Deja Vu: Anti-Wes-student comments from community re: Fountain

Possibly this discussion is tired by now, but an anonymous tipster points out the emerging comment discussion on the latest Courant article about the Fountain incident. Most of the comments seem to revolve around how we, as Wesleyan students, are over-entitled, privileged, whiny brats who only want to party and don’t deserve to be in college (or gain the status associated with having attended such a college). I quote the first comment by “Wesleyan Embarrassment” as an example:

It is utterly absurd that a “student leader” at any university would not understand that part of growing up and becoming a contributing adult is to be able to recognize unacceptable, childish, and unruly behavior — not to mention that this student leader is unable to recognize that it is outrageous to engage in middle-school-like antics such as throwing beer bottles at police cruisers, houses, and people.

The primary problem you have at a very-leftist university is that a disproportionate number of the rowdy participants think that they are subject to a different standard than everyone else. This condition is exascerbated by an enabling university administration that is afraid to enact and invoke even the most modest standards of control and enforcement.

When UConn students threw beer bottles at police cruisers, people, and otherwise misbehaved; they were arrested — and later expelled from school.

On the other hand, when Wesleyan students — on a public street — throw beer bottles hitting people on porches, hitting police cruisers, smashing debris, etc., these students instead expect to be treated by a different standard — involving huge bureaucratic policies outlining what constitutes unruliness when a Wesleyan student is involved.

The problem with being a trust-fund, spoiled brat is that it clouds reality — not just in the present, but for life.

What I think is an intelligent response from a Wes student:

I would like to respond to these comments as a current senior at Wesleyan.

I think it is important to start by saying that I do not believe Wesleyan students were completely in the right during the incidents on Fountain Avenue. The report that a beer bottle was thrown at a police car is certainly inappropriate and inexcusable. I also believe that the Middletown Police serve a vital job in our community and should come when they are called by Public Safety or any other Middletown resident. I resent the mentality of many (but certainly not all) Wesleyan students who argue that Middletown Police have no right to be present on our campus.

That being said, I feel the need to express discomfort and sadness at the blatant resentment of and disrespect for Wesleyan students that is displayed in these postings and written in this article.

The Courant article writes: “When students refused to disperse after being asked to by Wesleyan public safety officers, the officers contacted Middletown police. Students reacted to the increased police presence by throwing bottles and getting more unruly, prompting city police to request support from state police and police in Cromwell and Portland. After the incident, Wesleyan students claimed the police used unnecessary force in dispersing them.”

This quotation leaves out many important elements of the incident on Fountain Avenue. Never did the Courant article mention that police came with K9 units, whose dogs viciously mauled many students, more than one of whom was sent to the hospital. The article did not mention that multiple Wesleyan students were pepper sprayed and tazed by the police in attempt to get them to move off of their own street.

This was not a riot. It was not a protest or a giant drunken keg party with people jumping off roofs and fighting in the streets that needed to be violently broken up by police officers. I feel that it is very important for that to be understood. It is one thing for police to respond to a call and try to clear a party, it is another to unleash dogs on a crowd and pepper spray individuals standing in front of their homes.

To write that Wesleyan students “claimed” that police used unnecessary force in dispersing them delegitimizes the students and assumes that their side of the story is only a claim and thus false. By mentioning beer bottles thrown at police and never mentioning how the police chose to retaliate, Peter Marteka shows his disinterest in representing the full story for his readers.

The Fountain Incident is incredibly complex. It cannot be boiled down to finger pointing and a discussion of right vs. wrong and spoiled Wesleyan students vs. violent police. I would hope that as one of Connecticut’s most well respected newspapers, the Hartford Courant would be able to see that. I also would hope that its readers wouldn’t be so quick to judge Wesleyan students by an offensively written article and their own judgments of the Wesleyan community.

We are all residents of Connecticut. If this incident has showed us anything, it is that we need to learn to bridge the gap between what we expect from each other and how we try to get it. Poorly informed articles and verbal hatred from one group to the other, one both sides, is not the answer.

