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We Are Not Alone: An Adventure Seeking Those on the Other Side

Are we alone, or are we home to the deadly unknown?

There are Wittenberg students who walk around campus without even thinking about whether an invisible friend is walking with them. The campus is 175 years old this year, so some may think that the students from the past may not really be gone.

On Oct. 20, I opened up “Ghost Detector,” the ghost hunting app on my phone, and put all my fears behind me. According to its description, the app shows sound waves that increase if it senses a ghost nearby or decreases if nothing is there. Additionally, it has a small speech box for ghosts who want to strike up a conversation with you.

A typical college student would just walk around campus going to classes, to the gym and things like that — but not me. I was inspired to explore campus’ haunted past after watching the Youtube channel “Buzzfeed Unsolved,” where hosts Shane and Ryan walk around different haunted places and look for ghosts. I had to follow in their footsteps.

Covered in a thick layer of fog on Jan. 27, 2018, the campus circle exudes an eerie ambiance. (Braeden Bowen/The Wittenberg Torch).

I went by myself around campus and conducted a search for ghosts. First, I started with Myers Hall. My friend who lives in the building let me in, which made my exploration much easier. I swallowed my slight fear of ghosts and walked around the first floor.

At first, the only noises I heard were from the residents who lived there. But then I remembered how Myers Hall was supposedly a hospital many years ago, and that there may be a ghost horse running around. Sadly, I did not find any ghost horses with my ghost detector app, but as I walked around the hallways, I did pick up some words.

Originally, I thought it was just some residents talking, but I listened very closely. The first word I heard was “snap.” The radar on my app was going crazy, and red and orange colors appeared notifying me that a ghost could be nearby. The voice’s tone was very deep — it might have been a man speaking to me. But that left me confused: for what does “snap” mean? Was the ghost trying to snap his fingers at me to get my attention? So mysterious.

I walked around Myers hall for a bit more and got a few more words from some ghostly passers-by. The next ghost I found could be that of a little girl. I made this assumption because the spirit said, “Daddy, no.” To me, the voice was high pitched and sounded almost childlike. I decided to leave Myers after this.

My next destination was Weaver Chapel. You may think, “But Katie, it’s a church. Would there really be spirits in a place of worship?” Yes, in fact, there are. As I walked down the main aisle, I had my ghost radar at the ready, hoping to find some evidence of ghosts. Weaver Chapel opened in 1956, so it is not exactly a centuries-old European cathedral, but thought I was sure to find something.

I kept on walking and my ghost app picked up the word “evil.” Did a ghost say that in a place of worship, or was I just hearing things? Maybe if a ghost did say it, would it be directed towards me? I don’t know, but I do know that it was time to leave.

Recitation Hall, the second oldest building on campus, weathers early winter snow at dusk on Nov. 18, 2018. (Braeden Bowen/The Wittenberg Torch).

Next, I visited Recitation Hall, one of the oldest buildings on campus. Most students and visitors go to this building for academic help or setting up a tour- but of course, I had other ideas. I walked around yet again with my app open in the main hallway of Recitation and looked for some eerie signs. Considering the building was full of tour groups, it was kind of awkward ghost hunting, but I was still able to pick up some ghost signs in the building. I stood still near the bathroom sign and heard a voice saying “sing.” I could not tell if it was a man’s or woman’s voice, but I did know that I was not going to burst into song right next to a tour group.

After finishing my experiment, I do believe that our beloved campus is home to both students and ghosts. If you are like me and want to go some ghost hunting of your own, don’t be afraid! Download the “Ghost Detector” app and enjoy! Just remember: if you’re walking late at night and feel a slight breeze, maybe it’s a ghost trying to say hello or get your attention.

Mental Space: Witchcraft as a Coping Strategy

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Seances, tarot, spells and tea; It all sounds like something I’m pulling out of The Addams Family, but I can assure you that it isn’t. I practice witchcraft in my spare time – which isn’t all that often. It feels weird to come out of the “broom closet” so to say, but I use witchcraft to help me cope with my mental illnesses.

Over the summer, I got really into holding seances with a friend. We would communicate with deities, passed loved ones and a mischievous spirit named Janey. To hold these seances, we used my pendulums that I made. To do that, we asked yes/no questions to whomever we were communicating with, and they would make the pendulum move in ways that were associated with the answer. Had we used a spirit, or Ouija, board, I probably could have asked more questions that I thought I wanted the answers to, usually more of the “why” type questions.

