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of this includes reminding myself that The Quindecim serves as a written record of published articles as much as those unpublished, whether squashed in a weekly pitch meeting or by an editor or a comment from one person to another.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

The Alternative to an Antiquated Response

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By Sam Anderson ’21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sources:

“Community Principles.” Goucher College, www.goucher.edu/explore/who-we-are/community-principles.

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

“Vision.” Goucher College, www.goucher.edu/explore/who-we-are/mission.



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

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By Sam Anderson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sources:

Bowen, José A. “Is Higher Ed Asking the Wrong Questions?” Inside Higher Ed. May 19, 2020. www.insidehighered.com/views/2020/05/19/longer-term-questions-colleges-should-be-asking-response-pandemic-opinion

Gardner, Lee. “How College Leaders Are Planning for the Fall.” The Chronicle of Higher Education. April 17, 2020. www.chronicle.com/article/How-College-Leaders-Are/248554

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

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By Cecile Adrian

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Works Cited

Academic Center for Excellence (ACE) Feedback Form. 

“ACE: Academic Center for Excellence” Goucher College. https://www.goucher.edu/learn/academic-support-and-resources/ace/.

Baud, Olivia. “Underlying Issues Identified as Student Organizers Engage With Administration.” The Quindecim. 28 September 2018. https://quinnews.com/underlying-issues-identified-as-student-organizers-engage-with-administration.

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

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

Emma Kristjanson-Gural. “Letter About ACE.” The Quindecim. 18 November 2019. https://quinnews.com/letter-about-ace.

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

Levinson, Neve. “Staffing Cuts Across College Go Into Effect.” The Quindecim. 13 November 2019. https://quinnews.com/staffing-cuts-across-college.   

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

Moore, David S. and William I. Notz. Statistics Concepts and Controversies. W.H. Freeman and Company, 2017. “Save ACE.” https://www.change.org/p/goucher-board-save-ace.

Why the Current Higher Education System is Flawed

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By Edward Jancuk

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Works Cited

Cook, William S. “A Comparative Analysis Between the Nile Valley’s Liberal Arts Tradition and the Development of Western Education.” Journal of Black Studies, vol. 45, no. 8, 2014, pp. 683–707. www.jstor.org/stable/24573589. Accessed 3 Mar. 2020.

Hoffower, Hillary. “9 Ways College Is Different for Millennials than It Was for Previous Generations.” Business Insider, 2018, www.businessinsider.com/how-college-is-different-now-then-millennials-vs-baby-boomers-2018-9.

Jesse Rothstein, Cecilia Elena Rouse. “Constrained after college: Student loans and early-career occupational choices.” Journal of Public Economics, Volume 95, Issues 1–2,2011, Pages 149-163.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpubeco.2010.09.015.

Nova, Annie. “How Student Loans Are Making Some People Abandon Their Dreams.” CNBC Investing, CNBC, 18 July 2018, www.cnbc.com/2018/07/17/how-student-loans-are-making-some-people-abandon-their-dreams.html.

Plumer, Brad. “Only 27 Percent of College Grads Have a Job Related to Their Major.” The Washington Post, 2013, www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2013/05/20/only-27-percent-of-college-grads-have-a-job-related-to-their-major/.

Yassky, Daniel. “The Changing Purpose of College.” University Wire, Sep 27 2017, ProQuest. Web. 3 Mar. 2020. https://www.dailyprincetonian.com/article/2017/09/the-changing-purpose-of-college

Yes, Voting in a Blue State Still Matters

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By Grace Reno

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Works Cited

“After Decades of Republican Victories, Here’s How California Became a Blue State Again.” Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Times, www.latimes.com/projects/la-pol-ca-california-voting-history/.

“California’s Political Geography 2020.” Public Policy Institute of California, www.ppic.org/publication/californias-political-geography/.

Gladu, Alex. “Blue-State Voters Must Turn Out On Election Day.” Bustle, Bustle, 24 Oct. 2016, www.bustle.com/articles/191165-does-my-vote-matter-if-im-in-a-blue-state-your-states-political-alignment-shouldnt-deter.

