OWU seniors make the best of traditions lost

Transcript staff

For Ohio Wesleyan’s Class of 2020, closure may be the most difficult of all achievements.

Lost for seniors was the last Day on the Jay, planned send offs from teammates, the final late-night snack with friends at Smith Dining Hall, memorable goodbyes from sorority and fraternity sisters and brothers, a final round of toasts at The Backstretch and just hanging out with close pals one last time.

These and other significant final traditions simply evaporated on March 13 when Ohio Wesleyan closed the campus for the rest of the semester to combat the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus.

The most important lost tradition of all? No May 9 commencement with family and friends to celebrate completion of all the years of hard work, culminating in a well-deserved college degree.

Below some members of the senior class reflect on their final days on campus and plans to celebrate that big day, or not, at home.

Senior Mahnoor Ansari, from Lahore, Pakistan who is still in Ohio, said she has no special ideas for marking graduation, at least for now. But she will earn a double major in pre-law and psychology.

“I don’t have any plans for celebrating,” she said. “I am sad that I’m not getting closure.”

Ansari said she misses the Treehouse, the environmentally-themed Small Living Unit, and its annual paint party, a tradition of glow paint and black lights, and the OWU women’s rowing team.

For Annabella Miller, from Wellington, Ohio, commencement day has lost its celebratory aura. She will graduate early after two years with a degree in pre-theology and minors in women’s and gender studies and psychology.

“Right now, I don’t have plans to celebrate my graduation,” Miller said. “May 9 will probably be like any other day for me and I will most likely work all day.”

To counter disappointment, at least a little, OWU is celebrating the Class of 2020 – for now – with a video and has urged all seniors to send in their photos for it.  A real ceremony will be scheduled for later, when it is safe.

“I think the best decision OWU made is making sure that us seniors still get an actual graduation ceremony. I’ve been looking forward to that day for four years and can’t wait to walk across that stage.” – Erica VanHoose ’20

“The video will be shown first on May 9, but please know this in no way is a substitute for your commencement ceremony,” the Office of President and University Communications wrote. “We are committed to not only an on-campus commencement, but also to a full weekend of celebration for the Class of 2020 at a time when we can do that in a safe manner.”

Some, like Amarii Johnson, an exercise science and Spanish double major, don’t plan to wait for the big party and will mark the day with their own festivities.

“I’m going to get lit with my family and my mom and sister just to celebrate being done,” Johnson said.

Johnson, home in Chicago, said like most seniors she is sad about the abrupt end to the school year.

“We didn’t have that time to really mentally prepare ourselves to end this chapter of our lives,” Johnson said. “I think OWU did the best that they can. They could’ve easily just canceled graduation but Rock (Jones) is trying his hardest to get us something even if it’s in the summer or closer to the fall and I really appreciate those efforts.”

Keionna Badie, of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, said she also thinks OWU has done the best it can for seniors under tough circumstances. Badie is a pre-law and philosophy double major and history and politics and government double minor.

“I think OWU has been one of the most understanding colleges for seniors during this pandemic,” Badie said. “I definitely miss my friends. We made plans to do things together to celebrate the end of senior year and I’m sad that we weren’t able to spend our last week’s together.”

Hope Poolos, a health and human kinetics major and psychology minor, said she too has struggled with the way school ended. She has also been challenged working alone from home in Sylvania, Ohio.

“Not being with everyone from OWU in these final weeks before graduation has been really hard on me,” Poolos said. “This was supposed to be our final time with friends and classmates and it is so hard to stay motivated.”

Poolos said she intends to don her cap and gown and have a cookout with her family, boyfriend and other friends on graduation day.

“… I had a lot of pain and hurt just knowing that all of it went away so fast with the blink of an eye.” – Andrew McFarland ’20

McKenzee Martin, from Urbana, Ohio, said she too misses friends, classmates, walks on the JAYwalk and face-to-face connections with professors.

“I did not realize how much I would miss school until it was taken away from me so soon and I also, surprisingly, miss my dorm room,” said Martin, a psychology major and English minor. “Trying to stay focused and motivated during this time has been difficult for me and it has been discouraging not having my usual academic environment as well.”

Martin is not sure how she will celebrate commencement, but it will include family and friends and a dinner.

Andrew McFarland, a fine arts major from Mount Gilead, Ohio, said the suddenness of the semester shut-down was difficult.