I personally think that what this points to, more than anything else, is a continued lack of ideal relations between Wesleyan and Middletown and the rest of the surrounding Connecticut community. I don’t know about the rest of you, but in my three+ years here, I’ve grown to really love this city. How do we begin to repair – at least, from our side – this broken relationship?

Thoughts?

24 thoughts on “Deja Vu: Anti-Wes-student comments from community re: Fountain

  1. Anonymous

    Living in town. Everybody knows the courant is a joke, and I dont think many people in the town itself care all that much. Kind of surprised to hear that the pd had to go in with force, but its not like there are any hard feelings about it. As far as the other people in CT go, they have no clue what they’re talking about. Don’t worry about the town-wes relations, its fine.

  2. Anonymous

    Living in town. Everybody knows the courant is a joke, and I dont think many people in the town itself care all that much. Kind of surprised to hear that the pd had to go in with force, but its not like there are any hard feelings about it.

    As far as the other people in CT go, they have no clue what they’re talking about. Don’t worry about the town-wes relations, its fine.

  3. Justin L.

    Unfortunately, it seems all local newspapers that allow anonymous comments display the same phenomenon. A few dedicated locals (or non-locals) troll the boards and let flow their bile… people try to respond with reason… the flow of bile becomes stronger… and in the end, any meaningful discussion is stifled and entirely useless. It happens on the discussion boards for my hometown papers, too, with each and every article.Cops stage marijuana bust: YEAH, LOCK ‘EM UP! STOOPID LIBERAL HIPPIES! GET A JOB!Thieves steal bleachers, sell for scrap: DEGENERATE BASTARDS! WE NEED THE DEATH PENALTY! NOW!I don’t know why anyone even reads these things. They’re entirely predictable and never say anything new. It’s like, What? The 15 readers who habitually comment at the Courant’s site think Wesleyan students are a bunch of rich, rebellious, radical, trust-fund babies? Whoa! Didn’t see that coming! Oh, wait… that happens in every article in which Wesleyan is mentioned.lol. Ridiculous!

  4. Justin L.

    Unfortunately, it seems all local newspapers that allow anonymous comments display the same phenomenon. A few dedicated locals (or non-locals) troll the boards and let flow their bile… people try to respond with reason… the flow of bile becomes stronger… and in the end, any meaningful discussion is stifled and entirely useless. It happens on the discussion boards for my hometown papers, too, with each and every article.

    Cops stage marijuana bust: YEAH, LOCK ‘EM UP! STOOPID LIBERAL HIPPIES! GET A JOB!

    Thieves steal bleachers, sell for scrap: DEGENERATE BASTARDS! WE NEED THE DEATH PENALTY! NOW!

    I don’t know why anyone even reads these things. They’re entirely predictable and never say anything new. It’s like, What? The 15 readers who habitually comment at the Courant’s site think Wesleyan students are a bunch of rich, rebellious, radical, trust-fund babies? Whoa! Didn’t see that coming! Oh, wait… that happens in every article in which Wesleyan is mentioned.

    lol. Ridiculous!

  5. Anonymous

    I wrote a letter that the Courant published in response to Rick Green’s bitterly simplistic column in May. My basic premises were a) that it wasn’t the end to the partying itself that enraged us, it was the way in which they ended it, b) we weren’t “protesting” for political gain; we were merely defending ourselves, and c) Rick Green showed exactly the kind of attitude from influential media that made our relationship with the city worse.My letter was rebutted several days later by a resident of Middletown who didn’t understand what I meant by saying that there were strained town-gown relations here (what??), but effectively felt that we had no right to speak for ourselves until we learned to show respect for the police.Thank you for proving my point that people completely missed the point.

