Open Letter from the Eclectic Society

Eclectic has posted an open letter to the Wesleyan community on their website.

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

Open Letter from Eclectic:

First, we want to thank you for your support so far. There are almost 700 signatures on the petition to overturn the House Hosting Ban. Musicians, event organizers, WSA members, faculty, enthusiastic students, and alums have expressed unease with the SJB and the administration’s actions in this case.

Unfortunately, President Michael Roth rejected our formal appeal. Before break, we were hesitant to release a factual public statement before we had gone through the provided channels of appeal, out of consideration for the pending status of our appeal, and the individual students implicated therein. Now that we’ve exhausted formal channels, President Roth is back from Asia, and we are all back from break, we turn to you.

Here are the facts as we see them: on December 8, the last day of classes, there was a party at our house. A neighbor called in three noise complaints in a row, with the intent of getting the event shut down. Some Eclectic alums had come to visit, and, disappointed that the event was stopped, moved upstairs to the Gote room with a smaller group of people. That gathering too was broken up, and the vast majority of guests left. An individual Eclectic resident started to play music in his room later, with no more than 10 friends. Public Safety stopped him. The SJB charged the Society as a whole for these infractions, despite alums and hosts’ willingness to take individual responsibility for their actions.

Our objection to this punishment is manifold: We were given an abbreviated hearing rather than a full hearing, but given a punishment that can only be dispensed by the full SJB. We believe that Assistant Director of Student Affairs Scott Backer, rather than the SJB as a whole, decided upon this ban. In the flurry of meetings that ensued with Backer, Dean Mike Whaley, and President Roth, Backer was inconsistent. The SJB sanction dated 2/26 specifically banned “performances, gatherings, parties, or any events”. After students expressed shock on Wesleying and other forums, Backer hastily sent us a new letter, back-dated to 2/26, with revised wording restricting “social events, parties, concerts, or other events that fit the requirements of the Social Event Policy”. Furthermore, Backer first told us that he was punishing irresponsible event hosts rather than Eclectic; however, in his formal “Rationale” for the punishment, he cited untried individual infractions of both members and non-members all the way back to September. He particularly alluded to guests who showed up intoxicated to our ticketed, non-alcoholic events, and required medical assistance. We are surprised to be punished for assisting students, none of whom were Society members, in what we thought was compliance with University expectations.

The student body and our Society are being antagonized for unrelated incidents that took place over a long period of time, rather than any specific, punishable incident. We believe that this punishment undermines the legitimacy of Wesleyan’s judicial system. Most importantly, we strongly believe that the punishment is overly broad, punishing not only Eclectic, but the Wesleyan student body: the dedicated hosts, musicians, organizers, and attendees that make Eclectic, and the Wesleyan campus, what they are. 70% of student-run events are scheduled to take place at Eclectic this semester. We hold Scott Backer accountable for his misled intent to squash student social life, just as he was misled when he suggested prohibition of alcohol on campus last year. We hold Michael Roth accountable for overlooking our appeal in favor of blind trust, despite the established appeals system.

We will continue to look to you for support in the coming week, and will keep you posted on our plans. Already, the Sound Co-op has expressed their solidarity with Eclectic and the student body, and disappointment with the administration’s complacency. We welcome any suggestions you might have for additional ways of communicating to the administration that student social life is not dispensable.

Sincerely,

The Eclectic Society

130 thoughts on “Open Letter from the Eclectic Society

  1. Anonymous

    7:21 pm, there is a link to the petition right at the top of this page. Wesleying’s had it there for about three weeks now. You are incredibly passive and lazy.

  2. Anonymous

    The sound co-op is misguided in their solidarity with Eclectic. Their refusal to help put on concerts in other venues has limited campus events even further. I don’t know what the fuck their hoping to achieve, but their not going about it in a constructive manner.

  3. Anonymous

    The sound co-op is misguided in their solidarity with Eclectic. Their refusal to help put on concerts in other venues has limited campus events even further. I don’t know what the fuck their hoping to achieve, but their not going about it in a constructive manner.

  4. Anonymous

    To anyone who thinks 25% of the student body signing something is a small number: clearly you’ve never tried to get anything signed in large numbers. An example: missing from those 700 signatures is my own signature. I support eclectic, but I never noticed an easy link to the petition, or if I did, didn’t feel like it at that moment. So sure, I’m not passionately committed to the eclectic cause, but I certainly think the punishment was disproportionate.

  5. Anonymous

    To anyone who thinks 25% of the student body signing something is a small number: clearly you’ve never tried to get anything signed in large numbers.

    An example: missing from those 700 signatures is my own signature. I support eclectic, but I never noticed an easy link to the petition, or if I did, didn’t feel like it at that moment. So sure, I’m not passionately committed to the eclectic cause, but I certainly think the punishment was disproportionate.

