#DONATEYOURRCF Campaign Begins for FGLI GoFundMe!

Dear Wesleyan Alumni, Community Members, and Everybody Else!

Today, I am reaching out on behalf of the GoFundMe that launched on March 15th to support first-generation, low-income, and/or housing insecure students in light of Wesleyan University’s closure. The purpose of this article is threefold: 

  • To clarify the goals of our student-led grassroots campaign
  • To distinguish our effort from the official Wesleyan emergency fund
  • To encourage students to donate their RCF refund to the GoFundMe campaign.

 

  1. Our Campaign in a Paragraph  

The goal of the GoFundMe is to place resources directly into the hands of high-need, at-risk students. Since Wesleyan’s closure, low-income students have either returned home, straining the budget of their already hardpressed households, or petitioned to remain on campus. As a first-generation, low-income student whose mother works as a janitor, each day is filled with the constant worry that we will lose our income. I have had an unprecedented amount of stress worrying about my financial stability. Social distancing and large-scale efforts to quarantine, though necessary for the safety of the public, have only exacerbated the everyday conditions of poverty. Rapidly, parents are losing their jobs, and our fellow FGLI students do not know how they will afford rent, utilities, groceries, routine medical expenses, and other recurring costs that do not stop for national emergencies. Moreover, the recent U.S. stimulus bill does not contain any financial relief for adult dependents, meaning that students do not qualify for monthly relief checks. The needs of Wesleyan’s at-risk student body cannot be reduced to a single narrative, but each and every story shares a sense of urgency. Therefore, our campaign, which is titled FGLI Wesleyan Student Donations, operates under the belief that direct financial donations best meet the fluctuating, varied needs of low-income students as they face the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Figure 1. To help students self-assess their level of need, we provided example statements. The graphic above includes descriptions for level 1 (approximately 10%), level 3 (approximately 55%), and level 5 (approximately 2%) students.

How ya doin?

a brief check in + WSA FAQ!

Hey fam,

As we come to the end of our first week of #distance #learning post spring break, I wanted to check in. How are you? How’s your love life? How’re your friends? Classes? Parties? Anything exciting going on? No? Ok that’s fine, I’m mostly just making sure your life is as boring as mine is right now.

There were a couple things I wanted to fill you in on. First, if you’ve turned your keys in, you should be automatically getting your RCF refund anytime now. But, if you want to transfer it to your checking account, here’s the form for the transfer. I’m sure you have lots and lots of other questions, which can be answered in this amazing, comprehensive FAQ made by the wonderful members of the WSA. Literally everything you could possibly be wondering can be found here.

If you have not yet donated to the FGLI GoFundMe, that can be found here. They’re past $200K now, but every dollar counts. Most importantly, the money from the GoFundMe will not be means tested when distributed. For more information, please check out the updates on the page. Jessi Russell ’20 and Mya Valentin ’19 have been incredibly transparent about where the money is going and how distribution will work, with a timeline and everything.

If you’re looking for a way to get shit off your mind, submit to our series on relationships in the time of corona! This has been a wild time, and whether you were in a romantic/platonic/life changing/very casual relationship or you wanna talk about your friends. Almost every relationship in our lives has been affected by corona, and we want to hear about it. Also don’t even TRY to tell us you’re not all over wescam, we know you are. You can submit through the form, or you can email us a voice memo! We’ll take whatever form you give us :) (staff@wesleying.org).

Wherever you are, I hope you’re with people you love and I hope you’re not letting corona bring you down. We don’t know how long this will last, and it’s painful to wonder when you’ll next see your friends [and friends+ ;) ] again, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. The best thing to do is to take this day by day and to reach out to those around you. Don’t isolate yourself. Facetime your friends, go for a walk, or do both at the same time. Rely on others, let others rely on you. I don’t know a single person that doesn’t want to be randomly texted by someone they talk to every day or someone they haven’t spoken to in a year. Zoom happy hour with your friends, and reach out to that senior you hooked up with once freshman year. I know life feels stagnant, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make it interesting. Fuck shit up and keep moving forward. It’s the only way.

With love and care and affection,

Saadia

Love in the Time of Coronavirus: Submission Request

Coronavirus is rapidly changing society as we know it, and we at Wesleying want to know how it’s specifically impacting your relationships with those you love. Fill out this form and tell us about any and all of the changes that are happening between you and your significant other, parents, friends, siblings, hookups, teachers, pets, beloved inanimate objects, and everything in between. Your story will be part of an upcoming article!

