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Fall Festival Emerges In Response to Cancelled W-Day

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Maddie Engelau '23 carves a pumpkin during Fall Festival at Wittenberg University on Oct. 22, 2020. Fall Festival was an opportunity for students to relax and decompress during a semester changed by the COVID-19 Pandemic. (Trent Sprague/The Wittenberg Torch)

On Thursday, Oct. 22, students emerged from their dorms and classes to be met with blaring music, pop-up activities and special events galore littering the grounds of Alumni Way. A double-date break in the recent cold weather and consistent drudge of classes due to the lack of fall-break, students swarmed the area and began to participate in the new event. The event was created by Wittenberg Student Senate who coordinated with Student Involvement, the Resident Housing Association (RHA) and Union Board as a response to the cancellation of W-Day due to COVID-19.

Student Senate vice president Alexandra Joseph (’21) comments on the replacement of W-Day and the stress from COVID-19.

“Unfortunately, we weren’t able to do W-Day this year because of the pandemic, but we recognize that students need an event like this to combat the stress that COVID-19 can bring,” Joseph said. “This has been a really hard semester with everything going on, so we wanted to make this event so that students feel welcome and generally just have a good time with each other.”

The event was well-attended with its various events spread throughout the area; students could participate in axe-throwing, photo booths, pumpkin carving, caricature drawings, card magic, balloon art, inflatable slides and tarot card readings. For every activity students participated in, they received a raffle ticket in which they could try to receive a variety of prizes, including a smart TV, Apple AirPods, an Apple Watch, a goodie basket full of various candy and t-shirts.

“Personally, I think this event is going a lot smoother than W-Day has in the past,” Ryan Hensley (’23) said. “Before, you had to stand in these ridiculously long lines in order to get a ticket which you would then have to stand in an equally long line to get a t-shirt. But because they’re trying to limit the spread of coronavirus, you can just put your name down saving your spot in line and go to other places as you wait.”

While the Fall Festival provided a moment of levity for the student body, it also came at a time when Clark County has been marked as a possible Level Four infection zone, the highest level of COVID-19 restrictions. This was only magnified by the lack of precautionary measures taken by certain attendees at the event, by their disregard of mask-wearing and lack of social distancing. While members of the greater Springfield community attended the event, even some of them failed to abide by the COVID-19 precautionary measures. This included one of the advertised activities of the event, Michael Griffin, who ran the magician’s stand without a mask for nearly half of the event.

Michael Griffen, an escape artist and magician, preforms without a mask on at Wittenberg University’s Fall Festival on Oct. 22, 2020. Griffen performed maskless as Springfield and Clark County, Ohio is on “watch” for Level Four (Purple) of the State of Ohio’s Public Health Advisory System during the COVID-19 Pandemic. (Trent Sprague/The Wittenberg Torch)

 “While right now we can only really host smaller events due to trying to keep everyone safe from the pandemic, we definitely want to try and host more events in the future,” Joseph said. “We’re going to try and do W-Day in the spring, as well as WittFest, but that’s really up to the University to decide whether we’ll be able to do that. Up until then though, we’re going to continue trying to have smaller events because we couldn’t have our fall break and so we need these events where everyone can just have fun.”

Former Library Staff Discuss Their Wittenberg Careers

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Doug Lehman, Library Director at Wittenberg University's Thomas Library, poses for a portrait on Friday, Aug. 28, 2020. Lehman retires on Monday, Aug. 31 after serving as Wittenberg's Library Director for 42 years. (Trent Sprague/The Wittenberg Torch)

At the end of Aug., three of the university library’s longest-standing staff members, including the library’s director, Doug Lehman, retired after a collective 100 years in service to the university. Joining him was Holly Wolfe, the library’s administrative and acquisitions assistant, and Betsy Dean, the library’s senior media assistant.

Lehman, who joined the library staff in 2004, took his first Wittenberg job with ladder-climbing in mind. “I was in a position where I was the equivalent of an assistant library director, and I saw this as an opportunity to become a director,” he said. “[Also,] I always kind of wanted to be in a liberal arts college. So this fits all those criteria.”

In retrospect, Lehman believes his greatest achievements as the library director were in the modernization of the library catalogue system. Starting in 2019, Lehman led the transition from Wittenberg’s legacy library system EZRA to a new statewide standard, the Ohio Private Academic Libraries Consortium. “Becoming a part of OPAL is going to help us because we’ll have access to a few other databases that we didn’t have before,” he said. “We’ll also have some better support than we’ve been able to have for the library itself… but it’s something that’s really more behind the scenes.”

In his last few years as the director, Lehman turned his attention to the evolution of libraries, especially as journals, magazines and news media are increasingly produced online, not in print. “I think that we’re still a ways off from seeing a library without books,” he said. “Most institutions that have tried to do that have ended up purchasing printed books eventually.”

He largely attributed this lack of a digital revolution in the library scene to book publishers, not libraries themselves. “It’s the publishers who we have the issues with,” he said. “Publishers don’t want us to just buy one book and then make it available in multiple settings. If they do it, they want one book that only one user can check out. So it’s similar to the print model, as opposed to, ‘we buy one book, but we have unlimited users.'”

Still, Lehman thinks that libraries will continue to evolve and survive as the landscape changes. “Ultimately, I think there will become more of a synergy now between libraries and other student services,” he said.

Lehman believes in the power of organizations like OPAL, whose mission is to improve the learning environment for students. “My favorite part [of my career] was working in the with those organizations as we continue to develop new programs and try to figure out ways to provide more resources to Ohio students and to Wittenberg students,” he said.

Library director Doug Lehman and administrative and acquisitions assistant Holly Wolfe pose in front of their retirement decorations on Aug. 27, 2020. (Meghan Nadzam/ The Wittenberg Torch).

Holly Wolfe, the library’s administrative and acquisitions assistant, first joined the library staff in 1977. In conversation, Wolfe was eager to reminisce about early working years on campus.

Wolfe had worked in the libraries of local elementary, middle, and high schools before moving on to the university scene. “I have always loved books,” she said. “One of the women that was in this group I was in said, ‘Hey, I just heard there’s a job in my library at Wittenberg. And I know you love books.’ I immediately put on a skirt, which I hardly ever wear, came down here, and applied for the job.”

When she came to campus to interview, though, Wolfe found that someone else had already been hired for the job. She walked across campus to speak directly with the hiring manager. Soon after, to her surprise, she received a phone call from the director, informing her that she had been hired instead. “I was a working mother and I had little children,” Wolfe said. “I made a joke about my kids… [and] later, she said that’s why she hired me; because I made a joke about my kids.”

Wolfe left the university in Aug. of 1979, but returned just six months later, in April of 1980, to work for the registrar’s office in Recitation Hall. After the newly redesigned Thomas Library was dedicated in the early 1980’s, Wolfe was tasked with overseeing the consolidation of the university’s music and science libraries, and soon found herself right back in the library environment.

In 1982, Wolfe began taking classes on campus. “There was one semester [when] I had three classes at once,” she said. “I was working a full time and a part time job somewhere else. So that was a really hard semester, but it taught me how to budget my time.”

11 years later, in 1993, Wolfe completed her bachelor’s degree. “The funny thing is I did that one course at a time over a long period of time,” she said. “And then I turned around and it’s like, ‘oh, god, I’m graduated 26 years ago.’ That proves how long I’ve been here.”

Betsy Dean, the library’s senior media assistant, came to Wittenberg in 1979, and retired just one day after her 41st work anniversary with the school. Dean replaced Wolfe in the library in Aug. 1979. She grew up in and around libraries, and was enthralled at the idea of working in one when the opportunity to fill Dean’s shoes at Wittenberg’s library arose.

Dean has worked consistently since she was in her teens. “When we were furloughed this summer is first time I’ve been off since I was 14,” Dean said, in reference to the COVID-19 budgetary constraints implemented by the university in April 2020. “I’ve never had a summer off, so it was great.”

Both Dean and Wolfe agreed on their reasoning for staying at Wittenberg for more than 40 years. “Working with students has been great,” Dean said. “I love the kids, because they’re our future… it really does keep you younger,” Wolfe said. 

In retirement, Dean is taking some time off to enjoy her first time off in years. Wolfe, meanwhile, is working at the Springfield Public Library. “I’ll still get [to work with]… little old ladies that I will teach to use the [digital] catalog,” she said. “I will be flying on the computer. Some of them don’t want to know how, but the ones that want to know, I love to teach them.”

Lehman is moving to Bloomington, IN, where he lived for several years during his graduate studies at the University of Indiana Bloomington. Like Dean, he is enjoying his freedom from work for now. “We’ll just see what comes,” he said.

Lehman, Dean and Wolfe each discussed the changes they had witnessed at Wittenberg since their arrival.

“I think people still love books,” Dean said. “But I think in some ways the university has kind of made us feel like we’re not as important as we used to be.”

Wolfe was concerned with the university’s external reputation. “We used to have a reputation we were known as all our athletes were known as, you know, scholar athletes,” she said. “They were all good students and athletes. And that was kind of the image the school a sweet little private college with these wonderful athletes who were also scholars, and we’ve just changed. I’m not sure exactly how the world looks at us now for sure.”

Lehman was similarly concerned for the student body. “We’ve gotten smaller,” he said. “Our enrollment has declined since I’ve been here. I don’t take any blame for that responsibility, but we’ve gotten smaller. And I think we’ve also become more Ohio-centric: more of our students are from Ohio than they used to be. We don’t have the number of international students we used to have.”

Lehman remained hopeful for the future of the university. “As it stands right now, I hope, and I do think that we’re going in the right direction,” he said.

Despite their concerns for the university’s direction, Dean left some parting wisdom for who she hopes will be future library staff.  “Just enjoy the students,” she said. “The students are the best thing about Wittenberg, and some of the people that we work with.”

Bring Your Own Tie Dye Event Allow Students to Enjoy the Little Things

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David Smith, a freshman at Wittenberg, creates a tie-dye mask on Aug. 26, 2020. Union Board held the event to allow students to create masks with a personal flair. (Trent Sprague/The Wittenberg Torch)

Students brought their shirts and apparel near the Student Center on Oct. 16th to mix and match colors to make the perfect Tie Dye creation.

During the event, while students were fashioning their artistic Tie Dye designs, it was most noticeable that students were delighted and grateful that the campus directory was able to create such a wonderful and hands-on experience.

“It was amazing that we had this event,” Samantha Peck (’21) said. “I think it is hard to have campus events now- many students are just kept in dorms. This Tie Dye event helps encourage students despite COVID. It is also something that you can do with friends and have fun.”

When asking how Tie Dye events improve campuses’ student life, attendees were quick to respond, as well as to give positive feedback about the event.

“This event helps improve campus activity because it helps bring all the students together,” Sarah Oliver (’21) said. “Right now, with everything going on, it allows students to still be social while being safe.”

In addition to the positivity and appreciation that many were able to show during the event, students were also able to take a breather and relax from the uncertain and tense semester. While students continue to complete their midterms and persevere through the school year, it is very comforting that the Wittenberg directory is still working to preserve the well-being of students and help many enjoy their time on campus while we keep on fighting through these unpredictable times.

“Among Us” Offers a Modern Take on Whodunnit Mystery Games

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Among Us recently began to explode in popularity as Twitch Streamers and YouTubers played the multiplayer game. (InnerSloth/Contributed)

“Red’s kinda sus.”

Initially released over two years ago, on June 15th, 2018, by Developer and Publisher InnerSloth, the chart-topping video game “Among Us” has only recently exploded in popularity, making it one of 2020’s hottest games.

Running on the Unity Engine, a common video game production platform, “Among Us” is a 2D online multiplayer game of social deduction. Taking place in a space-like setting, the player is shown as a small, humanoid character dressed in a spacesuit with a backpack on its back and no arms. Not all players look the same: each player has the ability to customize their character to their liking. The game provides players a wide assortment of customization options, such as the ability to choose between a dozen different suit colors, a wide variety of hats and a couple options for outfits, which are free to all players. For those willing to pay $3.00, players are given a selection of pets and mini crewmates to run alongside them. Players are also able to choose their own nickname before joining a game.

Servers are also customizable, allowing the host to alter everything from the number of Imposters to the player’s movement speed. Servers can hold up to ten players or as few as four players, though it is considered optimal to have at least six players.
Players are divided into two roles: The Crewmate and The Imposter. There is a pre-determined number of imposters selected at the beginning of the round. In each game, there is always a higher ratio of Crewmates to Imposters. Once the round has begun, a black screen will appear informing players of their role, followed by some suspenseful music. All players are given a series of objectives to complete.

Crewmates are given tasks such as fixing wiring in the Electrical room and swiping a card in the Admin room. All Crewmates have different tasks from one another, and may also differ depending on which of the three maps the host has chosen for the game. Imposters, however, do not have tasks: instead, their objectives are to sabotage and kill the crewmates.