Surprisingly, it brought me some much-needed closure about my father’s death by allowing me to speak with him. I also got to talk to my grandfather who passed when I was eight. Now, you can be skeptical and think it’s all a bunch of “hocus-pocus” or just in my head, but it really helped me.

I also made friends online while reading tarot. Tarot allows me to give others messages from Spirit, the Universe or whatever you want to call the force that causes certain cards to be pulled. I would answer questions about relationships and about careers, and it helped to bring others clarity. That made me feel better about myself because I was able to make others feel good. As an empath, I feel others’ emotions and when they’re happy, it helps me feel happier.

I don’t always pull cards for myself, but when I do, I usually only pull one card for the day. It gives me a sense of what the day might bring me or a sense of clarity over the events of the day if I pull my card at night. Sometimes, the cards call me out and tell me what I need to do to improve my life and well-being. When that happens, I tend to listen because I don’t like being called out.

Since starting witchcraft, I have noticed that my mental health has fluctuated more. I think this is because I’ve become more aware of myself and my needs, so I notice things more quickly than before. I use essential oils to help me sleep or calm down when I need some extra help. I drink tea and stir in my intention when I add milk or sugar. I also cleanse my space often to help get rid of negative energy.

I don’t dance naked in a forest around a bonfire and I don’t summon demons to make them work for or with me. I talk with spirits and guides and I tell people messages. It’s not evil, and if it helps me to recognize my own struggles, I’d say it’s a good thing. In all honesty, witchcraft is more about the intention than it is about spells, seances or tarot. If I want to banish writers’ block, then I’m going to make myself a cup of tea and repeat myself as I stir in the intent of good ideas and banish a lack of them.

I use lavender oil and Sleepy Time tea to help me sleep, but I still take my prescribed medications to help me deal with my depression. I put stock in my dreams because I think they mean something, but I still see a therapist about my issues and get professional help with them- yes, science and magic work together in my life. I’m also certainly not hurting anyone. In fact, I’m helping people get through their own issues when I read their tarot.

You can call me crazy, but I’m going to continue to do what works for me and if that’s magic, then so might it be.

Letter to the Editor: What Happened to Being Friends?

Meghan Nadzam 10.23.20
Braeden Bowen (10.25.20)

By Lexi Opdycke (’23)

One of my favorite things about Wittenberg University is our tight-knit and friendly community. As a freshman last year, I was graciously welcomed into the Wittenberg family. Students, staff and professors were there to help whenever I needed it. I felt appreciated, valued and important. This university and my peers cared about me.

I knew things would be different when I returned to campus this fall. The changes took time to adjust to, but overall, I was happy to be back. I was confident in Wittenberg’s community to get through this pandemic together, but nothing could have prepared me for the feeling of betrayal I felt from some of my peers.

After a few months on campus, I am worried our community is slipping away. My concern is caused by the Wittenberg anonymous tipping service provided on campus: WittTip. With the program, students can anonymously tip off anyone they think is not following social distancing guidelines. At first, I thought this wouldn’t be a big deal. But after a few weeks, it became very clear that some students were out to get others.

I’m not talking about the Wittenberg police busting massive college parties. Those don’t exist on campus anymore. I am talking about the Wittenberg police being called to handle small gatherings in dorms, noise complaints or too many people together outside.

The environment on this campus has become hostile. The house next to you is unwinding after a long week by playing a game together? Just WittTip them! You saw four people walk into the dorm room next to yours? WittTip them! Students are gathering in the hallway to talk, and someone has their mask pulled down? Time to call the police!

We are completely abandoning our friendly campus environment. If you see someone not wearing a mask, just politely tell them to put it back on. If the people next to you are being a little loud, knock on their door and ask them to quiet down. In dorms, we have Residential Advisors (RAs) that are more than willing to break up gatherings, without it going on your record. Our first instinct should not be to call the police on each other.

To the sophomore, junior and senior Wittenberg students who have experienced pre-corona Wittenberg, how do we want our first-year students to feel on campus? Do we want them to be nervous the Wittenberg police will knock on their doors if they try to make friends?

Remember there are other steps before you WittTip another student. Please be kind to each other and bring back our friendly atmosphere on this campus. We are all in this together.