“I know when I first heard the word about the classes being postponed and closed and everything else, I had a lot of pain and hurt just knowing that all of it went away so fast with the blink of an eye,” he said. “I’ve heard from many faculty and others that they had learned the information about an hour or so before we even did as students, and it just seemed jarring that way.”

McFarland said OWU has done a good job with room and board refunds and working to return items to students who left things back on campus. Graduation celebration plans are up in the air for him, he said.

“I haven’t put much thought into it actually,” McFarland said. “Right now, I have been stuck inside for the last few weeks with my girlfriend and it’s almost blanked on me that I’m actually graduating.”

Mickey Rice, a neuroscience and psychology major from Louisville, Kentucky, said she misses the daily activity of being on campus.

“I find myself getting antsy and stir crazy at home, which makes it especially difficult to do my school work,” Rice said. “I miss my roommate, my housemates, going to Smith late at night with friends, getting breakfast and walking to class together.”

Rice said she could probably “list off hundreds” of things she misses about OWU, but the senior celebrations would be at the top.

“I’m really sad to be missing out on the celebratory moments that I thought I was going to have,” Rice said. “My sorority and the Frisbee team do a number of special things to honor the seniors that I was really looking forward too. I’m so sad that we did not have that time together and that we could not celebrate each other in person.”

Erica VanHoose, an exercise science major and zoology minor from Marysville, Ohio, said she will never forget her time at OWU and all the friends she made.

“I miss not being able to experience the senior activities and the feeling of enjoying all the lasts of senior year before they are gone,” VanHoose said. “I think the best decision OWU made is making sure that us seniors still get an actual graduation ceremony. I’ve been looking forward to that day for four years and can’t wait to walk across that stage.”

Though separated, OWU’s community hangs together

Hailey de la Vara & Connor Severino
Transcript Correspondents

Ohio Wesleyan campus may resemble a ghost town, but that hasn’t ended university events, including the Golden Bishop, Dale Bruce and Phi Society awards, all held for the first time virtually this past week.

Virtual is synonymous with college life now and Zoom, Blackboard Collaborate Ultra and Google Hangouts are just some essential tools the university wields to keep the OWU community together.

For instance, over ninety participants joined the online chat Wednesday to honor students’ achievements for this year’s Golden Bishop Awards.

Some recipients included Brayams Ayala Ramos, honored with the Charles J. Ping Student Service Award, Paris Norman, awarded the OWU Spirit Award, and Carrisa Silet and Grace Ison, recipients of the Outstanding First-Year Student Award. The entire ceremony can be found here.

The Dale Bruce Awards ceremony, honoring OWU’s top 50 athletic scholars, was held Thursday virtually.

Michael Taylor, the assistant athletic director, said the event included pre-recorded videos of coaches giving awards and celebrating their athlete’s achievements.

“Our hearts truly go out to our senior athletes whom may never get the chance to play their so-called last game,” Taylor said.

The first-ever Phi Society Award ceremony was held Friday and will be posted on OWU’s website later.

Ali Mayer, coordinator of Student Involvement and First Year Programs, said many people pitched in to make it successful.

“There have been a lot of university collaborations to make these awards possible, “ Mayer said. “Also, tons of alumni have been invited, who wouldn’t have been able to attend otherwise. Thankfully, we have Zoom and this is able to still happen.”

Fifteen awards were handed out at the greek event, including recognition for Mickey Rice of Kappa Alpha Theta as Sorority Member of the Year, Nevin Horne of Chi Phi as Fraternity Member of the Year and the Delta Gamma sorority winning the Chapter Academic Excellence Award.

Not only award ceremonies are being held virtually, said Dina Daltorio, assistant director of Student Involvement.

Her office posts a list of virtual events and encourages students and organizations to get involved and ask for help if needed. Some events have included things like “Movement Mondays” yoga classes, a resume webinar, TED Talks and other proceedings.

“We are striving to create a sense of community even though students are remaining in constant spaces,” Daltorio said.

Daltorio said she has done her best to adapt with the times, seeking ideas for virtual events through Facebook groups and chat rooms from other colleges and then adapting it to fit OWU’s ideals.

Fridays with Faculty has become a virtual regular and recently included Franchesca Nestor, assistant professor of politics and government, who let students vent political gripes related to the coronavirus.

Nestor said she designed the discussion to be open minded and friendly and available to all.

Other virtual presentations have included astronomy talks at the Perkins Observatory hosted by Don Stevens, its director.

Students have joined the crowd as organizers, too.

