. I love Get Into Goucher, well, some parts of it (laughs). If I’m being honest, there were other parts of it where I was worried about students making informed decisions, so I would always say to my students on GIG, “I need you to watch out for one another. I need you to make informed decisions and if someone’s doing something to excess, I need you to look out for your peer and just make sure everybody stays safe.” I love Baccalaureate and I love Convocation. I love to see our students celebrated for the honors they’ve achieved each spring.

Q: How does that feel, watching students that you’ve built relationships with for 4+ years graduate?
Dr. Cornish: I gave birth to one child, but I’ve had the opportunity to be a role model, and a mother figure, for many students, hundreds of students. I am as proud of them as they leave here as I will be of my own child when he graduates from here on May 25th.

Q: Considering how many students you have helped and guided throughout their time here, what would you say to the students currently leaving their undergraduate careers here?
Dr. Cornish: Continue to believe in yourself. When you are struggling, seek help at the moment of the struggle. Don’t wait until it’s too late, or until you feel it’s too late. Continue to strive and to do great work. Continue to make a difference in the world, because that’s what Goucher students do. They make a difference in the world. Continue to question what you see, and continue to challenge that what you think is wrong. Continue to believe that the education you’ve received here will indeed enable you to embody and live up to the Goucher motto, which is “Prove all things and hold fast that which is good.” That would be my message.

Q: What is the biggest change that you’ve seen in the community and institution in your time as Associate Provost?
Dr. Cornish: The positive change is curricular and co-curricular people working together. You know, one used to talk about the academic side of the house and the student affairs side of the house. Over the last few years we have been focused on having one house, and how these sides can come together to support our students in all ways. To me that’s the biggest positive change that I’ve seen.

Q: How do you see that moving forward after your time here?
Dr. Cornish: I think that we need to continue to collaborate across divisions and to seize opportunities for collaborative work. As you may know, OIS is moving over here (Van Meter), so having OIS, CEO, and CBL within the academic building, creates this synergy where it makes sense for us to work together curricularly and co curricularly to help our students achieve success.

Q: What is the biggest obstacle you’ve seen the college overcome in your time here?
Dr. Cornish: We’re still working on retention, and that’s everybody’s job. It doesn’t belong to just one person, it belongs to all of us. How do we make sure that one student who enters Goucher in the freshman year, graduates from Goucher four years later? That’s our challenge. It’s one that I think we can meet, but it’s going to take all of us to meet it.

Dr. Cornish’s South Africa ICA is one tradition from her work at Goucher that she hopes to continue, and her program there has unquestionably had an impact on the students that she has taken. Alumni Chris Riley remembers his relationship with La Jerne, and the ICA he went on in 2013 as transformative. Chris said that, “Before the ICA, like many others, I thought I knew what South Africa was like. While there we were teaching reading and writing to students, I remember a specific evening while at dinner, one of the Goucher students brought up the differences in what we hold as values between their culture and ours. Through that dinner we had some of the most engaging conversations I’ve been a part of. La Jerne was there at dinner with us, asking about our perceptions and thoughts on how values and cultures differ. She steered and engaged in the conversation with all of us. It is because of this specific conversation that my views of education around the world changed completely. Because of Dr. Cornish, and the trip she lead, I have become a better, more aware person. I can say without a doubt that, like many others, Dr. Cornish has changed my life for the better.”

Dr. La Jerne Cornish has changed and touched many a student’s life for the better during her time here, and she will be missed greatly. As one of the first women of color at a predominately white school, Dr. La Jerne has been crucial to forming a sense of community for people of color on campus. Senior Amielia Gilbert said that, “Dr. Cornish has made a positive impact on my Goucher experience. Academically, she has helped guide me in the right direction as far as my major and minor and in finding my niche. Her presence and dinners at her house made people of color on this campus feel very welcomed and loved. Coming in as a freshman, not knowing anyone, the upperclassmen people of color who knew La Jerne connected with us and helped us form a big happy family. She will be missed.”

Photo Credit: Dr. La Jerne Cornish. Photo Credit: goucher.edu

Club Chat – Life After College Club

by

Graduation is soon upon us, so what better time to talk about a campus organization that’s all about what to do once you’ve left school? I spoke with Joshua Rudin (‘18) who is the president of the Life After College Club – a club dedicated to promoting financial literacy and life skills among the student body.