URGENT Fundraiser: Wesleyan University FGLI Student Donations

the donations as of 20:37 EST on March 15th, one day into the fundraiser

A few days ago, we published an article outlining some FGLI student concerns regarding a campus closure due to COVID-19. As of now, the University has offered assistance through the emergency fund for immediate travel needs, but have not addressed issues of income loss as of yet. In response, this morning, Jessi Russel ’20 and Mya Valentin ’19 created a fundraising campaign for FGLI students who are affected by Wesleyan’s closure for the semester. Below is the email. You can donate to students who have self-identified as high need here. 

COVID-19: Resources for Students (Updates to come)

On Wednesday afternoon, the University sent out an all-campus email declaring that students would be required to leave campus by March 23rd, and that all classes would be shifted to a remote learning model. This decision was made with little student and faculty input despite a strong student response that simply asked the Administration to be more cognizant of the needs of its most vulnerable populations before making such a life-changing decision for so many. As expected, the decision induced great panic and uncertainty amongst the student population.

While the immediate aftermath of the University’s decision was just sheer panic, students have done an incredible job of advocating for each other. The WSA went off and has been negotiating with the University on everything from our room and board refunds to storage space to the mandate that students come back to campus. Their hard work is seeing immediate returns, and many of the things they’ve accomplished are having an immediate impact on students’ lives.

This post is just to somewhat consolidate updates from the WSA about what resources are available to students and any other updates on the current situation.

Addendum to Yesterday’s Article Regarding COVID-19

While our previous post listed plenty of concerns that many shares, we felt it was incomplete and wanted to add our thoughts specifically regarding (1) FGLI and (2) immunocompromised members of our community. This article addresses those concerns. 

Two nights ago, I saw a tweet that Amherst was shutting down campus to decrease the risk of spreading COVID-19 to other students, faculty, and staff. They made the calculation that since students would be traveling off-campus during spring break –– despite being encouraged not to –– it would be incredibly difficult to contain the virus on campus. The following morning, Harvard followed suit due to the same concerns. 

When I saw these announcements over Twitter, the first thing I thought was, Fuck, how am I going to finish my work-study? I calculated how much I would have earned for the rest of the semester and felt my heart drop. As a second-semester senior, I took on extra hours this semester, working 4 jobs to earn extra money to pay off my loans post-grad. But, the next thought I had was, Fuck, senior year might end early. I texted my friends, upset about the possibility of missing out on my last quarter at Wesleyan. I thought of the things I still have to do on campus: popping champagne on the steps of Olin, enjoying the sunset on Foss, giving my last tour, stressing about finals in SciLi, commencement. The list goes on.  

While I do acknowledge that some of the responses to COVID-19 are unnecessary, there are some real, valid concerns that need to be addressed regarding keeping campus open. Yesterday, Wesleying published an article in haste that only spoke to one side of campus––the ones who are afraid of what the rest of the semester might hold. The thing is, this is an extremely complex issue. You, I, the Wes community, can be sad about the possibility of campus closing while also acknowledging the gravity of the situation. We do not have to operate in a binary that either: (1) Wesleyan will shut its doors to all students and not provide resources to those who rely on campus for income, housing, and food or (2) Open campus and pretend that everything is normal. 

There have been countless articles that have attempted to explain possible solutions for colleges to mitigate the risk of COVID-19. Some of them call for a complete shut-down of schools to avoid a cruise-ship-like spread of the virus. There are some that say the opposite, arguing that college students are a low-risk population. While I would love to be an idealist and argue that the latter is true, we have forgotten that Wesleyan is not just college-aged students. There are elderly, immunocompromised faculty who will be at-risk if students return to campus. There are staff members who are concerned about the health of their families. There are Middletown community members who will be at risk if the entire student body returns to campus. Not to mention, parts of a student body who, despite Dean Whaley’s continued discouragement, traveled abroad to at-risk counties. The point of (partially) closing campus is to “flatten the curve” and ensure that hospitals have enough resources to treat those in need. This is the reality that we need to face, and instead of arguing in binaries, we should, instead, ally around the students who will be most affected by a potential closure.

Here are some potential solutions that live in the intermediary space between those two binaries:

In Response to Potential University Shutdown over COVID-19

Update from the Editor 3/11/20, 15:54 EST: The Administration has decided to suspend the spring semester indefinitely, and move all classes to remote learning. Students can petition for an extension or to remain on campus. The all campus email can be read here, and some more info can be found here.

Update from the Editor 3/11/20, 14:32 EST: To clarify, while we did link the Change.org petition in this post, we are not in this article arguing that the University remain open and that business carry on as usual. As many have stated on twitter here and here, there are obvious risks to having the campus remain entirely open, including, but not limited to, concerns for those who are immunocompromised. We did not make the Change.org petition or have a say in how it was titled. As we have mentioned below, our intention here was to (1) raise concerns that we have, and (2) start a conversation that the administration would have to hear. We are aware that this is an incomplete list of concerns.