Mahnoor Ansari, a member of Citizens Climate Lobby student organization, hosted a movie night to stay connected to his peers.

“We are still connecting OWU and want people to know we care even though we may be thousands of miles apart,” Ansari said.

Senior athletes can return, but must pay for a full year of school

Alex Emerson and Peter Lujan
Transcript correspondents

The coronavirus pandemic served up a double-dose of misfortune and heartache for 105 senior athletes at Ohio Wesleyan.

They not only lost all the comfort, support and rewards of being on campus and attending classes, but after four years of hard work and sacrifice their final season of competition vanished in a flash.

Not all is lost. Since the cancellation of spring sports, the NCAA announced it would grant senior athletes another semester of eligibility, but not without strings attached.

The organization’s rules limit student-athletes to four seasons of competition in a five-year period, but the NCAA is allowing athletes to apply so that they can play and have eligibility for another year, as noted in an NCAA press release.

The catch? Seniors must commit to return for a full academic year. So students would have to pay for another two semesters of school in order to take advantage of this extension.

Ohio Wesleyan is working with the NCAA and the NCAC regarding questions about athlete participation and eligibility. Student-athletes will receive updates and information as it becomes available.

Doug Zipp, OWU’s director of Athletics, said some may return.

“It is our goal that our student-athletes graduate in four years and then use their Ohio Wesleyan education and do great things,” Zipp said. “I have talked with a few seniors who are interested in considering a return to Ohio Wesleyan to take advantage of the NCAA blanket waiver, which provides an additional year of eligibility.”

But the situation clearly presents a dilemma for some seniors who can’t afford additional tuition or who have plans for after college.

For instance, Jaliyah Atkinson, a senior on the women’s track and field roster, doesn’t have the time to take advantage of renewed eligibility and said she doubts that OWU can reduce tuition because it has its own financial woes.

“I am not planning to stay a year for eligibility because I already have life plans set up that I plan to follow through regardless of the COVID-19 setback,” she said. “I also would not pay to come back to OWU to play sports. It’s way too expensive and I wouldn’t want the classes I would have to take affect my GPA.”

Senior Tyler Mansfield, a member of the women’s swimming & diving team, finds herself in a similar situation.

“That does not help committing students like myself who are missing out on a large chunk of their spring education,” Mansfield said. “I do not plan to stay a year for eligibility because I have applied and been accepted to graduate school in the fall.”

Zipp said if any students do plan on returning, they must take extra steps to make it happen.

“If a student-athlete graduates, they can re-enroll in a second baccalaureate program or be accepted into a full-time graduate program,” Zipp said. “Any student-athlete who is interested in exploring this option, we are working individually with them to navigate this path.”

Meanwhile, the athletes have not been abandoned, despite the unforeseen cancellation of all athletic competition, Zipp said.

“We are so very sad and disappointed for our student-athletes and specifically our seniors who seasons came to such an abrupt end,” Zipp said. “Our coaching staff has been in constant communication with our student-athletes, checking in several times per week, having team meetings, virtual workouts, educational sessions and academic check-ins.”

OWU senior Nick Braydich, a member of the golf team, said he will not return, but his buddy, senior Ken Keller on the golf team at Youngstown State University, probably will.

“My friend on the team is staying in the area and he’s psyched about the extension,” Braydich said. “He didn’t know if he would be able to play next year after he couldn’t play this season.”

Keller said he loves competing and is thankful that the extension gives him more time to practice his craft.

“The biggest reason I chose to use my extra year of eligibility is that I now have the opportunity to develop my game for another year,” Keller said. “I also did not want to miss the opportunity to compete in another conference championship since this year was canceled. It also gives me the opportunity to take more classes and compete in more tournaments. ”

The NCAA adjusted financial aid rules to allow teams to carry more members on scholarship to account for incoming recruits and student-athletes who had been in their last year of eligibility and decided to return for an additional year.

Colleges were also granted the flexibility by the NCAA to give students the opportunity to return for 2020-21 without requiring that financial aid be provided at the same level awarded for the previous year, acknowledging the financial difficulty now stalking universities.

“The (NCAA) Council’s decision gives individual schools the flexibility to make decisions at a campus level,” chairman M. Grace Calhoun said in a press release. “Schools also will have the ability to use the NCAA’s Student Assistance Fund to pay for scholarships for students who take advantage of the additional eligibility flexibility in 2020-21.”

Student Symposium goes online to larger audience

By Tiffany Moore
Transcript Correspondent

The coronavirus created many first’s for Ohio Wesleyan, but not all of them are bad.