Why did you start this club?
Because I know it’s a very important series of topics to discuss financial planning aspects. Such as budgeting, credit cards, saving for meals. I know that a lot of my friends are looking for that money on the weekend that they could spend on pizza, or whatever they would want to spend it on. So I wanted to give them tips on ways they could do that. A lot of people say “Oh, I don’t have enough money to do this” but if you save enough, you’ll be able to do what your friends are planning do, in addition to other things. These are life lessons that I really think students should learn before they get into the real world.

What is your clubs mission?
We want to educate college students about knowledge that they might not know. We have the answers to questions, thing like, how do I save enough to order pizza twice a week, or how do I take out a loans for a car, or to move off campus. That’s the mission, to educate students about these kinds of things, without having to take a course of personal financial planning.

What kinds of events have you had?
We invited a local credit union to campus, and they gave a brief overview about credit cards, debit cards, some rules about them, when you should use them, what a FICO score is… and they gave us a brief quiz to see what we knew already, and filled in the gaps of our knowledge of what we didn’t know. It was a great event, and I hope in the next few years they’ll be able to return to campus and present again.
We also send out newsletters and important topics in the news: things like information from financial journals or articles from blogs that other college students write. We also had a Career Education Office event, where the CEO came to our club and edited our resumes and cover letters for firms we were applying to. We really want to prepare people for life after college, instead of being stuck wondering “what do I do now?”

What challenges have you faced?
The biggest challenge has been marketing. I actually ran this club two falls ago as the Business and Economics club. But I didn’t realize that people associate it as some kind of investment club. I changed the name to emphasize that it’s not just investments or not just finance, it’s about building those life skills.

Do you think Goucher is a financially literate campus?
I think they can be, but I don’t think they necessarily are. A lot of people are complaining about the same things: that they don’t have enough money to do the things they want. I think they probably aren’t taking a step back and thinking: well, what if I budgeted this out, or what if I got a part-time job. Taking a step back and realizing how much you can do is the key.

Any goals for the future?
We want to have more events, and have the CEO come more often. Perhaps if the marketing was better to reach our target audience: mainly seniors and juniors, but I also want to reach younger students as well. I think they could really utilize it the most and carry it on through their junior and senior year. Another big goal I had was to set an association with a Towson university club or another similar organization.

Why should someone join your club?
I think there aren’t a lot of clubs on campus that offer “free knowledge” about things that help you later on. Our club teaches skills you’ll need to utilize soon after graduation. It’s important stuff you need to know.

And that’s that for this installment of club chat! Interested in having your organization featured in the next issue of the Q? Email me at firut001@mail.goucher.edu for your chance to be in the next edition!

Featured Image Credit: Graetnew.com

Goucher Poet: Rowan Youngs

by

As a part of this semester’s theme of community, the Kratz Center for Creative Writing sponsored an event series called “Poetry as Community,” bringing local poets to campus. In conjunction with this theme, the Q has asked student poets to send in their own poems. This issue features a poem by senior American Studies major Rowan Youngs.

Lamp in Three Parts
1.
My friend was born with a lamp for a head.
She has lost the ability to discern between people who truly care about her and those who simply need the light.
It gets worse during the winter months—she’s almost no fun at all.

2.
First and foremost: you are not valuable in isolation. It’s important that you learn this now, so that later when the sadness arrives it can operate un-impinged. Confusion clouds the waters, muddies that which is and that which could be. It’s important that you know this now, before you start to get any bright ideas haha, because the truth is that it can’t. Be, that is.

Without the detritus of the life you cast yourself upon there is simply no need. The necessity for your illumination comes with a qualifier, and it is everything aside from you. See the photo, strangled behind warped glass? See the plastic cup of milk, the lavender handkerchief it kisses and the spot on the couch where the cigarette fell between bare thighs? See the bird? That is the family bird. It is the color of bone marrow and it is loved. It must be seen, too.

You are the silent sentinel.
Function and form, at least theoretically. You specifically have not gotten any younger.
More than anything you are provider of choice. Choice. The moment they are not yet ready for the dark—That is your time. You are never to cry (you can’t) but if you have to (it’s not possible), don’t.

