Israel and Palestine discussion sparks dialogue on campus

Anuraug Chaudhary and Madeline St. John
Staff Writers

Can something be both necessary and needless, systematic and disorganized, familiar and distant? If you are talking about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the many views associated with it, then yes.

Historically, there has been a lack of conversation about the conflict on campus. Last semester, A student who was born and raised in Israel, worked with a pro-Palestinian student on two events in an effort to promote conversation about the conflict. What they found, the student said, was that there are three types of people, all of who were scared of each other: the pro-Israeli, the pro-Palestinian, and the person who doesn’t know anything, who is scared to ask because s/he is afraid of both sides.

A new club, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), started out the year making waves, simply by having a table at club rush. Also this year, Gabrielle Spear ‘15, executive board member of SJP, has come together with Israel-born Nadav Marcus ‘17 to lead a discussion on the conflict. Held in the Batza Room of the Athenaeum, “It’s Time to Talk: An Israel and Palestine Discussion” is open to all students and all points of view. The leaders of the new Israel and Palestine book discussion hope bring these groups of people together in conversation in a safe and open space.

The group will be reading “One Land, Two Stories,” a book co-authored by an Israeli professor and a Palestinian professor. In weekly meetings, the group will discuss the topics presented in chapters of the book. “We wanted it to be a discussion by and for the students. We are hoping that by doing it in this way the discussion as a whole can be a model for what is possible at Goucher,” Spear said.

Monday, October 6th was the first meeting of the “It’s Time to Talk” discussion group. Marcus and Spear, who are leading the discussion, laid out their ground rules: listen to others and really think about what they are saying before responding. Also, let each other know if you are offended. The two of them are on opposite sides of the spectrum when it comes to views on the Israeli-Palestine Conflict. “If we could come together, everyone could…There is no option to ignore other people any longer…There are many truths. Just because something is not true for you, that does not mean it isn’t a truth,” Marcus said.

Goucher Hillel is also involved in the conversation. Hillel supports Israel’s right to defend itself as a Jewish state, but also welcomes multiple viewpoints. Karin Hassin, Hillel’s full-time Israel fellow, has the job of connecting students to Israel. On October 30th, Gil Hoffman, an Israel expert, will be coming to speak.

Meanwhile, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) hopes to give a voice to students who sympathize with Palestine. Prior to the creation of SJP, there was no place for students to express solidarity with Palestine. SJP leaders wanted to challenge this status quo. “After meetings, students have come up to me and said, ‘before, I was afraid to say something that wasn’t pro-Israel, or anything that was critical of Israel. I don’t feel so alone now, I know it’s not just me.’ That’s why I started SJP,” executive board member Ashley Begley ‘16 said.

SJP leaders made it clear that they will not stand for racism, sexism, anti-semitism, etc. They are aware that in other parts of the nation there have been altercations between SJP members and other students, and they want to make it clear that that they are not associated with that. Goucher’s SJP club is completely nonviolent. Club leaders view their club as a reflection of the Palestinian people and they do not want to reflect them in a negative way. As of now, SJP will be focusing on education and teachings, advocacy and awareness. “The biggest thing [Americans] should do is educate themselves. Have the audacity to look at International, at Arab news sources. It’s all readily available online,” SJP member Jason Wright ‘14 said.

Overall, students of varying perspectives on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are very hopeful about the continuing conversation on campus. “I have been astounded by, and regained some hope for humanity, in interacting with Goucher’s students, in their capacity for openness,” Wright said.

Students express views on Israel and Palestine

Anurag Chaudhary and Madeline St. John

Staff Writers

“You can’t have a universal truth in this situation,” said Israel-born Goucher student Nadav Marcus ‘17, addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “There is a story for every single person who has been affected.” The on-going conflict between Israel and Palestine is full of stories, contradictions, and a variety of perspectives. This diversity of viewpoints is reflected at Goucher, where many students feel strongly about these issues and have personal connections to the conflict.

For some, their views are easily articulated. “For me, it was never a question,” Ashley Begley ‘16, member of the executive board of the new Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) club said, identifying herself as pro-Palestinian. “I have a natural need to fight for justice and I think what is happening in Israel is a violation of human rights…people are being systematically pushed out of their homes and not allowed to come back.”

