Bowen addresses students’ concerns

Rachel Brustien


On Wednesday, September 17, the Goucher Student Government (GSG) hosted an open forum with college president José Bowen. The forum allowed students to express their concerns with recent and upcoming changes. The forum was facilitated by Isaiah Zukowski ’17 and featured a question and answer session with Bowen, which addressed topics, including the Goucher Video Application (GVA), student retention rate, Wi-Fi, Title IX, study abroad, student support services, and the Stimson project.

GSG advertised the event by sending out emails to the student body, and encouraged students to submit pertinent questions ahead of time via email. Once these questions had been gathered, Zukowski presented them to Bowen and then opened the floor so students could ask follow-up questions.

In terms of the GVA, Bowen revealed that he met with admissions, Associate Provost LaJerne Cornish, and Provost Marc Roy back in July to discuss Goucher’s community principles and possibilities for a more inclusive admissions process. This resulted in a faculty meeting, where a few ideas were “tossed around,” as Bowen said, including the video application.

Bowen reiterated that Goucher will still use the Common Application, and if students do choose to do the GVA, they must also submit two pieces of high school work. Although students do not have to submit a transcript with the video application, students do have to submit a transcript if they want to be considered for merit-based scholarships. Bowen also reminded students that scholarships are given after students are admitted. Therefore, it is possible for someone to apply through the video application, and then later submit their transcript to be considered for merit-based scholarships. Additionally, students who are from low-income backgrounds who are admitted through the GVA will still be able to apply for need-based aid both through FAFSA and the college. Upon being asked how the GVA will attract students who are the first in their family to attend college, Bowen explained that the video gives the college recognition and it will give high school students a new opportunity when applying to colleges. Because more students have a phone than a laptop or computer, and phones are “better at making videos than writing essays, so I felt it leveled the playing field.”

There was much speculation expressed as to whether or not the GVA will succeed. Bowen mentioned several ways in which the success can be measured including a rise in SAT scores among applicants, the overall yield of students, and the retention of students accepted. Another way to measure this is tracking the GPAs of students who were accepted on the Common Application versus the GPAs of students accepted on the GVA.

The GVA has sparked a lot of response nationwide, giving Goucher a great deal of publicity. When this topic came up, Bowen acknowledged that “most of the publicity we’re getting is positive,” and while not all of the responses to the GVA have been positive, the GVA has been able to get the school’s name out there. “If it works,” Bowen said, “trust me, everyone will be doing this in the next couple years. Eight hundred schools are now SAT [or ACT] test-optional; it started with one school.”

A few students asked whether the GVA will hurt the budget, but financial models allow for the school to continue the curent model that it needs to meet and sustain the budget in the short-term. In the long term, if the video application  results raising the total yield for the school, it could help sustain the budget because when more students are enrolled, the budget is better, regardless of the financial need of the students.  Zukowski mentioned to Bowen that the four students present at the panel on the GVA were opposed to it. Bowen found this statement to be false, and while he did say that students were involved in the process, he did not remember who those students were.

This brought up the question of the administration making big decisions without first asking for student input, which came up a few more times throughout the forum. Bowen responded to this comment by saying, “I’m here…I have open hours.” He reiterated that he is willing to talk to students about their concerns on campus.

Another major topic addressed at the forum was Goucher’s retention rate. Goucher students and the administration are aware that the college does not have a very high retention rate. Zukowski mentioned that the retention rate across four years is only 59%. Bowen said that he “just hired someone who has expertise in this area.” He also mentioned that Cornish is starting a committee on the subject, which will consist of people from student services, student affairs, and other areas of the college. A student later asked if there are students on the committee. Bowen said there are not any on the committee yet, but that it is a possibility. Part of retention, Bowen explained, is that “we need to look at what we do…everything we do on campus matters.”

This brought the conversation back to the topic of the video application, as he elaborated on the idea that if more people apply using the Common Application, which has happened, the yield goes down because all you have to do is check a box. However, if people use the video application, students will be “intentional” about applying to Goucher.

One question Zukowski posed was, “Why are we choosing admissions first when we’re having a hard time right now as it is providing for the students here?” Bowen responded that nothing is mutually exclusive. “It’s not an either or [and] we’re taking a holistic view of student services, academic services, [and how] they can be rethought,” he said.