  6. Anonymous

    oh mah gawd, what is full disclosure??? this is it guys, fer serious, this is it, this is what the society was charged with and you are going to have to get over the fact that it doesn’t seem possible because it IS. This is it, this is it, this is it. Who is allowed to provide full disclosure? what is full disclosure? If the statement was made by some random administrator would you believe it? Do you need full disclosure to believe everything you’re not sure about? I really don’t think the society itself has anything left to put out there. The facts are, either the SJB was really lazy and had no idea how many shows happen at Eclectic sponsored by other kids or Scott Backer was really lazy and had no idea how many shows happen at Eclectic sponsored by other kids. Who is it? the kids that go here that actually live here every day? Or the guy who was hired last year and tried to ban alcohol and has a notoriously bad report with many student administrators?

  7. Anonymous

    oh mah gawd, what is full disclosure??? this is it guys, fer serious, this is it, this is what the society was charged with and you are going to have to get over the fact that it doesn’t seem possible because it IS. This is it, this is it, this is it. Who is allowed to provide full disclosure? what is full disclosure? If the statement was made by some random administrator would you believe it? Do you need full disclosure to believe everything you’re not sure about? I really don’t think the society itself has anything left to put out there. The facts are, either the SJB was really lazy and had no idea how many shows happen at Eclectic sponsored by other kids or Scott Backer was really lazy and had no idea how many shows happen at Eclectic sponsored by other kids. Who is it? the kids that go here that actually live here every day? Or the guy who was hired last year and tried to ban alcohol and has a notoriously bad report with many student administrators?

  8. Anonymous

    The fact that Eclectic has only recently revealed the details that led to their sentence, and said details are hardly volatile and should have been said from the get-go, are the reasons I am suspicious and have not yet signed the petition. I need FULL DISCLOSURE for this, and for ANYTHING, to warrant my signature.

  9. Anonymous

    The fact that Eclectic has only recently revealed the details that led to their sentence, and said details are hardly volatile and should have been said from the get-go, are the reasons I am suspicious and have not yet signed the petition. I need FULL DISCLOSURE for this, and for ANYTHING, to warrant my signature.

  10. Anonymous

    4:55:In the interest of keeping people from being disingenuous or willfully misrepresenting the facts, 700 (the number of students who have signed the petition) divided by 2700 (the current undergraduate student body, as reported here: http://www.wesleyan.edu/about/profile.html) = .259, or approximately 26%.I don’t know what volume of speech that equals, exactly (decibels being logarithmic and therefore confusing to a humanities major like me), but feel free to enlighten me at your leisure.

  11. Anonymous

    4:55:

    In the interest of keeping people from being disingenuous or willfully misrepresenting the facts, 700 (the number of students who have signed the petition) divided by 2700 (the current undergraduate student body, as reported here: http://www.wesleyan.edu/about/profile.html) = .259, or approximately 26%.

    I don’t know what volume of speech that equals, exactly (decibels being logarithmic and therefore confusing to a humanities major like me), but feel free to enlighten me at your leisure.

  12. Anonymous

    at 3:16, re:http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122455219391652725.htmli don’t think students are being “entitled” or have “high expectations” for making a stink about the hosting ban. eclectic has been hosting shows for decades, and i highly doubt that the current infractions are much worse than what has come before.as a senior, I’ve seen this school continuously disregard potential for a dynamic student life over cost cutting and liability issues. charge us a fortune to use Beckham hall? build a new student center with a tiny, unusable MPR? shut down the westco cafe for innocuous drinking violations? these actions follow a markedly conservative trend the school seems to be taking.. rumors about letting more science and less art-oriented students.. building an expensive yet utterly dysfunctional student center to try to update the campus’ image.. i’ve heard from an alum ’65 that many higher-ups want westco to be a normal GRS dorm..i’m pissed that the school seems so casually willing to hold dynamic use of student space above our heads for leverage. take away their fun and maybe they’ll behave better. “you can have back eclectic when you’ve thought about what you’ve done.” that is childish. student events are more than a privilege; when you are paying 50 grand to be here, you are, like any client, entitled to a certain amount of services as advertised. if wesleyan is not willing to foster an engaging arts scene, they should stop advertising that they do. if so much of our 50 grand goes towards student activities, the administration had better treat diversity of events with more respect than what comes from a 3 person SJB hearing.that is what sound co-op is doing by withholding its services. pointing out the fact that campus events, orchestrated by ‘hipsters’ or not, are too important to be swept under the rug as a disciplinary means of control. if the students truly care about what happens here, they will do something, say something, say anything, instead of griping about how much eclectic are “douchebags.” if students are not willing to actively question the appropriateness of the SJB’s decision, then school has truly succeeded in creating a docile, predictable, and truly fucking lame campus climate.

