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An Interview with Aarika Camp

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Conducted by Jibril Howard ’22 and Neve Levinson ‘21

On July 9th, Goucher announced the appointment of Aarika Camp Ph.D. as the new Vice-President and Dean of Students (VP & DOS). Overseeing the administrative division of Student Affairs, Dean Camp is tasked (among other things) with overseeing student life, Title IX compliance, tackling and or addressing diversity and discrimination, and helping students naviage and manage life at Goucher college in myriad ways. The VP & DOS position was among several filled over Covid-19 lockdown and summer including that of Associate Dean of Students for Diversity Equity and Title IX Juan Hernandez; Vice President of Campus Operations Erik Thompson; and Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs Elaine Meyer-Lee. The Q staff will be interviewing all these new staff members – below is our conversation with Dean Camp. 

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Jibril: Can you start by telling us a little bit about yourself, such as your previous position, what led you to Goucher, and your top three fun facts about yourself?

“OK, so before Goucher, I was at Nova Southeastern University. It’s a school in Fort Lauderdale [Florida] and it’s about 20,000 students, we had seven campuses, and most of the students were professional or grad students so I’ve worked with every type of med school student you could possibly think of from orthodontics to osteopathic medicine – like everything. I was there for 13 years. I’ve been in housing most of my career before I started being upper administration (loved it) and before there I was at Florida International [University]. I was in Florida for a lot of years at different types of institutions.

I realized – I think through the pandemic a lot of people had reflection – and being locked in my condo for months and going through obviously social unrest and figuring out what was important to me and my values. I was going to try and do that type of work, now being at a school that…is still trying to push it and the students are pushing it as well. It’s really important to me. That’s what attracted me to Goucher.

Three fun facts? Well no one would be surprised if anybody else was here…my first fun fact is I’m obsessed with BTS. I’m definitely a member of  BTS I’m a definitely a member of Army [US BTS fan group] so this past weekend I watched about 16 hours-worth of BTS live concerts and all in Korean Time not in Eastern Standard Time so Saturday it was 6:00 AM and Sunday Morning it was at 3:00 AM. Anything BTS I’m on it. Another fun fact: I don’t wear colors. So, you’ll never see me outside in navy blue, grey, or black. This is actually the most fun print I have [black and white polka-dots]. Another fun fact is I’m the shortest in my family and I’m six feet tall. Even my nephew who is 15 is already 6’2 and he’s turning 16 in two weeks.”

What drove you to take on this position at Goucher?

“So it really kind of started…I felt like I had been proceeding according to my career goals there but then once everything really started happening from the pandemic it really started…I had always been a proponent in trying to get students to be more engaged in not only their experience on campus but also so they’re just experienced in the world and helping them to find what their identity was, and it was time that I start pushing the students and myself more in those types of conversations and so just it came to a point where I had written with a bunch of faculty to our president about how the social unrest was impacting us and the president received the email and the letter but I didn’t feel like it was received well enough to do work and so even now [at Goucher] GBSU [Goucher Black Student Union] has reached out a couple times and I’m about doing the work. We can have all the conversations in the world but until the pen hits the paper and things start happening…that’s where I felt like here would be the right place, in the right position, for me to start doing that whereas I didn’t have the position there to do that. I think also doing my interview process, the students that I met with all are looking for someone that could speak that same language of “how do we do this?” “How can we push the needle forward?” Not everything is going to go the way that they want but knowing that somebody is willing to listen – because I know that was important to me – that’s really what led me here.”

That leads me into my next question. What do you kind of see as your long- and short-term goals for your position? And you brought up working with GBSU, do you see their goals as being intertwined with your own?

“Well I think part of my short and long-term goals is to really assess what the student experience is, and not just for GBSU, but for any student on campus. I was always one of those students in college, I didn’t really know what group I fit into most of the time, and even now it’s not often you see a 41-year old African American woman at a BTS concert. You just don’t usually. Making sure students can find their niche on campus takes a lot of digging and investigating and asking questions about what your experience is, what are you looking for and what you want. Really trying to figure out what students are not tapping into that we really need to understand what their experiences is [sic]. I think again that with GBSU that would fall into the category for right now. The students who identify as Black and or African American don’t feel as engaged on campus and so how do we address that? Every year it can be a different population and so I just always have to be open to hearing that and addressing that.