NCAC Cancels Conference Play for 2020-21 Winter Season due to COVID-19

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On Oct. 16, the North Coast Athletic Conference dashed the championship hopes of several Wittenberg Athletic teams when the conference announced the cancelation of conference play for the winter season. The announcement affects Men and Women’s Basketball, Swim and Dive and Indoor Track and Field. According to a statement, the NCAC canceled the season after several member schools, including Wittenberg, made significant changes to their academic calendars.

As part of the cancelation of the conference’s winter season, the NCAC is not allowing member institutions to have student athletes to campuses between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. However, the NCAC is allowing individual members to make their own choices regarding non-conference play.

If [Wittenberg] are able to satisfy the NCAA Testing guidelines, I feel very strongly that most of our competitions would come against teams in the NCAC,” Bret Billhardt, Interim Athletic Director, said in the statement to The Torch on Monday.  The NCAA’s COVID-19 Testing Guidelines requires athletes be tested for COVID-19 three-times-a-week during regular season play. During preseason play, the NCAA guidelines suggest weekly testing for athletes.

While awaiting Wittenberg to satisfy the NCAA Testing Guidelines, Men’s Basketball Head Coach Matt Croci is attempting to keep both himself and his team focused on the aspects that they control.

“I am kind of in a wait and see on where we are going as a university right now. I am not involved in the decision to [play],” Croci said, “so I am narrowing my focus to the health [of] our guys, keeping them engaged, getting better in the gym and enjoying when we do get to practice.”

“The guys are disappointed … because it has been the second season we have had affected, so there was an extra layer of, ‘man, we couldn’t finish what we started and now we can’t even get the next one started,” said Croci of the team’s mood upon hearing the season was canceled.

The 2019-20 Men’s Basketball team had their season cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic on March 12, before they were set to face the Mount Union Purple Raiders in the Sweet Sixteen round of the NCAA Tournament on March 13.

While disappointed about the cancelation of the conference season, Croci along with Brian Neal, Head Coach of Women’s Basketball and Noah Moran, Head Coach of Swim and Dive were hopefully to compete in non-conference games both within the NCAC and beyond if allowed by Billhardt and the University.

“We are certainly looking at every option that we can to have some competition,” Neal said.

Swim and Dive have already begun to compete as they prepare to host a virtual meet this weekend on Saturday, Oct. 31. However, Moran was hopeful about allowing his team a chance at competing at the end of the season.

“We won’t have a conference meet, but we will figure out a way to a season ending event whether virtual or with another team,” Moran said.

In addition to canceling conference play for the winter season, the NCAC prevented member institutions from having student-athletes return to campus for practices or other athletic-related activity between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. This limitation on student-athletes decreases the opportunity for non-conference play according to Croci.

“That’s the time when we would be able to find non-conference games and when we are not allowed to [play], it puts all your contests right into January, February and most of the other leagues are going to be playing themselves,” Croci said, “There is no guarantee that there are slots available by the time our schools get up and running to play games in January.”

OPINION: Trump is a Fascist and We Need to Start Saying It

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It is time to start using the word “fascism.” The United States, in the past four years, has been on a steep decline into utter chaos while the state has ensured untold transfers of wealth and power into the hands of the few. While right-wing talking heads continue to use traditional conservative rhetoric to suggest that somehow Trump has expanded freedom in this country, the truth is that civil liberties have been cracked down upon, upward mobility has vanished and democracy has diminished. With the upcoming election doomed to be an absolute mess, it is not unrealistic to suggest that we are on the brink of a total fascist takeover.

The reason I am urging the use of the word fascism to describe the Trump administration is because there are, for some reason, some in the social sciences who refuse to use the word. Robert Paxton in 2016 famously put space between the label and Trump. Historian David A. Bell in August of this year wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post titled, “Trump is a racist demagogue. But he’s not a fascist.” Noam Chomsky has suggested that Trump is too much of a narcissist to be a fascist. Besides, as he says, “The fascist systems were based on the principle that the powerful state… should basically control everything… including the business community,” while Trump’s United States is characterized by corporate power.

Chomsky’s understanding of fascism necessitating control over the business community is flawed. As Robert Paxton writes in his book The Anatomy of Fascism,
fascists’ anti-capitalism was highly selective. Even at their most radical, the socialism that the fascists wanted was a “national socialism”: one that denied only foreign or enemy property rights (including that of internal enemies). They cherished national producers. Above all, it was by offering an effective remedy against socialist revolution that fascism turned out in practice to find a space.