Retention is closely related to maintaining and enlarging the size of the student body. Bowen said that the campus is sized for 1,600 students, but is currently at 1,440. The target for next year’s admission is higher, and the college has a continuous goal of reaching 1,600 students.

Bowen noted that the decision to upgrade the Wi-Fi was made based on the results of a survey from IT sent to students in the spring. He said the Wi-Fi upgrade cost $1.2 million.

In regards to the Title IX online training course, Bowen made it clear that the college is required by federal law to administer this to everyone on campus, including students, faculty, and staff. The college looked at a few different products that were available, and chose this specific training course because over 150 schools have used it. Bowen admitted that “we probably could’ve communicated a little bit better” when the training course was first sent out to students.

    Zukowski also asked Bowen to talk about study abroad. The first thing Bowen said in response to this was that “we haven’t removed the voucher, we’ve just changed the way it’s allocated.” He added that the amount of money one gets for study abroad will be about where the student is going and their financial need. In regards to the requirement, Bowen said, “I don’t see a reason to change it. It’s expensive, but it’s not monumental” and that he sees “study abroad as a means to an end.”

    Another topic mentioned was college employees in student support services who have left their jobs, but their positions had not been refilled. Bowen stressed the importance of looking at the budget and being strategic in the positions that are hired. “We’re going to be in a constant mode of looking at the budget,” Bowen said. 

    When students were allowed to pose their own questions, renovating Stimson came up. Bowen acknowledged how necessary this project is and that the building has to be brought up to code. He said that constructing a new building is $40 million, and renovating the current building is $20 million. However, it is easier to fundraise for a new building even though it is more expensive. Additionally, constructing a new building allows the college to answer questions about number of beds, if it should be suite-style living or halls of singles, doubles, and triples, and what the dining should look like. A committee, which includes students, has been formed and an architecture firm has been hired, although there is not yet a firm timeline for the project.

    Bowen also mentioned that Hoffberger and Meyerhoff both need renovations, and that he does not want to play favorites between departments. He said that “the arts matter to me,” but he also wants “to be strategic about where we put that money.”

    One transfer student raised a concern about the college being more open and available to transfers. Although private schools, unlike public universities, are not mandated to reach out to community colleges, Bowen agreed with the student that Goucher could definitely do more outreach to recruit transfer students.

Dean of Students, Bryan Coker, and the staff from the Office of Student Engagement (OSE) were also present at the forum. Coker said he was there because his job is to serve as the liaison between the president and the students and wanted to be aware of what students’ questions and concerns are. Stacy Cooper Patterson, Director of Student Engagement, stressed the importance of hearing concerns directly from the students, rather than from other people on campus.

    Deanna Galer ’17, who is on the GSG Transition Team and helped coordinate the forum, said that “the event has already sparked an administrative conversation about proactivity rather than reactivity and hearing students’ voices on all issues.”

Goucher debuts the Video Application

Samantha Cooper

News Editor

On September 4, Goucher College launched the Goucher Video Application, which will allow the future Class of 2019 to send a two-minute video describing how they see themselves flourishing at the college. Rather than asking for grades or test scores, students will only be required to submit two pieces of high school work: a graded essay and a second piece of work of the student’s choosing: an art project, short story, lab report or dance performance.

The essay will assess a potential student’s writing ability to see if they can craft and defend a thesis, and whether or not their writing skills are up to the Goucher’s standards. The second piece of work will be analyzed by a staff member who is a professional in that area; a student who sends in a short story, for example, will have their work analyzed by somebody in the English department, while a student who sends in a copy of a lab report will have their work looked over by somebody from the Chemistry department.

“We’ve always taken a holistic to approach to the way we review applications… So this is another way for the college to commit themselves to taking that holistic approach,” Admissions Counselor Chris Wild said. Wild helped to spearhead the campaign, which was created by President Jose Bowen. “The key for us was to ensure this is an accessible application. As much as it is about reaching students, it’s also about accessibility to higher education…So we wanted to be very, very, very clear that the video itself was not about production quality.”