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

Reinhold, Robert. “Voter Turnout Has Been Declining Steadily Since 1960.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 26 Sept. 1976, www.nytimes.com/1976/09/26/archives/voter-turnout-has-been-declining-steadily-since-1960-just-half-an.html.

“What Democracy and Voting Rights Look Like Around the World.” Global Citizen, www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/its-2016-here-is-the-state-of-voting-rights-around/.

Ways of Seeing the World

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By Bel Rosenthal

No flat map is a fully accurate map of the world; each expresses a specific perspective and set of priorities. Regardless of whether you care about or pay attention to maps, they have shaped the way we all see the world. Call one to mind; it is a familiar picture — probably brightly colored, with Russia stretched largest across the upper right-hand side, Europe toward the middle, the U.S. most prominent on the left. South America and Africa are smaller and closer together on the bottom, like the kids of two friends awkwardly ushered together, and then there’s Australia off in the corner. Everyone grows up with maps; they are on the walls of school classrooms, in textbooks, used as decoration, on the news, in movies, and more.

The way that we see the world is not objective. Our perspective and our understanding of things are shaped by our cumulative experiences, many of which we cannot pinpoint or remember and that are constantly changing. This is visible through the example of map projections. Due to the challenge of trying to portray a spherical shape onto a flat surface, all world maps are also distorted and, like us, have a distinct perspective. By not addressing this inherent inaccuracy we have grown to see ourselves as reliable judges of “truth.” However, if we choose to reexamine our beliefs, starting with what the world we live in looks like, we can begin to see how perspectives we may or may not agree with, and that we may or may not even be aware are being presented to us, have shaped and influenced our own beliefs and ideas.

A common comparison used to help people picture the problem presented by trying to transfer the image on a globe to a map is the challenge of peeling an orange so that the peel all comes off in one piece and can be laid flat. It is often in ragged shapes, with disconnected features and little resemblance to what we imagine a holistic map to look like. So, in order to create a cohesive map, the accuracy of some aspects must be sacrificed to allow for accuracy in others. Each of the strategies for doing this is known as a projection or, “a method for taking the curved surface of the earth and displaying it on something flat, like a computer screen or a piece of paper” (“What is”). For example, the land masses and bodies of water closer to the poles could be stretched to maintain lines of latitude and longitude that are as straight as possible. This is done with the Mercator projection (“Mercator,” fig. 1).

The Mercator projection was initially designed for ocean navigation by European explorers and was later used, along with other maps, as a way European colonial powers were able to assert dominance over regions that had not yet mastered geographic mapping (White). Its straight lines made it a very effective tool for ocean navigation, but it is used for other purposes now. It is likely the map you are most familiar with, from its role in most classrooms around the world and even by Google Maps. This, like our own distorted perceptions, is important and sometimes even dangerous because of the ripple-like effect it has on our beliefs and actions. We define much of the rest of the world by its relationship to Europe as the center, e.g., the Middle East or the Western World. The central placement of Europe, on the very map they used to colonize large parts of the rest of the world, reinforces their perspective of colonial superiority and view of their own dominance — and lowers the perceived status of the peripheral regions (Snyder; Wood et al. 90-93).

One of the more popular solutions proposed to address this issue – which was adopted by Boston’s public schools in 2017 (Walters) — is to replace the Mercator projection with one called the Gall-Peters projection (“Mercator,” fig. 1). The Gall-Peters projection gained a lot of attention in the past several years for its more accurate presentation of continental size in comparison to the Mercator. It is seen as an ethical choice for a more balanced view of the world. The fictional “Organization of Cartographers for Social Equality,” that appears in an episode of the TV show West Wing, is frequently referred to as support for this argument (“Somebody’s Going”). The segment’s amusing and easy to follow argument explains many of the problems with the Mercator projection. However, it glosses over the Gall-Peters’ own drawbacks. While the Mercator can feel laughably wrong in that it portrays Africa and Greenland as roughly the same size, when in actuality Greenland is about 14 times smaller (“The True,” fig. 2), the Gall-Peters, in order to present more accurate sizes, distorts many of its shapes and loses directional accuracy. By presenting the replacement of one distorted map with another, they have failed to address the larger issue: that neither is fully accurate and that varied perceptions of truth exist everywhere. The important lesson to take from inconsistent presentations of information – excluding, of course, actual verifiable facts – is that there may not be a “right” one, each shows a slightly different truth, and the best way to get a full picture is to view a variety of different perspectives with that awareness in mind.