When it comes to in-game communication, Among Us runs a little differently from most. There is no communication between players until a body, left behind by an Imposter, is reported, or an emergency meeting is called by a Crewmate. During this time, players will either chat in a text box or communicate outside the game with the audio communication platform Discord. Players use this communication time to discuss who they think could be the Imposter or report any suspicious activity. Most will refer to those they consider suspicious as “Sus.” Players have only a limited amount of time to share and report before voting opens, allowing players to either vote out a player or skip voting altogether.

If a player is voted out, they will be ejected and become a ghost. If a ghost was a Crewmate, they can finish their tasks to win the game. If the ejected player is an Imposter, they will no longer be able to kill, but instead only sabotage, turning off the lights or causing a reactor meltdown that forces other players to take a break from completing their objectives or face losing outright. This process will continue until all tasks are completed or all crewmates are dead.

As someone who has frequently played the game, both on PC and mobile platforms, I would rate the game a solid 8/10. The game is easy to play thanks to its cross-platform accessibility, simple tasks and customizable options. Plus, the characters are simply adorable. I often play with my friends on Discord in a private game, but occasionally I participate in public lobbies if not enough people are around to play.
I love this game. It is a great time “killer” and a fun game to play, especially with friends. While the game is simple, the whodunnit mystery really gives it its edge. Overall, I find it to be perhaps the most adorable murder mystery game available right now- and its unexpected success this year shows.

For those who are interested in playing the game, the PC version is available on Steam for $5 and is free-to-play on mobile.

The Weekly Tiger: A Much-Needed Weekend Away

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Cuyahoga Valley National Park is seen in the afternoon of Oct. 10, 2020. (Meghan Nadzam/The Wittenberg Torch)

I have never felt the switch from immense pressure to absolute relaxation in such a short amount of time before. As soon as I left the campus on Friday afternoon, I slowly felt that lift. When I finally got home three hours later, the constant tension in my chest and the repetitious turning of my thoughts eased. I could breathe again.

Finally being able to see my parents and my dog, Daphne, never felt more satisfying. I didn’t realize how much I truly missed the company of them and features of my home environment. Sure, I had some separation anxiety during my freshman year and it being my first true time away from the safeties and comforts, but this time, it was so much more.

A realization of how far my mental health had fallen occurred on this past Saturday while on a family hike in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The absolute peace and beauty of the areas I had been longing to see opened my mind to what has been clouded these past few months.

I’ve been working so hard all the time and taking very little or no time to take care of myself mentally. I forgot completely about my connection to nature and how it always allows me to not only breathe easier, but to have the capability to clear my head of its toxic self-destruction.

No longer being surrounded by an environment constantly reminding me of work and assignments not yet completed, those tasks left me, leaving me with nothing left to do but appreciate the views before me. It was a form of cleansing that I’ve only endured few times before. Those events were in other locations of complete serenity and reflection.

My trip back home not only came with this total reflection within, but also with other small things. I was able to celebrate Daphne’s birthday. I voted via mail-in ballot in my first presidential election. Home-cooked meals of salmon and quesadillas outweighed any meal at the CDR. I spent an afternoon getting coffees and shopping in Target with my mom. My dad and I went flyfishing. I exchanged my tight summer clothes and sandals for my more appealing, comfy flannels and boots.

The change of pace, scenery and use of energy this past weekend was like someone pushed my reset button. I felt as if my tank of energy mixed with coffee and determination was now full also with a few nights of good sleep, healthy foods and exercise. Basically, it was full of things I should be living with on campus, but because of the sluggish energy of Wittenberg and my habits that occur only here, I am not constantly at 100 percent. At home, I finally plugged back into the wall, attached the charging cable and got that battery full of energy.

If there’s one thing I wish for you to take away from this little speech, it’s this: nature works in funny ways. Because civilization is all hustle and bustle, you feel as if you have to keep up with it. Sometimes you do for certain reasons, but for others, it sometimes means taking a trip outside of the bubble. Even a simple walk in the park can do you some good. Taking a break to watch a movie or read a book can work, but physically escaping to the outdoors gives that sense of being absolutely free.

Field Hockey New Head Coach Spotlight: Bronwen Gainsford

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Wittenberg Field Hockey Head Coach Bowen Gainsford leads a practice on Oct. 14, 2020. Gainsford was named head coach of Wittenberg Field Hockey on March 2, 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic suspended the spring and fall athletic seasons at Wittenberg. (Trent Sprague/The Wittenberg Torch)

In the middle of a year where athletics have been effectively postponed, Wittenberg field hockey will be led by a new head coach, Bronwen Gainsford. Formerly a player for Catawba College and Wake Forest University, and later coach for Belmont Abbey College, James Madison University and Smith College, Gainsford brings her coaching expertise to Wittenberg as she prepares the team for future seasons when competitions are able to resume.

Six days prior to Wittenberg University shutting down in March, former athletic director Gary Williams appointed Gainsford as the head coach for the 2020 season. Once the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and fall athletics were cancelled for the 2020-2021 academic year, Gainsford’s focus with the team shifted from preparing them for wins to increasing the team’s culture and technical skills.

“The team has a really good energy even now when we can’t have competitions,” Gainsford said. “Wittenberg has a really rich history of its field hockey team going to post-season, and so we want to take the opportunities this year presents in allowing us to develop our skill-work and fundamentals so that we can get further through post-season in the future. My long-term goal is to have Wittenberg be seen as one of the top schools in the conference, and I believe that being able to take the time and develop our team’s skills and culture will allow up to leap ahead in realizing that goal.”

Wittenberg junior forward Allison Ormsby (6) taps sticks with Head Coach Bronwen Gainsford during a practice on Oct. 14, 2020. Gainsford was named head coach of Wittenberg Field Hockey on March 2, 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic suspended the spring and fall athletic seasons at Wittenberg.

Gainsford’s experiences playing and coaching at multiple schools have shaped her coaching style. While she originally played as a defender in the field, her sophomore year at Catawba required someone to step into the role of goalkeeper which she fulfilled and found success in. When Catawba cut their field hockey program, Gainsford adapted by transferring to Wake Forest and growing under the tactical leadership she played under there.

“I had a really great experience at both locations I attended because at Catawba, I was given the opportunity and instruction to become a really great goalkeeper, and at Wake Forest I was instructed by a really fantastic coach who gave me the strategic insight into the game,” Gainsford said.

Following Gainsford’s time at Wake Forest, she went on to receive her M.S. in Exercise and Sports Studies and served as an assistant coach at Smith College. Following her graduation from Smith, she went on to serve as an assistant coach at James Madison, and later served as the head coach for Belmont Abbey.

“I hope to take the experiences and lessons I’ve learned as both an athlete and a coach and give the team the best coach they can get,” Gainsford said. “We’re going to have to push through adversity to achieve our goals regardless of whether it’s on the field or in the real world, and I want to make sure there’s an opportunity to learn how to overcome those adversities through the preparation and pride in the work that we do on this team.”

Discovering the Wittenberg Identity After 175 Years

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In March, Wittenberg celebrated it's 175th birthday. (Trent Sprague/The Wittenberg Torch)

Amidst a year of ups and downs, and significant structural changes to Wittenberg’s atmosphere, the university celebrated its 175th anniversary, a testament to its staying power.

Wittenberg University was founded in the Fall of 1845 and was named after the city of Wittenberg, Germany. The first building on campus is the very iconic Myers Hall! Anyone can see Myers on any Wittenberg merchandise and books.

2020 does not seem to be the year to celebrate things. It feels very odd: everything is online via Teams, Zoom or FaceTime. It seems like most students are not even aware that the anniversary of our school occurred at all.

Compared to neighboring schools like the University of Dayton and the Ohio State University, Wittenberg is a small Ohio school. Since we are so small, it could bring our school community even closer by celebrating our history. Here are some of the most interesting things I’ve uncovered about our shared Wittenberg story.

Famous Visitors

There have been some special guests who have visited the university in its 175 years. On May 25, 1918, President Theodore Roosevelt visited the campus. On Oct. 17, 1960, presidential candidate John F. Kennedy stopped at Wittenberg while on the campaign trail, and introduced an idea that would later become the Peace Corps.

Another special contributor to the Wittenberg experience was Andrew Carnegie, who sponsored a building on campus known as Carnegie Hall, which was originally used as a science building. Although the science facilities on campus have since moved to the Barbra Deer Kuss Science Center, Carnegie Hall still stands.

Strange Traditions

If you are an undergraduate student at Wittenberg, you know you cannot step on the campus seal. During graduation day people who graduate that day can “stomp the seal,” making it a special time. Whenever you are walking close to the seal, make sure you go around it: if you step on it, you will fail a test.

The students at Wittenberg are known for making a “W” shape with their hands. During different sports games, the students all have different sayings and different songs to sing. Another well-known thing at Wittenberg is that dreaded one big hill.

The feet-aching, heart-pounding big hill starts at the bottom by the fountain and ends at Hollenbeck Hall. If you are a passerby in a car, you can see students constantly walking up the hill, red-faced and out of breath.

Dedicated Students

When World War II started in 1941, nearly 1,000 Wittenberg students put their lives and their studies on hold to serve in the armed forces. 65 never made it home.

When you were a first-year student at Wittenberg, you had to sign an honor code in Weaver Chapel (or online, this year), pledging that you would not commit plagiarism. The first honor code, which holds Wittenberg students to a high standard of academic integrity, was signed and established in 1956.

No matter if you are a wide-eyed first-year student just trying to figure out your first year of school or if you are a senior being pushed out into the wide world, Wittenberg is always there to help. Here’s to 175 years, and 175 more.

The Vice-Presidential Debate: What a Farce

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An American flag waves above South Charleson's Community Park on Oct. 17, 2020. (Braeden Bowen/The Wittenberg Torch).

Usually, when I write these opinion pieces, I try to keep to the facts and let them speak for themselves. I make my claim and try to provide as much evidence as possible to prove it without giving too much of my own subjective judgment beyond the general point I am trying to make. But after watching the Vice-Presidential Debate on Oct. 7, I think some cold, hard subjectivity, at least for a paragraph, is warranted.

It’s not looking good, folks. Things are looking very bad. Mike Pence showed us that the neo-fascist administration in power can’t even hide its colors behind manners and decorum. Kamala Harris showed us the answer the Democrats have to the Trump administration’s acceleration of the worst parts of American imperialism, is a slightly tamer version of American imperialism. We are faced with three possibilities: (1) four more years of American fascism; (2) a fascist takeover, should Trump refuse to accept the election results; or (3) a return to the neo-liberal status quo, which will inevitably result in another, possibly worse, fascist president four years from now.

In January, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved the Doomsday Clock to 100 seconds to midnight—closer than it’s ever been. It’s clear that nothing Joe Biden or Donald Trump have to offer will do anything to significantly wind that second-hand back. Ecological catastrophe, nuclear destruction, racial oppression, predatory capitalism and global militarism will continue to barrel us towards dystopia regardless of who is president, though Trump will surely take us there faster than the other. The Vice-Presidential Debate illustrated this clearly.

On Jan. 3, Trump authorized the assassination of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani, bringing the U.S. into direct violent conflict with Iran. The ramifications of the attack could have been global (and still could be), drawing the world’s superpowers closer to a hot war in the Middle East. Following the attack, Trump threatened via tweet, “If Iran strikes any Americans, or American assets… 52 Iranian sites,” representing the 52 American hostages taken by Iran many years ago, were targeted for military action. Iran fired missiles at two American military bases in Iraq. No one was killed.

During the debate, Pence touted the assassination of Soleimani saying, “When Qasem Soleimani was traveling to Baghdad to do harm to Americans, President Donald Trump took him out. And America is safer.” What Pence seems to be talking about is the Iranian relationship to Shia militias in Iraq, who are allied to and in many ways dependent on but separate from Iran. These militias have had violent interactions with American troops. The accusation of Soleimani’s connection to violence against Americans is at best once removed, at least unfounded.

Harris responded to Pence with, “After the strike on Soleimani, there was a counter strike on our troops in Iraq and they suffered serious brain-injuries, and do you know what Donald Trump dismissed them as? Headaches. And this is about a pattern of Donald Trump’s.” She goes on to point out the ways in which Trump has disparaged the military. What she seems to be insinuating, having never actually criticized the assassination, is that the response from Iran, should have warranted further violence from the United States. Conceivably, Harris’ critique of the Trump administration is that they didn’t take us into all-out war with Iran.

On Sept. 23, a Louisville grand jury refused to indict a single officer in the killing of Breonna Taylor for the killing of Breonna Taylor. One was indicted for “wanton endangerment,” but only because he shot bullets that hit the apartment next door. In other words, he was indicted for missing. In the debate, this ruling was used to introduce the topic of racial justice in the United States. When asked if the ruling was just, Harris began her answer on the right side of history, though she drifted as she began to talk policy. She began by calling the death of Taylor unjust and describing the innocent and benevolent life Taylor was leading. She then described the unjust killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. This is where things start to change. Though she claimed to have taken part in early peaceful protests, she said, “bad cops are bad for good cops,” ignoring entirely a core message of the protests she claims to support, namely that there are, “no good cops in a racist system.”

