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Goucher Reacts to the 2020 Presidential Election

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By Jibril Howard ’22

Three days on from the 2020 Presidential Election and it’s only just now that the picture becomes clearer on who will be elected President of the United States. At the time of writing, the Democratic nominee, former Vice-President Joe Biden sits on 253 confirmed Electoral College votes. Many news organizations, including MSNBC and Fox News have projected Biden winning other states, although vote counting continues in Nevada, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Georgia, Alaska and North Carolina. Incumbent Republican President Donald Trump has amassed only 214 votes.

Despite the ongoing vote count, Biden looks set to win Arizona and Pennsylvania (11 and 20 electoral college votes respectively) and remains competitive in Nevada and Georgia. Regardless of the final Electoral College breakdown, Biden has won the popular vote by almost 4 million votes more than Trump and, with an ongoing vote total exceeding 71 million, received more votes than any other US presidential candidate in history. Throughout the election Trump has lambasted efforts to count mail-in votes and stir false claims of voter fraud. Speaking at a press conference the evening of November 6th, Trump accused Democrats of stealing the election and sought to sow doubts about the integrity of the election. The speech was widely derided as authoritarian with many major news networks cutting away mid-broadcast.

Despite the seemingly rosy picture at the top of the ticket, Democrats suffered surprising losses in down-ballot races: failing to make gains in rural and exurban districts, losing six seats in the House of Representatives, and failing to take back control of the Senate, despite massive fundraising hauls on candidates running in South Carolina, Kentucky, Iowa, Kansas, and Maine. However, control of the Senate does remain in play as the candidates in the Georgia regular and special senate races failed to clear 50 percent thresholds, triggering automatic January runoffs. Additionally, vote counts remain ongoing to determine the winner of the Alaska Senate race.

Nevertheless, the House and Senate losses overall will prompt concern and rancor among Democratic lawmakers over the direction and strategy of the party moving forward, especially in messaging and outreach to growing Hispanic/Latinx communities and continuing to speak to and address the needs of Black communities across the country. In-fighting has already begun between moderates such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Abigail Spanberger (D-VA) against progressives such as Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI).

Naturally, the Goucher community is not estranged from the political atmosphere. While existing in an online space due to the ongoing mishandling of the Covid-19 pandemic by President Trump, the rights of LGBTQIA+ students and the right to abortion for thousands of people with uteruses remain at the whim of a conservative Supreme Court, leaving many Goucher students with liberal political perspectives nervously waiting for a Biden victory. I collected some reactions from a quick convenience sample of Goucher students. Here are their collected thoughts and responses to the 2020 Presidential Election.

Junior and former Quindecim copyeditor Steven Van Riper ’22 in a group message text exchange explained his reaction succinctly “AAAAAAAAAAA!”

Fellow junior Kayla Thomas ’22 provided a lengthier reaction to the election. “I can give [my reaction] to you in one word: anxiety. I’m trying my hardest to remain hopefully cautious. I remember four years ago that all politics were progressive and left-leaning and I was hurt when Trump won. I hope that I can be proven right this time.”

In an exchange via Instagram DMs senior Casey Braun ’21 was also nervous about the result of the election.

“I would say I’m cautiously optimistic [about Joe Biden winning] especially regarding Pennsylvania. I think it has a chance to go blue, but it would very close, so I don’t want to jinx it!” Regarding President Trump’s false claims of election rigging Braun replied: “Also our President doesn’t understand what a democracy is…”

Another junior Alex Riefe ’22 remarked on the endurance of President Trump’s ideas.

“…it’s been eye-opening to look at a physical map of the United States and see how these ideas that Trump has pushed, in denying science and facts and subverting democracy, have taken root. This is the most important election I’ve lived through in that for the first time our democracy and way we choose to govern our country is being challenged.”

First-year Andrea Casique ’24 took an international perspective via Instagram DMs.

“As a Venezuelan, I grew up watching crazy elections and being constantly terrified by the government, so I never really thought an American Presidential election could be this terrifying. I’m enjoying the memes and TikToks [about the election] though – it’s the only thing keeping me from losing it.”