OWU will still host its annual Student Symposium this year, but for the first time it will be online, opening it up indefinitely to a wider audience and giving students more room to show off their projects.

Typically, the symposium is a one-day event where students present their research projects live or on posters. But this year, they will get an opportunity to create a webpage that is scheduled to go live the week of May 4. OWU will train chosen applicants to create web pages using the university’s content management system.

The Student Symposium is used to showcase summer internships, theory-to-practice grants, senior capstones and other academic projects done by OWU students.

The website will be open to the public indefinitely, which is expected to boost the audience and offer an opportunity for prospective students to view student research projects, said Will Kopp, OWU’s chief communication officer.

“I think it will be something that OWU will be proud to show to prospective students and families,” Kopp said.

Students can create a webpage to show videos, photos, text and illustrations related to their research. Previously, about 40-to-50 applicants applied annually, including those applying for presentation or posters.

This year, 30 students applied, but that is a good number considering current circumstances and changes due to the virus, said Lisa ho, assistant director of international and off-campus programs.

“We feel very good about how many students were still willing to participate given the new format,” Ho said.

The research topics evenly cover academic disciplines such as humanities, social sciences and natural sciences. They are also well distributed between independent studies, class projects and grant-funded programs, Ho said.

Digital posters of research projects from previous years can still be accessed through the OWU library Digital Commons site, said Ellen Arnold, associate professor of history and manager of this year’s student symposium,

Arnold says she hopes students will feel proud of the work they have done while using the new online format.

“I hope that all the students involved will feel proud of the fact that such a wide audience will be able to see the results of their hard work,” Arnold said.

The symposium will be promoted to students, families and prospective students through email, social media and the OWU website.  The site will also be linked from major web pages to draw in a larger audience, Kopp said.

Students get creative with stress over a new kind of homework

Hailey de la Vara and Alex Emerson
Transcript correspondents

As online classes have become the new reality for the semester, Ohio Wesleyan students are finding help to deal with the stress of changes and in some cases creating their own systems to relieve pressure.

The OWU Daily has been regularly posting tips to deal with stress, along with lighthearted stories and advice to brightenstudents’ days.  The publication also offers an online yoga class taught by yoga instructor Emily Hanafin, which is available to students every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

The CDC also offers advice for stress-management, which include suggestions for caring for your healthand taking breaks from studying or work.

Julie Duhigg, OWU’s director of Counseling Services, said this new environment creates real discomfort, which should be recognized and addressed.

“As we shift from crisis response to sustaining ourselves for the rest of the semester, we want to acknowledge that we are all operating under conditions of uncertainty and perhaps anxiety,” Duhigg said. “Spring semester is always quite busy, but the move to remote instruction removes our regular patterns of social interaction and introduces new stressors.”

Courtney Dunne (’17), the assistant director of admission and a campus student engagement guide, said she has been reaching out to students to offer an extra line of support.

“Working remotely is new for us as well, so we want to pass along the tips that have helped us be productive while working from home,” Dunne said. “My hope is that sending an update every week and sending some helpful tips will help students know that we don’t expect them to be perfect, but that we are in this together in learning how to connect and learn from each other remotely.”

Despite the monumental disruption of the school schedule due to the coronavirus pandemic, students have been finding their own creative ways to ease the pressure, including establishing their own work schedules at home.

Sophomore Tala Goergen, at home in Chardon, Ohio, said she is adapting to her new, but also familiar, surroundings.

“I’ve been pretty happy at home actually. I think the things that are helpful is keeping a schedule even though I have more free time and I’m always in the house,” she said. “Stuff like keeping a schedule really is self-care because if I didn’t do those little things to stay organized I would get depressed.”

That said, Goergen still does make time for friends and does her best to avoid binge watching.

“Even though I can’t see them (in person), I talk to my friends every day in some form, like FaceTime,” Goergen said. “I am drawing more, so doing some hobbies instead of Netflix all the time is good.”

Sophomore Maxwell Peckinpaugh, who is hanging out at home in St. Louis, Missouri, said he also does his best to keep on some kind of timetable.

“I also think keeping a schedule is good,” he said. “I’ve been bored, but I’ve been having fun playing videogames with my homies. Just staying busy and doing what you like is important to me I guess.”

Senior Megan Dalton, at home in Alexandria, Ohio, is reading more and she too stays in touch with friends. Despite the difficulty of remote learning, she said she intends to finish strong in this last semester.