As for reform, she called for a ban on “chokeholds and carotid holds.” She said, “George Floyd would be alive today if we did that. We will require a national registry for police officers who break the law.” Banning chokeholds, while vitally necessary, would not have saved George Floyd’s life. Derek Chauvin, the cop who knelt on Floyd’s neck, has been charged with murder, meaning that if he’s convicted, what he did was already illegal. So, the banning of chokeholds would not have saved Floyd. The same goes for the registry for officers that break the law; these are reforms that are implemented after the fact, after more unarmed black people are killed. Neither the Biden campaign nor the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, Democratic legislation passed by House Democrats, consider ways to proactively preempt police brutality. If Kamala Harris was truly in support of the movement, she would be calling to defund the police. Instead, the bill that she supported in Congress would have increased federal funding for police by more than one billion dollars for better training and new forms of accountability.

Pence, on the other hand, was brazenly fascist in his response, excusing systemic white supremacy on account of Big Brother knowing best. After a tepid extension of sympathy to the family of Breonna Taylor, Pence said, “I trust our justice system, a grand jury that refused the evidence. And it really is remarkable that as a former prosecutor [Senator Harris] would assume that a… grand jury looking at all the evidence got it wrong.”

But then he turns around and says, “There’s no excuse for what happened to George Floyd.” We’ve yet to hear a ruling on this case, the latest update being Derek Chauvin’s release on bail on Oct. 7. If history tells us anything, it is entirely possible Chauvin will face no repercussions as in the cases of George Zimmerman and Darren Wilson. If that happens, would there then be an excuse, or would Pence lose trust in the justice system?

Of course, the main focus of his response deals with the particular way in which some people chose to protest, bitterly condemning the “rioting and looting that followed.” Let’s be perfectly clear, there was a series of high-profile police shootings followed by brief bouts of chaotic protest this summer. The vast majority of protests have been non-violent. In the Los Angeles protests, which I witnessed, the chaotic response was entirely provoked by police presence. Peaceful protests were met with riot police who beat, teargassed and shot rubber bullets at people until they were pushed to take their aggression out on property immediately around them.

The focus on “rioting and looting” is a clear deflection from the far more pressing issue of racist police brutality. With respect to anyone who owns a small business that was damaged or destroyed, property is less important than human life. It just has to be said. While Pence is aiming to keep the focus on one week of unrest that took place in May, he is obscuring the unjust shootings of Black Americans that have happened since: Rayshard Brooks, Jacob Blake, Anthony McLain, Dijon Kizzee, Trayford Pellerin and etc.

Pence then feigns horror at the idea that the United States could be racist. “This presumption that you hear consistently from Joe Biden and Kamala Harris… that America is systemically racist,” he said. “That as Joe Biden said that he believes that law enforcement has an implicit bias against minorities is a great insult to the men and women that serve in law enforcement.”

There is ample evidence of implicit bias in police. As one Stanford University study found in the city of Oakland, CA, “Officers consistently use less respectful language with black community members than with white community members.” But there is also overt bias. A heavily redacted 2006 study conducted by the FBI, “White Supremacist Infiltration of Law Enforcement,” shows that even the federal government is worried about law enforcement’s connections to ‘White Power.’ As Alice Speri reported for the Intercept, a 2015 FBI study that found “active links” between “militia extremists, white supremacist extremists, and sovereign citizen extremists,” and “law enforcement officers.”

Not much has to be said about the Republican Party’s position on climate change as they don’t actually have one. According to the 2016 Republican Platform, “year by year, the environment is improving.” For this reason, and others, Noam Chomsky has deemed them to be the most “dangerous organization in human history.” When Pence was confronted with this issue, his response could only be described as Orwellian.

War is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength and fracking is environmentally conscious.

“The United States has reduced CO2 more than the countries that are still in the Paris Climate Accord, but we’ve done it through innovation,” Pence claimed. “And we’ve done it through natural gas and fracking.”

As for the claim about emissions reductions, according to the Associated Press, “With its giant economy, the U.S. has far more raw emissions of climate-damaging carbon dioxide to cut than any other country except China. A more telling measure of progress in various countries is to look at what percentage of emissions they have cut. Since 2005, the United States hasn’t been even in the top 10 in percentage of greenhouse gas emissions reductions.”

It is trickily deceptive to say natural gas has contributed to a decrease in greenhouse gas emissions. While natural gas may be cleaner than coal, coal is not the only energy source that natural gas is replacing. Economists and scientists estimate that by 2050, a majority of electricity in the United States will come from natural gas, which is increasingly replacing far cleaner low-carbon nuclear power sources while demand for electricity rises.

Hydraulic fracturing (fracking), the means in which natural gas increasingly is acquired has already proved horrendous for the environment. In Oklahoma, earthquakes caused by fracking have been detectable on the Richter scale. The process involves massive amounts of water being mixed with harmful contaminants that are often hard to contain and seep into local water supplies. When pressed on the issue, Harris asserted repeatedly, “Joe Biden will not end fracking.”

Donald Trump has stood by some of the worst dictators of the twenty-first century. Many of them have been long-standing allies of the United States. Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, for example, has carried out a genocidal campaign in Yemen. American support has continued unwaveringly.

In the debate, Harris said, “what we have seen with Donald Trump is that he has betrayed our friends and embraced dictators around the world.” A powerful statement surely to be followed by a searing indictment of the likes of Salman, right? Wrong. As an example, she uses Russia, a long-standing American adversary. The obvious reason for this is, to use the Saudi example, Salman would also be an ally to a Biden administration. During Obama’s tenure, Saudi planes committing murderous air strikes in Yemen were bought, fueled, and armed by the U.S.

There has been much outrage over a perceived affinity that Trump has for Putin. I can’t speak to whether there is a “pee tape” or whether Trump admires the authoritarian tendencies Putin exercises; there might be one and he probably does. American policies towards Russia have been dangerously combative, which could have potentially world-ending implications. The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists noted as a reason for their moving the clock closer to midnight, “The demise of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.” Since the United States pulled out of it in 2019, “the United States and Russia have begun a new competition to develop and deploy weapons the treaty had long banned.”

This seems to be the crux of the neo-liberal predicament. Though the Republicans’ are undoubtedly worse, the policies of the two parties are not fundamentally different. On police brutality, Pence chastised Harris’ filibuster of Representative Tim Scott’s police reform bill. Scott’s bill, among other things, would fund new training and create more registry boards for records of wrongdoing. Though it is smaller in scope, it’s not fundamentally different from what Harris supported.

The Trump-Pence administration has been an experiment in neo-fascism. Across the Middle East, American foreign policy has been bent on imperialism and capitalist interests as the national rights of Palestinians have been violated and Turkey’s invasions into Kurdistan and Saudi Arabia into Yemen have been supported. In response to the obvious problem of police brutality, this administration chose to crack down on protests, using federal law enforcement politically as in the case of Portland. The COVID-19 crisis has resulted in radical upward transfers of wealth while more than 200,000 people have died from the virus. A change is desperately needed, but it appears a Biden administration, the only viable chance for global survival, may be too little too late. We saw this clear as day in the Vice-Presidential Debate.

Mental Space: Dissociative Identity Disorder

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The human mind is complex and interconnected. Follow Amber Gauss along as she breaks down mental health at Wittenberg and beyond. Graphic by Atticus Dewey/The Wittenberg Torch

DID, or Dissociative Identity Disorder, is a disorder in which an individual has multiple personas, also known as “alters,” which all have different personalities and memories. A person with DID will have most likely experienced a form of trauma at a young age, causing a separate personality state to form.

An alter is typically experienced as a separate voice in an individual’s head or may be a completely different person who has their own memories, patterns of speech, may identify as a different gender from the body or host personality and may even be a different age. Alters who are younger than 10 are referred to as “littles” in the DID community.

Typically, to be diagnosed, one must experience “sudden alterations or discontinuities in sense of self and sense of agency and recurrent dissociative amnesias.” An individual does not have control over their actions and words when in the dissociative state and may not remember everything that happens while in said state. The amnesia not necessarily forgetting entire days: it can be forgetting about a drive or finding seemingly inexplicable bruises or injuries. Individuals with DID may also forget things they witnessed or even their own name at times.

I had a dissociative episode in May. My roommate in my home state asked me how old I was, and I took a few minutes to respond: my answer was “five?” I can recall everything that happened that night, but I had no control over my body and mind. I have not been diagnosed with DID, but I do experience times where I am not in control and it appears to be someone else.

It is common for individuals with DID to be misdiagnosed at first, typically with Bipolar II disorder, due to the commonality of mood shifts, which are central to Bipolar II. DID shifts tend to happen much faster, potentially within minutes. In Bipolar II, it is unlikely that a mood change would last only minutes or hours- the cycle tends to take days, weeks or sometimes months. In DID, the emotions can be linked with the various identities, which would be why it can change so quickly and last for a short amount of time.

It can happen that an individual with DID also has PTSD, as DID is brought on by trauma. When this happens, it is crucial to note that the individual has both and not just PTSD. Some of the instances that are common in PTSD are present in DID. However, there are also situations in which an individual expresses symptoms of DID that are not also part of PTSD, such as “amnesias for many everyday (i.e., nontraumatic) events, dissociative flashbacks that may be followed by amnesia for the content of the flashback, disruptive intrusions (unrelated to traumatic material) by dissociated identity states into the individual’s sense of self and agency and infrequent, full-blown changes among different identity states.”

Individuals with DID may also be misdiagnosed as having schizophrenia or another psychotic disorder, as the symptom of hearing voices may be taken to be schizophrenia or a period of psychosis. It is also possible that individuals with persecutory and/or derogatory personas will be diagnosed with major depression with psychotic features.

I hope you find this informative and interesting. I had a lot of fun researching DID and learning about it. As always, any quotes are taken from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition unless stated otherwise.

Shades of Pearl Host #SayHerName walk

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Wittenberg students, faculty and staff gather around the Wittenberg University Seal as part of the #SayHerName walk on Oct. 15, 2020. Shades of Pearls hosted the walk and protest to bring awareness to women of color who suffer racially motivated injustices.
On a rainy Thursday, Oct. 15, Shades of Pearl hosted a walk from Alumni Way to the Seal. The walk was to raise awareness of injustices against women of color, according to a statement from Shades of Pearl president Saqqara Goins (’21). As students gathered in Post 95 ahead of the walk, they were offered buttons reading #SayHerName and electric candles from University Pastor Rachel Tune. After a short wait, students were directed to move to a tent beside Alumni Way where Fatou Jobarteh (‘21) began explaining the origins of the #SayHerName walk. In response to the July 2015 death of Sandra Bland, a 28-year-old from Naperville, Ill, The African American Policy Forum and The Center for Intersection and Social Policy Studies at Columbia Law School released a report detailing stories of women of color killed by police. After explaining the origins of the #SayHerName walk, Jobarteh handed the conversation to Goins, who organized the crowd of approximately 40-50 students, faculty and staff to begin walking towards the Seal. As the group headed past Weaver Chapel, Goins began leading a chant of “Say Her Name” which continued to be shouted until the group arrived at the Seal. Upon arrival, Goins and Jobarteh thanked members of the group for attending and implored women in attendance to be involved with Shades of Pearl.

Taking Mindful Breaks

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A large amount of notifications are seen on the phone of photo editor Trent Sprague in the evening of Oct. 11, 2020. (Trent Sprague/The Wittenberg Torch)

Picture this: it’s one in the afternoon, and you’re sitting in your ‘Burbs house with an hour to kill before class. You have a million assignments hanging over your head, but you don’t think you have enough time to start anything major. How are you going to fill your time? My best guess would be scrolling on your phone. I know this because it’s exactly what I would do.

I’m addicted to my cell phone. As much as I hate to admit it, I know it’s true. Honestly, I don’t even really enjoy it anymore. But with days full of mentally draining online lectures, the mind-numbing sensation of clicking on post after post is the only thing that even feels like a “break” anymore.

Let me explain. Whenever you’re given the choice to do something or to do nothing, it’s always easier to choose nothing. That’s why it’s so easy to choose your phone over your hobbies. Even though your hobbies are things you like doing, it still requires the choice to spend energy to do something. 

And that’s the beauty of the smartphone. You can fill as much or as little time as you want, whether it be a quick glance or an hours-long rabbit hole. All it takes is the click of the button and then you’re on your way, and when you’re done you simply put your phone down. It’s an at-your-fingertips dopamine hit that’s free, fun and easy. Even though you’re scrolling, you’re not really doing anything. Even though I have hobbies, I’ve hardly done them in years because of how quickly my time gets eaten up by my phone.

I used to think my excuse was that I didn’t have time to read, write, draw, take a walk or do just about anything. Now I realize that simply isn’t true. My screen time, like many other students, is around five or six hours a day. If you take out answering texts and emails, quick mental breaks and some late-night scrolling, that’s at least about four hours that I’m wasting throughout the day. That means I have a choice to make.