The videos will be judged on three factors by a committee of staff members: Content and thoughtfulness, structure and organization, and clarity and effectiveness. The first section is worth ten points, while the second two are worth five points each. While the videos will not be judged on production values, there are still a few guidelines that need to be followed. The video must be no more two minutes long and begin with the student standing in front of the camera stating their name and where they are from. Students must describe how they see themselves thriving at Goucher College. The videos must then be uploaded to Goucher’s site where they will be evaluated once all materials are submitted.

The new application is the creation of President Jose Bowen who introduced it as a way to demystify the college application process, as well as to make it more accessible to a greater variety of students. “We know that video is an incredibly popular and important new form of communication. Students may feel more comfortable with this but it’s also something students will need to do in the future,” Bowen said in a video explaining the new application. “We’re doing this because higher education should be about potential and not about privilege.”

Bowen hopes that the Video Application will appeal to students from lower-income families who may not have been given the same opportunities during childhood and may not know about selective liberal arts schools like Goucher. He cited a statistic that said students whose families are in the bottom quartile for household income only have an 8% chance of graduating from college, while somebody from the top quartile has a 73% chance of graduating.

He also discussed research done by Stanford professor, Caroline Hoxby. Hoxby’s research revealed that every year there are thirty to forty thousand high school seniors who have the grades and/or the test scores to get into college, even a selective liberal arts one like Goucher, who do not apply anywhere. This is because they do not know about colleges like Goucher, or believe they cannot afford them or they apply to community colleges, or colleges with open enrollment

Bowen also believes that the Video Application will appeal to students who have the grades to get into college, but may think otherwise. “They don’t understand how to look at a transcript,” he said, “I know that if you have a C in algebra, it’s one C and it’s not a big deal. When we unrolled the Video App, we got letter after letter after letter from high school teachers saying ‘I have students who don’t understand that a B in my class doesn’t mean they can’t go to college.’”

Wild, on the hand, believes that the Video Application will appeal to “more creative students,” who will use the Video as a way to exhibit their artistic abilities, or to students who are better orators than essay writers.

Both believe that the new application will help students confused by the process and will help even out the playing field between students from different economic classes. Students who may have not been given equal opportunities during their lifetime and might have been given certain advantages would be relatively indistinguishable if they both sent in a Video Application.

“We’re not lowering standards. We’re making it easier to apply. We’re making it easier to start a conversation,” Bowen said during an interview. He cited his own experience as a high school senior, where he was given an application to the local city college, which was open enrollment, despite being the valedictorian of his class. It was only because his mother decided to go the school, yell at the admissions counselor and grab the first application she saw and made him fill it out.

Many students don’t have parents like Bowen and so, wouldn’t even have the opportunity he did. Another reason that these students may not apply to schools, especially ones like Goucher is that they believe they can’t afford it. Sixty percent of American citizens don’t know that private schools offer financial aid, and therefore don’t apply.

Students who apply via the Video Application are still eligible for both need-based and merit-based scholarships. Students who want a need based scholarships will need to fill out all the necessary forms in order to be eligible. Students who want to receive merit-based scholarships will need to submit their transcripts, but their admittance to Goucher will not be based on those grades.

The reactions from the press and general public have been mixed;  one Twitter user by the handle @Josh_Hylton21 wrote, “I don’t know what or where you are Goucher College but you caught my attention.” Some news sources like The Baltimore Sun have lauded Goucher for creating a “novel way for cell-phone savvy teenagers” to apply to college,” while others have criticized it, calling it the “Selfie-Video” and have compared it to the application video Elle Woods made in the movie Legally Blonde.

Many who have criticized the Video Application are especially concerned that Goucher won’t be able to properly assess the videos, and will end up admitting unqualified students therefore lowering the quality and standards of the school. Some have pointed out the opening to the video announcement, where a student tears up a high school transcript, may send the wrong message.

“We probably could have chosen a different image. But it generated a lot of publicity; some of it negative, some of it positive. If we had taken a gentler approach, we might not have gotten that attention,” Bowen said.

The responses from Goucher faculty have been mainly positive. Several faculty members who helped with the creation of the Video Application have posted videos on the Goucher website showing their support including Nina Kasinunas, Scott Sibley, and Eric Singer.

