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.