Quindecim staff writer and first-year Mich Rouse ’24 reflected in an email on the unexpectedly competitive races in Republican-stronghold southern states:

“Some people in [majority-blue] states poke fun of the South because they’re not the same as them. What they don’t recognize is that by doing this, they’re erasing the work of southern BIPOC [Black, Indigenous, & People of Color] organizers who have been pushing for transformation since the beginning. As an organizer myself in North Carolina – and we all see how my state is doing right now – I’m just constantly frustrated. The Biden/Harris ticket is not what I personally wanted, but I pushed extensively to make it a reality, and I hope these efforts don’t go under the rug.”

Sophomore Whittaker Miller ’23 gave a scathing indictment of the US political process.

“Waking up and seeing the millions of votes for the man who embodies the white supremacist and oppressive ideals of this nation is a gut-sinking feeling I should have seen coming. 50 million people chanting ‘All Lives Matter’ while simultaneously deciding that the 200,000 that have died [from the Covid-19 pandemic] at the hands of this man and virus don’t matter. As I continue in my career in academia as well as community building in my hometown where I will be for as long as this pandemic persists, I have come to realize that all of this is intentional – the division, the defunding of education, the propaganda, and the eventual fall of America into complete fascism as my friends and I watch weeping at the thought that what little rights and hope we have lies in the hands of the ancient electoral college established 300 years ago. Biden is nowhere near what we need [for this political moment] and we only have so much time left.”

Quindecim Co-Editor-in-Chief Neve Levinson ‘21 argued in a similar vein:

“Our electoral system is rooted in white supremacy. As BIPOC activists have said for generations, we have to fundamentally change our systems in order to truly value life. [Scholar and activist] Ijeoma Oluo condensed this message when she tweeted on Thursday, “This election doesn’t change the work we need to do, it just determines how much harder that work may be.” All the available data show in no uncertain terms that white folks, and especially white women, have decolonizing work to do in the political sphere. We have dinner conversations to have and silences to break. This week has sucked.”

However, they ended with a piece of positive advice for folks as the election rolls on: “Take a nap, drink some water, and invest in community.”

Electoral College Map as of November 6th. PC: ABC7 News San Francisco

Goucher Still Lily-White Teach-In Series Continues

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By Neve Levinson ’21 and Jake Pellett ’24

Since its founding over fifty years ago, Goucher’s Black Student Union (GBSU) has published lists of demands necessary for combating anti-Black racism in Goucher’s community. Current GBSU members released their most recent list of demands to their Medium page in June. While it has been updated since then, the demands serve as a clear and present outline of what changes are necessary for us to dismantle white supremacy within our institution.

Accompanying the demands, the GBSU has committed to hosting a series of teach-ins entitled “Goucher is still Lily-White” to further explore the need for, and background behind, many of the demands.

As both a white first-year student who had not previously known of these demands, nor how to navigate allyship at Goucher, and a white senior who has tracked their growth in college in relation to this movement, these teach-ins have been incredibly informative. The first teach-in began with a small-group activity involving both exchanging introductions and reviewing the Administration’ section of the demands list. From the perspective of a first-year, I had many terms (such as the Race, Power, and Perspective requirement) and unique Goucher historical events (prior hate crimes committed on campus) explained to me for the first time. Following this brief discussion, the GBSU led a presentation highlighting the necessity of each stated demand, again drawing on key events that have transpired in recent Goucher history. To conclude, a Q&A session allowed participants to ask clarifying questions regarding (but certainly not limited to) the provided demands.
Throughout the teach-in, it was revealed that the GBSU had extended requests to discuss these demands with President Devereaux, though it is unclear if any lengthy or notably significant conversation has yet transpired.
The second teach-in centered on the Education demands laid out by the GBSU. Movements members have focused on each year of the undergraduate experience, choosing to highlight existing gaps in the still-being-built Goucher Commons curriculum, offering their time and expertise as they have experienced these gaps firsthand.
The main theme throughout this section of the demands list centers on the Race, Power, and Perspective requirements laid out by the GCRs. GBSU members are calling on the general administration (that is, staff members in the President’s Cabinet who have decision-making power on curricular issues) to make the program more comprehensive. By recommending that we fold in the required first-year reading into the first year WRT 181 course, Black students are asking for more integration of thought and deep learning about systemic racism and white supremacy into every facet of our undergraduate education. The third teach-in focused on the two demands related to the Hallowed Ground Project. The first demand calls out white virtue signalling, reframing how we anti-Blackness on campus. The second demand centers around building traditions to celebrate the successes of Black people both on and off campus.