Studies on implicit bias, summarized by the Kirwan Institute, also concluded that the beliefs we hold, specifically those that we are not aware of, have a real and measurable effect on how we think and act. They define implicit bias as, “the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner.” They looked at implicit bias through its connection to racial inequities and found that these subconscious beliefs led pediatricians to be more likely to prescribe painkillers to white patients than black patients and that, even when controlling for a number of other factors, they resulted in people with more prominently African-looking features receiving longer prison sentences. They also state that these views do not necessarily align with the ones that we consciously hold, meaning that we are not at fault for acquiring these biases, but also that they are worth recognizing and challenging. Even more hopefully, they assert that we have the ability to reshape and unlearn them (“Understanding”).

My own interest in the way choices made on maps impact our worldview was sparked when I was 11 years old and came across a map on the wall of a restaurant near the southern tip of South America (“The World,” fig. 3). It depicted the Southern Hemisphere on the top half of the map and the Northern Hemisphere on the bottom. I was confused and intrigued by this weird “upside-down” world. After reading the short explanation written across one of the oceans, I realized that simply because Europeans had created the map we use, I had until that moment believed my half of the world to be up. It is clear from the way we speak that we associate up with good and down with bad. Heaven is above us and hell is below; on the ladder of success, that defines America, up is progress and down is chaos. We want to “move up in the world,” sometimes we “feel down,” and we strive to be better than or “above” something. Whether or not we consciously recognize, by being placed on the top, we get to feel superior to those on the bottom. This realization did not feel frustrating or make me angry, though; it was an exciting revelation. Being faced with facts that challenge what you believe can be scary, but it can also allow us to better understand our own perspectives and better communicate with others.

Just because the information we receive is somewhat subjective, that does not mean that it is worthless. Take the example of op-eds; these opinion pieces are inherently subjective, but we still read them. They are published by newspapers and scholarly journals. They introduce us to new perspectives, inform us about relevant issues, and can present nuanced views and reliable information. As you now know, the maps you have seen of the world are also not entirely objective. However, through them you can gain an understanding of where you stand in the world, what our planet generally looks like, and how to get to the closest Chipotle, but also how parts of the world view each other. English professors have likely counseled you to think about the position behind what you are reading with questions like: who is the author, what audience are they trying to reach, what might they be trying to accomplish, and who might that benefit. This works for maps too, and is what the authors of Seeing Through Maps, encourage us to do when seeking a map that suits our needs. They propose the questions, “What can I discern about the self-interest of the mapmaker and/or those who commissioned the work? How do you suppose that self-interest or agenda may have influenced choices of what to include or omit?” (Wood et al. 12). By examining the perspective behind a map or opinion piece, what is prioritized or emphasized and what is sacrificed or sidelined, you are more able to understand the perspective and bias it reflects. From there it is up to you to decide what you do with your source. For a map, maybe think about whether its priorities match what you are using it for. For an op-ed, let it inform your sense of its reliability; learn what it teaches you about the subject, and about the author. Rather than being less useful than an objective source, a subjective source can actually provide you with more information than a direct statement of fact. These questions can be a way to look at any perspective-influenced information you receive, and most information is influenced by perspective in one way or another. If you imagine the subject of your source as the scene in a photograph and the perspective as the photographer, it is clear that knowledge of the photographer increases your understanding of the photo and analysis of the photo increases your understanding of the person who took it.

Works Cited

“Mercator Projection and Gall-Peters Projection.” Mapping, Society, and Technology, University of Minnesota Libraries, https://open.lib.umn.edu/mapping/chapter/7-lying-with-maps/#footnote-402-1.

