Goucher contingent faculty announces plan to unionize

Rachel Brustein


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


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.

On being “the feminist” camp counselor

Rachel Brustein


This past summer, I returned work at an overnight camp in Wisconsin for my fifth summer, and my second as a counselor. My past summers had been filled with fond memories. As summer 2014 approached, I became increasingly excited.

During the middle of staff week, the entire staff participated in a discussion-based program about gender. While the discussion did not go as well as I had hoped, something was clear by the end: camp is a place that continuously claims to be “inclusive,” but is not currently inclusive to trans individuals. To be clear, camp is not “anti-trans,” but rather, it is not actively pursing a way to be trans-inclusive at the moment. I applaud a friend of mine who spoke up during the program, calling out our old-fashioned camp director, who was not present, on asking a male camper to remove his nail polish.

Throughout the summer, I found myself noticing countless gender norms and standards of masculinity. While I could go on forever listing examples, I won’t. Something that caught my attention was a seemingly arbitrary rule made at the pool. In the shallow end, there is a five-foot long toy alligator that kids climb on. One morning at the pool, I heard a lifeguard blow her whistle and say, “girls off, it’s time for the boys’ turn.” I immediately questioned the gendering of this and asked the lifeguard about it. She told me that because boys are too violent, it was not safe for boys and girls to be on the alligator at the same time. I went straight to the aquatics director to inform her that I felt as though the lifeguards were making an assumption about boys being violent. She was very understanding. Nevertheless, most of the lifeguards continued to enforce this rule for the rest of the summer.

Not all of my experiences were negative though. During the second two-week session of camp, one of my co-counselors, Zoe, is a women’s studies major. For those two weeks, our cabin thrived on body and period-positivity. As a cabin bonding activity, we made SHEro posters, which involved printing out a photo of each girl’s famous female role model, decorating them, and saying why each of us picked these women.

During these two weeks, I had a conversation with another counselor. “I’m not really a feminist,” she told me one evening. When I asked her what she meant by that, she said, “Well, I’m not like Zoe.” I told her that you don’t have to be a women’s studies major and constantly talk about bodies in order to be a feminist. “I’m not not a feminist,” she replied.

I had the opportunity to examine these issues most critically during a learning session with a few other counselors led by an educator at camp, a young man in his late twenties. All of us were in this session by choice. Therefore, we were all counselors for whom gender equality was at the forefront of our thinking. The educator presented us with an article, “A feminist camp counselor unpacks her baggage,” published in Lilith, a feminist Jewish publication. Maya Zinkow, the author, wrote about her experience at her Jewish summer camp specifically after completing her sophomore year at Barnard. “I was returning to a place I loved deeply…but deep internal change is harder to accommodate in a space that must remain the familiar and idyllic home for hundreds of campers who return every summer,” the article read. Everything began to click; Zinkow got it.

In the learning session, I raised a concern about how to make the changes around gender norms that were referenced in the article. “The change has to come from the counselors,” the educator told us. When he first said this, I didn’t know what to think. I felt powerless in the entire bureaucracy of camp. I was only a counselor after all. I began to think about the big picture. Where does effective change usually stem from at Goucher? The students. The counselors (and sometimes campers) were the students in this situation.

A few weeks later, I saw a letter written by a group of ninth-grade campers. The letter called out the camp administration on asking boys wearing dresses to change. The boys were wearing dresses as part of “switch day,” where the campers dressed up like their peers. “We openly challenge traditional gender roles…we believe the actions taken were unjust and we hope you can respect our voice,” read the letter.

Though change is slowly starting to happen, I definitely felt out of place at camp this summer. I partially dealt with this by sending letters (yes, letters by mail) to Goucher friends explaining my experience. One reply read something along the lines of, “it can be hard to critique a place you love so much.” Camp no longer feels like the place where I can be my truest self, but part of me still wants to return to hopefully be part of the change.

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 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.”

College responds to emails sent to members of grad department

Rachel Brustein

On August 31, Goucher president Jose Bowen sent out an email to the college community explaining that “three very disturbing email messages containing racist language” had been sent to students, staff, and faculty in the Graduate Programs in Education. The first two of the three emails referenced were sent on August 26, and the third was sent on August 29.

Both Public Safety and the Baltimore County Police Department (BCPD) were notified. Richard Puller, the Director of Public Safety, said that on the day the emails were received, “Goucher College officials…reached out to the parties involved to advise that we were aware of the emails.” Puller also added that no more of these emails have been sent since August 29, and the police are continuing to investigate.