The demands list details ways to expand the RPP requirement generally, giving specific guidance on how to challenge students studying abroad to recognize and name systemic oppression outside of a United States-centric worldview. In doing so, GBSU is offering a vital roadmap for how to mobilize ourselves to truly pursue justice. The Quindecim firmly supports GBSU and these demands. We look forward to the the third installment of this series. We will keep you updated with when it is happening. See you there.

Goucher Is Still Lily-White. PC: GBSU Umoja

GSG Instagram Repost Gaffe

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By Neve Levinson ’21 with additional reporting from Jibril Howard ’22, Co-Editors-in-Chief

The second headline-worthy recent GSG news relates to social media, our favorite topic of discussion. As casual observers within the Goucher community, we were a little confused about why @goucherstugov [GSG’s official Instagram account] reposted a job listing, but thought it was a nice gesture to potentially address a need within the student body.

This is only newsworthy because a few students did their fact-checking and got in touch with the Student Government page pointing out that they had, in fact, reposted a pyramid scheme. One of these students was Jake Pellett ‘24. 

When we confirmed this timeline with him, Pellett said: 

“Yeah, it probably took about three or four minutes in total. I typed in the website link, saw ‘Vector Marketing,’ double checked that Vector Marketing was the thing that I thought it was, so I looked up Vector Marketing. And the first thing that comes up is a bunch of lawsuits, and then I drafted a comment and posted it.” 

We followed up asking about if he thought GSG’s response to his comment was appropriate. 

“OH NO! Oh no. You would have thought that somebody died by the response that was posted. I don’t know if you have the exact wording available, but it was something like ‘we apologize to the entire Goucher community for posting something that some community members disagreed with.’ If that is how serious something like that is being taken, how are we expecting something that is legitimately serious to be put on equivalent grounding? I think that when you go as grand as to be like ‘members of our community had alternative views of this organization,’ instead of just ‘I posted a pyramid scheme.’ It just totally puts things into a very awful perspective.”

An appropriate response, Pellett told us, would be: 

“‘Hey, it was pointed out to me that the organization that I highlighted is not a legitimate business. Please don’t apply.’ I think that no apology to the community at large is necessary, or blowing it out of proportion as much as it was. I think keeping it simple, concise, and in perspective is really important. Very often, from the GSG meetings I’ve sat in on, things get blown out of perspective very quickly. I think that that’s the kind of thing that ruins the credibility and functionality of an organization.”


We would like to note that at least one student did reach out to the illegitimate company, and were appreciative of how GSG responded, telling us via text that “I just thought it was an honest mistake and I’m so glad they [GSG] reached out immediately after. I do think they should be more informed before making posts and giving out information.” This student did note that “the application process was very…shady so either way I became disinterested quickly in the process,” which is about as ringing an endorsement for trusting your gut while applying for jobs as anything.

We also asked Pellett what GSG’s response tells him as a first year, particularly as someone learning about student government. Pellett told us:

 “I think that it’s a clear example of a lot of things that people have been saying about GSG in smaller conversations – that it’s people trying to do good, without any concept of how good should be done. It’s people seeing this is a great opportunity to help the community by posting a job application…It’s an attempt to do good, that is just not really heavily thought about, looked through, fact-checked, or anything like that. It’s very worrying as far as the credibility of GSG goes, but also it’s very confusing about what the purpose of GSG is if they’re willing to post job applications, and not really work as a body between Goucher students and Goucher administration.” 