“We are all pushing through this with the love and support of our community,” she said. “ It’s hard that we don’t have things to look forward to now, but I pray I still get my senior week.”

At home in Hilliard, Ohio, junior Aimee Duckworth said she also is doing her best to create and stick to a schedule and “get down to business” as much as possible.

“I’m trying to find new things to do that keep me engaged and not focused on the fact that I’m not at school with my friends,” Duckworth said. “I have allotted a space to do school work and a space to relax, I’m trying not to combine the two.”

Students challenged in new at-home class environments

Caitlin Jefferson and Connor Severino
Transcript correspondents

As Ohio Wesleyan students wrestle with the new paradigm of remote learning after classes were canceled, some are doing well while others struggle with the tasks, getting work done on time and even remembering assignments.

More than 1,300 OWU students were ordered home last month to prevent infection from the highly contagious, rapidly spreading worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. Faculty and students alike scrambled to reconfigure and readjust to teaching and learning remotely.

It’s a work in progress.

Cole Hatcher, director of OWU’s Media and Community Relations, said the adjustments seem to be going well, for the most part. One of the most difficult tasks was working out logistics for international students.  About 50 students remain on campus, the administration has said.

“We just want to make sure everyone feels included and comfortable amidst everything going on,” Hatcher said. To help faculty, students and staff, OWU’s Office of Information Services on Thursday posted instructions on OWU Daily to download free Adobe products.

Still, while some work-at-home students do feel comfortable, others aren’t feeling it yet.

Freshman Eliza Richardson has been finding it difficult to focus on schoolwork while being home in Lakewood, Ohio during these uncertain times.

“It is hard to stay on top of my work and make my own schedule,” Richardson said. “I get distracted at home and I do not have as much structure here as I do at school.”

Two of Richardson’s four classes are live video sessions and the other two are pre-recorded, which makes it difficult for her to stay on task, she said.

“My biggest challenge has been getting all my work done on time and not forgetting an assignment, which happened with my chemistry homework,” Richardson said.

Richardson said she has stayed positive by painting, exercising, playing games and staying off of her phone as much as possible. She said she has also been enjoying this extra time with her family.

Sophomore Molly Mazabras, at home in New Canaan, Connecticut, mingles with family daily now too, another new paradigm for OWU students who would normally be on campus now. She said she puts the family on notice when she has school work to get after.

Her brothers start school early in the morning, so Mazabras said she tells her family when she has class or schoolwork so they don’t disturb her.

“I have my own room to do my work and my three younger brothers have their own spaces too,” Mazabras said. “My biggest challenge has been just learning material, especially for my stats class because I have to teach myself, which is really hard.”

She said her professors have been good at communicating, which has helped her stay on track in her classes.

“Keeping myself busy with schoolwork, spending lots of time with family and just knowing that eventually this will end have been some ways that I have tried to stay positive,” Mazabras said. “I don’t think remote learning has been too bad so far.”

Senior Peter Mihok, of New Town, Connecticut, said studying in the home work space has been a struggle along with dealing with a younger sibling.

“For me it is not the material I have to focus on, rather the issue is the space I have at home  which is inadequate to study the complex courses OWU offers,” Mihok said. “I never had good results studying in my room. My younger brother is 13, so he’s kind of a distraction as he’s bouncing off the walls.”

“It will be good to look back and see how students are able to change in rapid circumstances and adapt to sudden life alterations,” – Martha Wilson, part-time journalism instructor

Senior Alysa Grindlinger, home in Falmouth, Maine, said one thing she is not doing is sleeping in.

“I spend the time I would normally be in class studying or completing homework. I do this on weekends, as well,” she said.

On the other hand, Grindlinger does find time to talk to family and friends on FaceTime or Skype and playing board games with her parents. She said she’s also enrolled in a 30-day yoga challenge on her favorite YouTube Channel.

“I’m taking my dog on long walks to get out of the house, while maintaining social distancing,” she said. “I’m learning new recipes so that I am cooking in the time I would otherwise spend snacking.”

As for the remote learning part, she said she is having mixed results with professors from her classes, including having to wade through multi-page emails at times.

“Some teachers have a knack for this kind of teaching, others clearly do not,” she said. “Some professors seem to be having difficulty parting with the format of traditional classes and exams. As such, assignments or exams might seem unnecessarily overcomplicated from a student’s point of view.”