You will be positioned inconveniently. Behind a couch, at an oblique angle, half hidden behind the perennially desiccated ficus. You will be installed beneath a draft or by the bedside table of lovers gone sour. As they fuck, tangled in the stained periwinkle quilt she sewed over long nights in a desperate bid for wholeness you will mourn the loss of something vital and unspoken and you will not look away. You can’t look away, but more importantly, don’t turn from them. Never turn from them. After he wilts he will fix his eyes on the oil painting of a little boy, a little boy in a little house with a large dog and he will howl in the space that you yourself brighten. Isn’t that special? Isn’t that wonderful, how needed you are in this moment and all moments to come?

3.
It came on in the night
Some dark summoning
Probably a test
I’ve heard of these things
Happening somewhere else but
Never here.

The next morning, foggy, slide tomatoes and sea salt down my ripe gullet whole.
Gird yourself for the battle
Fall for your queen so that we might rise
Whorled pads against chilled glass
I begin to unscrew, one turn, two
Turn and turn and turn
Days pass and I look around.
Joints ache
There is dust at the corners of my eyes, tiny drifts like
Fallen snow.
Faded curtains hang open
I hope no one has seen me at work.

Why I’ve Become More Conservative Since Leaving Goucher – An Alum’s Perspective

by

Nobody asked out loud how best to save the world. We didn’t have to.
I was sitting in class in Van Meter in 2011 or 2012 when a discussion on socioeconomic decline in Baltimore took a philosophical turn. At a surface level, we talked about things like how to become locally involved. On another level, we talked about something much bigger. Baltimore’s socioeconomics was a prompt just abstract enough, just far enough from our own experiences, that the best answer seemed to be to reflect on our own personal philosophical templates for how best to achieve change.
Four years after graduating from Goucher, I sometimes think back to that discussion and what it revealed about how Goucher students view the world and how to fix it – and how, in turn, Goucher shows the world to its students.
“Start a civic organization,” “build a new social network,” “galvanize people with social media campaigns,” were some of the ideas proposed. While there was no shortage of variety, they all had one thing in common, which was that change required the creation of something new; it was necessarily a challenge to established norms. Better to work for an NGO critical of the World Bank rather than for the World Bank. Better to work for a nonprofit rather than the private sector. Let’s describe it as an outside-the-system mentality of changemaking.
Only one student proposed anything else to help Baltimore, and it indeed seemed an especially dull idea. “There are already plenty of great causes and organizations in Baltimore,” they said. Why not join one?
That turns out to be important.
“Change” is an abstract notion. But insofar as the attitude one takes toward it will inform the thousands of important decisions one will make throughout life about career or lifestyle, it has real consequences. Liberal arts students should recognize that adopting an outside-the-system change maker’s mindset – and surrounding themselves with people who share that mindset – potentially distorts awareness of what is actually achievable, paving the way to disillusionment and disappointment. A wiser mindset is one which recognizes that worthwhile change usually comes from demonstrating success within recognized roles or organizations. That, in turn, gives you authority and power—recall that one of reasons Barack Obama gave for attending law school after his years as a community organizer in Chicago (a little-recognized role if there ever was one) was to acquire power.
In my case, the belief that I could succeed outside of recognizable roles or institutions caused me to make impractical choices. My first two years out of college I spent determined to find ways to become a short story writer or novelist — jobs which don’t exist. Goucher can hardly be blamed for foisting that ambition on me, but it did give it room and oxygen to breathe and take on life of its own.
More immediately, I decided that I would go overseas to teach English, first in Beijing and then Hong Kong. I had a great time, and I don’t regret it. But I can now acknowledge that it likely set back progress on career advancement as a journalist, in part by postponing a reckoning with what I wanted for a career. No professor ever directly encouraged this off-the-beaten-road journey of mine. But I can only observe that I departed Goucher as thoroughly committed to that journey as ever.
Why was it, that day in the classroom in Van Meter, that so many students, myself included, immediately conceived of change as something that came from the outside, rather than from within?
One reason may be the homogeneity of political and social beliefs at schools like Goucher. This can make it easy to imagine that alternative perspectives are one-dimensional, lacking in complexity and merit. From that starting point, it is natural to imagine that one already possesses the only quality one needs in order to create something different: willpower. But that is short-sighted. Willpower uncoupled to a recognizable organization or career path or institution will earn you only frustration. Experience outside college quickly shows that not only are practical barriers more taxing to political or social ideals than one anticipates – you’ll find ways to rationalize the compromising of any number of beliefs in order to have a stable paycheck – but also that the establishment institutions or organizations that are all too easy to vilify from campus are in reality constrained by any number of practical realities. In theory, students appreciate those practical realities. In practice, they take some time to hit home.
A smarter attitude to changemaking begins with recognizing the limits to how much change you can achieve. This is a notion intimately tied to the recognition that good solutions already exist. This may sound abstract, but it successfully diagnoses problems in any number of social arenas. In politics, there is no substitute for voting and civic engagement. In journalism, there is no magic antidote to declining readership in an era of instantaneous information, only quality journalism. And so on.
From this follows the recognition that change is most effectively delivered by accruing power within existing institutions and organizations. Achieving success this way demonstrates credibility, and allows people in positions of power to trust you by giving you some of their power. And being in power puts you in a far stronger position to bring change than being out of power.
Let’s assume the two assumptions here are correct: that change is best achieved by individuals who leverage power accrued within established institutions (not from outside them), and that liberal arts colleges like Goucher tend to foster the perspective that change happens from the outside in. Then these schools risk engineering a massive transfer of talent and collective conscience into marginalized roles, while at the same time leaving the world’s institutions to be run by less socially conscious individuals. NGOs will always be a critical part of the world’s democratic systems. But they will never be in the driver’s seat.
We should not allow the world’s institutions to be left to individuals who may lack strong social awareness or even the desire for change. Little by little, the students at schools like Goucher will save the world. But they will be more effective at it by recognizing that the savviest attitude to change is often one that recognizes rather than minimizes limits.