  13. Anonymous

    at 3:16, re:
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122455219391652725.html

    i don’t think students are being “entitled” or have “high expectations” for making a stink about the hosting ban. eclectic has been hosting shows for decades, and i highly doubt that the current infractions are much worse than what has come before.

    as a senior, I’ve seen this school continuously disregard potential for a dynamic student life over cost cutting and liability issues. charge us a fortune to use Beckham hall? build a new student center with a tiny, unusable MPR? shut down the westco cafe for innocuous drinking violations?

    these actions follow a markedly conservative trend the school seems to be taking.. rumors about letting more science and less art-oriented students.. building an expensive yet utterly dysfunctional student center to try to update the campus’ image.. i’ve heard from an alum ’65 that many higher-ups want westco to be a normal GRS dorm..

    i’m pissed that the school seems so casually willing to hold dynamic use of student space above our heads for leverage. take away their fun and maybe they’ll behave better. “you can have back eclectic when you’ve thought about what you’ve done.” that is childish. student events are more than a privilege; when you are paying 50 grand to be here, you are, like any client, entitled to a certain amount of services as advertised. if wesleyan is not willing to foster an engaging arts scene, they should stop advertising that they do. if so much of our 50 grand goes towards student activities, the administration had better treat diversity of events with more respect than what comes from a 3 person SJB hearing.

    that is what sound co-op is doing by withholding its services. pointing out the fact that campus events, orchestrated by ‘hipsters’ or not, are too important to be swept under the rug as a disciplinary means of control. if the students truly care about what happens here, they will do something, say something, say anything, instead of griping about how much eclectic are “douchebags.” if students are not willing to actively question the appropriateness of the SJB’s decision, then school has truly succeeded in creating a docile, predictable, and truly fucking lame campus climate.

  14. Anonymous

    700 signatures = less than 25% of the undergraduate student body. That speaks volumes right there, especially at a place like Wesleyan where you can get 300 signatures on virtually any petition put up in Usdan.

  15. Anonymous

    700 signatures = less than 25% of the undergraduate student body. That speaks volumes right there, especially at a place like Wesleyan where you can get 300 signatures on virtually any petition put up in Usdan.

  16. Laird

    @Ben:Seconded. Whoever is writing the posts decrying eclectic needs to stop posting anonymously and stand behind hir statements.

  17. Laird

    @Ben:

    Seconded. Whoever is writing the posts decrying eclectic needs to stop posting anonymously and stand behind hir statements.

  18. Anonymous

    I’m evaluating the situation based on the fact that most of the ecclectics I have interacted are total douchebags and that their response to a debateably out of line punishment is to throw a tantrum that makes them seem like 2 year olds and has a significantly more powerful negative effect both on the campus at large and on individuals than the initial punishment

  19. Anonymous

    I’m evaluating the situation based on the fact that most of the ecclectics I have interacted are total douchebags and that their response to a debateably out of line punishment is to throw a tantrum that makes them seem like 2 year olds and has a significantly more powerful negative effect both on the campus at large and on individuals than the initial punishment

  20. Benjamin Bernstein

    I’m quite tired of the anonymous wesleying/ACB poster becoming an adjudicator of truth. Eclectic has given you our side of the story as objectively as possible. I find it hard to believe that any student who cares about student culture on campus would sympathize with Scott Backer and the SJB. Please stop pretending to be evaluating this situation based on who is telling the truth.

  21. Benjamin Bernstein

    I’m quite tired of the anonymous wesleying/ACB poster becoming an adjudicator of truth. Eclectic has given you our side of the story as objectively as possible. I find it hard to believe that any student who cares about student culture on campus would sympathize with Scott Backer and the SJB. Please stop pretending to be evaluating this situation based on who is telling the truth.

  22. Anonymous

    3:34correct. It seems that some people asked for the truth but when they got it they realized that’s not really what they wanted. They just wanted to be right and they wanted Eclectic to be wrong.

  23. Anonymous

    3:34

    correct. It seems that some people asked for the truth but when they got it they realized that’s not really what they wanted. They just wanted to be right and they wanted Eclectic to be wrong.

  24. Anonymous

    What is true is that Scott Backer “suggests” to the SJB which charges and sanctions to consider, and the SJB rarely assert themselves to go against his suggestions.

  25. Anonymous

    What is true is that Scott Backer “suggests” to the SJB which charges and sanctions to consider, and the SJB rarely assert themselves to go against his suggestions.

  26. Anonymous

    Unless I’m mistaken, the SJB recommends a punishment to the Dean of Students (the EVIL Scott Backer), which he then approves and informs the student. So Scott Backer wasn’t the person that made this sanction, the STUDENT MEMBERS of the SJB made the sanction. 1. Don’t unthinkingly blame the administration every time a problem occurs.2. Hopefully our fellow students aren’t abusing their power.3. Interesting articles:http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122455219391652725.htmlhttp://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/18/education/18college.html?emOh, and I am in fact a student and not an administrator for those of you that will start crying wolf.