Faculty are learning too and doing what they can to alleviate student challenges and readjust course requirements, like Kyle McDaniel, an assistant communication professor.

“From a faculty perspective, I have made several attempts to ensure that students have enough time to complete assignments,” McDaniel said.

Eventually the whole state of affairs for OWU students caused by the virus will be interesting from an historical perspective, said Martha Wilson, a part-time journalism instructor.

“It will be good to look back and see how students are able to change in rapid circumstances and adapt to sudden life alterations,” Wilson said.

Without stages or studios, students and professors grapple to adjust

Katie Cantrell and Meg Edwards
Transcript correspondents

Remote teaching may work well for some disciplines at Ohio Wesleyan, but some of its limitations and the complete closing of campus has thrown some programs into turmoil.

Much of the academic logistics in programs like fine arts, music and theater have been flipped upside down. Furthermore, students participating in travel learning courses, theory-to-practice grant projects and small grant projects were told to pack up and leave their programs early.

Meanwhile, faculty and staff have been helping students rescheduled projects planned for May and June, which were canceled.

“Luckily, we have been able to get full refunds, no-fee cancellations or no-cost transfers on bookings,” said Darrel Albon, OWU’s director of international and off-campus programs.

“Our New York Arts Program had students not only from OWU, but also from other colleges and universities … returned home and (we) have made arrangements with their internship sponsors and NYAP faculty to complete their seminar and research assignments and complete work on their internships.”

OWU’s fine arts programs and its students are also struggling to fashion a pathway on the road to remote teaching when these disciplines normally require hands-on projects and in-person showcases.

The senior art show, which exhibits work from all Ohio Wesleyan fine arts seniors, is one of many on-campus events and activities being reconfigured in the wake of the COVID-19 campus closures.

The museum staff and the members of the fine arts department have been collaborating to try and figure out a solution that will allow seniors within the major to have their year-end required exhibit, said Erin Fletcher, the director of the Ross Museum, who is working with Jim Krehbiel, a professor of fine arts.

“Jim and I have been in close contact since returning from break,” she said. “I liaise with the museum staff and Jim liaises with the fine arts faculty,” she said. “We have all been working diligently to find a way to represent senior work.”

Faculty and staff have proposed multiple solutions, such as rescheduling or other more creative options, but they’re still figuring out how this exhibit will be done this year. Seniors will be the first to know once they have everything figured out, Fletcher said.

One problem is deciding how to showcase student’s artwork without an audience because people can’t go to the museum when the show is typically held.

The museum currently has a virtual 3-D tour of the faculty exhibit because it was set up before the facility was closed to the public and the staff was required to leave campus, Fletcher said.

“We do these 3-D tours from time to time for special exhibits. We have not done them for all exhibits in the past due to the expense,” Fletcher said.

Meanwhile, student artists struggle with completing their work in familiar, but not academic, surroundings.

Senior Rory Gleeson was planning to take a gap year to continue building her painting and drawing portfolio for graduate school applications when she learned OWU was closing. She since has moved back to her parents’ home, in New Plymouth, Ohio and spent days clearing out an old computer room to serve as a make-shift studio.

“The space is small, cold and has terrible lighting and I don’t have easels at my house to hold large work, so mostly I’ve just had to sit uncomfortably on the floor in order to work,” she said in a phone interview.

Gleeson said she hopes students are refunded for their studio fees, because “my home setup just really does not compare.”

Gleeson said the process of framing pieces and preparing them for display in Edgar Hall would take multiple days. She is worried she will not be able to travel to Delaware and stay in a hotel for the show if it is rescheduled.

“I feel like that, combined with the ongoing pandemic, is going to delay just generally getting on with my life after graduation,” she said.

Professors are feeling their students’ pain.

Kristina Bogdanov, an associate professor of fine arts, said she is leaning toward a flexible schedule online to better accommodate the needs of all students and is extending office hours so all students, especially those struggling with remote learning, can easily ask for help.

Bogdanov teaches three levels of drawing courses and three levels of ceramics, but remote teaching will be especially hard with ceramics. It is a three dimensional art requiring clay, a place to work with the clay and a place to dry and fire the clay.

For seniors, it’s rough because they were supposed to start working on finishing their work for the required-for-graduation senior showcase.

“It’s sad for the seniors, not having time to have that moment of their actual senior exhibition,” Bogdanov said. “It will happen, but that definitely can never be replaced online as reality is with the museum and reception and so forth.”