SCOTT CARPENTER ’14

Open Letter to the Goucher Community

by

To the Goucher Community,
Following the Goucher Identity Survey Follow-Up discussion, our class made plans for how to best deliver the thoughts of the student body to the administration, faculty, and remaining students that were not in attendance, in hopes of unifying the community around a conversation of our shared stake in Goucher’s identity, budget and future direction. We conducted a survey which received a response of 255 responses. We advertised for the dialogue through tabling that allowed us to collect direct suggestions for the Board of Trustees and President Jose Bowen. Approximately 60-70 students (in addition to invited faculty and administration) attended the session on Wednesday, May 9th from 1:30-3:30 pm. After hearing the students elaborate on some of the responses or percentages represented in the data, we opened up the floor for the community to share its thoughts and feelings.

It seems that students feel that they come into Goucher excited and have fun engaging with the community. Many students love the community, and demonstrate their care through addressing the school’s structural problems. Students have felt demeaned and impeded when attempting to implement these changes. Students expressed hope that this could change. “Goucher can be an experimental and interdisciplinary place that integrates student power through supporting their studies,” said one student.

Some resonating comments highlighted that we are a communal environment, that relies on a close, personal network of friends and professionals. Students are grateful for the support we receive from faculty, though this is dependent on the professors that are here. Without them, students can feel overwhelmed, juggling their academic responsibilities amidst their administrative concerns on our campus. It’s not sustainable for students to lead and market student-run programs without the school providing further support for said students in other areas of their lives. These student-run initiatives are then co-opted by administration for marketing purposes. This ignorance of students’ grievances with structural limitations of certain departments leaves students dissatisfied, and seeking other schools that may address their needs. These students feel disconnected from the Goucher community.“We’re breaking eggs for an omelette that students didn’t ask for, and current students are the eggs,” said one student.

Students expressed feeling panicked with Goucher’s lack of a unified vision. A campus that totes a liberal identity but ignores the needs of marginalized voices poses a challenge to students seeking to engage in true community. Despite Goucher’s shortcomings, Goucher students also seem hopeful that Goucher could truly be a place that engages students from different backgrounds in critical conversations about identity. However, as a student body, we need to be receptive of different views to adapt to a changing community and political climate, and we must be also able to have these conversations in a way that does not depend on students of color to provide the education for those with privilege.

Students value their Goucher experience because of the diversity in thought, and the freedom to think and explore on this campus. Some students appreciated study abroad as the opportunity to connect to communities globally, and that allowed students to experience something outside of their comfort zone. When engaging with outside communities, students want to see Goucher fully embody its social justice identity as demonstrated through its actions and dedication to institutional change. Students wish to see our administration acting proactively in response to issues on our campus and/or political issues that impact members of our community. Students inquired about the history of Goucher’s land as a slave plantation/”farm”, asking that Goucher College maintain honesty with students about our school’s history and intentions for the future. Students also suggested Goucher interview current students about their Goucher experience in addition to conducting exit interviews.