“I’m really excited about Goucher’s Video Application. We’re a liberal arts college here at Goucher. We emphasize the whole student…It makes perfect sense to me that we should allow them an alternative to use a video to apply for college,” said Dr. Nina Kasinunas, from the Political Science department.

“We want students who are strong, obviously, but many students at Goucher have strong second interests…During the video the student can talk about how they’ll fit in as whole person here. I think that’s something we’re looking forward to seeing the video,” said Dr. Scott Sibley, a Chemistry professor.

Many of the concerns about the new application within the school appeared to come from students. Sophomore transfer student Noah Kahan said, “If you don’t require transcripts and you ask people to take videos. It makes it so that you may be getting less intelligent people than if you actually asked for a transcript. It might lower the school’s level of rigor.”

Other students voiced their concerns during the open-forum assembly held on September 17. They expressed concern that the application would admit students who weren’t academically prepared for Goucher and would lower the value of their degrees.

Some also expressed that they felt the Video Application was simply a way to increase enrollment and recognition of the school, and that it appeared to be more of a publicity stunt than anything else.

Bowen admitted there were some drawbacks to the Video Application during a live-stream information session that was also held on September 17. “We’re trying something new. One of the pitfalls is that we can see people. There’s a potential bias in the system. You can’t unsee a glitzy video,” he said.

During an interview, he emphasized that the launch of the Application wasn’t a way to increase enrollment and that it has the potential to change the college admissions process forever. “If it works, and…it’s easy to identify potential. If I am able to say these five students are going to succeed here and those five students all graduate then every school in the country will do this.”

Eleven students have already started the process but have not sent in their videos yet. Accepted students who decide to enroll may be asked for their transcripts so that they can be tracked alongside their peers who applied in the traditional manner. It will be impossible to tell how well the Video Application works until the students accepted through the Application have been at Goucher for at least a year. Either way, Bowen believes the Application is a good risk to take; “More ideas are killed by doubt than failure,” he said, “You don’t not do something because it might fail.”

Goucher students march in SlutWalk

Rachel Brustien


On Saturday, September 6, Goucher’s Feminist Collective (FemCo) bought over fifty students to participate in Baltimore’s annual SlutWalk. SlutWalk is an international movement that came about in 2011, after an incident where a Toronto policeman said, “Women should avoid dressing like sluts in order to not be victimized.” The movement, which holds Slut Walks in many cities, aims to “end victim-blaming and slut-shaming,” and to end rape culture, according to its website.

The representatives from Goucher joined other members of the Baltimore community to march from the Bank of America building, through the Inner Harbor, to City Hall dressed like “sluts.” The people who participated in the walk sported various kinds of attire, or the lack of one. Some wore a t-shirt and shorts, others wore a bra and shorts, and some women and men wore only duct tape over their nipples with shorts. Most of the participants held up various signs with slogans such as “End Rape Culture,” “Goucher Sluts Unite,” and “Consent is Sexy.”

Throughout the walk, the group accumulated a variety of responses from the general public.

Some responses were positive, and applauded the group for standing up against slut shaming and sexual assault. Others, however, were displeased that so many people were wearing next-to-nothing in a public place. One middle-aged man who walked by and said to the group, “Down with women. Up with men.”

At the conclusion of the walk at City Hall, various speakers gave presentations to the walkers in order to further convey the message of the event.  One speaker, who introduced the importance of the movement, said, “The word ‘slut’ was redefined by SlutWalk founders…as someone who is in control of their sexuality.” She placed an emphasis on “no shame,” articulating that those who are victims of assault should not be ashamed of their sexuality or who they are.

Sara Wilkinson, the president of the Maryland chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW), a grassroots movement that works towards women’s rights, also spoke. Wilkinson emphasized that rape can happen anywhere, including college campuses, and encouraged the participants in the walk to take political action on this issue. She reminded those in attendance, “We are privileged to be here in Baltimore, where the police are not harassing us. We can wear whatever we want,” and to “Look around and see who’s not here, think about why they’re not here.” Wilkinson ended her talk on the note of teaching today’s youth about the need to end street harassment and rape culture.