Another first year, Mich Rouse ‘24, weighed in on the same question, saying, 

“The confusion within GSG’s leadership, or maybe even the lack thereof, signifies how crucial it is for them to communicate with the Goucher community. Specifically, Goucher’s newest community members, the Class of 2024. We’re first-year students who have been stripped away final goodbyes of our high school lives, stripped away formal introductions to our first semester of college that is online, but we’re trying our best to be involved in extracurriculars as much as possible to keep some normalcy intact. With that, how can we get involved if an organization such as GSG, one that represents the entire student body, conducts meetings that aren’t either weekly or open to the public? Again, GSG represents the entire student body, right? Then why aren’t they effectively communicating with the newest student body? I want to understand GSG’s role within the Goucher community, but I don’t think they understand what their role is [either].”

Pellett closed out our interview by saying, “I’m looking forward to when the Class of 2024 gets to participate in the elections coming up!”

A Look Inside GSG Changes: Observer vs Active Senators

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By Neve Levinson ’21 with additional reporting from Jibril Howard ’22, Co-Editors-in-Chief

Under its current Constitution, there are 16 Senators within Goucher Student Government, with either two Co-Presidents or a President and Vice President leading the organization. Each of these eighteen members are elected by the student body through a digital voting process overseen by the Elections Commissioner, a position currently held by Christina Charikofsky ‘21. Senate elections take place every November, and each term is a year.

GSG’s Constitution grants each Senator and President/VP one vote when making decisions as a body, according to Article 3, Section 2, Part 1.1. Basically, GSG exists as an intermediary between students and administrators, most commonly the members of the President’s Cabinet, which is currently composed of Kent, the Vice Presidents, including our new Dean of Students and Provost, as well as the College’s legal counsel. GSG members (known as “Senate”) also interact with our Board of Trustees, faculty, and other staff outside of the President’s Cabinet. Easy enough, right?

However, when speaking with David Kahana ‘21, a current Senator, we learned that “the recent changes made by some GSG senators was to create so-called ‘Active’ and ‘Observer’ Senators. Active Senators have their role unchanged from normal senator power while Observer Senators ‘lose their voting privileges and agenda-deciding privileges,’ according to the proposal. This was stated initially upon the rollout of the changes, but talk between the senators who decided this seemed to have not fully defined the role of Observer Senators. I have heard that Observer Senators can still vote but do not count for quorum but that was not stated in the initial announcement and was never stated in any official announcement. There actually was never an official announcement about this all just one Senator announcing the changes.”

The confusion about the sticking power of the decision was echoed by Sam Anderson ‘21, a current Senator and former GSG Co-President. When asked the same question, we needed to specify that we were talking about Observer versus Active Senator positions. Anderson remarked:

“Given the complications of scheduling and the increased responsibilities students are facing during COVID-19, members of GSG chose to break Senators between Observer Senators and Active Senators. This was done in order to allow GSG to function without problems of attendance or participation while trying to respect each senator’s new challenges and stressors due to the pandemic.” 

When asked about how he feels about the Senate changes, Kahana remarked, in part: 

“In all honesty, I understand the need for GSG to reform and have a real role aside from sending out mass emails or promoting a pyramid scheme to students on Instagram. The main problem is that GSG has no role and has no reason for existence, especially while we are not on campus.” 

(Don’t worry, we’ll cover what he’s talking about with Instagram in another article).

When we asked about how the process to make these changes took place and what he thought of the outcome, Anderson replied: 

“I do not support the delineation between Active and Observer Senators. I think the process was focused on efficiency rather than caring for our peers and achieving a collaborative solution to the challenges we all are facing.”

We also asked Anderson about how he sees these changes impacting GSG’s role on campus, to which he said,

“I do not see these changes impacting GSG’s role on campus in the immediate sense, but I do think it has done damage to how students see GSG. I’m hopeful that this damage in the eyes of students will inspire student government to take a second look at our processes and organization.” He added, “I hope that the Senate will begin a process to break down and transform Goucher Student Governance into something that actually benefits students and supports student governance on campus. I hope this process engages the student body and is very intentional.”

We’ll keep you all updated on how this develops, including interviews with other stakeholders in the process.

Adjusting to Goucher under Quarantine

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By Nicholas Enoch ’24

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Letter from an Editor-in-Chief, September 2020

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Welcome to week three of the most distanced semester of college any of us have ever experienced.