There is an underlying issue of mental health that plagues most students as they continue to have their needs go unmet. Most students are left to figure out how to navigate the system on their own causing much stress and burden for a college student learning how to navigate the world. The services on our campus need to provide more stable options for counseling, as well as more consistent access to advanced treatment. In addition, these mental health challenges prevent leaders from engaging in the community as they must recover themselves. This heavily impacts the campus as we rely heavily on student-run initiatives. If students are not empowered to succeed in their academic and social experiences, our campus climate will decline as more students experience depression and struggle to maintain positivity.

Research into the budget allocation reveals financial information which students value understanding, as students also have an interest in Goucher’s economic stability. Students wish to be seen as equal and valued collaborators in the administration of our campus. What students seek is POWER not support.
Issues that students mentioned needed resolution or sought further conversation on, were:

  • Academics
  • Student Life
  • Social Apathy
  • Mental Health
  • Athletics Department
  • Accuracy of Marketing
  • Structural Limitations in Implementing Institutional Change
  • Goucher’s Identity Crisis
  • Goucher’s Transitional Period
  • Administration’s Focus on the First-Year Class
  • The Goucher Bubble
  • Study Abroad
  • Faculty of Color
  • Financial Restraints/ Economic Advisor for First-Generation Students

This reflection captures some of the perceptions expressed at our Identity Survey discussion. However, it lacks full student input and struggles to weave together opposing views into a unified voice. There are still more questions to consider. What kind of students do we want to attract to Goucher? What does Goucher embody and what does that mean? Are we losing the essence of our identity? How can we make the ideals of study abroad be what we do within the college?

The survey, discussion, and efforts of this PCE 220 class were merely conducted in hopes of sparking more conversations about our respective stake in Goucher’s future. Where do you stand? Where do you agree or disagree? We encourage you to engage in these conversations in the future with your peers or future organizers on this topic. Whatever your concern may be, don’t be afraid to jumpstart conversation and act on your beliefs. We cannot have any collective power until we have the courage to unify amongst ourselves.

LYDELL HILLS ON BEHALF OF PEACE STUDIES 220

Students Dive into Goucher’s Budget and Identity

by

For the past semester the Peace Studies 220 (PCE 220) class has been learning about different historical and current approaches and methods of social movements and activism. For the fieldwork component of this class students needed to choose an issue or organization at or near Goucher to immerse themselves in in order to apply what they have learned to the real world. They identified important issues in the Goucher community and chose to immerse themselves and address these issues.

PCE 220 students want to “bridge the disconnect,” as one student put it, between Goucher’s administration and current student body. While they avoided talking on behalf of other students, many students in PCE 220 said that they sense general discontent in the student body currently. They said that some of this may be due to the fact that Goucher markets itself in an accurate way. They also want to address information gap about Goucher’s budget, and provide students with their research on how it works. They are also trying to learn about the decision making process at Goucher and our Board of Trustees. Students pointed out that before this project many of them did not have any knowledge about these issues but that as they looked into them more they became more curious and began to care more.

Through researching Goucher’s tax forms (9-90 forms) the students gathered information about the budget and by creating and releasing a student survey (which went live April 25) they hope to gather data about students’ opinions about Goucher’s identity and whether we are actually the school we are marketed as. After they analyze data from their survey the students of PCE 220 plan on having two open dialogues to discuss their findings with the wider Goucher community.

Several students in the class emphasized that they are not trying to incite anger in the student body or criticize the administration. Their main objective is to share information and create conversation. They feel that sharing this information will benefit students by allowing us to have an informed opinion of how our school is run. Many students in the class said that they think that the administration will benefit from their work as well, especially from the data they will gather from the student survey about Goucher’s identity.

PCE 220 has been very thorough in their research. They read from Nathan D. Grawe’s book Demographics and the Demand for Higher Education which examines the issues of liberal arts colleges financial sustainability on a national scale. With the guidance of a former Goucher finance employee they studied Goucher’s 9-90 tax forms of the 2012 through 2016 fiscal years. They sought out the help of statisticians when crafting their student survey. In the week after my interview with them they had made plans to  speak with a Goucher staff member about Goucher’s retention rate and exit data. They were also planning on speaking with someone who sits on Goucher’s Board of Trustees to talk about the decision making process at Goucher.