“I view the injustices happening in Palestine as a simultaneous occupation, colonization, apartheid and ethnic cleansing,” Gabrielle Spear ‘15, another member of the executive board of SJP stated. Neither Begley nor Spear had been very aware of the conflict before coming to Goucher, where they began to study the conflict more deeply.

SJP member Jason Wright ‘15 is also “staunchly pro-Palestinian.” He believes “there is an extraordinarily lop-sided distribution of power” and that “it is an issue of colonialism.”

For others, their position is a little more complicated. “I’m pro-Israeli, but that doesn’t mean I can’t criticize what they are doing. And just because I’m pro-Israeli, that doesn’t mean I am anti-Palestinian,” Talya Stern ‘17, who was born and raised in Israel, said.

Marcus explained that the Jewish people view Israel as a miracle. It is their homeland, and it saved their existence. Zionism is the belief in a Jewish homeland in Israel. However, not all Jews are Zionists and not all Zionists are Jews.

Dana Busgang ‘15 was raised Jewish, with the narrative that Israel is her homeland and that Israel could do no wrong. When she came to Goucher, however, her views were challenged as she explored the conflict through her political science major. She was shocked by what she learned. This past summer, she worked with an NGO in the West Bank and she says that she saw Palestinians “being systematically oppressed”.

Busgang knows that America provides Israel with weapons. As an American Jew, she feels that what Israel is doing to the Palestinians is in her name. She does not agree with their policy and so she stands in solidarity with Palestinians. For her, this has been a hard position to take. “It is frustrating that Judaism is so tied to supporting Israel here…I would like to participate more [in services], but I feel like if I spoke out about my beliefs, I would be labeled a ‘self-hating Jew’,” she said.

This past summer, SJP leaders (prior to the formation of SJP), Begley and Spear went to Nazareth on an Intensive Course Abroad (ICA) to study Arab Culture. While there, they studied the language, made friends, and came to identify with the Palestinians. “Once you learn the language of a people, once you are immersed in the language, in the culture, you give a little bit of yourself to them, and they give a little bit of themselves to you. That is why I feel so strongly about this [issue],” Begley said.

For Jason Wright, who also spent this summer in Palestian territory, the challenge has been figuring out what his relationship, as a young American, is to this conflict. “I feel as though, at the very least, I must become more vocal,” he said. “It is my perspective that America is maintaining the status quo and this is something to which I cannot sit idly by.”

Soon after the students returned from their ICA, this summer’s conflict in the Gaza Strip began. “I started seeing streets that I had walked, ‘my streets’ because they were now a part of me, with soldiers and tear gas…My friends are there and they can’t get out,” Begley said.

“Not only did we have the privilege…of visiting the Palestinian homes in Israel, but we also had the privilege of leaving. And there was definitely a guilt in leaving,” Spear said.
Meanwhile, Goucher student Dana Busgang was still there. She was working for an NGO in a refugee camp in the Palestinian city of Nablus in the West Bank, helping teenagers develop leadership skills and understand “the political reality in which they live their lives.”

During her three months in Palestinian territory, Busgang learned what it was like to live in a war-zone. “Some days it was fine, but other days the Israeli army would block the roads, so it might take two hours to get to my apartment that was fifteen minutes away…but you’ve got to think, for Palestinians, this is normal,” Busgang said. For Busgang, the rocket sirens were the scariest. “You imagine war as being soldier in front of soldier, but that’s not it. You imagine that it is organized, and it is not,” Stern said.

Stern has also experienced life in a war zone. She grew up in Israel and returned there to work in a commune for a year. With her brother and 92-year-old grandfather still in Israel, she tries to visit twice
a year. According to her, having 90 seconds to get to a bomb shelter is a long time. In some places, you only get ten seconds. While she was growing up in Israel, there were many bus bombings. Although she was a child then and was not quite aware of what was going on, she still feels that today’s rockets are better than the bus bombings. At least, with rockets, you have a warning.

Stern, while recognizing her bias as someone from Israel, points out the humanitarian side of Israel. When in that commune, she was with 52 other people, working with Arab children. Many Israelis do social work before entering the army. She thinks Americans should get to know Israel more intimately—there are relationships between Israelis and Palestinians. Because Israel is a united front, from the outside it can be hard to see that it is a democratic country in which there are pro-Israelis, pro-Palestinians—people with many different views.