Instead of choosing my phone when I have an hour of down time, I am going to doodle. I am going to write a poem. I am going to play animal crossing, or do yoga, or bake box mix brownies. When I’m procrastinating homework, it feels counterproductive to use my energy to do a task that isn’t what’s due tomorrow. How could I possibly choose to make art when I need to be reading research articles? What I’ve realized is that if I’ve committed myself to “wasting” an hour on my phone to avoid schoolwork, I could just as easily spend that hour doing something I actually like. Once I get the hang of it, it’ll become part of my routine to choose things that make me happy over mindless scrolling.

I think this is something we could all get better at. Now that COVID-19 has us all spending more time alone, we all have the choice of how we’re going to spend our free time. I’m not saying that every second of your day has to be spent doing something productive. You don’t have to start a business or lose 20 pounds when you get a break. What I’m saying is that before you pick up your phone when you have an hour to kill, ask yourself, “Could I be doing something that makes me happy right now?” If scrolling on your phone would make you happy in that moment, then that’s great! But if you’re feeling a little bit like me, like a zombie who has given all of her time to her phone, I think it could be a good idea to put it down and do something else. If you’re not sure what your hobbies are, think back to what you did when you were twelve and start there. We might never go back to the carefree kids we were before social media was popular. But we owe it to those kids to do what we love again.

Campus Cupboard Relocated to Hagen Center

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The Inside of Wittenberg University's Campus Cupboard is seen on Oct. 11, 2020. (Daniel Jacob/Contributed)

So many things are changing this year at Wittenberg University, and so many of those changes have been for the better. Here’s one more to add to the list: the relocation of the Campus Cupboard.

The Campus Cupboard has been a fairly recent addition to campus wellness. The idea of the original cupboard came from Dean of Students Casey Gill, Pastor Rachel Tune and Director of Community Service Kristen Collier in Sept. 2018. Since then, Weaver Chapel Ministry Associate Daniel Jacob (’10) has been working with those organizers and students to keep the cupboard as functional as it can possibly be.

“We’ve been keeping it stocked, soliciting donations, tracking usage and finally transitioning [it] to the new space,” Jacob said.

The cupboard’s purpose was to stabilize the sudden increase of hunger and food insecurity among students on campus. The goal was to make sure no student would have to go a day without having enough to eat. Originally, the cupboard was a single metal cabinet with small shelves located inside Weaver Chapel. It offered “microwavable soup, pasta and rice, granola bars, fruit cups, cereals, cracker packets and other food items,” Jacobs said. It also made available toothpaste, soap, feminine products and deodorant.

The new space in the Hagen Center has been in the works since spring 2020. According to Jacobs, there were some delays due to COVID-19.

“[We] are pleased the space is finally open,” he said. “We especially want to thank Physical Plant and Alpha and Omega for playing a big part in preparing the new space.”

The shift kicked off on the Sept. 19 Super Service Saturday, when the chapel staff and more than 20 Wittenberg students began the transition process.

“They scrubbed every inch of the new space [in the Hagen Center] to ensure that it would be safe and ready for our students,” Jacob said. “The shelves, fridge, freezer and cabinets are all cleaned and sanitized and so are the floors, walls, windows and doors.”

Because of the additions of the fridge and more shelves, the cupboard is now able to provide fresh fruit and vegetables, bags of chips and snacks, razors and shaving cream, toothbrushes, body wash, cooking utensils, plates and mugs.

The cupboard’s expansion has allowed for a wider array of products, including hygiene and bathing items. (Meghan Nadzam/The Wittenberg Torch)

Like numerous other students, volunteer Madalyn Marsengill (’23) also helped Jacobs with the project. She offered insight on what the cupboard really does for students.

“The Campus Cupboard has allowed for any student, no matter who they are or what kind of living situation they are in to get things they need to have a healthy life at Wittenberg,” Marsengill said.

Gabrielle Doty (’23), one of the volunteers that helped set up the new location, commented on its meaning to the campus.

“The Campus Cupboard is a wonderful resource to all students on campus despite their own personal situation,” she said. “It both exemplifies Wittenberg’s care towards its students and is a way for students to get involved for the betterment of their peers.”

The new hours of the Campus Cupboard are Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 4pm-7pm in the Hagen Center at 721 North Fountain Avenue. Students will simply need to reserve time slots to stop in and pick out what they need here.

Mental Space: The Faces of Mental Health Awareness Week

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A student holds a finished intent bracelet on Oct. 8, 2020. Intent Bracelet are supposed to remind individuals of what is important in life. (Meghan Nadzam/The Wittenberg Torch)

To raise awareness for Mental Health Week and the Tiger Counseling Center hosted several events on campus promoting mental health. On Oct. 6, they had an event for expressing gratitude: Gratitude Pumpkins. On Oct. 7, they had a succulent pot and paint event. On Oct. 8, they held an event making intention bracelets.

At the succulent event, Becca Yoblinski (’23), said that she loves plants and told me she is an environmental science major. Her pot was a grayscale gradient, which she did to match her pink one from a previous event that was similar. For Yoblinski, painting the pots was a good way to express and soothe herself.

On Thursday, I attended the bracelet making and met Dana Messer (’21). I had also seen her at the painting and pot event. She told me that the idea of mental health awareness is important. For her bracelet, she chose the word “Calm” as inspiration to stay calm during these trying times. She told me that she struggles with anxiety, and that it was important for her to remember that it will get better if she remains calm.

Staff Columnist Amber Gauss (’22) and Dana Messer (’21) make their Intent Bracelets and hammer in the letters onto the rings. (Meghan Nadzam/The Wittenberg Torch)

I also met Bri West (’24), who told me that she had realized how strong she was for coming to college, which is why she chose the word “Strong” for her bracelet. When I asked her why she came to the event, she simply said that it “sounded fun.” Hannah Marcin (’24) told me that she chose “Hugs” because “the world needs more hugs,” and that she came to the event to recognize the importance of mental health awareness.

In the same vein as Marcin, I chose the word “Love” for my bracelet because the world needs more love and less suffering and pain.

Parker Hayes (’24) said that she chose “Happy” to help her “remember to stay optimistic and happy even when things are hard,” which is an important message to recall in tough times like now. Rylee Armstrong (’24) chose “Earth” for her bracelet and told me that it was to help remind her to “stay grounded” and because she “loves Earth.”

For Mental Health Week, art in the form of thankful words and positivity was written on pumpkins in the theme of fall. (Meghan Nadzam/The Wittenberg Torch)

Brooke Schmidt of the Tiger Counseling Center told me that they ran out of pumpkins on Tuesday within the first hour- the event was a hit. In all, the Mental Health Week events went as planned and helped students to express themselves and helped them to learn about Mental Health. Events like this are important, especially in trying times like now when we cannot have as many events as we normally would if this were a normal year. These events let students get to experience life on campus and learn about different services offered by the Counseling Center.

New Wittenberg Diversity Director Shares Plans for the Future

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Corrine Witherspoon poses for a portrait outside of the William A. McClain Center for Diversity at Wittenberg University on Oct. 9, 2020. Witherspoon is Wittenberg's new director of the McClain Center for Diversity. (Trent Sprague/The Wittenberg Torch)

At an early age, Corrine Witherspoon was involved with diversity efforts through her father’s work at the Miami University Cultural Center. After moving from Indianapolis, IN to Oxford, OH before high school, Witherspoon would visit her father at the Cultural Center and view his work firsthand.

On Sept. 21, Witherspoon started in her latest role as Director of the William A. McClain Center for Diversity at Wittenberg. In this position, Witherspoon leads Wittenberg’s Diversity and Inclusion efforts as the COVID-19 pandemic, racial unrest across the United States and a decisive presidential election dominate attention.

“It means a lot during times like now where university budgets are strapped and positions are being eliminated across the nation, where [Wittenberg] took the time to say ‘we are going to fill this position.’ That says a lot,” Witherspoon said.

Witherspoon arrived at Wittenberg after graduating from Miami University in 2003 with bachelor’s degrees in English and Black World Studies. After graduation, Witherspoon headed east to Ohio University to work on her master’s degree in College Student Personnel. During her time at Ohio University, Witherspoon began working at The Multicultural Center, where she advised students and worked on cultural programing. It was this experience at Ohio’s multicultural experience that Witherspoon marks as the start of her career of working with underrepresented students.

After bouncing between Miami University and Arizona State University working in Residence Life, Witherspoon started as an area coordinator at The University of Dayton in 2008. At Dayton, Witherspoon had the opportunity to work on several passion projects, including starting Sister Circle to increase participation for underrepresented students in Dayton’s resident advisor program.

After five years at Dayton working in Residence Life, Witherspoon moved 50 miles south to University of Cincinnati Blue Ash College as a Multicultural Affairs coordinator, where she oversaw programs to increase underrepresented student recruitment. In early 2017, Witherspoon started as UC Blue Ash’s Assistant Director of Inclusion & Involvement, where she supported students from underrepresented populations and worked on diversity efforts at the college.

After five months as UC Blue Ash’s Assistant Inclusion Director, Witherspoon returned to her alma mater of Miami University to work in the Office of Diversity Affairs where she led programs aimed to “increase involvement of diverse student populations” according to her resume. After a year at Miami, Witherspoon started at University of Cincinnati, where she worked on Diversity and Inclusion efforts including managing a retention program for the University of Cincinnati College of Engineering. When asked why she came to Wittenberg, Witherspoon claimed “jobs like this don’t come around all the time.”

Corrine Witherspoon poses for a portrait outside of the William A. McClain Center for Diversity at Wittenberg University on Oct. 9, 2020. Witherspoon is Wittenberg’s new director of the McClain Center for Diversity. (Trent Sprague/The Wittenberg Torch)

“It felt like an opportunity for me to use all the things I’ve been training myself and building my career to do,” Witherspoon said.

In her role as Director of the McClain Center, Witherspoon has two major platforms which shape her plans: building community and building tradition.

As part of building community at Wittenberg, Witherspoon aims to have the McClain Center collaborate with different offices on campus, including Student Involvement and COMPASS. One of Witherspoon’s first events, the Spanish Conversation tables on Oct. 30, will be co-hosted by the Language department and will feature a Day of the Dead theme. “We’ve already connected with our [Spanish speaking] faculty as a way to engage folks in learning, growing and talking in Spanish,” Witherspoon said.

Building community is one aspect of Witherspoon’s overall plan to help increase retention of underrepresented students, who hold the lowest retention rates of any student group at Wittenberg. According to Wittenberg census data, Black and Hispanic students have only averaged a 61% and 68% retention rate over the last 10 years.

“I, as an office of one, will not be able to change retention numbers, but Wittenberg as a community can come together to do that,” Witherspoon said. “It’s really important to have a collective of individuals that are able to address some situations case by case, [while others] may require [a] more strategic approach.”

To increase retention, Witherspoon suggested increasing scholarships, individual coaching for students and connecting students to increase their engagement. “That means being able to provide a variety of options for students to get involved, make connections or have a job,” Witherspoon said.

“[The McClain Center for Diversity] will be encouraging students to utilize the resources that exist here at Wittenberg, even if that means making a personal connection, which means talking with students to understand some of the challenges [they] are experiencing so that we can make the proper connections,” Witherspoon said. “Maybe you need a personal introduction with Financial Aid, or a conversation with [alumni] who share their stories about how they persevered here at Wittenberg as a way of encouraging current students.”

Witherspoon continued to describe her community building plans as “simply connecting with students, being able to talk to them, hear their stories [and] understand why they chose to come and stay at Wittenberg.”

“I had a conversation with a gentleman who was interested in having thoughtful conversations with diverse groups of students come together and talk about race because he hasn’t had the opportunity,” Witherspoon said. “Seeing all the things happening in the United States and World right now, he feels that it would be great to sit down and have conversations because folks are unaware and as a higher education institution, shouldn’t we be having these conversations?”

Witherspoon explained that a key piece of having thoughtful conversations about the difficulties facing underrepresented students is helping students understand the resources and make introductions when necessary to allow university resources to be utilized.

“Sometimes folks, regardless of how they identify, could be a little shy to ask for help, so being that conduit to other offices and areas will help students feel welcomed and encouraged on campus,” Witherspoon said.

As one of her efforts to be a conduit for student, faculty and staff diversity and inclusion efforts, Witherspoon plans to hold an event near the end of the semester where students can visit the McClain Center to pick up a grab bag and fill out a survey describing what they wish to see from the center.

“I’m pretty creative. I like to be innovative, but it’s also important for me to hear what the students need and want,” Witherspoon said. Additionally, when asked what about Wittenberg’s Diversity and Inclusion efforts was going well, Witherspoon cited her hiring as large step in the right direction.

However, Witherspoon acknowledged that Wittenberg needs do more to support programing for Latino students. Another area that Wittenberg need to improve on according to Witherspoon is “encouraging the larger community of faculty, staff and students to be a part of change even if it’s a small role.