When asked about Goucher’s transparency, the students of PCE 200 had different opinions. The students agreed that the staff and faculty they reached out to were very responsive and helpful. One student said, “Goucher does do a phenomenal job as far as producing their tax forms to the general public.” Another student said, “Legally we [Goucher] have to share that information [tax forms]” and pointed out that while Goucher’s tax forms are available their contents are not accessible to most people who do not know how to decipher them. Another student said, “Goucher could be a lot more transparent but students have not demanded this.”

The students of PCE 220 are shedding a light on the budget which is a topic that is not in the forefront of most student’s concerns and is not an issue students have time to look into for themselves. The student survey will also reveal data about current student opinions and perceptions.

Below is a summary of Goucher’s budget made by the PCE 220 students.

Goucher Budget 101

Goucher College has two types of budgets (an amount of money that goes toward paying for specific types of expenses)

The Capital Budget is money that goes toward paying for fixed assets (resources that will last more than 5 years such as buildings and vehicles)

Capital Budget Sources of Revenue (Where the money comes from):

Debt (like a mortgage), Donations/Campaigns (like the Undaunted Campaign)

The Operating Budget is money that goes toward paying for everything else (such as salaries, materials, uniforms, debt repayment, and other ongoing expenses)

Operating Budget Sources of Revenue: Tuition, Housing/Dining

Expenses, Endowment (invested money that has been donated), and Grants.

*73% of the operating budget comes from tuition and room and board expenses.

Source: a presentation to our class on Goucher’s finances by a former Goucher finance employee.

Cecile Adrian

Get Into Goucher April 13th 2018

by

Click on the photos above to see more photos of GiG.

On a lucky Friday April 13th, Goucher Students took to the Great Lawn, enjoying a community lunch, performances by student acapella groups, live music, a mechanical bull, and more.

Photo Credit:

Clayton Reynolds. Instagram: ClaytonReynolds27

Yuwan Zhang

May Hathaway

Students Pictured:

Madeleine Lemen

Dustin Taylor

Duncan Miller

Abigail Jones

Lydell Hills

Sarojini Schutt

Nathaniel Magloire

Kara Taylor

Wayne Cornish

Arthur Mutijima

Hannah Lane

Ashley Alyward

Sophie Friets

May Hathaway

Artist Pictured:

Sharnell Huff (Goucher Alum) AKA XennyDreamr

Onye

 

The Poetry Corner Part Two

by

As a part of this semester’s theme of community, the Kratz Center for Creative Writing is sponsoring an event series called “Poetry as Community,” bringing local poets to campus. In conjunction with this theme, the Q has asked student poets to send in their own poems along with poetry recommendations. Here are student poets Sebastian Bronson Broddie, ‘20, and Thalia Richter, ‘20 on poets whose work they appreciate.

Sebastian’s Poet Recommendation: Gwendolyn Brooks is well known for crafting powerful poems about racial identity and many hold evidence of her engagement in politics, from when she worked with the NAACP in college. What I most love about Gwendolyn Brooks’s work is her ability to make me feel a great deal more like who I am supposed to be, or to feel a greater appreciation for who I am right now. I always feel like she knows exactly who I am when I read her poems, and that who I am is to be celebrated. Her subjects…sometimes seem to leap right off the page and envelop you in a warm, soft, comforting light.

Thalia’s Poet Recommendation: My favorite book of [Maggie Nelson] is Bluets, which is written as a cross between poetry and prose, ruminating on depression, loneliness, and love through the lens of the color blue. The book begins, “Suppose I were to begin by saying that I had fallen in love with a color. Suppose I were to speak this as though it were a confession.” Nelson’s obsession with the color blue bleeds into her discussions of depression, sometimes eliding the two, so that emotion gains literal visibility. Loneliness is blue, and perhaps parts of love are red, but no matter what, Nelson made me believe in the tangibility and physical realities of these emotions…Her poetry depicts love and heartbreak side-by-side, as though the latter is inevitable, but worth it for the sake of the former…by articulating her loneliness, Nelson creates a sense of shared sadness, and perhaps that can help lessen the burden.

To read the work of Sebstian and Thalia, look here.

Featured Image: Gwendolyn Brooks. Photo Credit: The Poetry Foundation

1 2 3 4 5 12
Go to Top