Both Palestinians and Israelis are just trying to survive, in Stern’s view. It is hard to come together when there are so many years of history telling you it is not possible. Stern said she has seen videos of eight-year old Palestinian children reciting verses about spilling the blood of the Jews. “It is hard to know how much of that goes in,” she said. “Whatever happens, [if we want peace] someone is going to have to take a leap of faith…to make a huge sacrifice.”

Stern told the story of her Israeli friend who spent three years in the army. When he came back, there was a picture of him on Facebook of him with his fellow soldiers. The caption read “the Crew, missing a few.” “If you live in Israel, you know someone who has died in a war,” Stern said.

People on both sides of the conflict hope to humanize it. “Palestinians are some of the greatest people I’ve met,” Busgang said. “They are strong and especially funny. To live through that, to live there, you have to laugh…Usually, I am a pessimist. I am a pessimist about most other things. But [with this] I have to have hope that there will be peace.” Stern says she feels comfortable talking about the conflict because she does not view it as black and white. “I feel that everyone can relate to my views because people are people and suffering is suffering,” she said.

Students of all perspectives hope this conversation will continue through groups like Goucher Hillel, Students for Justice in Palestine, and the “It’s Time to Talk: An Israel and Palestine Discussion” book-based discussion.

Goucher contingent faculty announces plan to unionize

Rachel Brustein

Editor-in-Chief

The contingent faculty at the college plans to unionize in order to be treated more fairly by the school. Contingent faculty includes faculty that is part or half time, adjunct and non-tenure track, and comprises over sixty percent of the teaching positions at the college. They receive extremely low pay compared to their tenured peers and cannot participate in major decisions made by the faculty. A lack of these rights is not uncommon for contingent faculty at other institutions of higher education.

These faculty members have partnered with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the second largest union in the country, in order to unionize. Non-tenure track faculty at other institutions including the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), American University, and Georgetown, have successfully unionized with SEIU.

Rollie Hudson, an adjunct lecturer in the Communications Department and the Digital Arts graduate program, explained that he is fortunate enough to work other jobs in addition to his teaching at Goucher. However, some contingent faculty live solely from what they earn here.

Fifteen faculty members have already publicly supported the decision to unionize and have signed their names in an email to the entire faculty on October 2. The email stated: “our working conditions are our students’ learning conditions.” It also explained that these faculty members believe collective bargaining to be “the most just and fair way to address these concerns, including but not limited to compensation, faculty governance, voting rights, job security, benefits, advancement, and transparency.” Collective bargaining will also strengthen the faculty’s commitment to each other and to social justice. In this email, the faculty also recognized the fiscal pressures and challenges in higher education and at Goucher.

Jeffrey Dowd, visiting assistant professor of sociology, and one of the fifteen faculty members to publicly support this decision, explained, “there is an enormous power imbalance dealing with an administration when you’re contingent,” which is why it is important to unionize. Dowd also noted that there are many larger social forces that play into this, and from a sociological and social justice perspective, workers can best confront problems by working together. Additionally, he explained that unions are “primarily controlled by people in the working and middle classes,” and that unionization is a response to the “hollowing out of the middle class” in higher education. Maureen Winter ‘13, who teaches French, thinks that this is “good for the Goucher community to change the relationship between the contingent faculty and the administration.” Laura Orem, a non-tenure track faculty in the writing program, said by collective bargaining, Goucher is “living up to its ideals and commitments of social justice and democracy starting right at home.” Charlee Sterling, who also teaches in the writing program, said that though Goucher treats its non-tenure track faculty well, the school could always improve.

The administration has been aware of the contingent faculty’s choice to unionize for about two or three weeks. Provost Marc Roy sent out an official statement to all faculty on Monday, September 29. That Thursday, October 2, some faculty members met with President José Bowen and Roy. “The college cannot tell faculty that they may or may not [unionize], that would be illegal,” Roy explained. The administration is not involved in the formation of the union. While the administration has the power, the goal of unionizing is not to overpower the administration, but rather to level the power.

In order to form the union, the contingent faculty members must first sign union authorization cards. The card says that “the worker who signs it wants to have a democratic secret ballot election held in their workplace to decide whether or not the workers there will form a union,” a union organizer explained in an email. There must be thirty percent interest from the contingent faculty in order for the cards to be filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Currently, this is the step in the process the faculty is at. The next step is to schedule and hold the election, and if fifty percent of the voters say yes to a union, the union will be legally recognized by the NLRB. Then a bargaining team is selected amongst the workers so that they can bargain their first contract. Once this happens, if an agreement is made between the college and the union, it is voted on and ratified to become part of the contract under which all members of the union are covered. If an agreement is not reached, the union continues to bargain.