Black lives matter. Black Goucher students’ lives matter. Black trans lives matter. That is the most important message I can share with you right now, as one of two Editors-in-Chief of The Quindecim

This club has existed for the past 104 years. Every issue of our print publication is in the Goucher archives, including documentation of our community’s collective white flight away from Baltimore city to our current location in Towson. I mention this because institutional change involves deconstructing even student-run projects such as ours. As a white person in a position of power within this campus institution, I have a mandate to write about our community’s role in perpetuating white supremacy.

Part of this includes reminding myself that The Quindecim serves as a written record of published articles as much as those unpublished, whether squashed in a weekly pitch meeting or by an editor or a comment from one person to another. We have work to do as a club, as an institution. We will always have work to do.

One thing I’ve learned about from organizing meetings is that a hard ask is important. So here it is: join us in this work. We have been timid as a news organization for much of our history, choosing to focus on campus activities instead of understanding that everything we face as students on this campus is replicated across the United States and throughout much of the world. We have never before had so many opportunities to expand our vision from our campus bubble to the entire world–will you join us?

For the record, any Goucher student, past, present, or future, can submit to The Q. We are taking all types of digital submissions. This is scary; our known strengths center on traditional articles. You can submit to us once in your life or every day for years. We want to know what is happening on our campus, and since our campus covers the world, so too should we.

What do you see outside your window every day? Why do Black lives matter? How are you interacting with antiracist education on Instagram and TikTok? Have dinner conversations changed a lot since you’ve been home? Where is home? Did something happen in class, an interaction or a snatch of a reading, to light a fire in you? What’s that like? We’re curious, and want to use our platform to build community right now. I know I need it. 

We can’t expect anyone to share their stories with us if we won’t do the same. When I say “we,” I mean the current Goucher students who have in the past taken on responsibilities of revising and editing submissions before publication, or working on our social media team. We call this group of people who show up to our weekly pitching meetings our “editorial staff;” what other groups call club members. If you want to join our staff, let us know

My name is Neve, and I’m a senior double majoring in Spanish and American Studies with an emphasis on Religion and Peacebuilding in Latin America. I love taking day trips to the mountains outside my city (Seattle) and learning about cephalopods. You can always email me at nelev001@mail.goucher.edu with thoughts about something I’ve written, or to help work through an idea you haven’t quite figured out to submit to The Q. Writing something and sending it out into the world is scary, but you aren’t alone. You can also reach out to my fellow Editor-in-Chief Jibril Howard at jihow001@goucher.edu

Both of us are so excited to be doing this work with you all.

A JERUSALEM ISRAELI’S FIRST-HAND ACCOUNT ON THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

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Logo of Mobileye Intel, an Israel safe-driving startup. Courtesy Jonathan Trauner ’16

When the Covid-19 virus first arrived in Jerusalem Israel two weeks ago, my workplace Mobileye Intel, a global safe-driving startup, cancelled work days and shut doors indefinitely. I celebrated the Jewish holiday of Purim again in Jerusalem for the third straight year with my Israeli family members however, for the first time, in all of the years that I have celebrated the holiday of Purim, I could not even listen to the Torah’s Megillah Esther readings of my Jerusalem Israel synagogue community of Kol Haneshama of Baka Jerusalem since global groups from abroad (potential covid-19 carriers) typically attend our holiday services. I also have had to enter quarantine in my home for at a week at minimum even though I did not test positive for the virus and no one else at Mobileye tested positive with Covid-19.

Throughout my experiences hearing of Covid-19, I have remained fully calm and precautious. However, in my Israeli-Aunt Mrs. Mira Zada’s Jerusalem Israel home neighborhood a French and Israeli Jewish religious synagogue community called Or Tziyon was forced to completely shut their doors after a synagogue member contracted Covid-19 from Europe. At home, I followed all the statistics of Israel. Right now, more than four thousand Israelis have reported they tested positive for the coronavirus and at least fifteen Israelis have passed away due to the virus.