 I think another goal is that I haven’t worked with GCC [Goucher Consent Coalition] yet, but I’ve heard the safety concerns on campus. I think that’s another important goal I need to tackle in my role is what does a safe campus look like and not just safe in regards to Title IX issues. Just safe in terms of even if there is a student that doesn’t go with the norms of the college, so let’s say if it’s an extreme conservative student, they still have the right to share their opinions and be heard. Making sure that there is a safe campus for all of us to share our ideas in a constructive way that doesn’t hurt anyone else but that we still feel like we’re celebrated for who we are is important.

I think another goal is really trying to find what students expect out of a Vice-President. Some students here had Bryan [Coker] before, some of the grad students [who] went here for undergrad may have had somebody even different than Bryan. And so what the expectations are; I think another thing is I’m very authentic and transparent if you can’t already tell by conversation with you so just making sure that I’m able to forge relationships with students where they do feel right there is an upper-level administrator that they could go to and we may not always be on the same page but there going to always be heard.”

Neve: I think one question we have…it’s related to the GBSU demands out right now, you were talking about putting in the work and not just talking about stuff. How do you see that moving forward and where do you see your role in that besides being a listener?

“Well I think it’s open communication with them. We’ve exchanged some emails and trying to figure out when is a time we could meet to collaborate. I also think the ownership is the cabinet as well – I shared that with my interview process as well. I was born up Black and I’m probably going to leave this earth Black. My experience has been trying to understand what their experience has been and that some of their demands they shouldn’t have to tell us. As a person and as a part of the community I should be able to identify some of the demands on campus myself and start addressing them separately than GBSU. I think that’s where my philosophy is: what work can I be doing separately without them having to point to me and then what issues can they point to me that I can also address?”

Such as building those partnerships you were talking about before?

Exactly. I think the other part is we can’t rely on the students to always identify issues. We also have to be able to identify some issues that they may not see readily. That means also building a rapport where hopefully in years to come there won’t need to be a demand letter because I would’ve already had conversations where we can start fostering that regular communication that doesn’t have to lead to that type of request. If you think about our global society now, Black people have always either tried to vote to get that respect for their rights, tried to peacefully protest, tried to peacefully write to people, have done all of these things that didn’t necessarily pan out in the way we wanted so yeah people are mad now. My thing is if you’re responding appropriately along the way you don’t have to wait until people get so frustrated and mad that it turns to anger if you’re doing it the right way before. In my ten-year year that’s what I want to get to the point where people don’t have to write demand letters because we’ve been communicating and talking and looking at issues before it got to that point.”

New Vice President and Dean of Students Aarika Camp PC: Goucher College Official Website

Jibril: You brought up GCC earlier and their work obviously falls under the national context with the Presidential Election coming up and with the new Title IX guidelines that Goucher has had to adapt to which of course may change another six months from now. Can you address and speak to how you’re managing the [uncertainty surrounding the new Title IX policies]? Can you set expectations for students?

“I think the hard part right is that none of us can set expectations around it. I mean just in the last three and half years there’s been so much change that no one can even predict what will come out next. I mean there’s been a recent recension of the Clery Report, the Clery Handbooks that come out, that none of us expected. Who would’ve expected the recension of a reporting book such as that! That’s where I could have all the expectations in the world but until I get a real understanding of where we’re going to stand politically it’s just going to keep coming down the pipeline. I was talking to one of my colleagues probably a couple months ago and I can’t believe now the opportunity for cross-examination and an in-person cross-examination as a part of Title IX. I mean none of us would have expected that year ago and so that’s where it’s hard. It’s hard because as Student Affairs and as open-minded people, and as just people, we want to do what’s right by people involved in situations like this but then if we have regulations that we have to abide by or we’re going to get in trouble then there’s not a whole lot we can do. We’re kind of bound to that. I couldn’t even begin to tell you what the next regulations are going to be. You’re absolutely right – after six months it could be something completely different if the government shifts [or] if the government stays the same it could be something even more different in three months not even six. I think that’s where we’re all concerned about. There hasn’t been enough consistency. There hasn’t been enough time. I mean even to put out regulations during a pandemic and give it when colleges aren’t open. I can’t even begin to tell you why the expectation was “Hey! Colleges aren’t open so let’s put out new Title IX regulations” while we’re trying to stay alive in a pandemic.  It’s those sorts of things where I think every vice president of student affairs is frustrated right now. We’re trying to implement things on our campus to keep people safe but then we’re given regulations that kind of make it difficult to do that in certain aspects.”