“Understanding Implicit Bias.” Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, 2015, http://kirwaninstitute.osu.edu/research/understanding-implicit-bias/.

Snyder, John P. Flattening the Earth: Two Thousand Years of Map Projections. University of Chicago Press, 1993.

“Somebody’s Going to Emergency, Somebody’s Going to Jail.” The West Wing, season 2 episode 16, NBC, 28 February 2001, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vVX-PrBRtTY.

“The True True Size of Africa.” The Economist, 10 November 2010, https://www.economist.com/graphic-detail/2010/11/10/the-true-true-size-of-africa.

Walters, Joanna. “Boston Public Schools Map Switch Aims to Amend 500 Years of Distortion.” The Guardian, 23 March 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/education/2017/mar/19/boston-public-schools-world-map-mercator-peters-projection.

“What is a Map Projection?” Caliper Mapping and Transportation Glossary, https://www.caliper.com/glossary/what-is-a-map-projection.htm.           

White, Nathan. “Geography and Empire.” Postcolonial Studies @ Emory, October 2017, https://scholarblogs.emory.edu/postcolonialstudies/2014/06/20/geography-and-empire/.

Wood, Denis, Kaiser, Ward L., and Abramms, Bob. Seeing Through Maps: Many Ways to See the World. ODT, Incorporated. 2006.

“The World.” The Upsidedown Map Page, https://www.flourish.org/upsidedownmap/.

Is Diversity Needed?

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By Anonymous

Goucher College has requirement courses that students are recommended to take their first two years of college. If not by then, they must take them by the end of their 4 years here, in order to graduate and receive their degree in their major. These courses are designed to shape each student to be more well-rounded and gain knowledge in different subjects. Complex Problem Exploration (CPE) is an example of a Goucher required course. The general description of CPE courses consists of, “CPE courses build on student learning in the FYS and show students complex problems from more than one angle” (“The Goucher Commons Curriculum”). How would you feel being taught about what your ancestors have been through, through the eyes of the oppressor, just to fulfill a requirement?

I have personally witnessed students “not caring” about their CPE classes and expressing that they’re just trying to get the two courses “out of the way”. This results in students not actually paying attention in class or engaging in group discussion. It is frustrating to see those that are not of color, refusing to take a step back and realize that it is beneficial to take courses that can expand your knowledge on other cultures, and diversity in general. The problem comes in when those that are not of color, do not understand the difference between appreciating new cultures and appropriating those cultures.  

When is the line drawn between learning/acknowledging a culture or appropriating it? Here at Goucher, there are a lot of culturally based courses that are taught by white professors; however, the amount of Black professors here can be counted on one hand, which is very disappointing. As a Black woman here at Goucher, it is hard to “learn” about such sensitive topics through the eyes of the “oppressor”. The topics that are covered in each CPE are very sensitive, and it is hard to comfortably share my opinions when my professor does not understand personally where I am coming from. Diversity is well needed in every educational setting in order to fully accommodate student’s needs, especially obtaining the knowledge needed to properly learn in the CPE courses.

If there are not going to be an equal amount of professors of color hired at Goucher, each professor should be required to fulfill cultural workshops and practice their empathy/sympathy for others who may not be as privileged. “The 21st – century teacher should be an interculturally competent person who knows how to address and exploit differences among students in a class in a positive manner, as well as manage conflicts and conflict risks successfully” (Boghian 1). Many students have confided in me that they do not feel comfortable engaging in conversation with their professors because of their different backgrounds, and the fear of belittlement towards the student’s perspectives.

Why wouldn’t one want to feel comfortable in a learning atmosphere? We should all be able to put our obvious differences aside and fully hear out what those that are a part of a minority group have to offer. When in class, there should be more student-driven conversations in topics that interest us as individuals instead of grouping us all together. For example, assignments that are personal to our backgrounds, like traditions. Students do not want to learn about the surface level of slavery or Martin Luther King’s take on anti-capitalism. The repeated “facts” are somewhat whitewashed and put people of color in the spotlight in class, and even throughout history. But learning from a white person makes it a somewhat humiliating experience, and they actually may “need” it more than others but are too scared to speak up on the past, or do not care overall.