 I am happy to announce to Goucher’s Alumnae and Alumni Association and Goucher Hillel’s Alumnae/i Association, both organizations of which I am a member, that the majority of our Covid-19 cases have been fully contained, and that the majority of our Covid-19 patients we will continue treating will make a full recovery. The city of Jerusalem Israel will defeat the coronavirus epidemic outbreak and contain it. As Jerusalem has survived thousands of years of war and adversity, I have endless faith as an Israeli and Jerusalemite that we will defeat and eradicate the Coronavirus and that the world will know love and peace every-where we go. Only through love and togetherness, can our world collectively defeat Covid-19, contain the virus, and return to normal life as seamlessly and as easily as possible.

Alumni Submission from Jonathan Trauner ’16

Common Hour Clash Over Recent Changes

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As of publication,  Goucher President Kent Devereaux has attended two large informational sessions related to staff layoffs and Gardaworld. First, he attended the weekly GSG meeting November 12, as previously planned. (My previous article, posted online, incorporated information from that meeting, as well as communications with the entire student body up until that point.) He indicated that he would continue to communicate with the student body as we all learn more about the situation. GSG asked Kent to have one of these public forums during the November 20 Common Hour, which Kent requested to do in the Orange Room of Mary Fisher. The conversation focused primarily on Gardaworld and the Administrative Services Review, with layoffs in the Academic Center for Excellence (ACE) dominating the session. There was a brief conversation about the Green Fund and campus sustainability, as well.

There are three main interrelated issues at play within this week of tension and uncertainty on campus: Campus Safety, changes to the Student Code of Conduct, and layoffs from the Administrative Services Review. These issues fall into a wider conversation about shared governance that is taking place across campus.

Yuchen Ding ‘22 remarked that the recent GSG ballot contained a referendum about Gardaworld. Ding quoted: “A ‘yes’ vote means you reject the decision to acquire the services of Gardaworld. A ‘no’ vote means you do not reject the decision to acquire the services of Gardaworld.” With a record-breaking 43% voter turnout, 88% of the student body who voted in this election voted ‘yes’ on the referendum.

When asked about the move to a privatized security force on campus, Kent said: “the decision to move to an outsource model for public safety and move it under the VP of Campus Operations long-term is a decision that we’re not gonna go back on. There are so many issues around the way we are currently doing public safety that, quite frankly, are invisible to you all but quite frankly, are an extreme risk to the school. No, I cannot elaborate on confidential issues that really are. We need to make some changes. Suffice it to say we have some really, really stellar people in Public Safety, and we’re hoping that they’re gonna move over to Gardaworld. We have so many other issues that really have to do with consistency in terms of security and in terms of not being respectful to our community. There are people who we just have across the board, across the board, lack of accountability. We have people doing a good job in Public Safety and then it goes both ways, and we have some of our staff and faculty, who are treating officers, who are our employees, in a really disrespectful manner, so it was problematic across the board.” Kent also noted departure of Director of Public Safety Dave Heffer last month let a leadership gap within GCOPS. Kent stated that “we started to explore the outsourcing model, which has pretty much become predominant in higher education” in response to this leadership gap. A student pointed out that several students have called almost 30 peer institutions across the country, and not a single one of them outsources their Public Safety office. It is important to note that the peer institutions are those identified by Goucher itself.

Kent acknowledged that Gardaworld has acquired “sketchy” companies such as Aegis. “The big picture is: over the long term, they are the right company for us.” After looking at three companies and Maryland, Kent noted that “From everything we’ve read since [learning of the issues with Gardaworld subsidiaries, particularly Aegis and being impressed with Gardaworld’s response]…The larger picture is, over the long term, they are the right company with us to be outsourcing. Of all the companies we looked at, and we did three here in Maryland…they [Whelan] were far and away the best, because, number one, we are talking about our policies, they don’t bring in their policies. It’s our policies, our faculty, our staff, our students, define our policies…They then have to implement our policies.” Kent also highlighted major differences between this situation and that of Johns Hopkins’ private police force.