  6. Anonymous

    I wrote a letter that the Courant published in response to Rick Green’s bitterly simplistic column in May. My basic premises were a) that it wasn’t the end to the partying itself that enraged us, it was the way in which they ended it, b) we weren’t “protesting” for political gain; we were merely defending ourselves, and c) Rick Green showed exactly the kind of attitude from influential media that made our relationship with the city worse.

    My letter was rebutted several days later by a resident of Middletown who didn’t understand what I meant by saying that there were strained town-gown relations here (what??), but effectively felt that we had no right to speak for ourselves until we learned to show respect for the police.

    Thank you for proving my point that people completely missed the point.

  7. Anonymous

    The commentators have some valid opinions but there’s no need for the majority of the comments to be so malicious and angry towards Wesleyan students. It seems like most of the people writing are just using the article as an excuse to express their contempt and anger at Wesleyan as a whole.

  8. Anonymous

    The commentators have some valid opinions but there’s no need for the majority of the comments to be so malicious and angry towards Wesleyan students. It seems like most of the people writing are just using the article as an excuse to express their contempt and anger at Wesleyan as a whole.

  9. Anonymous

    I don’t know. I come from Chicago, and when a cop there says stop or disperse you do it or you’re on the ground or against the wall. And I wouldn’t even think of arguing or talking about civil rights with him/her in the moment. Why would it be any different here?

  10. Anonymous

    I don’t know. I come from Chicago, and when a cop there says stop or disperse you do it or you’re on the ground or against the wall. And I wouldn’t even think of arguing or talking about civil rights with him/her in the moment. Why would it be any different here?

  11. Rob

    I don’t think you can put too much stock in angry comments on the internet (yeah, this is ironic). If a few bloodthirsty fascists want to express their irrational hatred under the cover of anonimity, it shouldn’t concern us too much. You should read the article in the Argus: our neighbors seem to like us. If this person is even a Middletown resident (which I’m sure ze isn’t), ze is probably not one of the ones we need to improve relations with (ie, those folks in the projects on our borders). There’d probably be the same creepy enthusiasm on the internet for police attacks on people in the North End.

  12. Rob

    I don’t think you can put too much stock in angry comments on the internet (yeah, this is ironic). If a few bloodthirsty fascists want to express their irrational hatred under the cover of anonimity, it shouldn’t concern us too much. You should read the article in the Argus: our neighbors seem to like us. If this person is even a Middletown resident (which I’m sure ze isn’t), ze is probably not one of the ones we need to improve relations with (ie, those folks in the projects on our borders). There’d probably be the same creepy enthusiasm on the internet for police attacks on people in the North End.

  13. johnwesley

    What is sad (and, incredible) about a lot of these reactions to what happened to Wesleyan students is the underlying assumption that if they were in the same position, the ones standing in front of their own homes refusing to “go” (go where?) — that the police would have behaved in the same way. And more importantly, that they would have been deserving of the same abuse. Mind-boggling, but I really think that’s what they believe.

  14. johnwesley

    What is sad (and, incredible) about a lot of these reactions to what happened to Wesleyan students is the underlying assumption that if they were in the same position, the ones standing in front of their own homes refusing to “go” (go where?) — that the police would have behaved in the same way. And more importantly, that they would have been deserving of the same abuse. Mind-boggling, but I really think that’s what they believe.

  15. Braille

    these posts are hilarious. (/heartbreaking)but post #43 is good. (the one about the place of police in the broader context of society… and politicians.) and #50. (NYC dad) And by good I mean less irate.

  16. Braille

    these posts are hilarious. (/heartbreaking)
    but post #43 is good. (the one about the place of police in the broader context of society… and politicians.) and #50. (NYC dad) And by good I mean less irate.

  17. Anonymous

    The divide between citizens and students is really frightening…We’re the rich kids on the hill with our privilege and we can’t handle being told what to do…You can’t make this shit up!

  18. Anonymous

    The divide between citizens and students is really frightening…

    We’re the rich kids on the hill with our privilege and we can’t handle being told what to do…

    You can’t make this shit up!

Comments are closed.