You’ve already touched on this a little but how are you adjusting to your job in the middle of the pandemic? How is it different to what you were envisioning coming into your position?

“The hard part is I’ve always been a student-centered type person. Even on social media I still keep in touch with students from my last institution and I’m trying to connect to a student here. It’s hard when you’re trying to forge relationships with people that you haven’t met in person. I can pick up social cues from you over Zoom but it’s very different than if you’re sitting right here and so I think that’s different. I haven’t met a lot of people yet so that’s been interesting. What I’m trying to do is that anytime anyone has asked me for a meeting, kind of like how you emailed me the other day, I try to respond quickly and say “when are you free?” and so I think that’s trying to be accessible in that. It’s also helpful where no student feels like they can’t get time with me. That’s a good part about Zoom and I’m a night owl so it’s like I’ll find the time. That’s been the challenge…setting that identity and tone now where if you have emailed me and say, “can we meet?” [the response would be] “absolutely, let’s find the time.””

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This interview with Dean Camp is the second in a series of interviews with new staff hires. We have included the entire transcript of the interview because we are in a critical position on campus right now. The enormous amount of administrative turnover that has taken place in the past two or three years is finally culminating in the hiring of people to hold key positions of influence. As Goucher’s independent student newspaper, we see ourselves as students tasked with the responsibility of seeking out information from members of our community and re-expressing it to our readers. The transmission of information is crucial to give our peers access to this knowledge so we can shape student activism moving forward. Please stay tuned for future interviews.

From CDO to CEO: The CDO Rebrands

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The CDO changes its name to the Career Education Office (CEO). Photo Credit: CDO Goucher on youtube.com

We all know that room at the end of that hallway in Van Meter. The one that has lights around the door and doughnuts on Fridays. It’s the Career Development Office, a.k.a. the CDO. However, on January 29, 2018, during the first-year group advising meetings, it was announced that the CDO would soon become the CEO.
Now, let’s backtrack a bit to when this plan was initially being discussed. At the end of last semester, the CDO was having focus groups with students ranging from those who have visited them to those who have not. The goal of these focus groups was to talk about what the student body thought of the CDO and what changes they hoped could be made. During these meetings, pizza was distributed, ideas were thrown out, and the general feeling was that the student body did not quite know what the CDO did. To be more precise, it seemed that students were scared of the CDO because it represented “the real world” after graduation. To students, the CDO seemed like a place to go after a resume had been drafted, a cover letter written, and an interview lined up.
So here’s a small snippet of what the CDO actually does. The CDO is a place to go for help writing a resume or cover letter. It has a closet for when one is unsure of what is worn typically for an interview, or for a formal or semi-formal event. It is an inviting place that offers discussions with alumni/ae both on Tuesday afternoons over tea, and on Friday mornings over doughnuts and coffee. Alums give advice ranging from when to go to Human Resources to when to quit a job.
In the spirit of innovation, the CDO has taken student advice and has decided to incorporate its services more into the experience both in and out of the classroom. Starting next year and with the class of 2022, the CDO will become the Career Education Office, or, CEO, the same acronym as Chief Executive Officer, although unintentionally .
What does this mean for Goucher? Well, for one thing, it means another wacky acronym that Admissions Ambassadors can throw around. But for future students, this means classes will incorporate goal-setting with regards to career plans within the curriculum and that hopefully, every student will have a resume by the end of their first year. However, for students graduating in 2021 or before, this means that the CDO (or CEO) will start to become a place that resembles less a door at the end of the hallway that should be avoided at all costs, and more of a friendly helping hand along the way to the next stage of one’s life, beyond the hallowed halls of educational institutions.