This policy is our campus’s Student Code of Conduct. Part of an ongoing review of the College’s 111 policies broadly overseen by College General Counsel Barbara Stob, this particular policy is being managed by the Associate Dean of Students for Student Support and Success, Nicole Johnson. Kent indicated that there are “no formal policy changes yet. Will reach out to GSG…We define what our student code of conduct will be with student input.” Johnson was not at the GSG meeting or the Common Hour. 

Two finalists for the new Director of Campus Safety position were recently on campus. Students were involved in the interview process for both of them. This position will be employed by Gardaworld.

When asked “Should we be doing this at all?” Kent responded: “We don’t have the capabilities. It was the best things for our students going forward.” Kent also indicated that the annual contract may not be practical in the future, speculating that “we may change our mind in two years.”

As The Baltimore Sun recently reported, there have been 13 staff layoffs as part of the Administrative Services Review. As Kent explained in the Common Hour Q&A on November 20 in the orange room of Mary Fisher, rpk Group made their recommendations relating to the Administrative Services Review, and about half of them were implemented at the College by the President’s Cabinet, which consists of the President, Vice Presidents, and General Counsel of Goucher. Kent indicated that two Trustees were involved in the process; the extent of this involvement remains unclear.

The reason for the confidentiality, Kent has explained at both the November 20 meeting and the November 12 packed GSG meeting in Batza, was to reduce the possibility of internal leaks that would lead to rumors of people being on the chopping block. A main concern with this approach, which has been articulated to value efficiency and accuracy, is that it left everyone in the dark about the changes until they happened. While Kent has been explicit that these staff layoffs are a “one and done” occurrence meant to continue the faculty cuts that took place two years ago, there is a looming feeling of uncertainty and fear on campus right now.

The most well-known staff layoffs that took place last week were in the Academic Center for Excellence. Better known as ACE, the office is considered a warm and trusted space on campus where generations of students have received academic coaching and emotional support. A change.org petition created by Emily Belkowitz ‘21 entitled “Save ACE” has over 1,970 signatures as of publication time. In an update to the petition posted on November 17, Belkowitz writes in part:

“The goal of this petition is to stop the restructuring of ACE. We also demand that Kay Beard and Peejo Sehr are reinstated to the old positions or are given new positions of equal or better value. It is unbelievable that the administration has decided that Kay and Peejo’s jobs are not valuable to the school. We, the students, faculty, staff, family members, and alumni who have signed this petition wholeheartedly disagree with Goucher’s decision to terminate their substantial roles. Kay and Peejo are the heart of Goucher. Goucher’s mission is to promote student’s success, and that cannot be done without Kay Beard and Peejo Sehr.”

Kent has made it clear that ACE will be combining with what will be called the Office of Academic Advising and Support, with one current pre-major advisor training to be a coach, two others focusing on other responsibilities, with one director overseeing the office. “I’m not saying that’s all it’s ever going to be,” noted Kent, indicating that the staff may grow in coming fiscal years. It remains uncertain whether Beard or Sehr have interest in returning to Goucher in the new director position. 

The Quindecim will continue to post updates in these stories as they evolve.

Editor’s note: this article has been lightly revised for precision and clarity.

Staffing Cuts Across College Go Into Effect

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Tuesday, November 12 was a big day on campus. Two main issues came into the foreground in a startlingly direct way: the Administrative Services Review and the shift from Public Safety to a new Campus Safety privately contracted to Gardaworld, the largest privately owned security company on the globe. 
There are two issues here that have deeply related root causes and outcomes. Goucher is unable to cover all the costs of its day-to-day operations, running what President Kent Devereaux cited as a $5 million annual deficit.* As a result, cost-cutting measures are being undertaken in all sectors of the campus community. This year, the staff is being cut.
While a hiring freeze has been in effect since April 2019, 34 positions were eliminated on Tuesday. It is unknown how many positions were cut in other ways, including pay cuts and weekly work hour reductions. These cuts will not affect current faculty positions. In an email to the student body, Kent noted that there are “no plans for any additional position eliminations.”
The campus also learned today of the future of Goucher Office of Public Safety (GCOPS, better known as PubSafe) since Dave Heffer left his post as its director last month. The new Campus Safety force will be comprised of officers hired by Gardaworld, replacing PubSafe. While all current Public Safety officers will have the opportunity to apply for a job on campus through Gardaworld, there are no guarantees they will be hired.
In a packed GSG meeting on Tuesday night, Kent and Dean Bryan Coker responded to student questions. A full transcript of the event will be posted to The Quindecim’s website later today, with additional coverage in the weeds on these two issues.
*It is worth mentioning that deficits are annual monetary shortfalls, while debts are accrued over multiple years.