I have experienced a CPE here at Goucher with one of the Black male professors and it helped a lot to hear firsthand experiences from him and what he has experienced as a person of color traveling the world. This brings another perspective to the concept of cultural traditions and past supremacy. I have also experienced a Black woman as my history professor. There was no shame in the execution on making sure that everyone in the class was engaged. On the contrary, it is very obvious that there is shame (white guilt) from the other professors, which comes off as lenient self-pity. Instead of making sure that everyone is engaged and admitting their white fragility and trying to change it around for the better, there is a lot of awkward silences; there is not a clear motive on trying to make sure each student is personally learning something. Instead, a movie or book that us students have read/seen before is thrown at us, like The Hate You Give and Born a Crime, which puts us in a non-progressive predicament, because no one is personally engaging in change.

“Education is about having dialogue, action, and reflection about ideas, practices and policies germane to the living conditions of persons” (Westfield 74).  I feel as though we (as a committee) are missing pieces to this strategy presented by Nancy Lynne Westfield, who has a PhD in writing and teaches at Drew University. This strategy could help a lot of teacher-student dynamics because it refers to a hands-on approach by quickly adjusting to students’ discomfort, rather than professors boasting about those without power, every single class. There is more to “Complex Problem Exploration” than to be talked at for two hours and have to absorb everything like a sponge, but not have guidance on applying it to personal lives, that may need diversity. Admitting to one’s privileges is the first step, and a lot of professors are refusing to do so.

To add another outlook into the discussion, Angel Carter, a scholar at Tulane University expanded her knowledge on those that do not look like her by going to a university that is 75% white. This is an example of hands-on change. Angel states, “I hadn’t had many interactions with white people” … “I wanted to work on that: How do I code switch? How do I approach situations with people who do not look like me?” The statistic is very similar to Goucher, by simply stepping on to the campus, you can see the lack of diversity. Here at Goucher there should be an equal balance of white people and those that identify as a person of color, learning to adapt to different culture shocks and using it as an advantage towards building academic relationships. We are all on this campus together, we should learn to not just “get used to one another” but fully educate ourselves on white fragility and ways to add different perspectives to the classroom/classes (CPE).

Works Cited

BOGHIAN, Ioana. “Empowering Teachers to Deal with Classroom Diversity.” Romanian 

Journal for Multidimensional Education / Revista Romaneasca Pentru Educatie Multidimensionala, vol. 11, no. 3, Sept. 2019, pp. 1–9. EBSCOhost, doi:10.18662/rrem/134.

Mongeau, Lillian, et al. “America’s Colleges Struggle to Envision the Future of Diversity on Campus.” The Hechinger Report, 16 Jan. 2019, hechingerreport.org/whither-diversity/.

 “The Goucher Commons Curriculum.” Goucher College, www.goucher.edu/learn/curriculum/.

Westfield, Nancy Lynne. “Teaching for Globalized Consciousness: Black Professor, White  

Student and Shame.” Black Theology: An International Journal, vol. 2, no. 1, Jan. 2004, pp. 73-83. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1558/blth.2004.2.1.73.

To Go or Not To Go?

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By Angelica Calo

            Are you a college student looking to go on a vacation in Orlando with your friends? There are beautiful beaches, sunny skies, and fun attractions—amusement parks galore! There is Disneyworld, Universal Studios, and SeaWorld. What more could you want? When choosing a perfect vacation, you always want to make a plan of activities beforehand, and let’s face it, money is a major factor in these decisions. Disneyworld and Universal are both crowded and overpriced! Why not go to SeaWorld instead? It is cheaper yet still popular, and has amusement park rides, food, games and many animals like the infamous killer whale! Sounds fun right? Well, if you are thinking about SeaWorld, you might want to rethink that decision.