Welcome to the Office of Public Safety!

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Located on the ground floor of Huebeck, is the Office of Public Safety. To many, this is a safe haven and to some, unexplored territory. Established in 2007, Public Safety has worked to keep our campus safe through many programs and services. Now, 10 years later, they have made significant changes to campus, and have more in the works for the future. I sat down with Director David Heffer, to find out more!

“We consider ourselves to be very proactive. We don’t wait for a problem to arise before we try to solve it.” -David Heffer, Director of Public Safety Photo Credit: Usha Kaul

Q: How long have you been director and how many officers make up the squad?

A: I have been the Director of Public Safety since August, 2015 [and]  our force is made up of about 35 officers including full and part timers.

Q: What do you look for in an officer when you are hiring?

A: There are a number of factors that we look for when hiring public safety officers.  Previous experience in public safety and customer service is helpful.  We also look for individuals with positive attitudes who have a real passion for helping people.  The office appreciates a diverse workforce and strives to sustain that diversity.  The job of being a public safety officer is demanding both physically and mentally so we look for individuals who can make good decisions under difficult circumstances.

Q: What are some responsibilities of our officers?

A: We always have an officer at the gatehouse, the communications center, patrolling the residential side and the academic side of the campus.  We also post an officer at the Athenaeum overnight.  We do staff large planned events.

Q: What have been the recent changes to some of the campus resources and what has sparked them?

A: A number of changes have been made around campus including; closing off the pond and the back gate to vehicular traffic; inserting cameras into the blue emergency phones on campus to see the emergency; and the new app 911Shield.

Heffer has been “told that our user adoption rate (for 911Shield) is one of the highest of any type of this product in the country.  Many campuses use this type of product but we utilize a system that mitigates some of the deficiencies we have with GPS location on campus by using Wi-Fi.”

Heffer brought me into his office and explained the app, and allowed me to test it out and see how it rings in the office and how my location can be detected no matter where I am. The hope is to never have to use this app, but, in the case of an emergency, I’ll be prepared.

Some other changes to the campus include face-to-face emergency training with new staff members to ensure their complete understanding and proficiency in emergency situations. Public Safety has also updated their website that lists services and also allows people to easily report concerns anonymously. There is also a new ID policy in place, where all persons are checked at the front gate (pedestrians and vehicles) after 8pm. The athenaeum goes through a full sweep every night at midnight by the officer on duty.

Students and their families have raised the concern that vehicles and pedestrians are not stopped at the gate house. According to Heffer, “We now have staff there 24 hours a day 7 days a week during academic session.  Vehicles are stopped after 8pm every day of the week.”

Q: What are some public safety changes that are coming soon?

A: We hope to increase the number of cameras on campus as well as reconsider some of our traffic control patterns.  We also actively monitor situations occurring on other college campuses as well as around the nation to identify issues that might impact us so that we can develop strategies to prevent and/or mitigate the impacts.

In response to a question about the connection between campus culture and safety, and there is no comment at this time.

“The job of being a public safety officer is demanding both physically and mentally so we look for individuals who can make good decisions under difficult circumstances.” -David Heffer, Director of Public Safety. Photo Credit: Usha Kaul

To close, here are some programs and services offered by Public Safety:

They help run the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). They are the home of the famous Lost and Found. They provide support in emergencies.

Feel uncomfortable walking around campus? Call up Public Safety and they are happy to help out!

Lose that one card again? No worries! They can print you another!

Locked out again? Just call the office and they will be happy to help!

Register your vehicle!

Register your visitor!

Report incidents! They’ll go in the Q’s Public Safety Blotter, which can be found on the following page.

