College of Wooster
October 7, 2019 10:36 AM   Subscribe

Did you, or did anyone you know, attend the College of Wooster?

Asking for a young friend. Is there an inclusive lefty vibe? Doesn't have to be the major vibe (like an Oberlin) but wants to know how likely one is there to find quirky, lefty community.
posted by nantucket to Education (9 answers total)
Hi, I am a Wooster grad and I LOVED Wooster!
Feel free to message me and I can answer any questions.

I highly recommend Wooster. I am a liberal and I found my tribe at Wooster.
Agreed, it is not like Oberlin. There are some MAGA students, but that is NOT the faculty vibe.
posted by TRUELOTUS at 10:39 AM on October 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

They are clients of ours so I'm down there for events 2-4 times a year, and if this old guy outsider's perspective is worth anything there's definitely a quirky lefty community there. (They were the first university we deal with to include preferred gender pronouns in staff email signatures.)
posted by soundguy99 at 10:43 AM on October 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

I know - somewhat distantly - one person on the faculty (from attending a distinctly lefty liberal arts college together for undergrad). Can confirm Truelotus's observation that the faculty hiring decisions dont seem to screen out progressive viewpoints.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 10:53 AM on October 7, 2019

The lawyer I worked for during summers in college went there for undergrad. He ended up becoming the chair of our county's Republican party. But that's one data point, forty years ago. I don't know any more recent alums personally, but I feel like I have a pretty good sense of higher education in Ohio. Definitely not an Oberlin by any means, but it's not particularly right-leaning, either. Fairly standard young person college politics. My concern, if you're looking for leftiness, is that once you step off campus, you're in the middle of some pretty Trumpy rural country. Only a short drive to some bigger cities, though: Canton is pretty close and has some leftiness to it.
posted by kevinbelt at 10:59 AM on October 7, 2019

Very anecdotally, the younger people I know who've gone there are likely to have a social justice orientation -- but it's a number under 5.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 11:45 AM on October 7, 2019

I have a friend who teaches there, and whose politics are very much progressive/radical. She's very involved in climate justice work, outspokenly queer, and seems to be quite happy with Wooster as a school, and with her department in general. Granted, she's much older than your young friend (faculty, not a student), so who knows -- but a progressive department goes a long way in nourishing lefty students' spirits, too!
posted by tapir-whorf at 12:46 PM on October 7, 2019

Um. Just to clarify my above comment - I didn't mean to cast the preferred gender pronoun thing as "quirky" in any way. It's an example of how there's clearly some official level of support for these concerns.

My confidence in the existence of a lefty and to some extent "quirky" element to the student population is from interacting with and people-watching the students at the events I work.

kevinbelt does have a point that it's in the middle of Trump country, although my impression is that the leftiness of the college has had some ameliorating affect in the actual town of Wooster proper.

Also, while Wooster is about equidistant from Cleveland and Columbus (about 90 minutes), I get the strong impression that the students tend to head more to Columbus for a night in the Big City, for whatever reasons, possibly because Ohio State tends to make Columbus (or sections of it) a bit more of a "college town."
posted by soundguy99 at 4:18 PM on October 7, 2019

I graduated from Wooster in 1995. I entered the school completely ignorant of politics and left as a PC-minded, progressive-thinking, Democratic-voting liberal arts graduate. The faculty definitely has a lefty bent in the humanities (I was an English major). I still keep in close contact with several of my Wooster friends. All but one of us are very progressive-minded. I also know someone who is currently completing her senior year there and loves it. When I went the school had a distinctly crunchy vibe, but not exclusively so. There were also some conservative voices in my classes. One interesting thing about Wooster is the lack of national fraternities and sororities. It definitely tones down the party aspect of college life and makes the school more conducive to academics. Likewise, the town is pretty sleepy and doesn't have too much in the way of nightlife. The mandatory Independent Study program is fantastic.

What others have said about Wooster being smack dab in the middle of MAGA country is quite true. However, in addition to Cleveland and Columbus, Akron (where I currently live) is about 45 minutes away. There are a reasonable amount of things to do here -- a few decent restaurants, several good breweries, fantastic parks.

Feel free to MeMail me if you have any more questions. I strongly recommend Wooster for someone looking for a small liberal arts college.
posted by slogger at 9:26 AM on October 8, 2019

I graduated from Wooster within the last decade and would absolutely recommend it.

Re "lefty": yes, definitely the prevailing vibe politically. The point made above about Trump country is definitely true, so you have to be okay with living in your little liberal campus bubble. The other thing I'd say is that the student body is still quite white overall, though I get the sense that they've been working harder on that since I graduated.

Re "quirky": DEFINITELY yes. I'm surprised only one person mentioned the Independent Study program, but kind of the whole point of that is to dive deep into whatever weird specific thing you're really into. If you can make a case for it, they let you do it. It's honestly really cool and not just a shiny marketing/brochure thing. More broadly, I've always felt that the student body overall was a little harder to pin down into one prevailing stereotype than a lot of schools (see: everyone here talking about the Oberlin vibe and 100% understanding each other). But I didn't attend Oberlin (hippies) or Denison (preppy) or OWU (party kids) or Kenyon (dour nerds -- shoulda gone there, maybe!), so my perspective is obviously skewed. But I felt at home at Wooster, and I was not the kind of kid who was comfortable in a lot of spaces at 18.

Feel free to MeMail me if you want to talk more!
posted by catoclock at 8:47 AM on October 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

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