“I think we have a lot of great folks at Wittenberg who may be interested in participating or creating something whether that’s inside or outside the classroom,” Witherspoon said, “[but] sometimes they just need support and guidance in that area and being able to actually formalize ways in which folks can get that support could really make a big difference.”

Anonymous Instagram Account Spreads Rumors About Students

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An Instagram account named @witt_rumors is seen on the phone of photo editor Trent Sprague in the evening of Oct. 11, 2020. Expletive's and a house number were blurred to ensure individuals privacy. (Trent Sprague/The Wittenberg Torch)

“[Student] has gonorrhea.”

“[Sigma Kappa] basement is the #1 hookup spot on campus.”

“Just because they are twins doesn’t mean you have to do them both.”

On Sept. 5, the anonymously managed Instagram account @witt_rumors began posting student-submitted entries to what quickly became an amalgamation of rumors, gossip, guilt admissions and personal attacks. To encourage student participation and submissions, the account owners promise to shield gossip submitters from harm. “Send what you hear. Everything is anonymous,” the account’s description reads.

Since its creation, the account has amassed over 440 followers, just over a third of Wittenberg’s total student population, but has only posted 43 times as of Oct. 12 and rarely breaks 30 likes on a post. The account also regularly uses Instagram’s Stories feature, where pictures and videos are only visible for 24 hours, to conduct snap polls and ask for fast responses from students.

The account often posts drama originating from sorority and fraternity conflicts. “Can [Gamma Phi Beta] and [Delta Gamma] just be friends,” a Sept. 5 post asked.

Some rumors deal with the rapid rise in COVID-19 cases on campus. “The Phi Psis and ‘Jesters’ started the Covid [sic] outbreak on campus,” a Sept. 6 post said.

Some posts seem to implicate faculty and staff in student activities. “[Staff member] is an underground fiji,” a Sept. 14 post said, in reference to a former campus fraternity that was temporarily removed from campus in 2018 after allegations of hazing.

Dean of Students Casey Gill believes that the rise of an anonymous, negative account is not only common, but predictable.

“Research studies have found that students find social value in the anonymity of some online social media spaces,” she said. “While these spaces can be created to promote freedom of expression in a space that lacks surveillance or accountability, they can also be the source of emotionally problematic content. When the anonymous spaces become shrouds for others to bully, promote hate speech and post other individuals’ private information, I question the intent of those that choose to continue to use and follow such pages.”

A series of Wittenberg Torch articles from Oct. and Nov. of 2013 confirm that the phenomenon isn’t even new to Wittenberg. Two Twitter accounts, @WittConfessions, @WittCrushes, existed briefly during the fall semester but were quickly shut down after a student who received unwanted attention threatened a lawsuit.

Another Twitter account, @ConfessionsWitt, has been incrementally active since May 2019, but has largely directed its ire at the university, not at fellow students. “Wittenberg doesn’t care about your well being [sic],” a Tweet from Sept. 6, 2020 said. “Wittenberg is a business operating under the guise of a non-profit, educational organization. That’s what happens when you place corporate finance experience over academics at a school. 🙂 Oops, did I say the quiet part out loud?”

Dean Gill also compared the @witt_rumors phenomenon to the existence of another rumors-style account on the ephemerally popular location-based social media app Yik Yak.

“The @witt_rumors Instagram page is similar to Yik Yak that existed for a short amount of time a few years ago,” she said. “Now, as we did then, if the university learns of behavior that would constitute a violation of the Student Code of Conduct, students can be held accountable for that behavior through the Office of Student Conduct.”

The majority of students on campus seem to largely share a negative view of the @witt_rumors account.

“I think the @witt_rumors page is pointless,” Madison Cain (’24). “I get that they feel they have a ‘need to entertain’ or ‘have fun,’ but there are better ways to entertain people than spread baseless and even damaging rumors about people. The owner of the page needs to think about the impact that the page and the information they’re spreading could have on people.”

Cameron Stought (’21) thought the page had gone a step too far.

“My thoughts on @witt_rumors? It’s an invasion of people’s privacy,” Stought said.

Some students attributed the rise in the account’s popularity to the boredom caused by the COVID-19-associated social restrictions on campus.

“@witt_rumors is a product of [students’] boredom,” Caleb Taubee (’21) said. “It’s a childish attempt to create some sort of entertainment.”

“I really dislike the @witt_rumors page,” Casey Peck (’21) said. “It’s incredibly childish, and it’s used to harass members of our community. The runner of the page is a coward, and clearly has nothing better to do… [they] should feel completely ashamed of themselves. We are adults, and they should start acting like one.”

Dean Gill advised students affected by the account to contact the university administration.

“If students are victims of inappropriate content on @witt_rumors, I hope that someone would report the information to the Dean of Students’ Office so that we can provide support to the affected students and investigate any inappropriate behavior directed at them,” Gill said.

Information on misconduct reports can be found here.

Writing Center and Math Workshop relocate to Thomas Library

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Dividers separate two chairs at a table on the third floor of Thomas Library on Aug. 10, 2020. The Divider helps social distance the library while keeping capacity at a reasonable level for students during school year. (Trent Sprague/The Wittenberg Torch)

The fall semester has brought many new adjustments and challenges for Wittenberg, but these do not end with COVID-19 policies and online classes. Two student resources relocated over the summer and throughout the beginning of Aug. Together, the Math Workshop and the Writing Center provide students and staff with experience, academic aid and campus jobs, but have found new homes on campus. 

The two centers were located in close proximity before, with the Math Workshop residing in the Barbara Deer Kuss Science Center and the Writing Center operating out of Hollenbeck Hall. Now, the two operate side-by-side on the first floor of Thomas Library. The director of the Writing Center, Dr. Mike Mattison, justified the move with the theme of consolidation: the library is located in the center of campus and is an open study space for all students, and is conveniently placed near the Student Center and student dorms. Mattison believes that this consolidation, which is becoming more common in schools, will provide students with an ease of maneuverability between services.

Kristen Peters, the interim director of the library, also commented on the beneficial aspects of having a shared space for many programs.

“I think ultimately, it will be a good move for students to have so many learning centers within the library, alongside library research assistance and student success and career support,” Peters said. “We are working together to find new ways to collaborate.”

The spaces that these programs previously occupied are also being put to new use. In the Science Center, where the Math Workshop was, nursing faculty and spaces are now more accessible to students and will be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. In Hollenbeck, the former home of the Writing Center will now be made into a space for Upward Bound, Wittenberg’s pre-college program for first-generation and low-income students who are interested in furthering their education. The spaced cleared on the first floor of the library once housed periodicals and microfilm readers and printers. Two rooms here, a faculty study room and a group study room, have been transformed into a lounge and office for the workshops. 

This move proved difficult for many of the staff involved. The reordering and reorganizing of spaces occurred in the midst of Wittenberg’s effort to make the campus as risk-free as possible, creating a heavy workload. The reduced library staff were given short notice and were also in the process of redesigning services for students. Mattison also shared that the move will lead to his staff experiencing the Writing Center differently. The advisors had, in a sense, become attached to the former space in Hollenbeck and had created many fond memories there. The new advisor lounge in the library will provide a space for connection and relaxation, but it is “not their own yet.” This is also not the first time the Writing Center has been relocated; before it was in Hollenbeck, the service was located in the Shouvlin Center. 

As of now, the Writing Center and Math Workshop will operate on the same time systems as before. Both provide flexible hours for aid based on the advisors’ and tutors’ availability and are accessible online through Wittenberg’s website. The Math Workshop provides a quiet space for students and groups in person and is offering individual services through BigBlueButton, while the Writing Center is operating through email and online sessions until all safety precautions are set.

Photos: Homecoming Mini-Golf

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A golf ball skips over several inflatable donut obstacles during a mini-golf game at Edward-Maurer Field on Oct. 3, 2020. The event was one of several to celebrate homecoming weekend at Wittenberg during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Wittenberg junior Joanna Stecz plays Mini-Golf at Edward-Maurer Field on Oct. 3, 2020. The event was one of several to celebrate homecoming weekend at Wittenberg during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Wittenberg sophomore Maddie Engelau plays Mini-Golf at Edward-Maurer Field on Oct. 3, 2020. The event was one of several to celebrate homecoming weekend at Wittenberg during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
A student lines up a shot during a mini-golf game at Edward-Maurer Field on Oct. 3, 2020. The event was one of several to celebrate homecoming weekend at Wittenberg during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
A golf ball rolls through an inflatable donut obstacle during a mini-golf game at Edward-Maurer Field on Oct. 3, 2020. The event was one of several to celebrate homecoming weekend at Wittenberg during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

I Spent a Night Protesting in Portland. Here’s What I Saw

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Protestors gather in opposition to a line of officers in the street. Photo by Ethan Bocchichio ('22).

The mood in front of the Portland Police Bureau on Sept. 26 was victorious. Earlier that day, a rally of the white supremacist group the Proud Boys at Delta Park had been expected to garner more than a thousand people, who would then take to the streets with the intent to “end domestic terrorism.” Instead, only between two and three hundred Proud Boys attended, while at Peninsula Park, a peaceful rally of 1,500 people, by some estimates, was organized by various left-wing organizations. At two other parks, hundreds of leftists gathered as well. Upon realizing the disparity in numbers, the Proud Boys ended their rally two hours early and went home. In front of the Police Bureau that night, protesters stood guard, protecting the autonomous zone that had sprung up in Lansdale and Chapman Square outside of the Bureau in case the Proud Boys decided to come back to Portland.

Atop a ledge in front of the Bureau, black leadership sat with a microphone, leading chants and speaking. What they made clear was that this night was not about the police. This night was about the Proud Boys, so they encouraged protesters to stay in the park and out of the street so as not to give police a reason to break up the gathering. For the most part, protesters followed that direction and the few cars that were out were able to pass through unhindered by protesters.

Without reason, a police car with a sound system on top of it appeared and blared a recorded message urging protesters to stay out of the street, which protesters were already doing. Naturally, this provoked protesters to take the street to defy the orders of the police car.

Until that point, the gathering had been entirely peaceful. The majority of the group had stayed in the park, but now with people in the street, the police were in vans, with motorcycles and in cars. They drove from around the corner, cleared out the street and stood guard as if the street was somehow their territory that protesters had impeded on.

Opinion video by Ethan Bocchichio (’22).

Their numbers were comparable to those of the protesters. They lined the street holding clubs, cans of mace, guns, rubber-bullet guns and the like. As protesters chanted, some of the officers laughed in their faces. They shined flashlights to impede people’s ability to film. At one point, an officer commanded a photojournalist to turn off a light he had shining towards the police.

The recorded voice had claimed that police would respect protesters’ First Amendment right as long as it was exercised on the sidewalk or in the park. At one point, a young homeless man, clearly mentally ill, wandered past protesters into the street. He was immediately tackled to the asphalt by four officers applying all of their weight to his head and body despite protesters pleading with officers that he wasn’t even part of the movement and was clearly confused.

In moments, a woman screaming at officers to get off of the young man stepped two feet into the street. She was then shoved by a small female cop. Instinctually, the woman shoved the cop back, at which point other officers stepped forward, throwing her to the ground and indiscriminately spraying mace at people in the crowd who stood close to the altercation. Five officers jumped on top of the woman, shoving her face into the street with all of their power while the female cop who had instigated the altercation laughed at protesters who plead for them to stop the assault.

Police showed no remorse. After they took the woman away, their line reconvened. One officer, engaging in a back and forth confrontation with protesters, laughed condescendingly while standing on the blood stains of the woman they had just taken away.

Now, police began slowly retreating. One officer who seemed to be enjoying the encounter had to be physically pulled back by his captain. As they walked away, protesters slowly began taking the street back without any direction from officers not to. When a sizable number had come into the street, seemingly out of nowhere, police rushed towards them again, grabbing whomever they could.

Again, the officers backed away, this time clearing almost all the way off the street. Protesters began dancing in the street and joyously singing, “Nananana, nananana, hey hey hey, goodbye.” From the other side of the street, a van with fifteen officers drove recklessly into the crowd as officers jumped off and grabbed whomever they could. They shoved a man on a bike to the ground and proceeded to violently arrest him despite him hysterically identifying himself as an Uber Eats driver with a hot pizza in the pouch on his bike. As protesters screamed for police to stop, they noted that police had claimed they were there to allow traffic to move through and that the man who was being arrested was, in fact, “traffic.”

Despite claiming that their only qualm with the protest was the blocking of the street, on two different occasions during that escapade, police walked onto the sidewalk or into the park. Their reasons for doing so were unclear. As protesters followed them, asking what they were doing in the park, they were told not to “interfere.” Interfering with what was never made known.

Finally, after more than an hour, police receded back into their building. Any thought of the Proud Boys was forgotten. It was clear they were not coming, though the protesters’ original enemy had reasserted themselves. During the entire time the police occupied the street that night, a single bottle was thrown at them.