When Hudson and three organizers from SEIU met with students at the Radical Leftist club meeting on Thursday, October 2, they encouraged students to take action. This issue directly affects students, as students’ education is dependent on whether or not these contingent faculty can stay at Goucher. Currently, students involved in the Radical Leftist club are working on a petition to gain student support for the unionization.

Umoja spreads awareness about microagressions

Rachel Brustein

Editor-in-Chief

During the week of September 22, Umoja, Goucher’s black student union, held an inaugural campaign to raise awareness about racial microaggressions. Racial microaggressions are “brief and everyday slight insults, indignities, and denigrating messages sent to people of color.”

Umoja members tabled on Van Meter throughout the week. Students of color had the opportunity to write down microaggressions that had been directed to them on a chalkboard, and have their photo taken along with it. The idea for the campaign stemmed from a similar campaign at Harvard, where a Tumblr account was made showing students of color displaying signs with microaggressions written on them.

Though race has been a prominent topic of dialogue on campus, microaggressions have rarely come up within the conversation, if they have at all.

The microaggressions said at Goucher are a “combination of ignorance and people being rude,” Jordan Leonard ’18, an Umoja member said. Leonard added, “One of the hardest parts of discussing these things is opening the dialogue in a way that everyone feels comfortable.” He hopes the anti-microaggression campaign will serve as a starting point for future dialogue. Yabsera Faris ’17, a co-President of Umoja, explained that doing the anti-microaggression campaign during the first half of the semester “causes the conversation to continue.”

These microaggressions are present in many settings on campus, including classrooms. Robert Fletcher ’16, co-President of Umoja, said, “It’s awkward because you’re in the classroom, you can’t really address it at the moment.” The Umoja executive board explained that when students came up to the table, it was sometimes hard for them to pinpoint a specific microaggression. Once people thought of one, it was easy to come up with others that they had heard. Fletcher also added that students of color were excited to have the opportunity to “express the microaggressions that they’ve experienced [and] didn’t realize they [microaggressions] had a title.”

While only people of color experience microaggressions, one of the goals of the campaign was to educate all students on their impact. Goucher’s campus, often viewed as liberal, “is not exempt from racism” remarked Kylie Grove-Peattie ’15, who serves on the Umoja executive board. Nyasha Moony-McCoy ’16, Umoja’s treasurer, explained, “The Goucher bubble is very real [and] as a campus we feel we are above racism, ” though in reality the campus is not. It is “important to recognize that we [white people] won’t ever know what it’s like to be a person of color,” Grove-Peattie added. White activists have been known for doing a lot of talking about this issue, but perhaps what they really need to do is listen.

Umoja will be hosting a follow-up discussion about microaggressions on Tuesday, October 13 at 6pm in Buchner in the Alumni House. Umoja’s meetings are every Tuesday at 9pm in Pinkard.

They have a Facebook page, UmojaBSUGoucher, Instagram at UmojaGoucher, and Twitter @UmojaGoucherBSU.

Faculty committees and student representation

Samantha Cooper

News Editor

The student government at Goucher recently was re-named and re-organized into the Goucher Student Government (GSG). While the reaction to the new government has been mixed, it’s important to note that it is made up of many committees, each with its own purpose, and the majority of which most students are unaware of. Many of the committees are made up of both staff and student members who strive to do what they believe is best for Goucher College.

One of the committees is the Faculty Committee, which is comprised of two smaller committees: the Academic Policy Committee and the Curriculum Committee. The Academic Policy Committee deals with anything to do with admissions, financial aid, class schedules, and records, though according to Chair of Faculty Committee, Scott Sibley, the committee has been focusing on “schedules and credit loads.” The Curriculum Committee is responsible for “approving new courses, changes to existing majors, minors and programs, proposals for new majors,” according to Provost Marc Roy, who is one of the staff members of the Curriculum Committee. The Committee is also responsible for approving courses for L.E.R. requirements that aren’t taken at Goucher that may not be a clear substitute. This is particularly true for students who are trying to fulfill L.E.R. while they are studying abroad.