Update from the Editor 3/10/20, 19:58 EST: Sign the petition here! Credit goes to Martha Wedner ’22 for making it.

Update from the Editor 3/10/20, 18:12 EST: We have gotten many positive responses to this petition, and are glad that it is starting a conversation. We recognize that we are only four voices that have spoken thus far, and that in our haste to put this out there, there are certain points that we missed. Our main goal was to open a space for testimony and to encourage conversation, as we were concerned was that the University might make this decision without any student input.

In that vein,  Huzaifa Khan ’22 has reached out to us to let us know that students with concern or testimony  should email him at  hkhan[at]wesleyan[dot]edu. The WSA has a coronavirus task force that is working with the University, which means that at least some students are involved in the process. You too can be involved simply by emailing your concerns to Huzaifa, and he will do his best to voice as many concerns as possible at the meeting. Apparently, the decision is  likely to be made tomorrow (3/11/20), so voicing your opinion asap is critical.

Just now, the State of Connecticut announced a state of emergency over coronavirus. This morning, Amherst College, a fellow NESCAC, temporarily suspended classes and asked students to move out by the end of their spring break. This afternoon, Middlebury College and Harvard University followed suit. We’re now hearing (through word of mouth) that there is discussion to announce a suspension at Yale later today, Trinity will potentially declare tomorrow, and University of Connecticut is convening discussions as we write this. Notably, none of these schools have any confirmed cases of the coronavirus on their campuses, amongst students or otherwise.

As we see each school escalating the degree to which they are responding to the outbreak and limiting normal functioning at their respective institutions, we cannot help but wonder exactly how this will work, and what the real effect on students will be. Thus far, we have not heard that students are being consulted on how to address COVID-19. While Wesleyan has placed recommended travel restrictions on students and faculty, among other preventative measures, there has been no concrete information from the school except for what we are hearing from friends of friends and over text regarding the potential suspension.

We do not deny that the coronavirus outbreak is a serious public health issue, and we hope that all of those who are affected are receiving proper treatment and care. However, we cannot allow the University to make such a serious decision as suspending classes for the semester without student consultation and without our concerns taken into account. Below, we have listed a series of concerns that we have, and ask that they be addressed as we move forward.

Student concerns regarding a potential shut down:

Women’s Cross Country Alumnae Speak Out on Culture of Disordered Eating, Injuries

This series was produced by sdz with the help of  fern,  melimaury,  gabs,  and  hen.
The 25 testimonials can be read here. The timeline of contact between the team and the Athletic Department can be found here.

 

The following is an open letter from Yuki Christina Hebner ‘17 to the Wesleyan community that speaks to a culture of body shaming, disordered eating, and high attrition rates on the Wesleyan women’s cross country team. Yuki tells her own story and introduces the stories of 25 other women’s cross country alumnae.

In the testimonials, Head Coach John Crooke is alleged to have pressured runners to lose significant amounts of weight with little guidance and no nutritional training, leading to multiple cases of disordered eating and injury. The effects of Coach Crooke’s directives, delivered in meetings which the team colloquially called “fat talks”, have been long-lasting; some of these alumnae are almost 7 years out of college and yet still struggle with disordered eating and injuries from their time on the team.

Yuki’s letter is followed by a petition, signed by 36 alumni. Notably, the petition is not asking for the removal of Coach Crooke, but rather for the Department to advocate for its racing athletes by better understanding the risk factors associated with endurance sports and holding coaches to a higher standard of accountability, among other demands.

The issues presented in this series are two-fold. On one hand, it was Coach Crooke’s actions that so adversely affected each of these alumni. He forced runners to lose weight, played favorites, and fostered a dangerous culture of body shaming and disordered eating. But, Coaches come and go. The issues presented here will not be resolved simply by removing Coach Crooke, or by adding a few more assistant coaches. The systemic issues of body shaming and lack of accountability of coaches that face distance runners simply will not change from the efforts of one person, or scapegoating one person to protect an inadequate system. It will take a cocktail of reforms, as laid out in the petition below, to bring about any sort of meaningful change.

This is not the first time that these athletes have tried to voice their stories. They wrote about their experiences in coaching evaluations, spoke about them in meetings with their coaches, and even brought them to the attention of the athletic directors. And yet, their concerns were never taken seriously. The timeline indicates clearly that the Department had been made aware of the cross country team’s concerns since at least 2013, and yet there is reason to suspect that things have not yet changed as much as they should have. If this were not true, these alumnae would not be speaking up today. (A statement from the Athletic Department follows the petition.)

It took a great deal of courage for each of the alumnae to speak out about her experience on the team. As a community, it is our responsibility to listen now, because it doesn’t seem like anyone was listening then.

Read Yuki’s letter after the jump, and then be sure to read the testimonials. The story is incomplete without them.