Since Trump took office, corporate power has become unbridled while the Trump administration has implemented protectionist policies. We’ve seen this with the trade war with China, where billions of dollars-worth of tariffs were imposed to protect American “intellectual property,” while pushing American consumers towards now-cheaper American products. While the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) was supposed to bring jobs back for American workers by increasing tariffs on American corporations who have outsourced production to Mexico, as the International Monetary Fund has pointed out in a recent report, these corporations would rather just pay the extra fee and continue off-shore production. Essentially, both the trade war and the UMCA were previously populist, suggesting a connection between nationalism and labor that fails to actually deliver anything to the working class.

At the same time, Trump has implemented the least humane immigration policy of the modern era. His predecessor, Obama, set a high bar, having deported three million people, more than any other president in American history. Under Obama, more than 10,000 parents of American citizens were imprisoned each year in California alone. According to a study conducted by The Marshall Project, data obtained, “detailing over 300,000 deportations…” showed that “roughly 60 percent were of immigrants with no criminal conviction or whose only crime was immigration related.” In 2014, the Obama administration also expanded family detention as well, described by the Detention Watch Network as “the inhumane and unjust policy of jailing immigrant mothers with their children-including babies.”

Trump has extrapolated on the worst aspects of these policies. In May of 2018, Trump’s cabinet voted at a meeting to begin separating the children of detained families at the border. More than 5,000 children were separated from their families and today, the parents of more than 500 children cannot be located. Six children have died in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

During the pandemic, deportations increased without any new safety measures. Migrants were shoved in spaces where social distancing was impossible. In some cases, COVID-19 was exported to countries. In March, ICE deported dozens of Guatemalans who tested positive for the virus upon their arrival.

This month, ICE began enforcing its new “expedited removal” rules, allowing for deportations to occur without court hearings. Previously, court hearings were required unless immigrants were arrested within 100 miles of the border. Asylum claims that have gone to court have increasingly been denied as Trump has packed the judiciary with conservative judges. In Memphis, four Trump-appointed judges denied 90 percent of asylum claims in 2019 whereas on average in years prior they denied 50 percent of claims.

Of course, in September of this year, it was revealed that ICE had been carrying out unusually high rates of hysterectomies, in some cases, without proper consent. Detainees who spoke with The Intercept said that doctors pressured them into undergoing hysterectomies. No translator was present to adequately explain the procedure they were to be receiving. This is what the Indonesians did to the Timorese during the genocidal occupation of East Timor.

As Richard Wolf writes for Salon on the connection between European capitalism and fascism in the twentieth century, initial decentralization of the state, “gave way to a strong tendency toward state centralization. In certain extreme conditions, a centralized state merged with a capitalist class of large, concentrated employers.” In the United States, the CARES Act passed since the spread of COVID-19 has allowed for a massive upward transfer of wealth and the permanent restructuring of the economy around, “large, concentrated employers.”

The CARES Act gave Americans a one-time $1200 check and allowed welfare recipients to get $600 a week for four months. However, banks were given the go-ahead to seize payments from any individual who had outstanding debts.

The true winner was corporate America. The bill consists of billions in tax breaks and billions in loans to large corporations. These loans allowed for corporations to be eligible for further loans from the Federal Reserve, resulting in trillions in extra loans on top of the initial bailout. Within days, the Payment Protection Program blew through its cap of $300 billion in funding, which was meant to go to small businesses, though large hotel chains qualified for this funding as well. Banks facilitating these payments profited enormously. One hundred thousand small businesses have closed while American billionaires’ wealth has increased by $637 billion since the start of the crisis. Income inequality today is worse than it was in France before the French Revolution. Millions are at risk of getting evicted.

In Naomi Wolf’s 2007 The End of America, she writes about the media’s relationship to fascist leaders.

“In all dictatorships, targeting the free press begins with political pressure—loud, angry campaigns for the news to represented in a way that supports the group that seeks dominance,” She wrote. “Attacks escalate to smears, designed to shame members of the press personally; then editors face pressure to fire journalists who are not parroting the party line. A caste of journalists and editors who support the regime develops, whether out of conviction, a wish for advancement, or fear. Such regimes promote false news in a systemic campaign of disinformation, even as they go after independent voices.”