USHA KAUL

Professional Clothing from the CDO

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As the fall semester slowly comes to an end, we know you’re excited to put your newly acquired networking skills to use and land your dream internship during J-term, the spring semester, and perhaps even the summer. The Career Development Office recognizes that the internship search process and job search in general can be very hectic. We’d like to help you take one thing off your plate!
Professional attire is a vital element of any interview, job, or internship experience. We know that sometimes it is not so simple to figure out what to wear to a professional meeting or setting. You no longer have to worry about what’s ‘too casual’ or ‘too formal’ thanks to the CDO Professional Clothing Closet. The Professional Clothing Closet is completely free and open to all students. Whether you need a whole outfit or just another item of clothing or two, it is here to serve you! Thanks to the many donations of our faculty, staff, and alums, the closet is stocked with a wide array items such as blazers, suits, jackets, blouses, slacks, sweaters, collared button-ups, skirts, dresses, ties, and shoes (in both men and women’s styles) in a number of sizes. This semester alone, we’ve received over two hundred new donations for our closet. We are also sponsored by Zips for dry cleaning so that the clothes are clean and ready for you to pick up and keep. Do not miss out! Over twenty students have already used this service this semester. In addition to finding an outfit, you can get a LinkedIn headshot taken by the CDO staff.
Stop by the CDO in Van Meter 117, Monday-Friday, from 10am-4pm to check out the closet. Tell your friends or bring one along!

Mobile Dean: What It Is and Why You Should Care

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Never be afraid to “Ask Your M.D. (Mobile Dean).” Photo Credit: Goucher College

As a stereotypical college student, I am accustomed to leaving everything until the last minute. A typical day will end at around three in the morning, and the next one will start approximately six hours later with a cold shower and a cup of medium iced coffee in a large cup with extra ice, three packets of sugar, and tons of two percent milk. The idea of planning, setting appointments, and being on time to things is akin to the idea of buying a lottery ticket and hoping to win – yes it’s a nice thought, but unless all the stars align at just the right moment, it is a purely unattainable goal. At Goucher College, the students are privileged to have a friendly set of deans to call our own, who have set aside hours multiple times a week solely for talking with students.
Mobile Dean, while certainly not one of Goucher’s most pioneering products, is an efficient and accessible way for students to get to know the deans. Mobile Dean occurs at least two times a week for about an hour, in different areas each time, but usually ones of high student traffic. Bryan Coker, the Vice President and Dean of Students, Andrew Wu, the Associate Dean for Student Development, and Stacy Cooper Patterson, the Associate Dean of Students for Community Life, comprise the elite squad known as the Mobile Dean. They can usually be found somewhere on Van Meter with a Mobile Dean flag and, more often than not, a bowl of candy. Jokingly, Dean Coker says that “earbuds are our worse enemy, candy is our best friend.”
The inspiration for Mobile Dean came from the higher-up administration interested in seeing more students. Dean Coker says, that while he enjoys getting to know the students, “it’s easy for [him] to see twenty percent of students, total.” He states “Often that is the ten percent of students who are involved in everything…and then the other ten percent of students, are in serious crisis.” While he loves his position as Vice President and Dean of Students, the unfortunate factor is that the higher up a person goes in the academic totem pole, they are less available to spend time with students.
First-Year Experience (FYE) instructor, Moe De la Viez-Perez ’19 says that she really likes Mobile Dean: “it’s a cool opportunity… kind of like open hours.” Though she thoroughly enjoys Mobile Dean, she does express concern about whether or not other students know exactly what it is used for. De la Viez-Perez said that it was not a topic talked about in the FYE classes and that it’s likely first-years do not know what to do with this great tool.
When talking to other students, many expressed that they were unsure of the Mobile Dean’s purpose. The majority of students said that it really didn’t seem like it was worth the effort; due to students running to-and-from classes, clubs, and other extracurriculars, it is difficult to actually stop and talk to the various Deans, especially when the Mobile Dean only occurs for an hour at a time. While Dean Coker recognizes that it has been difficult to market Mobile Dean, he encourages students to check out the Goucher College website in order to see updated dates and times for when it is happening, and he prompts student to never be afraid to “Ask Your M.D. (Mobile Dean).”