Outside the Goucher Bubble: A Collection of US and World News

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PC: Nicholas Kamm/Getty Images

US News

  • On October 9th, President Donald Trump blocked US Ambassador to the European Union Gordan Sondland from providing testimony to the House impeachment inquiry investigating his July 25th phone call to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky. The impeachment inquiry, conducted by committees in the House of Representatives, is looking into whether Trump improperly withheld military aid to Ukraine in exchange for political information on Democratic presidential rival Joe Biden. Later the same day, President Trump tweeted that he would not comply with the impeachment inquiry which has prompted fears of a coming constitutional crisis between Congress and the White House.
  • On October 6th President Trump announced the sudden withdrawal of US troops from Syria, in a surprise move which overturns a decade Middle East foreign policy and precedent. The sudden reversal in US foreign policy stunned US allies and prompted rare dissent from Congressional Republican allies. Longtime Trump-ally Senator Lindsey Graham (Republican-S.C.) declared the move “…a big win for Iran and [Syrian President] Assad, a big win for ISIS…” A spokesman for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) described the move as “stab in the back.” The decision paves the way for a Turkish military invasion into Kurdish territory and has sparked fears of a humanitarian crisis.
  • On October 1st, former Dallas Police Officer Amber Guyger was found guilty of murder in the shooting death of Botham Jean in his own apartment. Guyger, who claimed she shot Jean believing him to be an intruder in her apartment, was later found to have gone into the wrong apartment and shot Jean as he sat watching television in his living room. The case was widely seen as a test of the immunity often held by police offices in the wrongful shooting deaths of black men in the US.

World News

  • On October 1st, China and the Chinese communist party celebrated its 70th The occasion commemorates the creation of the modern-day People’s Republic of China in 1949 by chairman Mao Zedong. The festivities which included a massive military parade, intricately choreographed plane flyovers, and patterned flower displays, showcase the rapid economic and political rise of China over the past decade under current President Xi Jingping. However, the 70-year anniversary has come amid an unexpectedly turbulent time with pro-democracy protests disrupting Hong Kong and with international ire growing over the detention of ethnic Uighur Muslims in so-called “re-education” internment camps.
  • On October 9th, a gunman in the German city of Halle killed two people and wounded two more as after he tried and failed to enter a synagogue during the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur. In a since-deleted live-stream of the attack uploaded to a video-game platform, the shooter descries feminists and immigrants before declaring “the root of all these problems is the Jew.” The shooting in Germany mimics an attack earlier this year in March where a far-right gunman killed fifty-one people at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.

    The ‘Made in Africa’ Mara smartphone. PC: Mara Group
  • On October 7th, Rwandan technology firm Mara Group launched the first “Made in Africa” smartphones. The Mara X and Mara Z smartphones uses Google’s Android operating software and will cost roughly 176,000 ($190) and 120,000 ($170) Rwandan francs respectively. The development of the smartphones comes as Rwanda seeks to develop its burgeoning reputation as a regional hub for tech.

 

 

 

 

 

Sources:

  1. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/08/us/politics/sondland-trump-ukraine-impeach.html
  2. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/oct/07/us-to-let-turkish-forces-move-into-syria-abandoning-kurdish-allies
  3. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/crime-courts/amber-guyger-sentencing-resumes-after-murder-conviction-death-botham-jean-n1061146
  4. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/28/world/asia/china-national-day-70th-anniversary.html?searchResultPosition=5
  5. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/09/world/europe/germany-shooting-halle-synagogue.html
  6. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-rwanda-telecoms/rwanda-launches-first-made-in-africa-smartphones-idUSKBN1WM1TN
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