Another casualty to the pandemic – the March upper-level class trip for a national conference for ceramics art and education in Richmond, Virginia.

This rapidly changing situation has also affected the Department of Theatre and Dance, which has lost all audiences for the near future. The spring musical was to be “The Secret Garden” by Marsha Norman, based on the 1911 novel by Frances Hogsdon Burnett. It has been canceled.

Glen Vanderbilt, a professor in the department and director of the musical, said he polled students about performing at the start of fall semester, doing what they had already worked on. Many expressed interest, but Vanderbilt said the actors in several feature roles would need to be recast, which proved “too big of a mountain to climb over.”

“I know the students were very low when the closure ramped up to full time,” he said in an email.

Theater classes are using “Meet,” online meeting software offered by Google Hangouts. Vanderbilt said one big problem is students failing to respond to email, making it difficult to evaluate work.

Theatre majors, like seniors Sarah Gielink and Monty Almoro, are experiencing some of the same headaches as their fine arts peers.

Both planned to present their senior project this spring, a requirement for all graduating theater majors.

Gielink and Almoro had written their own adaptation in Spanish of the 17th century Spanish comedy “Life is a Dream,” which was the culmination of years of work by ten students and faculty.  They had a theory-to-practice grant and had begun rehearsals, but will finish the year by writing a reflection on their experiences.

“The first announcement alone hit hard, when events were canceled through March 29,” Gielink said. “Then the next day came the cancelations through April 5, which meant we lost Terpsicorps too, and then the day after that the whole semester. I just remember feeling like nothing was left.” Terpsicorps is a student led dance performance with various styles and themes

Gielink said now that she has had time to process, the loss of the productions has become another part of “the new normal.”

“I know we’re both proud of the work we’ve done and our whole team has had our backs the entire time,” she said.“Looking back, I’m so glad that we got to work together and come this far.”

The pandemic and all it has created impacted students both on campus and those in off-campus learning environments.

Albon, director of those programs, said everyone in his department has been working diligently.

The department has been helping students, scattered around the globe, to return home while ensuring their immigration records and visas are in order.  All the students that had been approved for roughly a dozen different off-campus credit programs have now returned home and are participating in remote learning like the rest of the OWU student body.

Albon’s office has also been planning and preparing for fall 2020 programs.

“We have not heard a word from any of our international or domestic partner institutions and programs about fall program changes or cancellations, but this situation is still developing,” he said. “Our partners are communicating with us regularly and we are communicating with them too, (which includes) our OWU folks in New York city at the NYAP likewise.”

2,020 by 2020: Becoming a reality

By Leah Miza, Photo Editor

As of Friday, Sept. 2 the final numbers are in. Ohio Wesleyan’s first year class of 2016 sprung by 11.4 percent this fall, creating higher and more realistic chances of reachig a total of 2,020 students by the year 2020.

This increase in numbers went hand-in- hand with newly incorporated tactics by the university.

The idea was first passed by the Board of Trustees (BOT) at their February campus retreat, earlier this year. According to the campus retreat report, the board called for a 25 percent growth in total student body over the next five years.

There has been ongoing work since.

Susan Dileno, vice president of enrollment, said many measures influenced the increase in the first year class number, including a revamp of their open house formats and tours, and paying a lot more attention to branding.

“We had Rock [Jones] travel around the country,” she said. “We did around 15 guidance counselor receptions around the U.S.”

Dileno also said the boost in allocating more need-based aid rather than merit scholarships and the addition of a new business major could be other possible factors that contributed to the increase in the freshman class number.

President Rock Jones said that this is a “great first start,” but more needs to be done, including new academic programs and increasing the number of student athletes.

“We’re working to increase transfer student enrollment and we have a significant agenda for increasing international student enrollment,” Jones said. “All of which feeds into increasing the enrollment of 2,020 by 2020.”

Jones and Dileno both stressed the importance of retention rates and anticipate a rise this year.

“We need to continue work on the campus and in particular the residential facilities,” Jones said.

“We’re looking at an idea related to housing for first year students which would be part of our much more comprehensive first year initiatives that will help improve retention.”

Dwayne Todd, vice president for student engagement and success, said that one important step in the retention plan was hiring Brad Pulcini, assistant dean for student engagement and director of the first-year experience.

Todd also stressed the importance of altering the housing facilities for freshmen and continuing students, which has slowly started through the newly built SLUplexes.

“We will begin to expand our planning to improve the housing facilities that serve our other continuing students, including those who live in fraternity houses,” Todd said. “We are currently involved in intensive work to develop plans for a new first-year student housing complex.”