            Now, I know what you’re thinking—why? It’ll be so much fun! Well, it may be fun for you, but it might not be as fun for the animals inside. In a recent study on captive orca dental health, biologists have found that, “In total, 713 of the 1127 (63.3%) teeth (mandibular and maxillary teeth combined) evaluated for coronal wear exhibited varying degrees of the pathology; 142 of 1116 (12.7%) teeth exhibited fractures; 234 of 1154 (20.3%) teeth were worn to or below the gum line; 158 of 1056 (15%) teeth were positive for bore holes; and 22 of 1130 (2%) teeth were missing (Jett et. Al)”. Now let’s break that down so we have a better understanding: Scientists observed the mandibular and maxillary teeth by looking at dental images of 29 captive orca owned by SeaWorld. Each tooth was scored for coronal wear, wear at or below the gum line and bore holes, as well as looking for fractured and missing teeth. They found that all of the whales had teeth damage, but the majority had coronal wear (Jett et. al). What do teeth have to do with anything you may ask? Well, the scientists believe that the wear and tear on the teeth are caused by oral stereotypies, such as chewing on concrete walls. Dr Lori Marino, a neuroscientist, says that this action is heavily influenced by psychological stress. In short, the orca are chewing on concrete due to their environment in captivity and this in turn is causing problems with their dental health.

            If that is not enough, scientists have also found that that mortality rates in captivity are extremely high. In the wild, orcas generally live 50-70 years, sometimes even 100! In captivity, most orcas do not make it beyond 20 years of age. According to the US National Marine Mammal Inventory, and USDA Inspection Reports show that “between 1971 and 2017, there have been 35 documented orca deaths at SeaWorld facilities alone (Kielty, 2011; Robeck et al., 2015; Aiello and Moses, 2016; Rose and Parsons, 2019)”(Marino et. al.). When causes of death were available, the most commonly implicated conditions were viral, bacterial and fungal infections, gastrointestinal disease, and trauma (Jett and Ventre, 2012)”(Marino et. al.). It was also found that another common cause of death of captive orcas was gastrointestinal ulceration. “Gastric ulceration is often caused by prolonged stress, as well as being associated with the bacterium Helicobacter pylori (Nomura et al., 1994)”(Marino et. al.). Although it is possible for wild orca to contract similar diseases, it is a lot less common and abundant then it is in captive orca.

            In 2013, a documentary was released about SeaWorld, and it featured clips, images, eye- witnesses, and scientists which provided evidence against captivity, while promoting a seaside sanctuary. The documentary, Blackfish, quickly became popular, and has since made a huge impact on the marine park industry’s sales. However, they are still not willing to give up their orcas and have since spoken out against the film stating that it is “propaganda”. Now the question is—is it propaganda? Honestly, it is not; there are many facts proving Blackfish’s claims. However, many people are still supportive of SeaWorld and their decisions.

            Since the release of Blackfish, SeaWorld has ended their orca breeding program and has changed their shows to be less entertainment based, and more “educational”. Some may argue that they have changed, and it is still okay to go. SeaWorld does conservation work too, so they must be a good business to support! But what does that do for the orcas? Great! They are no longer forced to breed unnaturally and no longer have to do unrealistic tricks! However, that does not change a thing. They are still held captive in a concrete tank with no mental stimulation, exposed to the harsh Florida sun and infections, they are still dying prematurely, and have no choice but to live their life in a small tank suffering from boredom and depression.

            SeaWorld has refused to give up their whales because they believe they won’t survive in the wild. Which is true, the captive bred orcas cannot survive without human care. The wild caught orcas have been held captive for so long, they would not either. However, their mental capacities are amazing, and they have wonderful memories. The wild caught orcas can be acclimated and possibly released back into the wild and to go to their families who are still alive! This must be done before it is too late! It has been done before and can be done again. Even for the whales who cannot be released, the goal is to give them a more natural and stimulating life.