The Academic Policies Committee has eight members and currently doesn’t have any students serving, but normally has two student representatives. The Curriculum Committee has nine members, two of which are student members. This year, the serving students are Samuel Kessler ’16 and Hannah Painter ’17. Kessler has served on the committee since his freshman year, while this is Painter’s first year on the committee. Last year, Kessler was the only representative.

Students on the committees used to be chosen by the SGA, but since the change in the government, there seems to have been issues in finding new students. Kessler explained that he personally selected Painter to be the second student on the committee, as he is going abroad next semester and did not want to leave the committee without a student representative. “I would love for all committees to be as diverse as possible. I picked somebody as different from me as I could,” Kessler explained. Painter, is indeed his opposite. Kessler is a male, humanities student in his junior year while Painter is a female math major in her sophomore year. He also chose her, also because he wanted to be able to represent as many student views at Goucher as he could.

GSG has not been as proactive in finding students to cover the spots in the committees as the former SGA had. According to Kessler, the SGA sent out an e-mail during his freshman year asking any interested students to send an email. This year, no such e-mail was sent out, so Kessler had to do it on his own.
Painter wasn’t aware of the committee’s existence until Kessler told her about the open position, but she said, “it was really cool to be involved” with the staff on the committee. She talked about her very first meeting where one of the topics of discussion was adding a new class to the curriculum, whether it was a good idea to add more classes, and if it was necessary.

Information on the committees is rather difficult to find. The single website dedicated to the committees is outdated, and the staff members of the committee didn’t know about who the students on the committee were. The names of the faculty members on the committees were difficult to find as well. A student who is curious about how the college works would be hard-pressed to find information on them without e-mailing several staff members and members of the GSG.

When asked why they thought this, Kessler said, “The only reason for students to know about this [the Curriculum Committee] is for them to know about the L.E.R. they need fulfilled. Sibley said he believed it simply wasn’t a thing that crosses many students’ minds, “When I was a student, I had no idea of the faculty committees at my schools too.”

Roy agreed with the statement and stated that “It wasn’t part of my life.” All involved would like to see more students getting involved with the committees as the suggestions would help them decide what students at Goucher would like and need most.

Both faculty members would also like students to know that professors are required to be on a committee and they all take their roles “very seriously.” Roy, is on several of the committees at Goucher including the Budget-Planning Committee, the Faculty Committee and has a representative on the Academic Policies Committee. Sibley is also the chair on the Faculty Committee.

Gate on the side road to the Sheraton closed

Sarah Callender

Features Co-Editor

In recent weeks, many students have noticed that their favorite shortcut to and from Goucher has been shut down. The gate on the side road leading onto Southerly Road is now closed 24/7 and shows no signs of being opened again anytime soon.

Richard Puller, Director of Public Safety, explains that there were several reasons that led Goucher to close the gate. “The side gate roadway was becoming a parking lot for Jimmy’s Cabs during the day. Visitors to the professional offices, the Sheraton, and Edenwald who did not want to pay to park in the garages over there opted to use our roadway and/or the Dorsey lot and walk to their appointments,” Puller said. Additionally, on the weekends people were parking in Dorsey lots and taking the shuttle downtown so that they did not have to pay for parking. There were maintenance issues with the visitors leaving cigarette and coffee debris behind, necessitating clean-up in those parking lots. It should also be iterated that the gate and the roadway is all Goucher’s property.

Puller noted that Goucher just finished a campus-wide Public Safety assessment conducted by an outside consulting team and they are in the process of waiting for the results to come in. “There is always room for improvement and we look to improve in every way from public relations and customer service to better controlling our outer and inner perimeters, i.e. the side gate,” Puller said. The gate is part of the holistic approach of looking at the safety and security of the entire campus.

Some students still feel inconvenienced by this recent change. “I have to go through two extra lights on the way home,” Maggie McCready ’16 and a commuter student lamented, “It’s very inconvenient especially since Goucher doesn’t mark it off so I end up driving down there and then having to turn around because it’s closed.”

Public Safety acknowledged that there have been some complaints but has also expressed surprise that none of the maintenance or supply trucks that used that shortcut have issued any complaints. Puller believes that the gate will most likely be closed for the remainder of the year, but may be opened on occasion for special events. Puller emphasized that the students always come first and has encouraged them to send him ideas for alternative solutions at any time. “We are exploring options. Someone may very well come up with a workable option or alternative. But for right now, I believe we are better off with it closed.”

Bowen addresses students’ concerns

Rachel Brustien

Editor-in-Chief

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.”

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