  27. Anonymous

    Unless I’m mistaken, the SJB recommends a punishment to the Dean of Students (the EVIL Scott Backer), which he then approves and informs the student. So Scott Backer wasn’t the person that made this sanction, the STUDENT MEMBERS of the SJB made the sanction.

    1. Don’t unthinkingly blame the administration every time a problem occurs.

    2. Hopefully our fellow students aren’t abusing their power.

    3. Interesting articles:
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122455219391652725.html
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/18/education/18college.html?em

    Oh, and I am in fact a student and not an administrator for those of you that will start crying wolf.

  28. Andrea

    1:06, We said that Backer’s “rationale” for the punishment mentions “untried individual infractions of both members and non-members all the way back to September” and gave some examples (paragraph 4). The SJB tried us for a noise complaint, but is punishing the student body for random infractions committed (mostly by non-Eclectic members) under one roof over four months. We’re not saying someone is “out to get” us. Still, we believe that Backer has been, at best, misguided in his actions, and we hope to correct that. Please rethink where you are directing your ire on this.

  29. Andrea

    1:06, We said that Backer’s “rationale” for the punishment mentions “untried individual infractions of both members and non-members all the way back to September” and gave some examples (paragraph 4). The SJB tried us for a noise complaint, but is punishing the student body for random infractions committed (mostly by non-Eclectic members) under one roof over four months. We’re not saying someone is “out to get” us. Still, we believe that Backer has been, at best, misguided in his actions, and we hope to correct that. Please rethink where you are directing your ire on this.

  30. Anonymous

    I am most definitely a Wesleyan student, not an administrator, and one with experience with the admin and the way events are run. I think the punishment was harsh and really sucks and my gut instinct when I heard about the situation was to feel horrible for eclectic and to ask what I could do to help. However as time has gone on and I’ve heard more and more complications, I trust less and less of what eclectic has been saying. The administration have been known to overreact, but they normally have good reasoning. (Also, you accuse me of blind trust in the administration, which is silly, I’m just a person fed up with only hearing angry students) What I would like is for this whole thing to be over with. But that isn’t going to happen. There have been other violations in the past, do you think this could just have been the straw that broke the camel’s back?- 1:06

  31. Anonymous

    I am most definitely a Wesleyan student, not an administrator, and one with experience with the admin and the way events are run.

    I think the punishment was harsh and really sucks and my gut instinct when I heard about the situation was to feel horrible for eclectic and to ask what I could do to help. However as time has gone on and I’ve heard more and more complications, I trust less and less of what eclectic has been saying. The administration have been known to overreact, but they normally have good reasoning. (Also, you accuse me of blind trust in the administration, which is silly, I’m just a person fed up with only hearing angry students)

    What I would like is for this whole thing to be over with. But that isn’t going to happen. There have been other violations in the past, do you think this could just have been the straw that broke the camel’s back?

    – 1:06

  32. Anonymous

    1:06 You are obviously not a student at Wesleyan, and if you are, I fear for your unthinking trust of the administration. Do you have any idea of Eclectic’s history with the administration? They get shit on every year for willingly hosting other people’s events and up until now, I was under the impression that students understood this. Eclectic just posted what they were charged with, what else do you want? You obviously live in a world where only your observations can be correct, so why don’t you write a history of what really happened and submit that to ease your cognitive dissonance regarding the idea that the school can and is wrong about many things they do.

  33. Anonymous

    1:06

    You are obviously not a student at Wesleyan, and if you are, I fear for your unthinking trust of the administration. Do you have any idea of Eclectic’s history with the administration? They get shit on every year for willingly hosting other people’s events and up until now, I was under the impression that students understood this. Eclectic just posted what they were charged with, what else do you want? You obviously live in a world where only your observations can be correct, so why don’t you write a history of what really happened and submit that to ease your cognitive dissonance regarding the idea that the school can and is wrong about many things they do.

  34. Anonymous

    i guess this pretty clearly shows that the punishment doesn’t fit the crime. I would like to see scott backer fired, this is the last straw as far as I’m concerned. He’s got to be behind this ridiculous situation.

  35. Anonymous

    i guess this pretty clearly shows that the punishment doesn’t fit the crime.

    I would like to see scott backer fired, this is the last straw as far as I’m concerned. He’s got to be behind this ridiculous situation.

  36. Xue

    hey dudes, i posted the eclectic letter because no one had followed up after adam’s call for more information even though it was being provided. sorry for using the mama account. feel free to edit the post.

  37. Xue

    hey dudes, i posted the eclectic letter because no one had followed up after adam’s call for more information even though it was being provided. sorry for using the mama account. feel free to edit the post.

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