Bursting the Bubble: The Community-Based Learning Office

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

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

The Office of Accessibility Services (OAS)

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Arnelle Hanley from the Office of Accessibility Services (OAS). Photo credit: OAS

Goucher’s Office of Accessibility Services (OAS) opened its doors four months ago, and its director Arnelle Hanley has been busy at work ever since. The purpose of OAS is to provide a space for students who are seeking accommodations “to better engage with the Goucher community,” according to Hanley. Her work is not limited to learning or physical disabilities. Rather she is available to help students gain access to help with whatever limitations and barriers they may experience inside the classroom and all around campus. This can range from long term, chronic issues to temporary issues, such as broken ankles.
She collaborates with “pretty much any office that you can think of,” including residential life, counseling, health services, FMS, dining services, admissions, financial aid, and the Office of International Studies. She’s been meeting with prospective students and their families through admissions. With OIS, she’s been helping students think about the accessibility of the study abroad programs they’re considering and supporting them with aspects of their applications. She’s also been meeting with every academic center. She’s been a part of ongoing conversations with FMS about what accessibility looks like as Goucher is building new buildings and what it looks like in our current buildings in regards to what types of accommodations we can make now to make the buildings more accessible.
In respect to the dining halls, she may help students navigate dietary restrictions, as well as help develop systems that will make the dining halls more physically accessible for students who use a wheelchair or cane. One idea she’s been in conversation with the dining facilities about is the acquisition of trays for those who need to better balance their food and plates and utensils, etc.
Yet, Hanley’s job doesn’t stop there. “I look at my job as not just helping students access Goucher, but also preparing them to advocate for themselves after Goucher…I’m always thinking of life after Goucher.” She strives to empower students to advocate for themselves while at Goucher so that they can do so confidently with HR in their future careers: “Your parents can’t call your future employer,” she says.
Currently located in an office in the Alumni House, she will hold open hours for students to book appointments with her on Starfish. In the meantime, students can email her at arnelle.hanely@goucher.edu. “If you’re not sure who to go to, start with me…once you talk to me, I already know who the contact person is for you,” she says. ACE, Frona Brown (the Learning Disabilities specialist), and Hanley are developing a system that will allow them to effectively communicate between themselves. Starting the conversation with Hanley will allow her to efficiently direct students to the best resources for their personal needs. If a student already has a relationship with ACE or Frona Brown, Arnelle encourages them to maintain those relationships, but any student who hasn’t yet developed a relationship with these resources should contact Hanley first to discuss whether they need accommodations and what those resources would look like. Hanley reiterates that “my office is here to help you problem solve, not to solve your problems.”
Students, faculty, and staff can help Hanley make Goucher more accessible by reporting all barrier issues they notice and experience on campus. This can be suggestions as to where handrails can be placed around campus, or something as specific as the magnet locks being so low in a dorm building that people are likely to hit their heads on such a barrier. Reporting handicap buttons that don’t work and any barriers in classrooms are also helpful.
For more information about the Office of Accessibility Services and other campus resources, please visit the new and up-to-date Accessibility website: http://www.goucher.edu/student-life/accessibility-services.

Center for the Advancement of Scholarship and Teaching (CAST)

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C.A.S.T is here to support students. Photo Credit: CAST’s Facebook page

All students have complained about a professor or an assignment or a particularly bad incident in a classroom at least once in their lives. Maybe you’ve written these complaints in an end-of-course reflection or approached a professor directly about the issue. But how do faculty know the best ways to resolve these issues and navigate the feedback they receive? What can they change in order to make the next renditions of their courses more successful?
As of last year, Dr. Robin Cresiski at the brand new Center for the Advancement of Scholarship and Teaching (CAST) is that support system, which will “provide resources to faculty to help them be the best teachers and scholars they can be.”