Twice more police took the streets. Once, they occupied the same street just three blocks down. A musician set up his microphone and stereo in front of them, rapping. The optics of police brutality in that moment might have been too damning to overcome. Police shied away.

As the protest began to wind down after 11 PM, the police car with the loudspeaker on top of it appeared again, ordering people to get out of the street. When people refused to obey, police took over the street yet again. A rock was thrown and a firecracker was set off. Again, small groups of police walked through the park for unclear reasons. Continuously the voice recording blared, warning protesters that if they threw things at police, the organization would be considered an unlawful assembly. The recording played multiple times despite nothing being thrown. Still, at around 11:40 PM, a voice recording suddenly declared the assembly unlawful and police fanned out and chased protesters through the park, picking off for arrest whomever they could.

Protesters were then pushed into the streets. Many voiced the obvious point that now multiple streets were being blocked off to traffic instead of just one. In fact, police ordered cars to turn around and drive the wrong way down a one-way street.

Two days after the event, the headline in The Oregonian claimed the police were trying “to control [a] rock-throwing crowd.” National media did not cover the event. More than one hundred nights of protest have taken place in Portland since George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis, MN. Recent protests have focused on the lack of accountability in the killing of Breonna Taylor in Louisville, KY. The sarcastic and condescending attitudes of the police towards protesters seems to highlight the reasons behind calls for change. If the exercise of free speech does not change the behavior of the police, for me, the logical answer seems to be that it is necessary to abolish the institution altogether.

The Weekly Tiger: “Why do you work so much?”

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Stuff is always sprawled about on Meghan's usual table in Thomas Library. (Meghan Nadzam/The Wittenberg Torch)

If you’ve met me and have gotten to know me through segments in time, you’ve come to notice that I am very much a ‘workaholic’.

I work hard all the time; almost too much to even let myself breathe at times. I am constantly trying to improve my work or my actions.

“She’s always at the library, typing away,” they say.

“I don’t want to disturb her because she looks so focused,” one whispers to another.

Sometimes, people do come up and ask what I’m working so hard on. I always reply with simple academic or intellectually reasoned answers that relate to me and my major. But really, I work for those that come after me.

As an overwhelmed, lonely soul living in a pandemic, the only thing I can do besides work my butt off is to hope for better lives for those souls yet to come. I allot two seconds a day to feel sorry for myself, but then as soon as those seconds end, I am back to the grind. That grind is not to finish my major or to get a job once I graduate.

It’s to leave here and enter the world with enough knowledge to help make the world easier for those yet to enter it.

Yes, I know that it is a huge task. You’ll try to tell me to slow down and take a break. But all the other times that you’ve told me that didn’t work, so why should I stop now?

Things really suck right now. I really don’t want future generations to endure the pains that I’ve had to go through. I want to make things better for them because I’ve heard so many complaints about our world today. It’s like a jabber jay, chatting away repeatedly about something awful that they just saw on social media or heard at Starbucks. It’s catchy, so it sticks in my mind, reminding me constantly that I have the power to change things for the greater good of the future.

That’s why I work so hard. Sure, it might have the image of environmental improvement in the oceans and the ozone with the stamp of my diploma. But it has a deeper reflection showing a dream. The dream is without masks, without bickering politicians that stumble over each other’s words, without weekly updates about corruption and secrets and without constant struggle.

I have hope for this dream, no matter how impossible it might seem. I work for those that come after me so they can have a shot at the dream that I may never seem become a reality.

Opinion: The Magic of Disney is Struggling Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

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Walt Disney World's Cinderella Castle is seen from the air on May 27, 2020. (Walt Disney World via Twitter)

Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resort: when you hear these two popular names, you instantly think of magic, fun and lifelong memories. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Disneyland and Disney World had to shut down in March for everyone’s safety. As a result of the park closures, jobs were lost, and it felt like all the magic was gone. People were stuck in their homes quarantining and watching Disney movies about Cinderella’s Castle and dreams coming true instead of visiting the actual thing in the parks.

In July, Disney World reopened their gates to the world with COVID-19 changes. Visitors must now wear masks inside the park while walking around, in addition to keeping a six-foot distance between individuals.

In Anaheim, CA, however, Disneyland is still closed. Just like the reopening of Disney World in Florida, Disneyland was also supposed to reopen in July, but that did not happen due to COVID-19 concerns.

Recently, Disney’s parks and resorts division laid off 28,000 part-time employees. This is troubling: as Disneyland remains closed, people are losing their jobs left and right. Before this pandemic, I am sure people were not worried about their jobs at the Disney Parks, but now, they are scrambling and trying to find new jobs.

California and Florida are the only two locations of Disney parks in the United States. They seem similar because they both bear the Disney name, but Disneyland and Disney World are not being treated equally.

Disney World is in the state of Florida, where Governor Ron DeSantis recently lifted restrictions to the parks across the state. DeSantis had been praised in Florida by residents for giving people their jobs back at Disney World. There are still limitations in Disney World, most of which are restrictions heard on a daily basis. For example, you must wear a mask when walking around the park and keep six feet between individuals.

In the state of California, Governor Gavin Newsom has been putting off the reopening of Disneyland. Originally, Disneyland was supposed to re-open in July of this year, but Newsom thought it was not the right time for the park to open. Newsom is hesitant about reopening Disneyland because of COVID-19, and so he keeps pushing the reopening time further and further into the future. California’s Disneyland was the first Disney park, and a lot of its fans are upset with their governor for not doing what the citizens want. Many residents are leaving and getting out of California because of the rising number of COVID-19 cases.

We still don’t know when Disneyland will reopen, or if it will, this year. Halloween and Christmas are popular times for Disneyland, and those seasons bring in a lot of money, so it could be hard for the company to make a profit this year.

Photos: Build-A-Tiger

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Everyone on campus had the opportunity to take hope a fluffy tiger friend.
Brianna West (’24) picks up her tiger bag from Union Board member Bailey Smith (’24) and Liz Artz.
Build-A-Tiger 2020 was located on Edward Mauer Field on nice, sunny fall day.

Mental Space: The Trauma of Suicide

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The human mind is complex and interconnected. Follow Amber Gauss along as she breaks down mental health at Wittenberg and beyond. Graphic by Atticus Dewey/The Wittenberg Torch

Editors’ Note: This article contains extremely sensitive information about suicide, self-harm, depression and mental illness. If you are experiencing feelings of suicide, call 800-273-8255. Help is always available.

Machine Gun Kelly Crashes and Burns on His First Pop-Punk LP

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Machine Gun Kelly preforms at Summerfest 2018 in Milwaukee, WI on July 5, 2018. (Paulien Zomer/Creative Commons via WikiMedia Commons)

After he famously fumbled a beef with legendary rapper Eminem in 2018, Cleveland-native Colson Baker, known by his stage name Machine Gun Kelly or simply MGK, personally audited his musical style. His 2019 record “Hotel Diablo” experimented with sounds outside of his traditional hip-hop style, including an emo-punk-inspired track produced by Travis Barker of blink-182 fame. This year, amid nostalgic throwbacks to the synth grooves of the 1980’s and the emo phase of the early 2000’s, MGK is embracing a new, pop-punk style on “Tickets to My Downfall.” And what a downfall it is: derivative, annoying, poorly produced, filled with cringeworthy lyrics and embarrassingly bland performances from Baker, “Tickets” is a miserable experience and a stain on the legacy of genuine punk music.

Opening with the tongue-in-cheek title track “title track,” Baker between verses of stripped-back guitar instrumentals and choruses of noisy, poorly-mixed guitars and thudding drum kit work from Travis Barker, who is credited with production on the entire record. As with many opening tracks, “title track” sets the tone for the record and largely encapsulates its atrocious, dated sound. “kiss kiss” features even more of Baker’s nasally, phony vocals with a muddy “la la la” vocal line in the bridge, which features the least interesting guitar breakdown of the last five years, at least.

“bloody valentine,” the album’s first single, offers one of Baker’s better takes on pop-punk. The track lands more on the side of punk, and some emotion peeks through his vocals for the first and last time on the album. Beyond a soft guitar line that underlays most of the track, the instrumentation is predictably boring, and the drums, strangely, are muddier and sloppier than usual.

“drunk face” and “all I know,” featuring Akron-native trap crooner Trippie Redd, re-introduce the synthetic, hip-hop beats and 808’s that MGK is most comfortable on, but feature none of his signature rap style. Instead, the audience is left with more unoriginal, impersonal and painfully bland lyrics about heartbreak, revel, and faux youth. “I’m still young, wasting my youth/I’ll grow up next summer,” Baker, 30, sings on “drunk face.”

Inexplicably, Halsey, a similarly talentless and style-devoid pop singer, offers one of the best moments on the album. Her harmonies with Baker on “forget me too” are the most sonically diverse and palatable additions to any of the 15 tracks. Moody R&B veteran blackbear attempts to save “my ex’s best friend,” but even his work here is soiled by the gaudy hip-hop 808’s bleeding into the weak guitar work. Up-and-coming trap auto-crooner iann dior does similar work on “nothing inside” to more success than Trippie Redd and blackbear, but his vocals are just lost in the swirl of noises encapsulated in the instrumentals. “lonely” and “WWIII” also attempt to deliver more interesting sounds without features, but the production and mixing are so junky and touch-and-go that the tracks drown in themselves.

“concert for aliens,” the album’s second single and tenth track, is by far the most unlistenable, unintelligible retched piece of pop-punk since Metro Station’s ungodly 2007 hit “Shake It.” Absolutely nothing about this song is redeemable or acceptable in the modern music landscape.

Throughout the record, MGK takes a break from music to toss in some interludes, calling actor and comedian Pete Davidson on FaceTime and talking to actress Megan Fox about tattoos. No complex adjectives here: the interludes are bad. Really bad.

After an excruciating 36 minutes, the record closes with “play this when i’m gone,” a stripped-back, layered, progressive tune that feels like a depression-fueled goodbye track to an ex. It is one of the most emotionally effective moments, if the only one, the record has to offer, but closes an album full of bangs with a whimper.

As a critic of music as a technical form, I cannot speak negatively enough about “Tickets to My Downfall.” This album is genuinely one of the worst albums I have ever heard, from MGK or otherwise. Normally, I listen to an album five or more times before I write a review- even the albums I don’t like at all. But I could only stand to sit through “Tickets” twice before I had to put the album away entirely. Its content is so far beyond just cringey, bland and unoriginal that it somehow wanders into a career-ending mess of a misfire. “Tickets” is not only offensive to the ear and to the landscape of the reemergent nostalgia wave of 2020, it soils the legacy of true-to-form pop punk outfits of the early 2000’s. I hope I soon forget this nonsense.

The Weekly Tiger: Turtles and Value

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I heard a story once. It was about a turtle that held the world on its back. It held the world effortlessly and without strain. But this turtle was not alone. Below this turtle was another turtle. And below that? Yes, another turtle. Turtles all the way down. Where do they lead? Do they lead anywhere?

In the past week, I happened upon an intriguing thought while reading required pages for class. In a passage, the thought in question referred to people being of either of value or not having value at all. It then said that it was up to you to decide which.

It basically asks, in one form, whether you see yourself having worth. Are you worth something, for instance, three goats and a duck? Or are you worth much more, such as diamonds, jewels and knowledge? Are you worthy of being on this earth that sits quietly on a turtle? That is for you to decide.

I ask you now: if you believe you have value, what can you offer? What can you give that is worthwhile? It could be wisdom, thoughts, knowledge, love, friendship or even the small acts of kindness that you tend to see day to day. I like those small acts. I value them. But would I value you? That is for me to decide.

If you don’t think you have value, ask around. See if others see value in you. If they acknowledge traits, habits, quirks and niceties about you, perhaps reconsider your view on yourself. If others see it, could you see it too? If they value you, and you then take their opinion into true consideration, then you value their opinion. Eventually, you could then deem yourself worthy of value. It goes in a circle, a pattern or a line. See it however you see it.

I see it as a line of turtles with worlds on their backs, each carrying people that all have value even if they are blind to see it. Each person has a place on the back of the turtle. Each can either make its mark on the turtle’s shell or simply live. I’d rather make my mark than sit idly by and watch the turtle get caught in a net.

I heard a story once. It was about a turtle that carried our world on its back without a sweat. The turtle did not float just in space but sat on another turtle. And below that? Another turtle. Turtles all the way down.

You’ve heard this story now. Is it any value to you?

Radio-Friendly Remixes Feature Duets from Male Artists

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The SiruisXM Logo. (via SiruisXM)

Now more than ever, music is always around us: no matter if it is played on a streaming service, on a cell phone, on a classic radio or in your car.

Sirius XM is a popular music radio channel that can be played in car radios, apps and in public places like the Student Center here on campus. New artist Ashe’s “Moral of the Story” and Gabby Barrett’s “I Hope” can be heard on repeat on the campus radio. You might have heard the original versions of the songs elsewhere and the version that has a male singer. They are both very different from each other.