Bowen made it clear that these emails had not come from a Goucher email address, but rather someone pretending to be from Goucher with the email goucherfaculty@gmail.com. He also stressed the importance of notifying Public Safety if one were to receive another email with offensive content. Additionally, Bowen encouraged students to attend last week’s “Listen in/Speak Out” discussion about race and the recent incidents in Ferguson, Missouri, and to use the discussion as an opportunity to further our campus discourse on race.

New orientation ensues for first-year and transfer students

Rachel Brustein


The orientation program for all first-year and transfer students experienced significant changes this year. The biggest change  was the choice to drop summer orientation, which usually was held in the beginning of June.  Another change was dropping the early immersion programs. Christine Krieger, Associate Director of the Office of Student Engagement (OSE) said that attendance at summer orientation had been low in recent previous years. Billy Daly ’16, one of two Orientation Committee (OC) co-chairs explained, “to offset that change, we had everyone come back a day early.”

Beginning orientation a day early gave students more time to get to know one another before classes started. Kiera McCarthy ’15, Chair of OC noted that this also gave students “extra time to settle into Goucher’s community…[and] help every student feel welcome.” Although early immersion had been a positive experience for students in previous years, it sometimes created a divide between students who had and who had not participated in early immersion once the actual orientation program started.

Goucher Connects, a daylong program during the Friday of orientation, gave students the opportunity to volunteer in Baltimore with their fellow classmates, the OC, and the Connections Peer Facilitators. Though the program did not intend to serve as a replacement for early immersion, Daly explained, “we [OC] wanted to give everyone a similar immersive experience and an opportunity to get hands-on…[and] take a break from orientation.” No other college in the Baltimore area does a program like this on such a large scale, which makes Goucher unique.

McCarthy added that Goucher Connects allowed for “peer facilitators and the new students an opportunity to get to know one another and the Baltimore community.” Annabeth Lucas ’16, another co-chair of OC, said that through Goucher Connects, the OC “hoped to create an experience that was much more fulfilling and memorable…than simply strolling the Inner Harbor.” This enabled students to see a specific aspect of the city, rather than just a tourist destination. Lindsay Johnson ’05, Associate Director of Community-Based Learning (CBL) articulated one of the goals: “connect first-year students to one another through collaborative work,” and that this was not just “a day of service.” Krieger, who coordinates the majority of the orientation program, said that Goucher Connects “made a huge impact on orientation,” and hopes to continue the program. Cass Freedland, Director of CBL, worked to create the partnerships with the organizations for Goucher Connects, and is planning to continue these partnerships throughout the academic year.

Saturday night, OC and Goucher Student Government (GSG) collaborated on a new social event, First Night in the Ath. Several clubs and organizations on campus sponsored interactive activities, giving first-year and transfer students a sampling of what opportunities there are at Goucher.  In the past, one of the only social events at orientation was a dance, which did not appeal to everyone. Lucas said that this event was able to “create an environment for first-years [and transfers] to mingle,” where dancing was still an option. Daly, who was a key player in developing the event, said that instead of Taste of Towson, a previous orientation event, the OC and GSG wanted to give students “a taste of Goucher, and that’s why we wanted to work with a bunch of different clubs.” In the past, students’ first exposure to clubs was at club rush, which doesn’t “give you a chance to see what they [the clubs] do before you commit to at least getting emails from them,” Daly added.

McCarthy, Daly, and Lucas stayed on campus throughout the summer to plan the program with Krieger. McCarthy said that this included serving as a “liaison between the committee and Christine…[and] planning the Orientation Committee’s trainings.”

While there can be an overwhelming amount of information presented to first-year and transfer students at orientation, Daly explained that what he believes are the most important takeaways are not necessarily remembering all of the information, but being able to recognize the resources available on campus and “to identify some key people in each of those departments that they know they can go to.” Lucas elaborated on how orientation can serve several purposes for different people. “For some it is simply a way to meet new people…[and] for others it is an academic godsend as they meet with advisors, various departments…and staff.”

Anna Bloomfield ’18, “really enjoyed Goucher Connects because we got to make new friends and bond over how gross the compost was.” Three first-year students agreed that the more relaxed events were more fun than the more structured events because it gave them the opportunity to have conversations with people without being pressured to move onto another activity.

Looking forward, Daly would “love to continue and expand First Night in the Ath” as an orientation event. Though it is too early to say whether or not all of the changes that were made this year will stick, McCarthy said that something wonderful about orientation is that “we [OC] can easily get feedback from students and make changes as necessary.” 


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 676 other followers