Hollaback Baltimore, an organization that works to end street harassment, helped coordinate the SlutWalk and had one of their co-site leaders, Mel Kellner, speak at the SlutWalk. Kellner’s message focused on this, as she explained, “Ending street harassment means ending all of this stuff [rape culture] and changing our culture, shifting us over to being consent-oriented, to recognizing that women and queer folks define ourselves [and] dress the way we…want.”

The overall message of the event encouraged people to speak up against assault, and not to be silent if they are in this situation. In order to help spread this message, participants were invited to share their own stories with the group, and a couple of Goucher students took this opportunity.

FemCo co-presidents Natalie Dibo ’16 and Mackenzie Anderson ’16 are proud that “Goucher, the smallest school in the Baltimore area, represented about 80% of the protestors at [the] SlutWalk.” They also said, “FemCo’s outstanding presence at SlutWalk Baltimore highlights our focus, concern, and passion on the issue [of slut-shaming].” Dibo and Anderson are “excited to build on the momentum that SlutWalk generated.”

GSG holds first elections under new system.

Anurag Chaudhary

Staff Writer

The polls for the election of the Student Empowerment Association (SEA) and the Club Council opened on Thursday, September 4. The opening was announced in a campus wide email sent out the same day. Voting closed two days later on September 6.

As the first elections of the school year, the elections mark the first step of the transition into the new student government. The new government’s constitution was just ratified in the spring. The second step will be the election of an entirely new senate, which will take place in mid-November.

This year, a new system of voting called ‘instant runoff voting’ was used. Outlined in Section 1, Article 3 of the Goucher Student Government’s Constitution. The process is designed to stream live voting. Unlike the majority voting process in which a person can only vote for one candidate, instant runoff voting allows the voter to rank the candidates in the order of their preference. The candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated, and the process repeats until there is a winner.

For the first time, voters were able to see a picture and a short description of the candidates on the voting website, which enabled them to vote without being misinformed about the candidates or their policies.

According to the Elections Commissioner Katrina Kniss, this system is “more democratic and discouraged extremes.” She felt that it was also more inclusive and it makes sure that the opinions of the students are heard on a broad spectrum.

The turnout of the election was 18.39%, which means that about a fifth of Goucher students voted. Kniss explained that this low turnout rate was due to it being the first election of the school year. However, she is confident there will be a better turnout in the November senate elections.

During a joint meeting between members of the SEA and the Club Council, many ideas for events were thrown around. Suggestions included an official Goucher snapchat, a twelve hour art festival, a consolidated calendar, and a staff appreciation day.

Billy Daly, the Officer of Community Building for the Class of 2016, feels that people are asking questions that were not being asked before. He is confident about the new direction the community is headed into.

Title IX survey causes controversy on campus

Siobhan Dempsey

Staff Writer

On Wednesday, September 10, a survey released to students meant to comply with Title IX was met with controversy. Title IX is a 1972 law designed to enforce gender equity in all federally funded educational programs. It is most well known for  enforcing gender equity in athletic programs and  educating students about sexual assault.

Goucher students quickly became upset with the program, which they found inappropriate. The survey included several invasive questions that asked students to provide private information about their sexual activities and drinking habits. Students also had issues with the survey’s definition of rape; it was described as a violent act between a man and a woman. Many students felt this minimized LGBTQIA issues. Some students were also triggered by the depictions of sexual assault shown in the program.

At a Q&A with President Bowen on Wednesday, September 17, Isaiah Zukowski, who hosted the event with the Goucher Student Government, was concerned about the lack of student input with regard to the survey and  what that decision could possibly mean for the new administration’s future decisions. President Bowen said the administration was planning to include students in many upcoming decisions.

Many students who had issues with the survey expressed concern via email to President Jose Bowen and the Title IX Coordinator, Lucia Perfetti Clark. President Bowen acknowledged these concerns in an email to the student body on the evening of September 10, saying that he “didn’t have answers” at the time. He sent a longer email the next day.

In the second email, President Bowen expressed his admiration for the concern of the student body and addressed the various concerns emailed to him in a point-by-point manner. He stated that the administration asked the vendor to make it possible to fast-forward through the sexual assault situations and to remove the invasive questions from the survey.

He also listed three people that students could contact if they have continuing issues with the survey or any issues relating to it: Lucia Perfetti Clark, the Title IX coordinator, Chaplain Cynthia Terry, and Roshelle Kades, Assistant Director for Student Outreach.