Lately, I’ve noticed a trend in new songs in the mischievous year of 2020: male duets and features seem to be added to female solo songs more than before. This could be perceived as a lack of female equality and needing a man duet on the track.

For example, the song, “Moral of the Story” was originally sung by Ashe. But now popular male singer and former One Direction member Niall Horan has joined her on the track. Honestly, it is a bit odd to hear a duet on this song because it talks about the heartbreak of Ashe and her life. You could be listening to the duet song the first time and hear Horan sing and think, “Who is that?” or, “I thought this song was a solo?” The original song came out a few months ago when every student was trapped in quarantine, and now the new version has come out once everyone has returned to school. Funny how that happened.

Another example of this happening is on the song “I Hope,” originally sung and written by Gabby Barrett. But male singer Charlie Puth decided to join her on the track. This song is also about heartbreak and Barrett trying to get past it. It seems to be from the perspective of a female and how she was heartbroken by a man. Puth seems to take on Barrett’s role as well, which seems strange. For example, Puth sings, “Yeah babe, I hope she shows up in a 2 AM pic from a friend.” Here, Puth is talking about Barrett’s life like he is living it, and not her.

These two songs are great examples of having a lone female singer writing a solo song and then adding a male singer later on. I think that it is very interesting that the music industry is adding male singers onto songs that are already out for the world to enjoy. Is it trying to prove a point?

I do think that the songs, whether they are a duet or a solo, are good. The added male duet factor could show a different perspective. Songwriters can even get more streams because of that other singer. However, keeping the singer as a perspective shows the fact that a lot of heartbreak is one-sided. These two ideas make each version of the songs seem so different from each other, possibly losing their original meaning in the process.

English Professor Detail Progress on Her Campaign for State Representative

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Cynthia Richards stands outside the now closed Kroger in Springfield's Southside neighborhood during a photoshoot on Sept. 6, 2020. (Braeden Bowen/The Wittenberg Torch)

Wittenberg professor of English Cynthia Richards announced her campaign for State Representative on Nov. 21, 2019. Since then, she has made great strides and climbed over mountains to get where she is today.

A state representative’s duty is to make policies and laws at the state level while cooperating with views from the people inhabiting that state. As a Democrat, Richards is running against Republican candidate Kyle Koehler, who has been in the seat for the past six years. The position has not been held by a Democrat in the district since District 79 has been drawn.

In regard to Clark County and Ohio, Richards has goals for improvement in people’s daily lives.

“My biggest goal is to really work to fix our education funding system here in Ohio,” Richards said. “You may know this, but since the late 1990s, the Supreme Court ruled for Ohio that our funding mechanism is unconstitutional, [that] it is not equitable…. And we do not have a solution to that problem. [Our] students are suffering for that reason. But I’m also concerned about healthcare, what can we do at the state level. Our county has one of the lowest health outcomes in the state of Ohio. We need better paying jobs. A lot of people in Springfield are working two or three jobs and still struggling to pay the bills. I would support an increase in our minimum wage. I would support working with local leaders to establish a wage that allows small local businesses to thrive.”

Interestingly, Richards does not call herself a politician, nor have a passion for politics.

“When we think about what the political game is, I have a passion for empowering people and helping them become their best selves,” Richards said. “I love to be a part of that process. My passion has been for teaching. I love my job. I love empowering my students, I love their best selves, their best writing selves [and] their best reading selves.”

She defines herself simply as an “advocate.” Richards is also constantly doing research to gain more knowledge on the issues she cares about, especially since she is a newcomer to politics.

“It’s the first job of a representative to listen and to learn, and to listen and learn from one’s constituents,” Richards said. “When I began this process, I began by meeting with local leaders and learning about what the needs of our community were. Learning about what would help them achieve their goals at the state level, what could a state representative do…. Secondly, you have to build a team. This job is impossible to do by yourself, so you really need a team.”

Her team includes multiple Wittenberg students and staff. Political science professor Staci Rhine is the policy director. Braeden Bowen (’21) takes part with photography, videography, data analytics, political intelligence, and stands as the campaign manager. Anna-Claire Crichton (‘21) is currently the social media director. Samuel Scharff (’20) has been a researcher for Richards. Angela Gialanella (’21) and Caroline Marlow (‘23) assist with fieldwork that includes writing postcards, delivering literature and campaign signs and making phone calls. Amiee Maryama is a part of the advancement team and helping with fundraising. Austin Smith has been Richards’ field director in head of operations.

Dealing with campaign duties can be a struggle, especially in a time of a pandemic. Prior to the rise of cases of COVID-19 and cities engaging in quarantine, Richards took part in canvasing about the community, lots of public appearances, forums, speeches, and fundraising events. She also even ran a 10K and went to rallies in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. But after the pandemic surge hit Springfield, she and her campaign team had to calibrate.

“I love the classroom. I love the dynamics. I love the ways you work collaboratively together to arrive at new insights. I find it absolutely the euphoria of collaborative learning. And that’s hard to reproduce virtually, right? It’s really hard to have those same rhythms…. What we had to do was we shifted into more media presence. We shifted toward those virtual town halls and other events that allowed us to do that. When the summer hit, we were able to embrace outdoor events where we wore masks and socially distanced. And I think those have increased as the summer has gone on… I would say that early on in spring, that was a frustrating place to be because I knew that I needed to fight hard for this community, but I had lost so many of the tools that I had needed for that. But we’ve recovered. We’ve figured out new ways, and we are out and about as much as we can to continue to do that good work,” Richards said.

The stakes have certainly been raised for Richards and her campaign, and she has come to realize that winning is now more important than before because of how drastic things have gotten. Yet, she retains optimism due to her current place in the race.

“I was told that the odds were against me, that it would be like pushing Mount Everest up Mount Everest,” Richards said. “That’s what I was told to be able to win. First, I resolved: I can do that. The second was, I thought, no matter what in this campaign, I’m going to do good. I’m going to use my platform to do good…. Because of many factors, we really have a chance of winning. Now, my odds are more like climbing Mount Rainier… so it’s now it’s a very clear, doable task as the momentum is on our side. Especially if people come out to vote, especially young people.”

Additionally, so many negative emotions surround the campus bubble and seem to sink within and often these emotions are results from the current way the pandemic is being handled. Richards sympathized for her students and her community.

“We needed to trust each other, and we needed to trust our government,” she said. “We have gotten minimum conflicting signals from those who are our leadership. So that has compromised the second thing we needed, which was a sense of community, a shared purpose. We’re going to get through this incredible catastrophe. We have to trust each other and come together. But because of that lack of trust in our leadership and consistent messaging, we then lost our sense of community. And without that sense of community, we will not make it through this.”

On a lighter note, Richards found that working on her campaign and teaching at Wittenberg never seemed to cause issues. They often worked together collaboratively and helped her gain core motivation for her to run for state representative.

“I don’t feel torn in terms of my energy,” she said. “What I’m doing in the classroom is empowering my students to speak, to grow, to learn. I’m informing them about issues. I’m researching, presenting, and framing those issues so that I can educate well. Well, that’s what I’m doing on the campaign trail too…. Who I am as a person in the classroom is exactly the person I am on the campaign trail.”

Lots of students on campus have big goals like Richards, and Richards recognizes this in the Wittenberg student body. She offered advice to those with similar big aspirations to her.

“I never imagined [running for public office],” she said. “But it happened, and what I would do is stay true to your values. Stay true to your purpose. Continue to grow and develop as a human being. When the time is right, the opportunity that you’re looking for will come. And then you just have to have the courage to say yes to your dreams and yes to that new challenge.”           

State representative elections will take place on Nov. 3, 2020. If you have not registered to vote, please visit https://ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/site/residents/resources/register-to-vote-or-update-your-registration to register.

Wittenberg Hires New Assistant Tennis Coach

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Luke Minard ('19) volleys the tennis ball back during a fall season match with Thomas More College on Sept 20, 2018. Minard won his match in two sets, 6-0, and 6-2. (Trent Sprague/The Wittenberg Torch)

Game, set… whoa, new coach? This shocking news might have come across some tennis players’ minds at Wittenberg University when they hired a new graduate assistant coach for the program. 

Jeremy Mokry accepted the of Assistant Coach position in early August of this academic school year. Mokry grew up in Columbus, OH, before he left to work in various tennis academies. He graduated from Ohio Dominican University, a NCAA Division II school.

Mokry touches on topics ranging from his coaching techniques, his favorite tennis player, his favorite tennis grand slam, the matches he has watched on both television and in real life and advice he would give to his younger self.

Q: What techniques do you use as a tennis coach to help tennis players be their best?

A: Tennis, being an individual sport, requires a lot of style, and every single player has a certain style. Every single player has unique styles, so depending upon what any physical attributes they have. Some are shorter, some are very, very tall, some are great athletes [and] some are not. I try to tail my approaches to what they are very, very specifically as players. The universal things I try to hammer into each player is to develop really, really good technique. After that, being very, very constant.

Q: What inspired you to be a tennis coach?

A: Being a tennis player, to be brutally honest. I played a whole bunch of sports as a kid, and tennis was the one thing that stuck.

Q: Who is your favorite tennis player and why?

A: Novak Djokovic, I would say primarily, because he’s one of those players that show everything he’s accomplished that I think is completely teachable.

Q: What is your favorite tennis grand slam?

A: I really like the U.S. Open just because of the format that was done. They are really good at organizing their primetime matches.

Q: What advice would you give your younger self?

A: I would say just bust your butt off a lot harder and have a much better work ethic.

Donald Trump was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. He doesn’t deserve it.

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President Donald J. Trump answers a reporter’s question during a press conference Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2020, in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour)

For the second time, Donald Trump has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by right-wing Norwegian MP, Christian Tybring-Gjedde. In Tybring-Gjedde’s own words, Trump was nominated, “For his merit … trying to create peace between nations.” In his letter of nomination, Tybring-Gjedde notes specifically Trump’s role in the normalization of relations between the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Israel.

Alfred Nobel intended that the Peace Prize would be granted “to those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind.” It would be easy to go through Trump’s record in the past year of human-rights violations at home and abroad. But we don’t actually have to go any further than what he is actually being nominated for. Facilitating the cultivation of relations between the UAE and Israel is merely a consolidation of regional power that benefits no one other than the most powerful and is detrimental to human rights and the cause of Palestinian statehood.

Over the years, the prospects of Palestinian statehood have diminished as Israel has made peace with former advocates of the Palestinian cause, namely Jordan and Egypt, and Israeli settlers divide the West Bank into enclaves that make a contiguous state seem impossible. Egypt, for example, once an ally of the Palestinians, has maintained its side of the crushing blockade of Gaza imposed by Israel in 2007. Even when the Muslim Brotherhood held power for a year in Egypt, the blockade remained despite Hamas, the democratically-elected leadership of Gaza, being a member organization of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Since Trump has taken power, American foreign policy has escalated in favor of Israeli control over the occupied territories. In March, the Trump administration unveiled its version of the two-state solution, which was written without any input from Palestinians. It would effectively divide the West Bank into three sections and dismiss the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homeland. Later that month, based on an unsubstantiated allegation that an attack from Islamic Jihad was being planned, Israeli air raids were conducted in Gaza, killing more than thirty people.

On May 14, the United States moved its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a symbolic gesture, as half of Jerusalem was allocated to Palestinians in 1949 and is currently occupied by the Israeli state. In response, Palestinians demonstrated in Gaza and were met with sniper fire. Thousands were shot and more than one hundred were killed, including medics and journalists who clearly identified themselves. Between August 6 and 31, Israeli attacks were carried out almost daily against Gaza, allegedly in response to “airborne incendiary devices.”

With the peace deal between the UAE and Israel, trade is expected to surpass $4 billion dollars as the UAE has promised to end its economic boycott. Of course, other than economic tensions, Bahrain, Israel and the UAE have not been at war with each other and have cooperated in regional disputes on a number of occasions. In 2011, Wikileaks revealed that Bahrain and Israel had also been communicating over security issues in the region. Effectively, the UAE and Bahrain went from turning their backs on the Palestinians, who were absent from of the 2020 peace talks, to openly opposing their cause, removing the only viable leverage that the UAE could have held over Israel to bring about a Palestinian state: the economic boycott.

Four American presidents have received the Nobel Peace Prize, each one equally undeserving. Theodore Roosevelt was awarded the prize in 1906 for having negotiated peace between the imperialist powers of Russia and Japan. Between 1903 and 1913, American troops were crushing a rebellion in the southern Philippines, which killed some one hundred thousand people.

Also, on Roosevelt’s record is the construction of the Panama Canal, a violent and deadly endeavor, the history of which has largely been forgotten in the American education system that Trump believes is not “pro-American” enough. After Colombia refused to give up Panama, then a region of Colombia, Roosevelt began sponsoring Panamanian separatists. American naval forces were sent to Panama in both the Atlantic and the Pacific, preventing sea-transports of Colombian forces. American railroads to Panama were shut down as well.