This is an amazing opportunity for communities to learn natural orca behavior and provide a better life for all captive cetaceans. Recently, The Whale Sanctuary Project has selected a seaside sanctuary site for captive orcas and cetaceans to retire. They would be in the ocean yet separated to where they still have that human care. They can swim 100 miles a day like they would naturally, rather than in circles in a tank. They will also have the mental stimulation of living in the ocean and can even learn to hunt. Still thinking about SeaWorld? Maybe Disneyworld is the better choice. After all, it is the happiest place on earth!

Works Cited

Bekhof, Mark. “The Harmful Effects of Captivity on Orcas.” Psychology Today, 26 Jun. 2019,

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/animal-emotions/201906/the-harmful-effects-captivity-orcas

Blackfish. Directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite, performances by John Hargrove, Samantha Berg, Dave Duffus, Ken Balcomb, Mark Simmons, Carol Ray, John     Jett, Jeffrey Ventre,    and Lori Marino. 2013.

Jett, John, et al. “Tooth damage in captive orcas (Orcinus orca).” Archives of Oral Biology. Vol. 84, December 2017, pp. 151-160. Science Direct.              https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0003996917303138#sec0010

Marino, Lori, et al. “The harmful effects of captivity and chronic stress on the well-being of         orcas (Orcinus orca).” Journal of Veterinary Behavior, Jan.- Jun. 2019. Science Direct,     https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1558787819300164?via%3Dihub.

Goucher’s Identity and Moving Forward

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I took Peace Studies 124: Being Human my second semester on campus. As part of the course, we spent a lot of time discerning and reflecting on our values on both individual and group levels. With this, we also grappled with philosophical and qualitative differences between making decisions out of fear and not out of fear. I’ve been thinking about how fear-based decision-making shows up in every aspect of my life, and I’ve started dialing in more intentionally to recognizing environments of fear and insecurity.

This past week couple weeks have been intense. While layoffs and reorganizations are conceptually very normalized in the nonprofit world, this round of layoffs feels qualitatively different than the faculty cuts that happened two years ago, when I was new to campus.  Uncertainty is alive and well on our campus.

My four years on campus are projected to be the same as the duration of the Trump presidency.

Within this context of despair at the impending loss of social programs, increased military spending, and devaluation of truth, I enrolled at Goucher. I knew that this would be a formative several years in our College’s history, and I was ready to experience it all.

Since I unpacked into my second-floor double in Winslow in the fall of 2017, I’ve seen Tuttle get moved and repaired; I’ve watched Fireside and Trustees get built; I’ve switched from eating in Stimson to the renovated Mary Fisher; I’ve watched the North side of campus become largely forgotten in an ambience of asbestos and the Stimson Stench. My year was the first of the Goucher Commons curriculum, which saw the rollout of DegreeWorks, Starfish (now Navigate), CPEs, and Race, Power, and Perspective requirements. 

The prevailing student discourse during my first semester on campus centered around the question: “Does Goucher have an identity?” Most upperclassmen I knew didn’t seem to think so. I’ve been on campus for program prioritization, countless reorganizations, budget shortfalls, advocacy around transparency, and a growing urgency surrounding the climate crisis. 

My first semester without construction on campus has been this one. 

Philosophically, José was hired to stir the pot. The Ath was built and our dorm infrastructure was crumbling. Our academics were unfocused and he threw ideas at the campus to see what stuck. José was on the receiving end of a lot of student ire, and I imagine Kent will feel some of that as well.

As students, we have a responsibility to one another to keep track of the changes that are happening. It is our duty to collaborate amongst our peers to organize our questions and our feelings in ways that build relationships and trust. It is also not our job to do this alone. As members of a campus that is beginning to have an ongoing and enthusiastic “yes!” to the question “Does Goucher have an identity?”, we need our faculty and staff to trust our intentions and to value our voices in tangible ways. This is what a vision of shared governance can look like. Through involving more in-house experts who are physically experiencing the tumult on campus, as well as communicating clearly with our community members off campus, we can work collaboratively to build a Goucher that lives and breathes its Community Principles. The stakes are high, and with the future of crises like the ones at the Southern border looming over us, we would do well to value each other as humans and build intergenerational relationships that will bring us closer as a cohesive community.

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