The administration also discussed the students’ concern with the lack of information on LGBTQIA issues to the vendor. However, President Bowen emphasized both in his email and at the aforementioned Q&A that the survey was required to detail the various sexual assault crimes according to the definitions provided by the state of Maryland

Two student groups that deal with sexual issues on campus, FemCo and PRISM, expressed satisfaction with President Bowen’s timely response. However, PRISM said that they planned to meet with the Title IX coordinator to further discuss the lack of information on LGBTQIA issues in the survey.

President Bowen also informed the student body that there would be in-person sessions scheduled for early October for those who were still uncomfortable with the program. Many other students were happy that administration replied in a timely and empathetic manner and believed that the response signified a willingness to listen to students.

GoHo opens

Madeline St. John

Staff Writer

On Thursday, September 4th, the Gopher Hole officially opened, and the first open-mic night of the year occurred.The performances ranged from poetry to flute music to A Cappella. Many of the open-mic performers were first years.

“It’s fun when first years are part of the community like that. It is indicative of Goucher that people were willing to get up there and perform,” Camile Muson ‘16, the current Gopher Hole manager said.

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Hillel welcomes students to its renovated space

Victoria Russell

Chief Copy Editor

As students returned to Goucher College this fall, many noticed the beautiful new Hillel space located across from Stimson Dining Hall. The renovations were a few years in the making, but Hillel is very happy with how the space turned out. “It has been a process of two or three years,” says Rabbi Josh Snyder, Goucher Hillel Executive Director. “To be more specific, this particular renovation effort got started last summer in 2013. One particular donor helped with the Chai Campaign.” Chai directly translates to 18 in Hebrew; the number of years the Goucher Hillel has been around. The students agree that it was time for a change. “Hillel has evolved over the past few years and [this new space] seems like this is a testament to this transition,” says senior class representative Eli Kaufman.

Private donations from four donors helped to transform this space, including Frona Brown, class of 1964, “who made a transformative gift,” says Snyder. The lounge will be named and dedicated to Esther Ann Brown, her daughter. There were also three other alumnae/i who made this possible: Beth Goldsmith, class of 1972, Fern Karesh Hurst, class of 1968, and Earle and Joanne Linder, parents of the class of 2013.

The Hillel hired interior designers Tammy Heyman and Suzanne Levin-Lapides to help design the space. However, the Hillel wanted to make sure the students had input into the design and the elements of the new space. “We had a meeting for students to design furniture, colors, tables, etc. and to vote on it all,” says Snyder. Hillel also received a major upgrade in terms of technology. Students decided that they wanted a Smart TV, as well as a Deer Park water cooler, and a glass board, which will be installed soon, to display events.

Now that the new space is almost complete, the Hillel is going to be hosting a number of open house events. Student leaders are going to set up a welcome desk during lunch hours, inviting students into the space, as well as prospective families.

“Hillel wants to provide a new place for the Goucher community to come together for intercultural and inter religious community,” Snyder says. This semester, the Hillel is going to be hosting movie nights on Mondays and game nights on Wednesdays. During the second Tuesday of the month, the Hillel will also be sponsoring Hillel Happy Hour with different snacks and activities for students. Kaufman also stresses that anyone is welcome in the Hillel space. “You don’t have to be Jewish to participate in Hillel events or to enter and enjoy the space. Hillel has social justice programming. Hillel has educational programming. Hillel has social programming. There is so much for everyone to do.“ The space will also be available for other clubs on campus to reserve and use.

This spring, the Hillel is hoping to hold a formal dedication in the new space once all the work has been completed. The Hillel is also still collecting donations from alumnae/i. They are doing a “Sponsor a Chair” program, where young alumnae/i can help to sponsor a chair in the new space for a donation.

In addition to the new space, the Hillel has also undergone staffing changes. Karin Hassin is the full time Israel coordinator, connecting students to Israel. Rachel Plotkin is the new Jewish student life coordinator, working with the different student boards and leadership committees.

For a student who may know nothing about the Hillel, Snyder says, “Come visit. If you’re curious, if you’ve never walked in before, come do your homework.”


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