Immediately after Panamanian independence was declared, a French engineer involved in earlier canal attempts was named “Envoy Extraordinary” and “Minister Plenipotentiary” to negotiate the Hay-Bunau-Varilla Treaty between Panama and the United States, granting the U.S. military bases in the region and control over the Panama Canal. During American construction, between 1904 and 1914, 5,600 Panamanian workers died from diseases and accidents. In order to cut costs and time, the U.S. relied heavily on the use of dynamite in construction. Disproportionately, black West Indian labor was used to transport and deploy the oftentimes deadly dynamite. As Howard Zinn, a “propagandist” according to Trump, wrote:

“The canal was a pure example of American imperialism. It saved American companies $1.5 billion a year in delivery costs, and the United States collected $150 million a year in tolls, out of which it paid the Panama government $2.3 million dollars, while maintaining fourteen military bases in the area.”

Cornel West forcefully has called Barack Obama, “a war criminal with a Nobel Peace Prize.” Obama won the prize in 2009 for his “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.” The Nobel Committee noted that it had “attached special importance to Obama’s vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons,” and that because of Obama, “democracy and human rights are to be strengthened.”

On the question of “human rights,” Obama spent the rest of his presidency ensuring the detriment of both around the world, particularly in the Middle East and Africa, notably with his use of drone warfare and air strikes. By the time he was done, the Obama administration had struck seven different countries with drones: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia and Libya.

On July 1, 2016, National Intelligence Director James Clapper released a report claiming that at most, 117 civilians were killed by Obama’s drone program in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Libya. But in Pakistan alone, of the estimated 2,400 people that were killed, at least 213 have been identified as civilians. In Yemen, Pakistan and Somalia, according to Airwars, an organization dedicated to “monitoring and assessing civilian casualties from international airstrikes,” between 384 and 807 civilians were killed over the course of 563 drone strikes. In Iraq and Syria, by conservative estimates, 2,727 civilians were killed by Obama’s air campaign. In 2016, Obama’s last year, 26,171 bombs were dropped, or three bombs an hour. Not exactly actions worthy of a Peace Prize.

Even in the case of nuclear proliferation, Obama’s record is less than average. During his tenure, he escalated tensions with Iran over alleged nuclear proliferation despite Iran being a signatory of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. All the while, Obama continued support for Israel, signing a $36 billion aid package to be distributed over ten years, though Israel is not a signatory and is estimated to have some 200 nuclear warheads. Obama also made moves to develop the Long-Range Standoff cruise missile, which could be used in limited capacity, normalizing nuclear weapons on the battlefield, despite ten Democratic senators signing a letter urging him to abandon the project. The missile can be both nuclear and non-nuclear, creating a type of warfare where two parties will be ignorant of what kind of destruction is coming their way.

President Woodrow Wilson won the prize for creating the League of Nations. Of course, this was after Wilson took the U.S. into a war that killed millions despite having campaigned on keeping the U.S. out of the First World War. At home, he launched the first Red Scare, imprisoning or deporting anyone who opposed sending Americans into Europe to die over a conflict that was predicated on economic and territorial disputes. With the passing of the Espionage Act, 900 people were arrested for their political beliefs. In one instance, six members of Frayhat, a Jewish anarchist organization in New York, were arrested for publishing articles critical of U.S. involvement in the war. Jacob Schwartz, one of the six, was beaten so badly while being arrested, he died in custody.

Wilson’s imperialism took a terrible toll on Latin America. In 1915, Wilson sent troops to occupy Haiti, an occupation that lasted until 1934. At this time American economic interests reigned supreme, with the American government taking control of the Haitian banks, ensuring American companies were repaid debts. Charlemagne Peralte, Haitian resistance leader, was killed by American Marines and crucified on a door for Haitians to see. During the first five years of the occupation, more than two thousand Haitians were killed by Marines. Wilson also sent Marines to the Dominican Republic in 1916 where they would stay until 1924. Three hundred Dominicans were killed in the first five years—this to allow sugar plantations to be taken over by American companies.

President Jimmy Carter won the prize for reasons most similar to those that have earned Trump the nomination. In 1978, Menachem Begin, Anwar Sadat and Jimmy Carter signed the Camp David Accords, normalizing relations between the Egypt and Israel. Following the agreements, Israel and Egypt became the two largest yearly recipients of military aid from the U.S. The next year, Carter used Israel to covertly send sixteen warplanes to Indonesia as Indonesia was conducting a genocide in East Timor, which by the end would result in the deaths of two to three hundred thousand people. Also during Carter’s administration in 1978, using American weapons, Israel engaged in a bombing campaign in Lebanon that killed more than 1,000 civilians. The regime in Egypt that would be propped up by U.S. aid following the deal was a dictatorship that lasted until 2011.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines ‘peace’ in three parts: “1. a situation or a period of time in which there is no war or violence in a country or an area. 2. The state of being calm or quiet. 3. the state of living in friendship with somebody without arguing.” Considering these definitions, it makes sense why someone like Malala Yousafzai or the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons would win the Nobel Peace Prize. However, there is a fourth meaning used by Western imperialists. Peace for them is defined by a state of affairs where Western political hegemony is intact and where Western economic interests are secured. For this reason, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama are Nobel laureates. Trump has ensured there will never be a Palestinian state, allowing for Western hegemony in the region to reign supreme. Going by the fourth definition of peace, he deserves the prize. Otherwise, no American president does.

“We were on our own:” Quarantine at Wittenberg

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Polis House (front) and Tower Hall (rear) are seen in the evening of Sept. 27, 2020. Polis House is Wittenberg University's quarantine housing during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Trent Sprague/The Wittenberg Torch)

At the peak of Wittenberg’s COVID-19 outbreak on Sept. 12, over 250 students or 15% of the student body were in quarantine or isolation. The Wittenberg Torch spoke with several students who spoke of limited communication from Wittenberg, academic struggles and students sneaking out of quarantine.

As Wittenberg’s COVID-19 outbreak worsened and reached a peak of 114 active cases on Sept. 14, Tiana Hughes (’23) was nearing her fourth day in isolation at Polis House after testing positive for COVID-19. Hughes, an English and psychology double major, shared that she had received limited information from Wittenberg regarding isolation restrictions.

“Wittenberg sent an email introducing us to Polis [House], after that we were on our own,” Hughes said. While Clark County Combined Health District (CCCHD) officially orders individuals to quarantine or isolate, Wittenberg’s COVID-19 Response Team provides students with information regarding academic and other support resources while in quarantine and isolation.

According to documents provided to The Wittenberg Torch by CCCHD, individuals in isolation are required to limit movement, monitor symptoms and remain isolated until ten days following the appearance of symptoms in addition to 24 hours without a fever. Individuals in quarantine are under the same criteria for a minimum of 14 days.

According to Jack Keri (’23), Wittenberg did not provide information on quarantine guidelines or meal ordering until a day after he was told to start quarantining by a contact tracer.

“There was no information that first day about what quarantine would look like, what I was supposed to do, or if I would even be contacted again,” Keri said.

“I don’t think [the restrictions] were enforced by [Wittenberg]” said a senior who requested anonymity due to fears about their personal safety. The senior had been quarantined twice in their campus residence after being tested for COVID-19.

The limited communication from Wittenberg and limited quarantine enforcement allowed for students to leave the confines of Polis House and roam campus in the evenings as confirmed by Hughes and other individuals who requested anonymity. Keri went as far as confirming that students were sneaking out of quarantine and visiting individuals infected with COVID-19.

“This is not the first time the [COVID-19] Response Team has been made aware of students violating the University’s established protocols for quarantine or isolation,” University spokesperson Karen Gerboth said in a statement to The Wittenberg Torch on Sept. 27, “Quarantine and isolation orders are public health orders enforceable under the law. As such, Wittenberg expects students and employees to abide by these public health orders.”

According to documents provided to The Wittenberg Torch by CCCHD, individuals ordered to quarantine are bound by section 3707.08 of the Ohio Revised Code which states that “No person isolated or quarantined by a board shall leave the premises to which [they] has been restricted without the written permission of such board until released from isolation or quarantine.” Additionally, documents from CCCHD state that violation of quarantine or isolation orders is a minor misdemeanor under section 3707.99 of the Ohio Revised Code which allows a fine up to $150. Additionally, Wittenberg University Athletics has reserved the right to apply athletic suspensions to student-athletes who repeatably violate Wittenberg’s COVID-19 guidelines.

“[The suspensions] could range anywhere from a week out of an athletic activity all the way up to a year, depending on the severity of your act,” said Associate Athletic Director for Athletic Compliance Bret Billhardt in a presentation to student athletes on Sept. 24.

Members of Wittenberg University’s Men’s Cross Country Team run past tents on Stoughton Lawn in the early morning hours of Sept. 18, 2020. Wittenberg University erected the tents prior to classes starting to allow for easier social distancing during the COVID-19 Pandemic. (Trent Sprague/The Wittenberg Torch)

For students who obeyed the order of quarantine or isolation, daily life is boring as senior Miles Caine explained. Caine tested positive for COVID-19 on Sept. 8 after being identified as a close contact on Sept. 4.

“I would wake up and get some food that I had already made that way I wasn’t spending time in common area, go back to my room, eat, read and do homework,” Caine said of his daily routine while in isolation. According to documents from CCCHD, isolated individuals are supposed to limit their time in public spaces.

Academics in quarantine also had a different effect on each student as Caine felt that his time in isolation had a large effect on his motivation for academic work.

“Personally, I dropped the ball on [homework] big time,” Caine said, “You don’t feel productive at all because you’re sitting in your room all the time.”

Hughes had a similar experience, for she said, “It was really hard to even think clearly and that was partly because of [COVID-19] and [partly] being in that one room all day.”

“It was draining and I forgot how much I miss campus and people,” Hughes said of the mental effects of quarantine, “We literally would just sit there and look out the window at night and hope somebody walked by to talk to us.”

Zeke Bennett (’23) had a difference academic experience while isolating off-campus.

“I’m so far ahead in classes right now. I have projects that are due in a few weeks that I have started if not completed.” Bennett said, “I’m just using this time to get ahead in class and it’s the best thing I can do right now.

As of Friday, Sept. 25, Wittenberg had ten active COVID-19 cases with one probable case. The University has a total of 178 positive cases or 11% of the student body having been infected. In a statement to students on Thursday, Sept. 24, all 178 cases had been traced back to student living and social environments.

Mental Space: Panic Attacks

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The human mind is complex and interconnected. Follow Amber Gauss along as she breaks down mental health at Wittenberg and beyond. Graphic by Atticus Dewey/The Wittenberg Torch

Panic attacks are not a fun experience for anyone. A panic attack is more than just being unable to calm your thoughts and breathing. A panic attack can easily be pacing because it’s the only thing keeping you together. It can also involve you being curled up in a ball sobbing uncontrollably and hyperventilating. Either way, it’s not a fun experience.

People who experience panic attacks aren’t crazy or weird. They’re neuro-divergent people who suffer from one or more mental anxiety-related disorders. They might have panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), social anxiety, or even generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). There are many other anxiety-related disorders that cause panic attacks as well. I personally suffer from two of these and have panic attacks.

For me, panic attacks involve me curling up in a ball and sobbing uncontrollably. Many people think that that is what a panic attack “must be,” but it isn’t. Panic, as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is “recurrent unexpected panic attacks. A panic attack is an abrupt surge of intense fear or intense discomfort that reaches a peak within minutes, and during which time four (or more) of the following symptoms occur; Note: The abrupt surge can occur from a calm state or an anxious state.

1. Palpitations, pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate.

2. Sweating.

3. Trembling or shaking.

4. Sensations of shortness of breath or smothering.

5. Feelings of choking.

6. Chest pain or discomfort.

7. Nausea or abdominal distress.

8. Feeling dizzy, unsteady, light-headed, or faint.

9. Chills or heat sensations.

10. Paresthesias (numbness or tingling sensations).

11. Derealization (feelings of unreality) or depersonalization (being detached from oneself).

12. Fear of losing control or “going crazy.”

13. Fear of dying.

Note: Culture-specific symptoms (e.g., tinnitus, neck soreness, headache, uncontrollable screaming or crying) may be seen. Such symptoms should not count as one of the four required symptoms.”

Now, there are several ways to help someone who is experiencing a panic attack, and not all of these ways are suitable for everyone. For example, some people might want to be held or hugged to help them calm down, but others might lash out if they’re touched. Another example that may help someone experiencing a panic attack would be grounding techniques, such as the Five-Four-Three-Two-One technique. This technique helps bring a person out of their panicked state by having them list five things they can see, four things they can feel, three things they can hear, two things they can smell, and one thing they can taste. This technique is beneficial in that it brings the individual back to the present by having them identify aspects of their surroundings.

Hopefully, you won’t need these techniques for yourself or anyone you know. But at least you have some ideas of what to do if you or someone you know experiences a panic attack.