Executives are also working to improve infastructre around campus, which began during the summer with the paving of sidewalks outside Edgar and behind Merrick as well as big renovations in Slocum Hall to the Office of Admission.

According to Todd, they are working with the BOT to determine financial resources, and “look forward to sharing more with the OWU community as soon as we are able.”

Students take over OWU’s snapchat

Photo courtesy of owu.edu.
Photo courtesy of owu.edu.

Ela Mazumdar, Transcript Reporter

Snapchat, with its growing popularity, has swept over Ohio Wesleyan’s campus and is telling OWU’s story all over social media.

The account was launched in the summer and gave students who were not on campus a glimpse of Merrick Hall and its renovations.

Initially, the app’s usage underwent a trial period and a few students were asked to try it out to gauge people’s responses.

“I like OWU Snapchat because I think it’s a way to connect with the current student body and encourage pride in our campus,” said senior Venessa Menerey.

Senior Julia Stone, who runs the OWU Snapchat, said it was challenging at first because she was unsure of what to include.

“Luckily, my friends were full of good ideas such as footage from an open mic at Choffey’s or the opening of an art show in Edgar Hall,” Stone said.

Stone said she enjoyed the experience because it forced her to get out of the comfort of her room and to “seek out adventure, fun and excitement at OWU during homework breaks.”

Since the initial trial period, the “My Story” feature on Snapchat has gotten about 140 viewers. Jessica Vogel, the student social media intern at the communications office, said she hopes this number will grow with time.

Students have used Snapchat for seven days to actively tell the OWU story and give a clear depiction of some of the events that happen on campus on a regular basis.

The mission of the weekly takeover is “to be flexible as we explore the best way for students to share their ‘My Story’ with classmates and future students,” Vogel said. “We want to create a program that is more than just a ‘take-over Tuesday.’ We want to see a real week in the life of an OWU student.”

The OWU Snapchat has one intention with this new social media account.

“The main goal of the account is to spread a sense of community and reach out to prospective students in a way that is authentic and fun,” Vogel said.

So far, some of the users of the account include Nicole Sanczyk, Stone and Emily Feldmesser, the chair of public relations during Mock Convention.

Lacrosse players also used the app to show what athletes on campus experience regularly. To add OWU’s Snapchat account, download Snapchat and add the account ohiowesleyan.

Public Safety Rumors

Photo courtesy of Twitter.
Photo courtesy of Twitter.

DJ Fradkin, Transcript Reporter

If you’ve heard rumors about Ohio Wesleyan students being seen driving OWU Public Safety (PS) vehicles and giving out parking tickets, your sources aren’t wrong. 

At the beginning of the 2015-16 school year, PS opened a few positions to students, mainly for enforcement.

PS offered three positions in the fall semester and offered two positions during the spring semester, which have already been filled.

The students who are currently employed remain anonymous. Rumors that these students are working undercover arose, but these were found to be false.

“It is like any other job on campus. We obviously don’t put them in a public safety uniform, but they will have identification and a security vest,” said Robert Wood, the director of PS.

Students in duty can be seen driving a PS marked vehicle or an Acura, which is currently unmarked.

This position offers students around six hours of work each week.  The responsibilities of this job primarily includes ticketing, but they could receive other tasks such as counting the number of cars parked in each lot or assisting with building lock up on the academic side of campus.

The information regarding wage was not disclosed, but “the pay is fairly decent because students are out in the cold and it probably pays better than some other jobs around campus,” Wood said.

Prior to this year, John Ciochetty, a PS officer,  mainly handled ticketing. A few PS officers who worked full time were let go this year due to pay cuts.

But the new system works really well as it supplies students with employment and the students are less expensive to pay than full time employees, Wood said.

A different rumor also arose that the PS department is having students track down Yik Yak and other social media posts.

Junior Isabella Flibotte said, “The school needs to loosen the leash on the students and let them enjoy their college experience without feeling as if they’re constantly watched like high school students.”

Freshman Victoria Chavez said, “If a serious issue arose and became harmful then they should step in, but other than that, they should not be involved.”

The reactions from most students indicated they were not in favor of PS monitoring their social media.

Wood disproved the rumors and said they don’t track down student’s social media. “Jay does a Facebook thing, but we don’t do anything other than that and don’t plan to do that,” Wood said.

If students are interested in learning more about this job, they can speak to a representative at the PS office.