There has certainly been a rise of jingoistic right-wing media. FOX News and Breitbart have provided untold amounts of time and print space toward pro-Trump opinion pieces. OAN News has been invited to White House press conferences since Trump took office. OAN has promoted the potentially harmful drug hydroxychloroquine. Following the footage of the man in Buffalo being pushed to the ground by police at a Black Lives Matter protest, OAN falsely reported that the man was a member of “ANTIFA,” who had undertaken a “false flag provocation.” This report was retweeted by Trump himself.

So far, the mainstream media has faced political pressure, but has yet to face any substantive repercussions outside of the occasional removal of a journalist from press briefings. Being the unhinged lunatic that he is, Trump has created endless news stories focused on his ridiculous existence.

“It may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS,” CBS chairman Leslie Moonves said in March of 2016. “The money’s rolling in, and this is fun. It’s a terrible thing to say. But bring it on, Donald. Keep going.” For now, they have a good thing going with the president, despite their political disagreements. Journalists writing for the Washington Post get to stand proudly behind the banner “Democracy Dies in Darkness” as the advertisement space on their website and newspapers contributes to maintaining Jeff Bezos’ richest man alive status.

Trump has, however, gone after Julian Assange, a pariah in the mainstream political world. Many hold a grudge against Assange, claiming he helped Trump get elected by publishing the leaks from the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 presidential race. The implications of the Assange case, however, are incredibly far-reaching and could outlaw reporting on state secrets entirely. The silence from the mainstream media may come back to haunt them. His case has the potential to be the worst assault on press freedom in the developed world in modern history.

Assange is currently being held on charges of jumping bail in London. In March of 2019, the U.S. charged him under the Espionage Act for publishing a video provided by a source, allegedly Chelsea Manning, of American planes opening fire on civilians, killing, among them, two Reuters journalists. During his extradition trial, Assange was placed behind a glass cage used for violent offenders, making private conference with his lawyers impossible.

“When defense witnesses showed that Assange’s actions were no different from those of any other journalist cultivating sources, prosecutors reversed course to allow that any journalist publishing classified documents could be liable to prosecution,” Charles Glass wrote.

If this were the precedent in the United States, the Washington Post journalists who reported on the Pentagon Papers would be liable, Glenn Greenwald, who reported on the Snowden revelations would be liable, Jeremy Scahill, who reported on the Drone Papers would be liable and so on.

Of course, to complete the fascist takeover, Trump would have to successfully dismantle democracy. During the first presidential debate, Trump told the Proud Boys, a violent right-wing hate group, to “stand back” but also to “stand by” on election day. Since then we have seen the California Republican Party deploy unofficial ballot boxes in at least four counties with some of them labeled as official. Despite the state’s order to cease and desist, the organization has said that they will continue to deploy the fake ballot boxes. An official drop box in LA County was set on fire. Denver officials have reported voter intimidations at drop boxes. Around the country, right-wing “poll watchers” have menaced people in line to vote early. In Baltimore, a hired security guard protecting a ballot box was shot. All this has taken place as Trump has suggested that the election may be rigged against him.

In Aug., two retired Army officers wrote an open letter to General Mark Milley calling on him as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to use the military to oust Trump should he lose the election and refuse to go. Others have suggested that without the military on his side, Trump would have no way of remaining in office. However, it is not the military we need to worry about. Ironically, Trump’s “trump card” is the judiciary. With the Supreme Court, a stacked judiciary and questions (that he created) surrounding the authenticity of mail-in votes, it is not unrealistic to think that what happened in 2000 could happen again. Recall, under the guise of legality, democracy was thrown out the window, the military did nothing, and the Democrat rolled over saying that the election had been, “resolved through the honored institutions of our democracy.” If those honored institutions rule that Trump should serve another term, the military will stand by quietly and Joe Biden will roll over. There is no precedent in history that would suggest anything else would happen. Hillary Clinton chose to respect those same institutions of our democracy despite winning three million more votes than Trump.

It is time to get serious about the future and understand that democracy is on the verge of collapse, that neither the Democrats nor the military are going to help us when it happens, and that Trump is a fascist.

Fall Festival Emerges In Response to Cancelled W-Day

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

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

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

“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

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

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

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

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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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

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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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

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

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

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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“[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

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

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

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?”

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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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

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

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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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

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?