Cresiski will help faculty integrate the latest research in effective teaching in their classrooms, promote undergraduate research, and cultivate student success. “Making faculty happier without increasing student performance is a failure,” according to Cresiski.
There is a variety of ways she is and will be undertaking this role. Faculty workshops and Lunch & Learns about a variety of topics are one route. The topics are selected from a survey Cresiski administered to faculty at the beginning of the semester to gauge the ones that are most in demand among Goucher’s faculty. Topics include “best practices for week 1,” “transparent assignment design,” and a variety of topics surrounding inclusivity and accessibility. While attendance is optional and some professors’ schedules may conflict with such workshops, Cresiski is working on a website where recordings of all the workshops will be available for faculty to consult if they could not attend.
She is also available for individual consultations to help faculty revise areas of their curriculum where students are falling asleep, to discussing ways to address a classroom incident, to anything else faculty made need support for. Faculty research is another area Cresiski will help with, such as thinking about research design and organizing research into a publication plan. Faculty may reach out to her or may be referred to CAST by another faculty member, administrator, or department chair. When faculty wish it, Cresiski will also observe their classes.
“The administration was very forthright with me about various issues on campus before I came forward,” says Cresiski, “[such as] the change in curriculum and the video from students about their experience as diverse students on campus. I am absolutely going to be a resource for faculty to make their classrooms more inclusive.”
In an effort to confront these issues, Cresiski has already started collaborating with the Academic Center for Excellence in order to help faculty reinforce the messages that ACE tells students and the Center for Race, Equity, and Identity about not only the Phoenix Program, but also what kinds of faculty programming CAST and CREI can collaborate on.
“Several of the workshops will revolve around helping faculty make their content and curriculum and lessons accessible and engaging for all students,” Cresiski promises. “There have been limited opportunities for faculty to learn how they might do that up to this point.” She cites the transparent assignment design workshop as an example of how she will empower faculty to be more inclusive. “Faculty that make just two of their assignments more transparent have smaller equity gaps between white and non-white students and between continuing and first generation students.” She also knows that addressing the issue of inclusivity and accessibility will require deeper work, more self-reflection and confrontation of the implicit bias one has when regarding examples used in class, hiring students for research or teaching assistant positions, and orchestrating class discussions.
Cresiski’s previous experience has definitely prepared her for this new role at Goucher. After completing a PhD in Immunology and serving as a visiting biology professor at Mt. Holyoke College (she will also teach biology at Goucher), she was hired at a small start-up college in Nevada where more than 50% of the student body were students of color, 67% were first generation, and almost all were low-income. Cresiski helped build a biology program and an undergraduate research program before becoming an administrator. As an administrator, she oversaw faculty development because she had become “very interested in developing faculty practices, especially in relationship with students who are very different than themselves and their experiences.”
In order to best serve the faculty, Cresiski is trying to figure out the best way to get feedback from students about their experiences with faculty at Goucher: “I’m a nice neutral resource…I’m nobody’s boss. So if students would love to see something happen differently in a classroom, I’m a place where they can come talk to me and they’re not getting anyone in trouble.” She’s hoping to figure out how students can compare and contrast their experiences and point out trends that they see, which students currently don’t have the opportunity to do in end-of-course reflections. Other colleges have advisory committees or pizza hours, which Cresiski has considered. In the meantime, she has been in conversation with ten students from a variety of disciplines that Dylan Margolis from GSG put her in contact with. She intends to form a working group including these students to think about the new center pair exploration courses—curriculum development being another aspect of faculty support that CAST will be a large part of.
In the meantime, students are welcome to email Robin.Cresiski@goucher.edu their ideas about how things could be better. She’s also welcoming students to tell her about really positive experiences they’ve had with faculty so that she can highlight such great teaching in her faculty newsletter.
“I’m really excited to be here!” Cresiski says, not only because her great-grandmother was a Goucher alumna, but also because she is “so inspired by [President Bowen’s and Provost Lewis’s] dedication to building Goucher into an accessible, transformative liberal arts institution.” Their dedication to accessibility is very important to her and she’s excited to contribute to the process of implementing the changes that will ultimately achieve this vision.

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